Advocating for Israel in the American media
When was the last time anyone in the American Jewish community heard or saw a creative, impacting short message about the many unique Israeli accomplishments geared to the American public as opposed to our own Jewish community again?
Israeli accomplishments are most creative and numerous — prosthetic legs for our wounded American vets, advancements in energy techniques, new agricultural technologies for developing countries to feed their people, effective strategies for first responders during civil disasters, one of the first countries to respond and help with the Ebola crises, and many more than I can mention. These are all achievements the general American public would love to know about, but as yet, they have not been told by us, the spirited advocates for Israel.
First, it’s important to define media. Too often I hear media defined as slanted TV news reporting and newspaper editorials, when in fact media is best defined as many various tools that communicate short impacting messages such as radio/TV spots, outdoor billboards, posters on the sides of buses, in trains and in subway stations and newspaper/magazine ads. Imagine short, creative, impacting messages geared to the American people and not ourselves, great messages that could wow the American people, who by their own culture, love to hear about achievement. It’s the American way.
My hope is that our Israel advocacy organizations one day come together with the help of creative public relations professionals and tell some very impressive messages to all my non-Jewish, nonevangelical American friends who have no clue about Israel except what they hear about “occupiers.”
The time to work on these educational hasbara efforts is in times of calm, not conflict, as we have done often in the past. Over the many years, I recall our communities and their organizations reacting during a major conflict such as the Six Day War or the Yom Kippur War with the usual response — a full-page expensive ad filled with text margin to margin signed by numerous people at the bottom, often resembling the Declaration of Independence. It’s definitely not an attention grabber and a total waste of funds and effort, because it’s really of no interest to the audience. What a waste of energy and precious funds.
For sure, advocating for Israel does mean going to Capitol Hill and pressing the flesh, but the other half of advocacy is to educate the American people who, when impressed, will themselves call their congressional representatives.
I often lecture to Jewish audiences hoping to alter their advocacy thinking and present hasbara workshops to teens who soon will be our Jewish leadership and know how to create impacting messages. I would hope that sometime in the future our Zionist advocates for Israel take a second look at communicating to Americans not about borders, conflict datelines and unreadable maps loaded with extensive text and instead send messages about really impressive Israeli accomplishments.
Avrum Ashery is a retired media adviser to the U.S. Congress.