By Dan Fleshler | January 1, 2009
Happy New Year, information warrriors. I spent half an hour trying to write an angry riff on what follows, as I am still appalled by Israeli behavior. Then my mind wandered.
I pictured a junior IDF information officer, staring at a memo sent in advance of the possible ground operation, asking him to answer the question noted in the article below: “When you have a Palestinian kid facing an Israeli tank, how do you explain that the tank is actually David and the kid is Goliath?”
He was not a monster, this poor guy who dwelled in my brain for a few seconds (although hard leftists would have denounced me for having that thought, had they been able to read my mind). Far from it. Just a nice, articulate and utterly confused young guy from the muddled middle of Israeli politics, who didn’t have the faintest idea of what Israel should do about the Hamasniks on its doorstep, who believed the information the IDF gave him. I decided that his parents lived in Ashdod and he was terribly worried about them, because they were getting scared that the rocket fire would get worse, not better. I pictured his parents, who could easily have been my parents, had my grandparents (from the Ukraine and Bessarabia) washed ashore in Palestine instead of the U.S so many years ago. And then I reread the following, absolutely bloodcurdling paragraphs from the Times of London, and I got angry again…And then I just burst into tears (seriously!).
The blogosphere and new media are another war zone. The important thing is to get the truth out there, Major Avital Leibovich, an army spokeswoman, said. The stakes are high for Israel, intent on smashing Hamas before world opinion forces it to put the brakes on its devastating airstrikes on one of the most densely populated conurbations in the world.
According to Uri Dromi, a former government press adviser and air force colonel,the key to Israel’s campaign, in terms of the international reaction, was the timing.
He said: “The timing was perfect. No one was there. Obama was in Hawaii. Bush was in Texas. Condoleezza Rice was away. It was a twilight zone. It was the perfect time for Israel to do something which we believe is justified, but will always come up against problem opposition.”
However, Mr Dromi admitted that the administration will struggle to win hearts and minds if footage of those suffering in Gaza continues to be shown. “When you have a Palestinian kid facing an Israeli tank, how do you explain that the tank is actually David and the kid is Goliath?”
“That is why the television kills us. Newspapers are better because they give context.”
However, he adds: “Only when you don’t win the war decisively, that’s when you need the PR war. I would rather win the real war.”