While rockets and bombs darken the skies in Israel and Palestine, verbal rockets and bombs of both sides are landing in broadcast and print media worldwide.
The "PR" part of the hostilities, meaning the attempt to influence public opinion, is seen by both sides as just as important as the military side.
Both find flaws in the way the other side is presenting its case. Spokespeople for each side are conducting one-on-one interviews at CNN, Fox and other media but there have been no open, U.S. Presidential-style press conferences.
A Gallup telephone poll Aug. 5 found 42% of 1,019 Americans reached feel Israel's response is justified while 38% say it is not. A poll on the odwyerpr.com currently is running 56% in favor of Palestine winning the "media war in the Mideast."
An odwyerpr.com poll has 56% claiming a Palestinian victory in the "media war." PR Week/U.S., asking readers to vote on whether "Israel's reputation has taken a hit during its military operation in Gaza," found that 62.5% checked "Certainly. The images of suffering Palestinian children and civilians haven't helped its cause." No one supported the statement: "Both its government and military have communicated its side thoroughly."
Another 12.5% said PR "wins" and "losses" can't be measured in international affairs and 25% said Israel has to defend itself even if it gets negative coverage.
PRS Has “Trial” of PR; Press and O’Dwyer Barred
New York PRSA chapter president Henry Feintuch said today the executive committee has barred live press coverage of a panel Sept. 8 that will consider the topic: "PR professionals practice deception." The EC is advising interested press to view a webcast. “Security” at the event will ensure that only registered guests can attend, he said in an e-mail Aug. 11.
A request for this writer to be on the panel, since the New York Observer, called us the "chronicler and conscience of PR." was turned down by the chapter’s EC. The program is being conducted by Emmanuel Tchividjian of Ruder Finn, a member of the Ethics Board of the national Society and chief ethics officer of RF.
Panelists are Paul Holmes of the Holmes Report; Randy Cohen, who wrote “The Ethicist” column for the New York Times for 12 years until 2011; Douglas Simon, D S Simon Productions; Michael Schubert of RF, and Steve Cody of Peppercomm.
The "Mock Tribunal of the PR Profession" is set for Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the SUNY Global Center, 116 E. 55th st. It is free but advance registration is required. The audience, sans press, will be the "jury." Only in rare instances is the press ever barred from an actual trial in a courtroom.
The chapter has shown itself to be under the thumb of the national Society, which has an ambivalent attitude to the O’Dwyer Co. National sold tens of thousands of copies of O’Dwyer articles from 1978-94, reaping profits that reached $60K yearly in the 1990s. Nearly 100 pages of O’Dwyer articles were found in 11 info packets that were purchased in 1993. Rather than reaching a settlement with Jack O’Dwyer and 12 other authors whose articles were illegally copied and sold, the Society has launched a “war” against the O’Dwyer Co. ever since.
There's no doubt that one of the main engines driving the service, which sold 3,500 packets yearly, were the expert O'Dwyer articles. Instead of paying $200 and more for the O'Dwyer NL and magazine, PRS members were able to obtain numerous "professional development" articles for $20 including postage.
PRS refused to reimburse 13 authors who threatened a lawsuit. The authors were unable to find a law firm that would pursue it although one was hired for $6,000 to explore a suit. Costs would be in the hundreds of thousands, the authors were told, because PRS promised a stout defense and the authors could expect to be sued individually.
Although O'Dwyer articles were a bedrock of the info service, the Society in years after that attacked O'Dwyer reports on the Society as "lies" and "flat-out lies" and instituted a formal boycott as of 2006.
PRSA/NY had a "career day" April 2, 2013 at New York University but O'Dwyer reporters were blocked from entering the building by VP-PR Arthur Yann of the national staff and a security officer of NYU.
Netanyahu Leads Media Charge for Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assisted by his personal spokesperson, Mark Regev, has been leading the PR offensive for Israel.
Netanyahu spelled out his positions in nearly an hour-long conversation Aug. 7 with Fox newscaster Sean Hannity, who spent most of the week in Israel interviewing soldiers, citizens and leaders. He did not visit Gaza.
"Hamas, Islamic Jihad, they sacrifice their own people deliberately," said Netanyahu, according to a 5,126-word transcript of the session. "The more civilian deaths, the better, from their point of view."
The prime minister said at the start of the interview that "We're in a terrible conflict with a terrible enemy. And we regret—I personally regret and the people of Israel regret every civilian casualty that we have. Israel does not target civilians. It targets terrorists."
Civilians are "put in harm's way deliberately by Hamas terrorists," said Netanyahu. It's not a "war crime" when there are unintended civilian casualties in a military action, he added.
Hamas has "absolutely no regard for civilians," he said. "So the first thing they do is target our civilians. They fired 3,500 rockets into our cities, covering 80% of our population. Imagine 250 million Americans will have to go on alert to get into bomb shelters against incoming rockets."
Three people have been killed by Hamas rockets and mortars since almost all land either on empty land or in Gaza itself or are intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Netanyahu also said "21st century weapons" are being wedded with "early medieval doctrines." A similar charge is also made by critics of Israel.
Regev Sticks to Messages
Regev, who appears almost every day on U.S. and foreign media, sticks with the same messages as Netanyahu although interviewers press various points such as the civilian deaths and destruction of Gaza buildings.
None of this would have happened if Hamas agents did not use facilities such as schools, mosques, hospitals, factories and apartment buildings to store rockets and launch them within close proximity to such locations, he told Jon Snow of the U.K.'s Independent TV News July 17.
Israel, the United Nations and sources in Gaza disagree on the percentage of Palestinian civilian deaths—Israel saying nearly 50% are militants or Hamas victims of one sort of another (including suspected spies for Israel who are executed) while Hamas and the U.N. say about 90% of the victims are civilians.
Canadian journalist Douglas Murray on July 24 made an extensive case in support of the Israeli view of the conflict via Sun News of Canada, describing radical muslim movements in many countries and describing the death totals they have inflicted.
Falk, Chomsky Rep Palestinians
Among those presenting the viewpoint of the Palestinians are Richard Falk, Princeton professor emeritus of international law, and Noam Chomsky, linguist and philosopher.
Falk says Israel is not interested in creating a Palestinian state and that the "primitive" rockets being launched at it are the only means Hamas has to draw world attention to Gaza.
Chomsky, in an essay distributed Aug. 3 by the New York Times Syndicate, says Hamas, rather than being dedicated to the destruction of Israel, has said that it would accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus but this has been blocked by the U.S. and Israel for 40 years.
Zaid Jilani, a former senior reporter at ThinkProgress and currently a graduate student at Syracuse University, contends that the influence of the Israeli lobby on U.S. politics may be waning.