Thursday, March 27, 2008

Well Worth It

Faced with the Arab PR efforts during the Second Lebanon War, only a handful of pro-Israel PR efforts turned out to be effective; and although I've never really praised any political figure, I can point to Netanyahu as someone whose PR efforts, carried out of his London suite, were well worth every penny.

What ever sums of money the media quoted – whether paid for by the Israeli taxpayer or not – we got our money's worth.

Should we try and find out how much a leading international lobbying firm would have charged for what Netanyahu accomplished in the world media and the social and financial arenas at the time of the war, it would probably come to several million dollars. He made full use of whatever screen time he was given, he was able to reach the hearts of the Americans and Europeans and link Israel's interest to their gut-feelings, to their relevant fears and to the Islamo-demographic developments mounting across Europe.

...One of his most notable achievements at that time was his appearance on SKY news, in which he exposed a Hizbullah spokesman – perceived by many European networks as a celebrity, a popular freedom fighter and an eloquent speaker – for the terrorist that he was, unworthy of the screen time given to him (even the interviewer eventually had no choice but to agree with Netanyahu, who "made a valid point.")

I don't know why Netanyahu stayed in a hotel. He should have been given a proper office in the Israeli embassy in London, but petty disputes in the government would have probably hindered such a thing. It's a shame really. One would think that when in war, and if the Opposition is able to carry itself in a State-like manner, the foreign minister would be able to put a side the internal partisan disputes and ask him to become an official player in the PR game.

Netanyahu's financial conduct may have been flawed. The Israeli elite has long been asked to get closer to the people, to reassure them it recognizes their hardships for being more than just statistics. I won't pretend to address any questions of ethics, proper administration (or lack thereof) or question pertaining to the politics of public or private funding, but I do know one thing: Even if the visit was funded by Israeli money, we still got off cheap.

Udi Lebel

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