Bibi’s Brilliant Media Campaign

I wanted to write this post throughout the past election season in Israel, but I was busy with work, Pesach preparations, etc. After the Likud’s victory at the polls I felt I needed to take the time. The media team working for Bibi Netanyahu ran a skilled and creative media campaign. Someone leading it understands the Israeli mindset and knew how to use modern tools not only to get the message across but to do it with flair.

From the very first Bibi and his media team were working against a vicious left-wing media, with only Yisrael Hayom on his side, and Makor Rishon at least somewhat objective. His team knew that the left would pull out all of the stops and would not give him a fair chance. So how do you fight against this? One, you control the message – as much as you can. When the news was all about the supposed financial scandals (bottleGate?) they calmly said that they would react to a report when (and, if) it was official – and then changed the subject. Instead of being defensive and filling the airways with “excuses”, they recognized that most people don’t really pay attention to the details, they just pay attention to the general idea.

The clip with the interior designer visiting the Netanyahu residence in Jerusalem was nothing short of brilliant. If a picture is worth a thousand words than this video was worth a million. I work in a place with a lot of young left-wingers (and a lot of right-wingers too). Everyone, even the most die-hard Meretz voter, had to see that clip. The picutre of the peeling ceiling is all that stayed in people’s minds afterwards, and completely destroyed the meme of Sarah Netanyahu as the spoiled princess in her castle.

Then they used humor, in a very calculated way. The clips with Bibi and the kindergarden and Bibi as the babysitter were great. The message reinforced what most Israelis thought anyway, that he was much more qualified to be Prime Minister than anyone else in Israel now. It gave Bibi a chance to show that he has a sense of humor, and it used the internet to reach many more people than in any other way. I also noticed that whoever made the clip was very careful not to portray Netanyahu as feminine, a danger when putting him in a traditional femal role. Bibi wore black, and his tone of voice was calm and commanding – not whiny.

Which of course brings us to Buji and his voice. Avoda – (I can’t bring myself to call them Machane HaTzioni – what a farce) made a mistake by trying to defend Buji with their clips. They should have ignored this weakness altogether. The media team was of course also served by Barak Obama’s pettiness. If the media in America had ignored Bibi’s speech to Congress than it would have been a two day event in Israel – some coverage the day before and a little afterwards. Instead the speech became the topic of conversation for weeks, and Bibi got credit not only for the speech itself but also for withstanding the pressure to cancel it.

The Likud’s media team was also helped by V15. We Jews are stubborn, and Israelis even more so. Most people were angry at the idea of a foreign country pouring money into our country to support “overthrowing” our Prime Minister.

Access to Netanyahu was also controlled. Most people don’t stop to think that the media needs access to politicians and the Prime Minister – this is their oxygen. The name of the game is attention – and you can’t get it if one of the star players ignores you. During the last few days before the election Bibi gave interviews to those who were, if not supporters, at least somewhat objective in their coverage, and he snubbed everyone else.

The pollsters also gave a boost to Bibi. The media team took the last minute rise of Buji in the polls to inject a sense of urgency into the race. The Likud media team was also helped by the very chutzpah of the left-wing media. The anti-Bibi bias was taken to such an extreme that even people who don’t like Bibi had to admit that he was being attacked unfairly. If the media was more objective in this country than this past election cycle would have been, ironically, much harder for the Likud.


We Need to Be Vigilant on All Fronts

Ron Ben Yishai writes an excellent anyalysis of the war in Gaza. He makes a lot of good points, and says that we need patience and endurance and that we will eventually beat the terrorists in Gaza.

Another point that I think is important when judging our success or failure in Gaza is the very concrete reality that we in Israel have to be vigilant on many fronts. We are literally surrounded by enemies and need to be able to “pivot” to face more than one enemy at a time. It is dangerous for us to committ too many troops in one place for too long.

The defense ministry is now concerned about the threat to Israel by Islamic fanatics in Syria. We need to be able to fight up north if need be, and it is a good thing that we don’t have troops fighting a ground war in Gaza.

In War, Less is More

The news analysts are having a field day trying to decide if we won, lost, or tied with Hamas after the latest operation/war. Some are very clear in their opinion and some hedge their bets by claiming that we won’t be able to tell if the operation was successful until we see how much time it takes Hamas to start up again – pointing out, correctly, that after the Second Lebanon War everyone was sure that Hizbollah was not crushed and would start firing rockets at Israel soon after. The fact that it has been quiet in the north for more than eight years seems to point out that the war in Lebanon was a success after all.

I have my own opinion (I think that this war was conducted perfectly) but instead of a long post detailing everything I want to make a few points.

The wars that Israel fights usually don’t end like they do in the movies, where the bad guys get smacked down dramatically and everyone feels great at the end. Especially when dealing with terrorist groups, these things last a long time. The fighting goes in stages and can last for decades. Those claiming that this war was a failure because there was no “victory image” have an unrealistic view of what life is like here.

This time around the IDF fought differently, and these differences will add to Israel’s overally security.

1. The Israel Air Force did not hesitate to bomb places where rockets were being launched, even in civilian areas. When Hamas launched rockets from mosques and schools the IAF bombed them – and guess what? The sky did not fall down. Even after the UN and the President of the United States got angry about it – the IAF continued.

2. The Israel Air Force bombed houses where the terrorist leaders were hiding – even if it meant that innocent civilians got killed, and again, there were no dire consequences to Israel. Hamas will need to take these two points into consideration and know that their human shields were not very protective after all.

3. The IDF only sent in their ground forces to do what could only be done on the ground – namely destroying tunnels. Then these forces were taken out. Despite the public pressure to go in and “finish Hamas off”, our leaders fought with their heads and not their hearts – and they saved a lot of soldiers’ lives, and they avoided what Hamas wanted more than anything – Israeli soldiers in captivity.

When the dust clears, and people calm down, our “victory” will become much more apparent. Hamas brought on destruction and death to their people, and it will take years to rebuild. Those who are funding the rockets will need to ask themselves if it is worth it to spend millions of dollars on rockets that don’t hit their targets. Those building the tunnels will know that Israel knows about them and is working on technology to detect them earlier. (Not to mention an interesting fact about tunnels – that they literally go both ways. I am sure there are tunnels that the IDS knows about that they can use for Special Forces to go into Gaza. Look for more “Gaza work accidents in tunnels” in the future.)

A last point: The disengagement happened nine years ago. Except for the seriously right wing, everyone else in the country agreed to rip 10,000 Jews from their homes. Most said that they wanted to “give peace a chance”, but the real underlying reason was that they did not want their husbands and sons to have to serve in Gaza and risk being killed by the terrorists there. Most of the people in the country still feel the same way.

Those who live in the south under rocket fire are complaining about the fact that their security is being sacrificed every few years, and it is intolerable. I agree with them – but I also understand the politicians who are reluctant to use the IDF to take over the Gaza strip again. Most Israelis do not want the IDF to take over Gaza. Until they change their minds – the people in the south will suffer. On the other hand, you can’t blame the government for this. They are only doing what the people expect.

“Happy” Tel-Aviv Style

Another upbeat music video – “Happy” Tel-Aviv style. One of the things that help us survive and thrive in Israel is our upbeat outlook on life. Enjoy!

A Strong Message, Whether or Not Deif if Dead

Did the IAF succeed in killing Muhammad Deif in last night’s bombing of the house in Gaza? That is the question that the Israeli press is chewing on tonight. My take is that of course it will be a blow to Hamas if he was taken out, but a strong message was still sent out even if he survived (again).

The Israel Air Force did not hesitate to bomb the house, even when they knew that Deif’s wife and children were there.

This is a change from the usual procedure of calling off strikes when civilians are in danger.

All of the other leaders in Hamas will now take note that their families are not safe. (I wonder how many wives and children will now be given shelter in the tunnels?) They also know that after being separated from the family for a long time, Israeli planes are still hovering and waiting for them to appear aboveground and “help” them to become the shahidim that they supposedly want to be.

Perhaps after this latest round of rockets, the self preservation instinct will kick in and Hamas will come to think that this round is over.


Another Great Music Video to Keep the Unity Going

Here is another great music video with the purpose to keep the Jewish unity going strong….

Great New Song to Lift Your Spirits

I saw this on Facebook (thanks Rafi) and I thought I would share it with everyone. As I wrote, this makes you cry and smile at the same time, which sums up Jewish life in Israel.


Time for a Breather

It is erev Shabbat and the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel has been broken. The IAF is hitting some targets in Gaza but it seems minor. I think that we are taking a bit of a breather and perhaps there are those behind the scenes trying to get Hamas to lower their expectations.

By motzei Shabbat we should have a clearer picture of where the war is going.

Personally, the soldiers I know of are now home for a much needed break, letting their mothers and wives spoil them and getting some sleep.

Closer to home, in the midst of this war, the military court finally decided to put my Chabad son in prison for a month. He will get out around Rosh Chodesh Elul and then start his regular army service (and hopefully a more normal married life with his new bride). We consider this to be a good verdict as the prosecution wanted him in prison for six months.

I may have some interesting things to write about as a mother of a Charedi soldier in the IDF (and a mother of two Dati Leumi sons in yeshiva and preparing their own army service in the IDF.)

For now the Gaza war is in the forefront. I hope the soldiers do not have to go in again to fight, but I am continuing my tehillim in any case.

Shabbat Shalom and we should only hear good news.

Did We Win?

A lot of political pundits will debate whether we won the war in Gaza. I personally completely agree with Victor Davis Hanson in his analysis here, where he writes about the political side of the war. (Of course we won).

A more important question in my mind is how we fared as people in this war – and again we unquestionably won. We won by being united and by giving of ourselves to each other. I have lived in Israel since 1991, and I don’t remember such unity. The past 20 (!) years, after the Oslo Accords were signed and we started a long period of bitter fights over the security situation, culminating in the disaster of the disengagement, have been very tough for Israelis. The unabashed patriotism and outpouring of love for the soldiers is a tonic for everyone here.

Davka now, a lot of ahavat chinam is what we experienced. Baruch Hashem!


Family Update – Both the Nuclear Family and All of Israel

A short update on what is happening with our family.

My son was transferred to what in Hebrew is called “maatzar patuach” in the Tel HaShomer army base, until the court decides if and how much time he needs to spend in military prison before he starts his regular army service. This means that he has to stay in the base and can only go out when he gets official leave, which for the past 6 weeks has been every few weeks for Shabbat.

His wife can visit him by standing at the gate of the base, but she does not have official permission to enter the base to see him. As you can imagine this situation is not ideal for a newly married couple, but they are both dealing with it as best they can. We are hoping that the military court will finally come to a decision so that even if he needs to do some prison time we will know when it ends.

As far as the security situation, when we are home in our yishuv things are very quiet, but when we are at work we are like everyone else in Tel Aviv – periodic sirens where we need to go to the miklat (in my case an inner stairwell in our office). In general people are feeling secure since the Kipat Barzel system is shooting down the bombs before they fall, but there is still a danger from the shrapnel that falls to earth after the bomb is destroyed, so being in an open space is scary. The sound of the sirens themselves is also frightening.

There is a general increase in anxiety though. After a siren in a specific place the phone system goes into overdrive because everyone needs to call their family to make sure everyone is ok. Watsup is my tool of choice for this.

Many people have soldiers in their family who have been called up and will be going into Gaza when there is a ground invasion.

As usual we react to the stress with a lot of black humor, increased prayer, and the repeating cycle of obssessing with the news/Facebook and then taking a news fast when it gets to be too much. Working full time happens to be a positive thing – the work still has to get done, no matter what is going on outside, so people can’t obssess too much.

We should only hear good news!!!

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