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.


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.


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!!!

Mazel tov!

I’ve disappeared from the blogging world for a good reason – looking for a shidduch for my oldest son. Baruch Hashem he got engaged this week and we of course are thrilled.

I will probably disappear again until after the wedding and Sheva Brachot (the week of celebration afterwards), but hopefully I’ll be back…..

Faster Please

There will be a new air defense system to compliment the Iron Dome that Israel has deployed against the kassam and Grad rockets fired from Gaza. This system, sometimes called Magic Wand, is supposed to be ready for deployment within two years, and was unveiled at the Paris Air Show rcently.

This system will be very much needed if Hizballah decides to start firing rockets at us from Lebanon. The craziness in Syria has its affect in the other countries surrounding Israel – as this interesting analysis of last night’s rocket fire from Gaza points out.

A Tribute to Our Soldiers

I would like to share this beautiful tribute to the IDF soldiers that I found on the IDF Facebook page. My two younger sons are now in the process of going through the various tests to figure out where they want to serve, so this is becoming more and more relevant to our family.  Enjoy!

The Forgotten Refugees

Today is the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet – a minor fast day in the Jewish calendar. It is also called the Yom HaKadish HaKlali in Israel. This means that today is the official day of mourning for Jews who do not know the exact date of their relative’s deaths, and they say Kaddish for them today. Most of the people who fit this unfortunate category are Holocaust survivors, and the day is sometimes used to educate the younger generation in Israel about Holocaust history (usually in the Orthodox community, since it coincides with a fast.)

Today, in contrast to past years,  I would like to share a interesting video about the survivors of anti-Semitism and persecution from another part of the world – specifically from the Arab countries. They call themselves the “forgotten refugees” – since there is very little written about the million Jews expelled from the Arab countries around the time of Israel’s independence in 1948. Very little is written also about the riots and massacres carried out before the expulsions.

Why Are The Number of Israeli Casualties So Low?

The IDF spokesman’s blog asks the question, whey are the number of Israeli casualties so low – and answers here. The short version, we have the Iron Dome System that destroys some of the rockets before they fall, and the people have access to bomb shelters – either in their homes (the safe room, or mamad in Israeli slang) or in public shelters in their apartment buildings.

The long version of this answer is our society and its values. We Jews value life above (practically) all else. We use our human and physical resources in order to do whatever we can to save lives. We use our superior technologies to help us survive. Unfortunately we have had a lot of experience in warfare and defending the homefront, and we try to learn from every war. The fact that we have safe rooms in houses came about as a reaction to the Gulf War in 1991. After that war a law was passed that every new residence was required to have a safe room built into it. These safe rooms have literally saved thousands of lives, just in the past week.

The IDF youtube site has a short video showing the incredible damage to an apartment in Rishon LeZion hit yesterday, and at the end it shows how the safe room is completely intact.

Creative Ways to Get the Message Across

The public relations effort to support Israel during the Pillar of Defense operation takes many forms, and the new media is a major player. One new group doing its part to help is called the Israeli Explanation Art Project. They have a Facebook page and they have been publishing artwork and video clips. I am including a video and picture for my readers to get a taste. I urge you to support them.

Artwork by a member of the Israeli Explanation Art Project

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