Friday, June 11, 2010

How Israel Can Win the PR War: Ambassador Oren on Colbert

by Ryan Mauro

Last night, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren went on The Colbert Report. This was a risky move—Colbert’s wit is unmatched and his ability to pose a tough question in the form of a joke is enough to make anyone sweat. But, Ambassador Oren came out on top, introduced facts about the flotilla controversy that I’m sure many members of Colbert’s audience weren’t aware of.Watch the video below:
The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Formidable Opponent – Michael Oren
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

Israel needs to do more of this. They need to have people proactively reaching out to colleges and individual clubs on campuses to have speakers like Oren. They need to immediately pitch segments to radio and T.V. producers when an incident like this happens. Often, Israel waits too long to gather the facts and by then, the other side has written the narrative. This time, Israel did a bit better by releasing several videos of the clash and the finding of weapons onboard. They were also helped by the presence of open-source information about the IHH, the Turkish Islamist group closely tied to Hamas.

One of the points Israel needs to push harder to make is the nature of the blockade and how they went about searching the ship. Colbert apparently believes the Israelis acted too aggressively and put the women and children onboard the ship unnecessarily in harm’s way.

Israel needs to mention how much aid it allows to go to Gaza, and that this isn’t a World War Two-style blockade meant to starve the population into submission. They need to explain how the Israelis just wanted to conduct a search and were first attacked, some of which only had paintball guns. It would be absolutely insane for Israel not to search ships that could (and in this case, did) carry weapons for Hamas.

This wasn’t an Israeli attack. It was a safe, reasonable security procedure that should be accepted just like how we accept that airport security must search our bags. This was an ambush, pure and simple.

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