Posted by Amanda Chapel Wednesday, November 1, 2006
For those devout eagerly praying for the Apocalypse, here's a sure sign. There was a chilling Op-Ed on Ynetnews, Israel’s leading news site Monday. Former Israeli diplomat Zvi Mazel beat the drums of war recommending "the building of offensive and defensive tactics." Mazel suggests an aggressive campaign aimed right at the heart of the Arab world.
Yikes! The bell tolls for the End Times!
Well, it's not like we didn't know this day would come:
"Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying: "Tell us Lord, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of the end of the age?"
And He saith unto them: "See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in all corners of the earth. All these are the beginning of sorrows."
“Oh right... And you will hear rumors of war."
And there it is: "Rumors!" Excuse me but that's pretty much the biblical equivalent of PR.
In his editorial titled "Bikinis are not enough," Mazel chides the Israeli Foreign Ministry for its "soft puffery." Apparently, Israel's current communication experts treat the country like a product. He describes the current efforts as inadequate and "schmaltzy."
"The campaign may even depict an Israeli blond in a bikini. To this end, Israel would become a brand just like Coca Cola and ad agencies would present it wrapped and ready to market. But does anyone really believe that a country can be marketed like a dress or a car?"
Mazel recognizes that Israel needs to do something about its deteriorating perception worldwide. But he recommends the country take an aggressive war footing. According to Mazel, "Israel needs a sophisticated, effective PR effort to fight a hostile world."
Specifically, he recommends that Israel:
- dialogue directly with the Arab world.
- counter Arab PR efforts that consistently portray Israel in a distorted light.
- address the media and Europe's left wing that casts the blame for the continuation of the conflict on Israel.
- better oppose anti-Semitic institutions and churches that are incessantly condemning Israel disproportionately.
Mazel said, "Israel would do well to halt its foolish branding campaign. What is called for is the building of offensive and defensive tactics that are no less important than preparing the army for war."
"Foolish"? Hmmmmmm, that's really the operative word here. Fact is: there's foolish on paper and foolish in practice. Going to war in Iraq was great on paper but foolish in practice. The pet rock was a really stupid idea but fantastic in practice. Go figure.
Bikinis may be foolish on paper but Zvi's idea fails in practice. Consider an army of typical PR babes (Liz, Emily, Shannon, Erica, Katie, Stephanie, Corinne, Courtney, Rachel, Molly, Vicky, Leslie, Susie, Sara, Jeannine, Jessica, Allison, Trisha, Lisa, Stacy, Michelle, Ashley, Alexia, Amy, Kristen, Abby, Bethany, et al.) handing out media packets full of press releases, camera-ready art and cookies on the front lines of a battle against Hezbollah or the Palestinians. It's reminiscent of Bill Murray's recommendation on Saturday Night Live regarding rescuing the hostages in Iran. Murray suggested that the U.S. send a few battalions of ill-equipped ill-trained all-women troops. Bottom line, Murray said, "If we lose, we can always say, ‘so what, you beat a bunch of girls.’"
Seriously, history says it's likely foolish in practice, as well. The Jews of Germany in the 1930s decided what they really needed was a "positive" PR campaign designed to "overturn negative stereotypes." They aimed it not at the Nazis but at Roosevelt, Churchill and global business and opinion leaders to arouse appropriate concerns about Hitler's plans. It was meant to encourage a rescue. Apparently, that didn't go too well. Even the Jewish-owned New York Times would not publish the early reports of the Holocaust.
If I were an Israeli leader, I don't know how I'd respond to Mazel. Yes, I might say, we need to tell our story, and tell it straight, so we have a chance of countering the extremely negative portrayals out there. But at the same time, isn't it really too late? Left-wing opinion is unalterably anti-Israel now. It's a position that has become totally immune to the facts. Arab children start hearing anti-Semitic propaganda from when they first begin school and then Israel's provocative actions only continue the cycle.
How about this? How about a few battalions of well-tanned bikini-clad female troops? Forget the press releases. Now THAT would work. Then again, try to find forty holy virgins in PR.
Two Palestinian women were killed and another 10 were reported wounded when Israeli forces today opened fire on a group preparing to act as a human shield for militants in a Gaza mosque.
Dozens of women were gathering outside the mosque in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip this morning after an appeal on a local radio station. More than 30 gunmen had taken refuge in the building after the Israeli army began its largest Gaza offensive in months in an attempt to stop militants launching rocket attacks on nearby Jewish settlements over the border.
...But you just can't make a good outcast like you used to.
Remember “third-party endorsements?" Getting influential people to pronounce their approve of a client was once thought to be the absolute brass ring in the PR biz. No more. Nowadays, if a junior account executive comes into your office with a scheme to get a client endorsed by some notable, well forget it. You've got no choice. It's obvious they're hopelessly clueless and you've got to let them go.
“You just don’t get it Jennifer. We're paid to get our clients market attention. No one gives a damn about Bambi anymore, Sweet Cheeks. Look at Paris Hilton! Look at Lindsay Lohan! Look at the Dixie Chicks for Christ's sake. It's all about creating controversy. Sex sells!!”
Today, the Dixie Chicks are more famous for being despised than they are for their songs. Given their new rep as brave and vocal soldiers of the First Amendment, the Chicks’ music is curiously pedestrian. Excuse me but they're more Dolly Parton than Marilyn Manson. But when country-music DJs and Republican politicians denounced them for dising President Bush, the Chicks immediately became one of the hottest acts in the country.
This was all recently documented by acclaimed filmmaker Barbara Kopple in her latest, "Shut Up and Sing." Kopple, who's won an Oscar portraying the downtrodden coalminers of Harlan County, Ky., knows virtuous martyrs when she sees them, even quadruple-platinum-record ones.
Unfortunately for the movie distributors, the Dixie Chicks’ CONTROVERSY was way back in 2003. Somehow, in the intervening three years, the gals have curiously avoided deportation and imprisonment. They weren't even reduced to playing seedy nightclubs or doing parking-lot tricks for 2 bits a throw. Nothing. Well today, hugely mundane turns out to be a huge PR problem.
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