Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Israel, Lebanon: In The P.R. Wars Arabs Lose to Israel In The US

After watching hours of coverage from the Lebanon crisis on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CBS and ABC, I am hardly surprised that polls show the US public overwhelmingly supports Israel.

It is because the Israelis are a hell of a lot better at selling themselves to the U.S. public.

All I see are telegenic I.D.F. spokespeople hitting the right buzzwords, in perfect -even US accented- English. They put their own spin or potentially harmful items, like non-combatant deaths in Lebanon, using much of the same language that U.S. military briefers use. It goes without saying that the upper echelons of Israel's government and their top brass are pretty confortable parrying Anderson Cooper's or O'Reilly's softball questions on live television.

On the other side, just about every Lebanese, Syrian, or even the odd Hizbullah types come on with heavy accents and stiff manerisms. They might speak French well and seem suave to some Europeans, but Americans expect clever soundbites. And some of these guys come across almost as cartoon villians, particularly when they launch into textbook denunciations of Israel and the US. Does not help, that the few women who do appear, are usually wearing scarves, which makes a stunning contrast with Israeli female spokespeople who radiate authority and competence.

In today's highly globalized world where Americans receive their news in short bursts this kind of perception matters. What can you say when your best p.r. people are Pat Buchanan and Queen Noor? There is little excuse that countries like Lebanon or Syria, can not emulate the Gulf States, in having people who can make their case to the American public in today's media. One side is not stating its case to the public, and the complains about anti-Arabic or anti-Islamic attitudes. Countries like these should know better, they are not unsophisticated and have many US-educated professionals. Ultimately, if they complain so much about the American government's policies, they might have figured out they should go to the source of these policies, the Israeli's beat them a long time ago at it.


Jonathan said...

Syria supports Hezbollah, as do some prominent Lebanese politicians who are often quoted in the press. Hezbollah's position is that the Jews should be killed and their country destroyed. It's a bit difficult to put a favorable spin on that, no matter how good your PR operation is.

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