Israel Gaza internet PR campaign hots up

2012-11-21 22:18

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Jerusalem - The Israeli government is trying to pre-empt a publicity pounding over its Gaza offensive by aggressively pushing out its version of events, furiously tweeting and Facebook posting updates from a "media bunker."

The instant they heard about a bus bombing in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, scores of tech-savvy youth in Israel's government media command centre in Jerusalem sprang into action.

They began flooding social media with updates and created a graphic exclaiming: "We didn't send in our ground troops, but they sent in theirs! @IsraelUnderFire."

In an operation attached to Israel's press office, hundreds of volunteers produce and post instant videos and graphics about the latest twists in the Gaza offensive from Israel's point of view. Its Facebook site, "Israel Under Fire," has gained more than 24 000 "likes" over the last week.

Israel began its campaign of airstrikes in Gaza last week following months of rocket fire from Gaza-based Palestinian militants. More than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed in the violence.

"People need to put themselves in Israelis' shoes," said Natan Epstein, 22, putting the finishing touches on an animation of Manhattan under a simulated rocket attack. "And luckily we don't need a biased media to help us do that anymore."

"We're removing the media middle men," said Daniel Seaman, deputy director general of Israel's Ministry of Public Diplomacy, as youth buzzed around with computers and smartphones. "They used to say the Elders of Zion controlled the media. Well, here are the youngsters of Zion who are running it."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rallied the volunteers earlier this week in a video conference, where he reflected the widely held view among Israelis and many of their supporters that the news media are anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian.

"We are [operating] on four fronts: The military front, the home front, the diplomatic front and the public diplomacy front. We must fight for the truth, for the facts, and your help is worth more than gold ... refuting the industry of lies," he said.

Interactive Media

The Israeli military spokesperson, Avital Leibovich, a self-described Twitter addict, heads a two-month-old "Interactive Media" branch, staffed with around 30 soldiers trained in writing and graphic design. She plans to devote full time to the new effort next year.

For its part, Hamas is countering Israel's Internet firepower with only an unverified Twitter account, though legions of pro-Palestinian activists around the world are peppering the internet with posts and tweets.

Media experts say that Israel's public relations campaign is just an extension of the traditional effort by government propaganda machines to dictate and control the media narrative during a conflict.

"The underlying reasons of Israel's propaganda are to silence the enemy, gain international support and justify wars," says Helga Tawil-Souri, associate professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.

"Their goal has not fundamentally changed over the years, only the platforms on which these are disseminated," she said.

Yuval Dror, head of the digital communication programme at Israel's College of Management Academic Studies, questioned how effective the government's information campaign would be.

"The Vietnam War was the first war that was televised, and this war might be one of the very first that's being battled so energetically across all web fronts and platforms. The medium is the message," he said. "But whose message will win the internet and its users in this war is still unclear."

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    twitter  |  facebook  |  israel  |  social media  |  internet
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

A simple Bok plan will floor USA
Eben, Lood ‘brutal identikits’
6 reasons Boks won’t botch it
Fiji far too strong for Uruguay
Traffic Alerts

Relationships and significant connections may play an important role in your day today. Let the warmth of the Leo moon inspire more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.