Op-Ed: MEDIA MATTERS: Ten Friendly Tips for Naftali Bennett
In an era where Israel is constantly under attack by the world, perhaps there can be no better symbol for the Jewish state than a proud Jew, who wears a yarmulke, served in the elite Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) Sayeret Matkal unit, and is a self-made millionaire. Forty-year-old Naftali Bennett, who formerly served as Chief of Staff for Prime Minister Netanyahu and is now the Chairman of the Jewish Home party (Habayit Hayehudi), is a proud Jew.
As he is a stalwart nationalist, traditional Jew, and polls show his party could be the 3rd largest political party in Israel, expect him to continue to be attacked and manipulated by the mainstream leftist media. Statements he made have been taken out of context during a hostile interviewer on Israel’s Channel 2 station. If he were a leftist, he’d be lauded by the world’s media as a fresh new voice in the Middle East – as a bright hope for the State of Israel.
Watching this brouhaha and as CEO of one of the largest PR firms in the world, I wanted to offer ten friendly tips to Naftali Bennett as he commences his journey into the Knesset.
Having worked with many heads-of-state and worldwide corporations (as well as many Israeli politicians), I know that Bennett’s life will never again be the same. Naftali Bennett is a wise, good man I know and respect very much and with no further ado, here are ten friendly tips:
1. Trust in G-d, not the media. You are a role model with true values and a good Jewish soul. As you study Torah (and write about it), your values shine through clearly. The liberal mainstream media wants to hurt you and is against much of what you stand for as you are enlightening and educating so many Jews to be proud and stand up for what is right. Your love of the land and people of Israel is something which clearly resonates. As you recently said: “Israel has belonged to the Jewish people for over 3,800 years and it’s our home. It’s always been our home. Sometimes when we talk about potential concessions, people talk about security and other considerations, but first and foremost it’s ours.” Keep trusting in the higher power.
2. Continue to utilize social media. As you have so effectively shown, you understand that social media gets your message without filters to the public who is, and will continue to support you – and without hostile media interviewers, twisting your words. You are great at discussing Brand Israel and a brilliant spokesperson for Israel – Keep communicating directly as you did when you started “Israel Sheli” (My Israel).
3. Stress that you are the rare Israeli political leader with real business experience. In a time when social justice and economic matters are vital in Israel, your story is a beautiful success story. As a self-made millionaire entrepreneur, you can lead by example - as you showed as founder of Cyota which you sold at the age of 33 for $145 million. Unlike other politicians who can only pontificate, with a leader like Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, Israel's government can shine as the Start-Up Nation of the world. Who better than Bennett to lead Israel when there are so many young people in Israel doing so many great things? That’s a real start-up nation.
Your knowledge of business will resonate with many and draw many to the Jewish Home party - Israel’s economy is good. But it needs improvement in freeing it up from the very big unions which are choking it and thus increasing prices, and freeing it up from monopolies that we have that are too abundant. And if we take a few actions to free up the economy, we’ll see a huge boom. It‘s sort of like a spring that will let go and release all of the energy. The big unions and the big monopolies have been plaguing us for many, many years, and that’s what is raising the cost of living, perhaps the single biggest problem in Israel today. Israel has become very expensive.”
4. Military matters. Your military experience as a commander in the ultra-elite Sayeret Matkal and Maglan units means you understand Israel’s enemy. Your 22 years in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) resonates short-term and long-term and makes you a formidable force to deal with. (And the public will forget the manipulating of your words during the recent baiting interview).
5. You understand politics. As former Chief of Staff to PM Netanyahu, you know what it is to be in the halls of power and aren’t awed by it. Your lobbying and extra-parliamentary work for Judea and Samaria shows that you understand politics and what it takes to get things done.
6. You resonate with the religious and secular. So few in political life love the Jewish Torah which is the foundation for all of our being – and so many Israelis love authentic Judaism. You uniquely can bridge the gap between the religious and secular in Israel with your unique understandings of both worlds.
7. Stand up for Israel worldwide. Born to parents who immigrated to Israel from America, you have an American passport and speak perfect English. Your natural public relations skills are top-notch, and can be a very strong voice for Israel worldwide during these unique political times. As you have already shown, your interviews on foreign networks are great and foreign diplomats will have to respect you. As you have said: “All of Israel is one three-hundredth of the size of the United States. All of the Land of Israel is a tiny, tiny state, which is sort of a little island in an ocean of Islamic and Arab nations. So whoever talks about severing it is taking this little crumb and cutting it into two, which is unacceptable.” On March 6, 2012 on MSNBC “Morning Joe” you said “Israel is protecting the world” – Simple great language.
“Because of the amount of media exposure to Israel you might think Israel is a huge country, something similar to the United States. The reality is, it’s the size of New Jersey. It’s tiny. If you ride from one side to another of pre-1967 Israel, it’s about a 10 minute ride from the Mediterranean to the Green Line. All in all from one side to another it’s an hour if you include Judea and Samaria, aka, the “territories.” One hour is all it takes from Tel Aviv to the Jordan valley. That’s how narrow Israel is.” These words show a unique understanding of the place Israel holds in the media worldwide. It matters in today’s world.
8. You are now a public person. You said this weekend and realize “.. I am now not a private individual but a public figure….” – and therefore, the rules of the game have changed. Public success means that you have to always have on a “game face” and this won’t be the last time your words are twisted. You are passionate, smart and driven – and enemies will try and knock you down in politics. They will spin and twist your words.
9. Keep standing up for the land and people of Israel – returning land is dangerous for Israel and in these post Oslo-days the people of Israel know that returning land cannot bring peace. Stressing that will resonate with many in these times.
10. Make a difference and enjoy the journey. You are a driven amazing man who I am blessed to know – and the amazing special, holy country of Israel needs authentic leaders like you. Israel needs to live and thrive.
Naftali Bennett has a very bright future in Israeli politics and is destined to be a major force in Israeli politics for many years to come.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a Top 25 US PR Agency.