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Study Shows Israel's Image Worsened After Disengagement

The Disengagement was supposed to improve Israel's standing by showing it meant peace. A new Hebrew University study shows it did the opposite.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/23/2007, 10:47 PM

A Hebrew University study shows that Israel's image in American and British media got worse after the Disengagement from Gaza and the destruction of the Jewish communities there.

The researchers followed the way the mainstream media in the U.S. and Britain reported on Israel and the formal announcements made by the governments of both countries regarding Israel. The study dealt with a nine-month period, beginning three months before the Disengagement and ending with the elections in the Palestinian Authority.

Israel's image was at its positive peak during the month of the Disengagement. During that period, the Foreign Ministry's messages managed to resonate with the U.S. and U.K.'s media and their governments. However, immediately afterwards, the PA's messages took the prominent lead once more.

Dr. Raanan Gissin, who was Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's strategic and media advisor during the Disengagement, told Maariv/NRG: "The failure was not in the Disengagement itself but in the way it was presented in th
Immediately after the Disengagement, the PA's messages took the prominent lead once more.
e media. The Palestinians always knew how to pull out the 'Muhammad a-Durah camera' at the right moment, whereas we had a problem getting the messages across."

Making peace with the Americans
"The Disengagement plan may have failed vis-à-vis the Palestinians but it succeeded in putting the Quartet and the Americans at our side," Gissin explained. "[Ariel] Sharon used to say about the Disengagement that if he wasn't making peace with the Palestinians here, at least he was making peace with the Americans," the former Prime Minister's long-time aide said.

The study's author, Dr. Tamir Shefer, told NRG: "What we saw is that during the implementation of the Disengagement, when Israel was carrying out an initiative, it was presented well. As far as the world is concerned, what we see in the findings is that as long as we continue to 'sit' in Judea and Samaria and seal the Gaza borders, we continue to be presented in a negative light."

When asked how he explained the decline in Israel's image after a supposedly "good deed" like the Disengagement, Shefer said he did not have a total explanation for this. Israel is now presented as a Goliath, he said, more than before the Disengagement. "Maybe the very fact that we carried out a retreat and supposedly showed the world that we were capable of retreating raised the bar of demands from us," he conjectured.

The Gush Katif Settlers' Committee responded to the research by saying: "As the days and months go by, the extent of the mistake that the Israeli government made by expelling its citizens from Gaza becomes clear. Last week, we learned that the nation's coffers became about one billion NIS poorer. Today, we find out that even the attempt to improve the country's image at the expense of the lives of the residents of Gush Katif – failed."