Daily Israel Report

Israel Should Not Be Afraid of the PR Battlefield

Israeli journalist Boaz Bismuth: Just as The New York Times criticizes Israel, Israel can criticize the New York Times.
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 1/18/2012, 6:41 AM

Boaz Bismuth, a senior foreign editor with the Israel Hayom newspaper and Israel’s former Ambassador to Mauritania, addressed on Tuesday the issue of The New York Times and its columnist Thomas Friedman, and how the two may be perceived as a “PR enemy” of Israel’s.

Bismuth attended the Knesset’s special session on public relations and the international media.

“Thomas Friedman is an important journalist and The New York Times is an excellent newspaper, but at the same time we can and are allowed to disagree,” Bismuth told Arutz Sheva.

He added that just as The New York Times feels that it can criticize Israel, Israel can criticize The New York Times and especially Thomas Friedman, who has a history of anti-Israel columns in the paper. [Arutz Sheva often does critical analyses of Friedman's aritcles,ed.].

Friedman has called in his columns for Tahrir Square-style marches by Palestinian Authority Arabs on Israel.

He has also called to re-adopt the United Nations 1947 Partition Plan, which the Arab world rejected at the time and instead tried to annihilate Israel. He was recently the subject of a Facebook campaign launched by the grassroots Zionist group Israel Online Ambassadors. The campaign was entitled “Tom Friedman, Get Out of Our Lives!”

“When we had the Arab Spring, I was almost sure that sooner or later someone, Thomas Friedman in this case, will be able to find how Israel is responsible for the Arab Spring,” Bismuth said. “The same New York Times, a few weeks later, understood that this phenomenon of Islamism is dangerous for Israel.”

“I think that Thomas Friedman, unfortunately, is trying like many other journalists to be more fashionable than just,” he added. “Nowadays, whatever happens in the world, someone will always find Israel responsible. It’s always very easy to say that this is done out of love for Israel, but that would be like me slapping my child twice a day because I love her so much.”

Bismuth suggested that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should not have turned down The New York Times’ recent offer to submit an op-ed to the paper.

“I believe that you should go into all fronts,” he said. “Israel was never afraid to confront anyone at the battlefield. Today, public diplomacy is the new battlefield. We have to exploit any method we have. If we have great PR, we have to use it.”