For over forty years Israel has been losing a public relations war to the Arabs and now to the Palestinain Arabs. And no one in Israel seems to care.
"Subconsciously, we still have this attitude that the goyim hate us anyway so why bother with public relations" said Schleifer. "The answer should be that this question is totally irrelevant."
In his book Perspectives of Psychological Operations in Contemporary Conflicts, reviewed on Arutz Sheva, Schleifer documents how since Yassar Arafat's rise to prominence the Palestinians have been not only been winning the media war, but have seen to it that Israel should not even be considered a contender for its unwillingness to compete.
The idea the Arafat had was simple - use psychological warfare to portray Israel as the agressor and make the country weak from the inside by dividing the Israeli people. Arafat presented the Palestinian Arabs as victims, underdogs, the Davids pinned in the corner by the behemoth Goliath.
Nowhere was this seen more than during the first intifada. Palestinian Arabs manipulated the way the news was being reported by opening up numerous media branches and staging photo ops for the international media. For every reporter looking for a quote or a picture or details of an incident there was a Palestinian Arab within arms reach ready to paint Israel as the aggressor. By the time Israel decided to respond, the story had already been published.
"A difference of opinion is okay, but a social split is very risky for a state…and that's what you see in Israel today," said Schleifer.
So, if Israel wants to stop having to fight for global recognition or for the right to exist and defend its borders then Israel has to change its public relations strategy. "If the Jews have decided they want an independent state, a state of their own, that state immediately falls into the international system of international relations. And we have to play according to those rules, especially in a case where we're not economically independent or secure. And even if we were, we still need to function within the international system," said Schleifer.
Part of the Israeli problem, as Schleifer sees it, is that if the state shows the world that Israel is not the aggressor it has been painted - that people in this country are worried - that some live in constant fear of rockets and attacks and instability - Israel believes it will be perceived as a weak country. "Israel has not managed to figure out how to be powerful but still perceived as the vulnerable one," said Schleifer. "That's the art of contemporary propaganda. Showing that you're strong without being perceived as a bully. The Palestinian's strength comes from showing their weakness."
"No independent state in the whole world would tolerate a barrage of rockets and mortars every day. Yet israel was conditioned to absorb all that for about a decade now and that is a psychological ploy by the Palestinians Arabs. Condition your enemy. Let them know, this is the situation and theres nothing you can do about it, because we control media sympathy."
"Israel, instead of conquering world public opinion by sending a barrage of visuals - images of the rockets and mortars falling on Israeli citizens every day, waits for the next attack and is forever seen as the oppressor."