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Analysis: Israel Doing Better in PR Sphere than in Other Wars

Analysis: Israel is encountering a more favorable information climate than in previous wars.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 11/18/2012, 3:31 PM

Iron Dome as PR
Iron Dome as PR
Reuters

It could change, but so far Israel's war against Hamas is not encountering the usual public relations headwinds that previous responses to Arab provocations have encountered.

What is responsible for this - so far - favorable turn of events?

To judge by the news reporting, the star in yesterday's global coverage was the Iron Dome missile battery that intercepted an incoming missile over Tel Aviv.

The AP video showing the Israelis leaving the beach to take cover and waiting for the missile that was shot down did a twofold service.

One, that it displayed normal people awaiting an attacking missile, a Kafkaesque situation.

Second, it had a happy ending with the destruction of that missile that testified to Israel's technological prowess.

It would be worth citing a reader response by Sami Souliman in the English edition of the Turkish Hurriyet (that featured the missile kill on its home page) on this matter.

I usually am against the Israelis but it is very obvious that Gaza is just being used as a forward base for the Iranians. The Shiites are just too happy to sacrifice every Sunni for the cause of Iran. That Turkey follows in this trap shows that Turkey is either stupid or too scared of the Iranians. I also am in wonder of this Iron Dome that Israel created.....this is the proper use of science...to save their civilians. Islam should create more iron domes and less suicide bombers.

Note the mention of the Iranian factor. While Qatar, Egypt and Turkey have tried to wean Hamas away from Iran, the organization in many places worldwide is still being viewed as an Iranian appendage. This is how the Hamas attacks on Israel were perceived in the United States as well by interviewees. The United States may not be prepared for military action against Iran, but Tehran is nobody's flavor of the month. Iran's bragging that it encouraged the Hamas escalation serves Israeli information efforts.

Israel may also be the beneficiary of the horrors of the Civil War in Syria. Nobody likes Iranian proxies, but after the repeated carnage in Syria, what is happening in Gaza seems very mild indeed. There has not been a turning point incident involving many Arab casualties that the Arabs could exploit to garner sympathy.

In addition, the Middle East may have become a turn-off after a year of dominating the airwaves. Following the disappointment with the Arab Spring, a common attitude is let them settle things themselves. There is an aversion to involvement in the West, in the belief that no good can come of it and a lot of bad things may emerge.

This is also connected to the economic crisis in the West that remains the primary focus of public opinion. Demonstrations against austerity and efforts to avoid a financial cliff are more pressing than another mini-war in Gaza.

Last but not least, Israel's information campaign seems been better prepared and better coordinated. Israel has done a  better job than on previous occasions in getting good spokespersons out with Israel's side of the story, even though Israel has no al Jazeera of its own. There has been a distinct investment in the social media and so far it is reaping dividends.