Ben Dror Yemini
Ben Dror YeminiTomer Neuberg/Flash90

We met with right-wing journalist and publicist Ben-Dror Yemini, who frequently meets with the foreign press, and he too felt that, if for a moment, it seemed that the whole world was with Israel, but cracks in international support are beginning to appear.

"We are wrong and are expected to be in a much worse situation," Yemini says in an interview with Arutz Sheva-Israel National News about what he sees as basic communication mistakes made by the Israeli leadership. "The first mistake is that the politicians make statements that shouldn’t be made at this stage, such as 'we will wipe them out' and 'we will take revenge on them.' When such a statement is accompanied by pictures of destroyed houses in Gaza, this combination turns Israel into a war criminal and the people of Hamas into victims. It's hard to hear such things, but that's the way it is," he says.

"I can understand the blood boiling, but those who listen to every politician and broadcast data, as well as the difficult images in Gaza to the world, must stop providing them with materials. When we photograph the destroyed buildings, we pat ourselves on the back, but the result is the opposite, and we continue to do this."

Yemini points out that in the many interviews, he conducts with the foreign media, he appears on a split screen, where he is on one side of the screen explaining the logic of targeting buildings that were used by Hamas as ammunition depots and rocket launch sites, "but that doesn't help, because a picture is worth a thousand words", as on the other half of the screen, you can see the visual of collapsing buildings. According to Yemini, if we want to release such images on our side, we should at least attach captions to them that make it clear that there was a rocket depot here or that rockets were launched from here, or that there was a terrorist headquarters here, but such captions do not appear.

In the absence of such explanations, the explanatory pendulum swings in the direction of Hamas. "There are so many journalists there who clearly hate Israel, and all we do is serve them. It's sad," says Yemini, clarifying that international law also answers the question of the accuracy of Israeli shooting and is not the one who ties Israel's hands. "What ties our hands is the fact that we don't know how to explain what we're doing. When you release bombastic photographs of destroyed buildings, it hurts us. Tell the big story, such as that there was a Hamas headquarters or a rocket depot there, but we don't tell that side."

Yemini believes that if there had been cameras in Dresden in 1945, public opinion would have been in favor of Hitler and regarded Great Britain as the aggressor. Today, the reality is different. Videos are filmed and are given an interpretation that has exactly the same effect on Israel.

Is the foreign media attentive to this? "They don't want to know, but you can force them to know. Embed captions that can't be removed from the photos. It’s fine for anyone to use the photos, but let the world know what each building was used for. Without that, every photo becomes a propaganda tool that can be used against Israel. Why are we doing this to ourselves?"

As for the assessment that things are done to raise the Israeli people's spirit, Yemini says that he understands this claim up to a point, but "We are dealing with a double front. One is the military ground, and the other is the world’s public opinion. Experience has taught us that every time we lose the public opinion front, the result is that we are stopped on the military front. So why are we doing this to ourselves? If we indeed want a much larger window of opportunity timeframe to defeat Hamas, let's keep to the rules on the civilian front."

Another example of this is Yemini's proposal to every politician "to recite just one sentence, that everything we do is only according to international law. This will only strengthen Israel, as international law allows us to do much more than we think we can (I know this as a lawyer). Yet, instead of doing this, we declare slogans that we will take revenge and wipe them out. This is good, say, for La Familia (the right-wing fan group of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team), yet personally, we are defeating ourselves in our mission."

Yemini also mentions the long article he published in Yedioth Ahronoth in which he proves the connection between Hamas and ISIS and presents quotes directly from Hamas regarding the need to kill all Jews and Christians and take over the world. In his article, he also explains why the Gaza Strip is not a prison, and in fact, it is Hamas that prefers closure, contrary to the assistance offered to it by the world (and offered more than once). This article has been translated many times and appeared in many newspapers around the world. "But how long will this article last? For half a day...".

He also states that in the last two days, he chose to leave his journalist's uniform and instead contacted everyone he could to plead with them to stop distributing the videos from Gaza. "This hurts us, and indeed, in the last two days, they stopped, maybe thanks to me or maybe not… But it stopped a little. I also hope for subtitles that cannot be removed in the next videos that will inevitably be distributed."

Yemini believes that these failures in advocacy stem from the fact that insiders and not professional and proven advocates were appointed to these advocacy positions. "The appointments to positions look like the postal authority. We take the quality people, throw them away, and instead put in our own people. Stop it with our own people! This is a time of emergency. Stop! This is harming the country. These are good people who have the best interest of the state in mind, but do they understand advocacy? Do they understand the inner workings of the international arena? Do they understand media meaning or context? No. They don't understand, and the results are evident”.

Yemini has one final hasbara suggestion for the decision makers, right before the initiation of the ground operation, a move he believes is unavoidable. "In order to give strength to our home front, the prime minister must declare that he is giving".Hamas' leaders an ultimatum: either they return the hostages within 24 hours, if they do not surrender, we are going in. We know what their answer will be, but we need to let the world know that Israel warned Hamas and said that it does not want to harm anyone."

And how can you explain the Gazan convoys that are making their way to the south? Here, Yemini says that the explanation is extremely simple: "[The world should] say thank you because Israel does not want to harm them. Under the homes of these refugees, there are tunnels of this ISIS-like organization, and Israel needs to bomb them, so the world should bless us for warning them in advance. These are pictures of saving human lives and not harming human life."