On October 12, in the immediate aftermath of the 7/10 tragedy, Propaganda Minister Galit Distel-Atbaryan resigned, admitting the total failure of the ministry. "The government has appointed the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and Combating Anti-Semitism, together with the Foreign Ministry, to be responsible for Israel's information activities abroad," Ms. Distel said. This wise decision by our government was providentially commented on by Aesop and the Russian fable poet Ivan Krylov: "There is trouble when a shoemaker begins to make cakes and a cakemaker begins to make boots".
If the Israel Defence Forces have been successful in the Gaza Terrorist Strip today, on the information front we have virtually no "security fences" and no propaganda army to match not only the IDF or Mossad, but even TikTok.
On 14 November this year, Emanuel Nahshon, Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, said that his ministry had used up the entire budget allocated for outreach and would therefore have to stop its activities in this direction. Then Foreign Minister Eli Cohen added that we have only 2-3 weeks to destroy Hamas. It means that an offensive by our enemies on the mere information front will force the IDF to stop the operation in Gaza, whether Hamas is destroyed or not.
This is just the latest example of the impact of the media war on the ground war. At the same time, there are constant calls in Israel to ignore so-called "world opinion" - they say that neither Islamists nor anti-Semites can be converted into friends of Israel, and therefore there is no point in wasting energy and money on foreign propaganda. Well, one does not have to go far for an example of such a policy: Russia, ignoring public opinion, seized Crimea, created DNR and LNR and attacked Ukraine. As a result, it was sanctioned to such an extent that it bowed to China and Kazakhstan and allied itself only with Iran and North Korea.
Since we will not fraternize with Iran, Russia or North Korea in the event of global obstruction, the path of proud self-isolation is not open to us. Thank God, on 14 November, the Knesset Foreign Affairs Subcommittee asked the government for an additional budget of 200 million shekels for information work abroad. But even if the government grants this money, where will it go? To the cobblers and cakemakers of the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs?
What Israel needs is not the resuscitation of the Propaganda Ministry (the word "Ministry" reeks of bureaucracy and another failure), but a super-talented, creative and modern Information Influence Agency whose team will ensure our elite position in the world media. The government's second decision should be to create a department in the Mossad to bring Pulitzer Prize-winners, American journalists and all influential European, Asian and African journalists to Israel's side.
It is easy to accuse me of projectionism. How can we talk about creating new structures in a time of war, when we must freeze the so-called "coalition billions" of the religious parties in order to transfer them to defence spending! I am not going to inspect the Israeli state budget to see which empty ministries must be closed in order to get money for the information war. But regular failures in this war keep the army bogged down in Gaza, supplying the terrorists with fuel, water and humanitarian corridors, and threaten to devalue every victory won with the lives and blood of our soldiers. "The information front is an important part of the war," admitted Ze'ev Elkin, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs Subcommittee. - I don't think there is no solution. It's like saying to the IDF - don't fire your weapons because they're expensive.
What is the solution, and where is it?
During the 1941-1945 war against fascism, the famous USSR singer Leonid Utesov gave the front two fighter planes, the famous singer Lidia Ruslanova gave two Katyusha batteries, and the famous writer Ilya Ehrenburg - a tank bearing his name. I don't think Utesov, Ruslanova and Ehrenburg were richer than the Israelis on the Forbes list. For the sake of political influence and prestige, some American Jewish billionaires own Israeli media, even at a loss. So why don't they, at the request of our government, help fund a mixed public-private Information Influence Agency? After all, this service would cost an order of magnitude less than Iron Dome missiles.
The 21st century has given anti-Semitism the internet and social media, which instantly inflame ignorance and incite pogroms. But in direct confrontation with lies, the truth is always stronger. Therefore, the first task of this Agency should be the urgent creation of a multi-lingual Israel Today TV on the Internet, an outreach dome with a talented team that will not only destroy anti-Israel slander, but also help the people of Iran and Lebanon free themselves from the power of the Ayatollahs.
Don't tell me it's impossible. The word is the most powerful weapon at any time in human history. The gifted reform rabbi Jesus Christ gave birth to world Christianity with words only. Goebbels’s Ministry of Propaganda was liquidated in 1945, but the flame of anti-Semitism still burns so strong in the Germans that while Germany is forced to pay reparations to Holocaust victims, with its other hand it generously transfers hundreds of millions of euros to Hamas, which spends it on preparing anti-Israeli terrorist attacks.
In March 2018, a commission of our Ministry of Education reported that there are 60 million people in the world with ties to Judaism or Israel who have the potential to repatriate. Even if this number is inflated, there is no doubt that millions of people around the world want to know the truth about our country. Since all those millions are on social media, Israel Today, a multilingual Internet TV channel in a dozen languages, will give the world honest information about our country, become a spiritual centre for Jews around the world, turn world public opinion in Israel's favor and help Israel gain millions of active supporters, advocates and friends. The Agency's legal department will pursue a vigorous legal policy against all media outlets, regardless of their prominence, for publishing false material against Israel!
They say that the idea of creating such an Internet TV channel is not new and that they talked about it 20 years ago. But nothing has been done because there is no agreement on who will own this channel and who will direct its policy - the state or a private owner? But who told the pilots of Utesov's planes or the gunners of Ruslanova's Katyusha how to fight? Put young talented journalists at the head of the Agency and the Internet channel, they will do all the work necessary for our country.
If there are thousands of volunteers to defeat the IDF in the ground war, can't there be at least ten millionaires and billionaires to support the public-private Information Influence Agency with its Internet TV Israel Today?
Edward Topol is the author of the international bestsellers Red Square, Red Snow, Submarine U-137 and others.