Why Israeli Public Diplomacy Is So Terrible and How That Might Help Win the War

Why Israeli Public Diplomacy Is So Terrible and How That Might Help Win the War

Liberal Jews are scrambling to defend Israel and wondering why Israel keeps botching their own PR campaign. Why doesn’t Israel help us to help them rather than making it harder?

The Israelis invented the USB drive and cell phone — among other brilliant inventions — why don’t they master social media and the press? Why don’t they explain the justification of the war? Why are we left defending what seems like indefensible actions that go against our values?

For example, on CNN why did Naftali Bennet (former PM of Israel) not admit that it is a tragedy that children in Gaza are being killed? How is it possible that a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet, Heritage Minister Amitay Eliyahu, (a far-right politician and junior member) could voice openness to the idea of Israel carrying out a nuclear strike on Gaza? He was censured by Netanyahu and suspended from future cabinet meetings.

Most importantly, why has Israel failed to successfully explain the situation to the international community? Why does the New York Times still refer to “alleged” tunnels? Why is Israel on the defensive to prove that Hamas used Shifa Hospital as a command center?

Here is what Haviv Rettig Gur, a political correspondent and senior analyst for The Times of Israel explained: (visit this page to hear him directly).

1. Central to Zionist thought during the last 140 years, is the argument that Jews can never be enough or do enough to stop being the Jews that antisemites portray. The communists think Jews are greedy capitalists. The capitalists think we are sneaky communists. In Europe, we were killed for not assimilating, and then when we assimilated, we were killed for being Jews.

Zionism argues that it does not matter what the Jew does. We are still reviled. Therefore, do not explain or justify yourself. You are playing a game you cannot win. The hatred has nothing to do with what you actually do. It has to do with deep-seated, unconscious hatred of Jews: antisemitism.

This is a foundational part of Zionism and therefore a pillar of the Israeli government: you will not win by explaining.

Why don’t they justify their actions? They don’t because history shows it does not matter.

2. When Israel makes public statements, they are not speaking to us. Israel is speaking to Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and other enemies of Israel and Jews.

The message they want to get across is that the Israel of October 8 is not the same as the Israel of October 7. What would have stopped us before will not stop us now.

Israel is saying, “We will pursue you even if the international community is against us. We will not stop until we destroy you. We do not care what the international community thinks.”

This is not winning the war in our minds and there will be much to be explained later, but it is working against Hamas. Israel is speaking the language of Hamas.

Strategically, that approach is working with Hamas and Hezbollah.


From my experience, this explanation resonated. It made sense as to why we (American, Liberal Jews) keep needing to explain. Again, and again, and again.

Although I will continue to justify and explain, I now understand why even my best efforts will not change any minds or hearts.

Arguing that Israelis are not colonialists because Israel has been our homeland for thousands of years, will not change hearts or minds.

Sharing maps that show that 850,000 Jews were displaced from Arab lands in 1948 at the same time that 750,000 Arabs were displaced from Israel, will not change hearts and minds.

Explaining that Gaza could have been a verdant and vibrant land, where children were educated and well fed, and all people lived in safety, if the billions of dollars given in aid to Gaza had been used to fund education, farms, and schools rather than to build tunnels, bombs, and rockets, will not change hearts and minds.

We may not change hearts or minds. And yet, we must keep explaining. The Israelis will fight the war on the land and we will fight the war on social media and in the press.

And in the end, we will prevail because we must. As Golda Meir said, “We will win because we have nowhere else to go.”

Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Strong,
– Rabbi Jamie Korngold

PS: Feeling overwhelmed? Join us in action. See the calendar for the community march and a weekly walk both to free the hostages.

About Rabbi Jamie Korngold

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