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Public Relations, Propaganda, Call It What You Will

A story from the Toronto Star looks to tell the story of increased Israeli communications efforts, this time actively engaged in the real-time InfoWar aspect of the hot conflict at hand. Unfortunately - and predictably - the writer from the newspaper's Middle East bureau conveys his observations with healthy doses of skeptical eye-rolling.

Call it public relations, call it propaganda, call it what you will - in the brutal conflict now unfolding, Israel seems to be making a far greater effort to tell its side of the story, and to do so convincingly, than it did during its last war, waged against Hezbollah militants in neighbouring Lebanon in 2006.

Granted, the country's public relations performance during that inconclusive conflict was widely regarded as a disaster.

"They are doing a much better job now," said Eytan Gilboa, chair of the communications department at Israel's Bar-Ilan University.

"The message is clearer. The objectives of the military operation are clearer. There is much better use of new media."

For those who like to watch buildings and other objects go up in smoke, the Israeli Air Force is posting short videos of the war on YouTube, with titles such as "Israeli Air Force precision strike on Qassam rockets," or "Israeli Air Force strikes Hamas government compound."

"For those who like to watch buildings and other objects go up in smoke"? That is a wholly degrading open. The videos are not made available for their entertainment value. They are to show openly what Israel is targeting, which is to say Hamas and their weapons and terrorist infrastructure.

One has to wonder if the Toronto Star journalist would characterize Hamas' communications and video release efforts with the same debasing framing.

Would he characterize Hizballah's engineered media campaign of 2006 as such by likewise saying "Call it public relations, call it propaganda, call it what you will"?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. But one will never know. Because throughout the story, which crosses into subtle commentary rather than journalism, nothing is said about the fact that Israel is responding to successful media campaigns by terrorist groups designed to shape international opinion and arouse loud condemnation. And both Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas have been wildly successful at doing precisely that.

And that is the whole point of the Israeli communications efforts. They have in the past failed to effectively counter the terrorists' manipulation of public opinion by always being reactionary from a stale, dusty podium rather than pro-active in an InfoWar that is played, won and lost in real-time.

But you won't find that in this story. You just have to know it.

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