Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Same America

Israeli President Shimon Peres (what a nice name - Shimon) says that Obama's desire to talk to Hamas and Iran will make no difference.

President Shimon Peres said Tuesday that he wasn't worried about US-President elect Barack Obama's intention to talk to Iran and perhaps Hamas. "I don't believe they will get what they want by talking to him," Peres told Army Radio. "Their goals are different from Obama's goals. He wants to build, but they want to destroy. He wants peace, they want war."

Peres maintained that although America had chosen a different president, he had not received a "different America."
That is true. America is the same.

Italy is, however, different. Just look at the picture below.
Italians rally for Israel
Fiamma Nirenstein sends us a letter from Italy to go along with the picture.
We didn’t expect what you see now in the picture. This is the square of the Italian Parliament in Rome, Piazza Montecitorio: you can see the Palace on top of the square, and in front a lot of Israeli flags.That was yesterday night from 6:30 to 9:30 P.M. What you cannot see here, is the extraordinary number and variety of members of the Parliament, about 100 from all political sides, that took the stage during our marathon: for about three hours we have been speaking about the role of Israel, its right to self defense, its moral height, its fight in name of all of us, of our civilization and values, against the wild hate of the Islamic jihad represented by Hamas. It seems to me that for the first time in the too-long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, apart from a minority of crazy leftists and fascists that took the street on anti-Semitic slogans, we have obtained a huge consensus about one critical point: this is not an episode of a local conflict, there is nothing in it that reminds the land for peace theme that has characterized the Palestinian issue. This is an episode of the attack against the Western world, and Iran has a lot to do with it.

The change of attitude is great: the dictatorial religious nature of Hamas and the democratic, civilized nature of Israel are seen face to face for what they are at least by the European elite at large, dead and wounded notwithstanding, and there rises an identification with Israel against a regime that uses human shields and promises slaughters of Jews in its charter.
Now that is a different Europe even from as little as two and a half years ago in the summer of 2006. Iran was behind Hizballah then. I wonder why the change in sentiment?

Maybe it has something to do with an Israeli Army of Davids.It could be. Consider this article from the January 5th Jerusalem Post:
Many supporters of Israel have grown frustrated with hostile feedback posted to Web articles and on blogs since the start of Operation Cast Lead nine days ago. A group of Israeli students has decided to fight back.

HelpUsWin.org is manned by social media experts and Israel activists around the clock, with the main "situation room" based at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, and sponsored by the Stand With Us education organization. Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information.

Students and volunteers have been monitoring and responding to social media Web sites worldwide in several languages, to mount a public diplomacy offensive for Israel on the Internet.

"There is a misconception that the Internet is democratic, but that's far from the truth," said Alex Gekker, 24, a student in new media diplomacy at IDC and a volunteer at HelpUsWin headquarters.

"You can voice your opinion, but it doesn't mean anyone will listen. So we created HelpUsWin.org to give people a simple toolset to make a lot of noise," he said.
It seems to be working.
"This truly is Israel's first new media war," said Michael Dickson, director of Stand With Us International. "We've seen demonstrations and rallies around the world, and they have been really militant and extreme.

"We can engage with these people, but until now, we've been missing from the debate. We need to be offensive as well as defensive," Dickson said.

A cornerstone of this on-line campaign is a new feature called QassamCount, an application on social media sites Facebook and Twitter that automatically updates a user's status every time a rocket hits Israel. All of that user's friends will see the status update, which lists the location of the attack and the number of rockets fired.
In a January 19th update on the story the Jerusalem Post gives more details about the results of the information campaign.
Israel's newest weapon on the public relations front is "an army of bloggers," according to a statement issued by the Absorption Ministry Sunday afternoon.

In cooperation with the Foreign Ministry's Public Relations Department, the Absorption Ministry has initiated a statewide effort to locate volunteers who speak other languages, to take part in the country's PR efforts over the Internet.

The volunteers will post comments in their native languages - including English, French, Spanish, German and others - on anti-Israel Web sites and blogs, presenting an Israeli perspective on the Middle East.

During the past few years, a significant change has occurred in the realm of public relations communications, the ministry statement said, noting that the Internet has created a new arena of "PR warfare."

The main weakness in Israel's hasbara (public diplomacy) efforts is the current lack of people willing to sit in front of their computers and comment in languages other than Hebrew. The comments would concentrate on positive aspects of Israeli life and accounts of the hardship Israelis suffer while living under a constant threat of terror.

The Absorption Ministry is seeking new immigrants willing to volunteer for the effort, and will forward their contact information to the Foreign Ministry. The volunteers will be briefed, given up-to-date material and referred to problematic Web sites where an Israeli perspective is badly needed.
The Israelis have had two and a half years to prepare for this war. It seems their time has not been wasted. Have a look at the video below in Arabic with English subtitles. The Video is called "Hamas Profanes Islam".

So it is not just college students, and the Absorption Ministry. It is also the Israeli Defense forces that are waging the information battle. They even have their own YouTube Channel called idfnadesk which was started on December 29th. A couple of days after the opening of the war.

I think the Israelis have learned the lessons of Lebanon 2006 and the lessons that the Americans on the right have learned about their media and the world media. You can't depend on the main stream media to get your message out. What you need is An Army of Davids.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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