Vigilante Advocacy: Hurting Not Helping

July 11, 2011 by Raffe Gold
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There is a disease known as Drug Fever. When a patient is admitted doctors can bombard them with so many antibiotics there is a chance that a fever can be sustained, or caused, by a number of different drugs used to combat other symptoms. Essentially, the cure is what makes you sick. Yet such a disease does not have to be restricted to medicine. There are constant examples of well-intentioned people harming the cause that they wish to promote. We are seeing this today with well-meaning yet dangerous responses to both the Freedom Flotilla and, when that failed, the Flytilla.

Raffe Gold

The fate of the first ‘Freedom Flotilla’ is well known. A number of ships set sail bound for Gaza in the hopes of breaking Israel blockade. The supposedly simple mission led to the deaths of 9 Turkish activists and the injuring of several IDF soldiers when activists attempted to murder the boarding commandos. Fast-forward to today. Activists are attempting to replicate last year’s journey by setting sail from Greece. Their hope was that they would break the blockade or garner enough publicity with their arrest. Unfortunately they hit a little snag coming out of the Greek ports. The snag was Greek commandos boarding their ships and ensuring that they could not proceed. The flotilla then became a joke in Israel and failed to receive anywhere near the amount of publicity the founders were hoping for. Currently they are attempting a ‘flytilla’ which is to land at Ben-Gurion Airport and attempt to make it to Gaza. The government, through its quiet diplomatic overtures with Greece, handled the Flotilla perfectly. There was no need for Israel’s public appearance on the high seas and no danger of any casualties. They also contacted foreign airlines and warned them about certain individuals whose intent was less than touristic.

There have been few blunders on the part of the government and the IDF in terms of the public relations campaign of this flotilla. The biggest mistake was made by the director of the Government Press Office, Oren Helman, when he said that journalists wishing to cover the flotilla for news organisations would be denied access to Israel for upwards of ten years. For this mistake, it is a travesty that Mr. Helman still holds his job. Other than that the behind the scenes diplomacy with the Greeks was masterful and hopefully Bibi is attempting to replicate that in regards to the upcoming September ‘diplomatic tsunami’ with the Palestinian quest for internationally recognised statehood. The IDF, over the last several days, has boosted its presence on social media networks with individual officers in the Spokesperson’s Unit opening Twitter accounts and responding to questions and comments from both friendly and far-from-friendly voices. With the top echelons of the army’s PR team on twitter they provide a cohesive and formidable force in combating some of the misinformation seen on social networks. It seems that the new head of the IDF New Media Desk, Sacha Dratwa, has convinced his fellow officers of the benefits of web 2.0 engagement.

In most cases, Israel’s PR war against the flotilla has been exemplary. The majority of it has been behind the scenes and diplomatic. This ensured that the flotilla itself did not set sail and when they attempted their flytilla, passengers who were inconvenienced were given flowers. Yet all of this is being undone by the attempts of pro-Israel activists to undermine the Flotilla’s background and support for Hamas. Over the last few days, two videos have made their way onto YouTube and attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. The first, by a man claiming to be a gay activist named ‘Marc’, ( said that he had attempted to join the recent Flotilla but due to the fact that he was a homosexual he was rejected by forces sympathetic to Hamas. ‘Marc’ then outlines Hamas’s policy of discriminating against gays and others who ‘pervert’ Islam. Within hours of the video being virally spread throughout pro-Israel Twitter accounts (including the personal account of an intern in the Prime Minister’s office) it was found to be a hoax. ‘Marc’ turned out to be a Tel Aviv-based actor and pro-Palestinian activists claimed that it was commissioned by the Israeli government. The other video was one which was not so much a hoax as it was incredibly confusing. It begins with a therapist interviewing an attractive female patient in a red dress ( The therapist holds up several inkblots as part of a Rorschach test and asks the patient to identify them. The patient begins to see flashes of soldiers being attacked on last year’s flotilla all while claiming that Israel is the victim of bias and believes in peace. The video paints Israel, the girl in the red dress, as paranoid and becoming increasingly hostile to the therapist arguing that the flotilla is provocative. The video is nonsensical and does nothing to get Israel’s fundamental point across that whilst the flotilla may not be violent the blockade is both legal, according to the United Nations, and necessary to prevent the smuggling of arms to known terror groups. The videos, much like drug fever, are hurting rather than helping Israel. They present a series of confusing points and, in regards to the hoax video, undermine the credibility of the argument that Hamas is a dangerous terror group who are oppressing Gazans.

Israel has fought many wars in the past 64 years but it has only recently begun to worry about public relations and the outcome of its military operations. It has taken a long time for it to adapt to the fighting force that we are beginning to see emerge. Yet in the case of these two videos, they erode all the work done by the Israeli government. Israel’s case is strengthened by the fact that they have videos of previous flotilla passengers attacking commandos and throwing them overboard. These, viewed numerous times on YouTube, have the added benefit of being simple to understand and true. When it comes to public relations the adage “Keep It Simple, Stupid” (KISS) is absolute


5 Responses to “Vigilante Advocacy: Hurting Not Helping”
  1. Raffe says:

    Neil: I am aware that three commandos were taken down below the decks by activists because this is due to the fact that the majority of those on the MV Mavi Marmara were peaceful protestors. No one maintains that the entire ship, over 600 strong, were racialists. Rather Israeli sources maintain that there were a core group of IHH fundamentalists, numbering 75 or so, who took over the ship. Videos released after the Flotilla Raid show weapons being fashioned out of metal bars and poles and the leader of the IHH ordering his men to throw any of the Israeli boarding party into the sea.

    Add this to the videos showing testimonies of several of those later killed by Israeli forces wishing for martyrdom one can easily conclude that the intention of the IHH was the murder of Israeli forces. It was these IHH members who had encouraged such violence and as there was little or no IHH presence on any of the other flotilla ships we can see why there was no violence and no casualties.

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    With due respect, I would like to express my humble opinion regarding the excellent presentation by Mr Gold , comprehensive, deep and articulate.

    I would venture that, perhaps and not at all proven objectively, the TV ads in question, which I viewed, thanks to the impecable presentation by Mr Gold, could be considered, but only within my own intellectual space, and that could be completely wrong, because Mr Gold is right on a a priori basis ( and I appologise here for introducing certain terms in Latin ), so, the ad with Marc could be considered as being impecable. I could be wrong in saying also that using actors in ads is one of the most widely accpetd practice. Also I noticed, but I could be wrong, that “Marc” does not state that he is gay, as there are people who support the gay movement without them being such.I would also state, but I could be wrong, that “Marc’s” sexual preferrences are irrelevant, as the message conveyed is the focus of the ad. Marc is attempting to demonstrate that those political entities which are virulently attacking Israel, are, themselves, pursuing policies which are grossly inhumane, undemocratic, opressive, but, evidently, they seem to gain the support of a lot of people who should know better.

    The second ad is, again only strictly as my personal, subective opinion, impecably created and performed. Actors are being used, quite evidently, and the theme is the almost unbearable pressure, anxiety and unjust policies used against Israel. As the idea is being dramatised, the symbolic character of the ad makes for a very impressive portrayal of a condition that has besetted the young State of Israel unjustly and , again, in an unbearable way by viciously hostile forces.

    Therefore, the PR exercised by Israel in these two instances could be found to be flawless, contrary to Mr Gold’s considerate opinion.

    While Mr Gold could be right and I could be incredibly wrong, perhaps my singular opinion has gained the indulgence of those who know better if it, the opinion, could gain their editorial acceptance for which I’d be grateful, if extended.

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    Raffe Gold is not wrong, he is INCREDIBLY wrong !!!
    Viewing the “Marc” ad I concluded that the content, tone, image, the whole message was presented in a very convincing way, that the language was well balanced, intelligent and very much to the point intended. There is absolutely NOTHING disingenious about the ad. Marc does NOT say that he is gay,but that he supports the gay movement, something quite a few NON gays do. His rationale is impecable, the visuals are pertinent and , most importantly, UNdistorted.
    The other ad is in a completely differrent cathegory, far more emphatic, it is OBVIOUYLY a staged method which employs far more dramatic means of communication. It ellicits, however, the intensity and, indeed, drama of an Israel under permanent siege, the type of pressure that could and IS, in fact,consistent with the anxiety expressed by – clearly – the two actors in the ad. It is far too obvious that those who are objecting in Israel against the two adverisments would be either the members of the “Moishe Groisse”club or, evidently those who sympathise and support, ostensively or otherwise, the palestinian cause. I am convinced, however, that Raffe Gold has the best intentions at heart,but, speaking of conditions, he is slightly intoxicated with the bug of AYYT ( Ani Yodea Yoter Tov ), or “I Know Better”.

  4. Neil says:

    Raffe : You said “The supposedly simple mission led to the deaths of 9 Turkish activists and the injuring of several IDF soldiers when activists attempted to murder the boarding commandos.” You must know that 3 commandos were captured by the Activists and taken below decks where their injuries were treated. Your suggestion that the activists tried to murder is plainly inaccuracy as this information is freely available to anyone who looks for it. Same of you for this falsehood. It invalidates anything else that follows as your opinion is compromised.

    Best wishes

  5. Jed says:

    What you say should be obvious, but it clearly isn’t to the talent-less gov officials.
    Gov shouldn’t try to be funny, they should try to be serious and not make a fuss about these pro-Hamas PR stunts.

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