Howtohelp Is­rael: don’t make threats

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THERE ARE ways to put Is­rael’s case across in pub­lic — and there are ways not to.

High on the don’t list are: don’t scream at jour­nal­ists; don’t send death threats to BBC pro­duc­ers; and don’t try to stoke up anti-Mus­lim feel­ings.

More than 200 ac­tivists were primed on the most ef­fec­tive meth­ods of bat­ting for Is­rael at the first-ever “ad­vo­cacy day” in Lon­don on Sun­day or­gan­ised by the Bri­tain Is­rael Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Re­search Cen­tre (Bicom).

The best mes­sage to com­mu­ni­cate, they were told, is that Is­rael is com­mit­ted to work­ing for peace in the Mid­dle East, even though it some­times has to take dif­fi­cult ac­tions.

Lorna Fitzsi­mons, Bicom chief ex­ec­u­tive, warned that “a very tough year” could lie ahead, with fur­ther Is­raeli op­er­a­tions likely in Gaza. But cov­er­age of Is­rael’s re­cent raids on Gaza had been bet­ter than of the Le­banon War two years ago, she said, be­cause the me­dia had been briefed in ad­vance about the threat faced by Is­rael.

It was es­sen­tial to tell the story of Sderot, the south­ern Is­rael town un­der rocket at­tack from Gaza, she said, and make peo­ple think how they would re­act if it were hap­pen­ing lo­cally. “What Bri­tish town would put up with seven years of rock­ets?”

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion ex­perts, polling an­a­lysts and com­mu­nity lead­ers ad­dressed ses­sions as did John Spel­lar, the Labour MP for War­ley, and Is­rael’s am­bas­sador Ron Prosor.

One ses­sion was chaired by DJ Collins, the di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Google (UK, Ire­land and Benelux) who joined Bicom’s board in 2006. He said: “The op­po­nents of Is­rael have got to grips with new me­dia very quickly. A large num­ber of peo­ple around the world don’t get their news from tra­di­tional me­dia. I’d like to see peo­ple make bet­ter use of the web, for ex­am­ple, to show what hap­pens when rock­ets land in Is­rael.”

Michael Prescott, for­mer po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor of the Sun­day Times, now a di­rec­tor at PR agency We­ber Shand­wick, ad­vised that when com­mu­ni­cat­ing through the me­dia, there were three sim­ple rules: “Be nice, never show your anger and re­peat your­self. If you let your frus­tra­tion or anger over an un­bal­anced re­port show, you are not do­ing your­self or your cause a favour.

“If you are writ­ing a let­ter, try and get the mes­sage in more than once. And if you are on air for two min­utes, try and get your key mes­sage over three times.”

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