Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It May Be Time For Israel To Employ the Talents of DDB


“Israel, Iran and the United States are the countries with the most negative image in a globe-spanning survey of attitudes toward 12 major nations. Canada and Japan came out best in the poll, released Tuesday.

The survey for the British Broadcasting Corp.'s World Service asked more than 28,000 people to rate 12 countries - Britain, Canada, China, France, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, North Korea, Russia, the United States and Venezuela - as having a positive or negative influence on the world.

Israel was viewed negatively by 56 percent of respondents and positively by 17 percent; for Iran, the figures were 54 percent and 18 percent. The United States had the third-highest negative ranking, with 51 percent citing it as a bad influence and 30 percent as a good one. Next was North Korea, which was viewed negatively by 48 percent and positively by 19 percent.”

By the Associated Press, March 6, 2007.

* * *

The world is a busy place. Brand and image matter. And that’s where the magic of DDB comes in.

Who’s DDB? It is Budweiser’s ad agency.

The BBC poll which shows how poor Israel’s image is, may make it is easier to appreciate the dilemma faced by Israeli political leaders.

In Lebanon and Gaza they probably believed they had no choice but to choose poorly—to bend to the current international will.

After all, Israel’s success as an economy is dependent on exports. High technology goods and services now account for about one third of Israel’s GDP and 75 percent of its industrial exports.

As the most hated country on the planet, Israeli politicians are aware that any foreign policy misstep could drown its ability to export in a sea of sanctions. And that would be a catastrophe.

On the other hand, an actual return to the pre ’67 borders—the Auschwitz lines as Abba Eban called them—would also lead to a catastrophe.

So Israeli leaders walk a tightrope, and in so doing, they are roundly disrespected in Israel. And Israel is hated around the world.

Israel needs help on the international stage.

Rather than making a serious global media effort to change its image—to explain to the world how Israel contributes to benefit humanity, and why Israel needs adequate territory to both be self-reliant and end Arab/Islamic aggression—the Israeli leadership chooses instead to do what it can to avoid making the world more hostile to it in the short-term.

Israeli public relations efforts have been clumsy at best.

Like an unpopular adolescent, Israeli leaders have come to accept Israel’s current status as truth, and act accordingly.

The inevitable result of this acceptance is Israel’s precarious existence for the foreseeable future.

The people of Israel should not be compelled to live on a tightrope.

The international community will not presently allow Israel to stand up to its enemies. But help could come from DDB.

For Israel to be viable and thrive in the long-run, it must have different borders.

Yet the idea of creating viable (larger) borders is seen by many as evil. They compare it to Lebensraum, the Nazi expansion model. They deride it as unnecessary by noting that Singapore is also small. These are not valid comparisons. Please have a look at my book, “The Case for a Larger Israel” for proper refutations and perspective.

I’ve argued that world opinion must be changed before the idea of changing Israel’s borders is taken seriously.

“World opinion will never change,” you say? That’s just not so.

Recall that Israel was once a cause celeb. In 1919 the world favored the creation of a Jewish homeland large enough for it to prosper on its own. That slipped away. In 1948 the world favored the tiny Nation as it fought against annihilation. That too faded. In 1967, the world was in awe of little David that stood up to the vast Arab Goliath. This too has faded.

Today, Israel is far, far from being a cause celeb. Now Israel is Goliath, and the Palestinians are David. And the world works with David’s leaders—Hamas—to find acceptably ambiguous words which can be taken as their promise not to kill Goliath.

This reversal of Israel’s popularity is not permanent. Israel must be made to be a cause celeb once again, and without the reoccurrence of massive Jewish death.

Israel needs a massive ad campaign if it is to be allowed by the international community to climb down from the tightrope. It needs the effective magic of commercial advertising. You think I’m kidding? I’m not.

--David Naggar

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What Would You Do To Save Your Kingdom?


“The wellspring of regional division, the source of resentment and frustration far beyond, is the denial of justice and peace in Palestine.

There are those who say, ‘It's not our business.’ But this Congress knows: there are no bystanders in the 21st Century, there are no curious onlookers, there is no one who is not affected by the division and hatred that is present in our world.
Some will say: ‘This is not the core issue in the Middle East.’ I come here today as your friend to tell you that this is the core issue. And this core issue is not only producing severe consequences for our region, it is producing severe consequences for our world.”

--King Abdullah of Jordan—speaking to the United States Congress, March 7, 2007.

* * * * *

The King is a well-spoken man, and is easy to like.

But “the denial of justice and peace in Palestine,” is not the well-spring of regional division. I’m fairly certain the King knows this.

Palestinian suffering is not causing Shiites and Sunnis to kill each other in Iraq, it is not causing the civil strive in Lebanon, and it is not causing mass murder in Sudan (Darfur).

Palestinian centrality is a red herring. If it weren’t, the King’s father, King Hussein, would have given the Palestinians the entire West Bank when Jordan controlled it before 1967.

What’s going on? Why is the King claiming that this is the central issue in the Middle-East, when anyone but a casual observer knows that this is not the case?

Because he is doing what he can to protect and strengthen his Kingdom: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Continued Palestinian unrest is the well-spring that could lead to the demise of his Kingdom.

The King needs a settlement that confines Israel and Palestine to the geography of Israel and the territories, and he knows that his time is running out.

He knows that Jordan has no historical business existing. The Kingdom is a legacy of Britain’s global chess game with France at the end of World War I.

The King feels the heat, and his monarchy is in trouble.

When his father faced a Palestinian attempt to end his rule in 1970, Israel, purportedly at America’s request, came to Jordan’s rescue. With an eighty percent self-identifying Palestinian population, it is likely that one day, these people will reject Hashemite rule.

As King Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, said of Palestinians and Jordanians on Egyptian television in 1977. “The two peoples are actually one. This is a fact.”

There is no reason to distinguish between people living on one side of the Jordan River from those living on the other side when they share the same heritage, culture, faith (generally), language, and ethnicity.

There is no reason that the laudable international goal of having each People achieve self-determination should mean that Palestinians, even if acknowledged as a Nation, should have two States.

Since Israel isn’t viable within its 1967 borders—its current level of economic strength notwithstanding—if the King really wanted peace and justice for Palestinians, he would offer West Bank Palestinians homes in Jordan. There is room. But he won’t make that offer. From his personal point of view, he can’t.

If he did, his new “subjects” might add to a chorus that would invite him to return to his Hashemite home in present day Saudi Arabia. His family’s historical enemy, the House of Saud would not exactly welcome his return with open arms.

I wonder if the King would argue that this historical fight, too, is somehow caused by the lack of Palestinian justice?

King Abdullah is, as they say, between a rock and a hard place. His only way out is to convince the world of Palestinian centrality and hope the United States strong-arms Israel. And so the King will pursue this strategy with gusto.

But don’t be misled by warmth or charm, or calls for peace that preserve Hashemite rule over all of present-day Jordan without sacrifice. This is just what a King does to save his Kingdom.

--David Naggar