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

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