Experts Weigh In: Why Is Israel Losing The PR War And How Can We Save Ourselves?


3Virag Gulyas

Virag Gulyas, Branding Strategist, non-Jewish Pro-Israel Voice, and blogger.

“Why Israel’s PR sucks is a complex question. From one hand, it does not suck at all and many would argue this by proving that there is no other country with such enormous funds and organizations and so many pro-Israel voices out there than Israel. And that holds true. But the fact that we do need all these just proves the opposite as well that something is missing. If we still need all these organizations and voices, then surely, there is something wrong with what we are doing.

As a non-Jew I find the following issues when I encounter with pro-Israel PR intentions:

– When your message starts with “3000 years ago…”, you simply lost me. Not because I deny history, but simply because today, in 2018, I simply cannot be emotionally moved by what happened 3000 years ago. Why does BDS succeed? Because they talk about today, they talk about tomorrow. We talk about yesterday.

– The pro-Israel voices are too scattered. And this is a difficult one. While BDS has one mission packaged in different marketing and PR tools, pro-Israel voices often compete with each other as if they aiming to turn it into a career to be the most lovable, favored and an influencer. When two pro-Israel voices openly go against each other, you lost your credibility. BDS guys, regardless of their true feelings, stick together no matter what, especially, in public.

– Most Israeli PR assumes that people know what’s going on. Coming from a total ignorance, I tell you, they don’t. People do not know the details, and most of them don’t care or have no time to deal with them either. But what they see is BDS’s images of kids dying. You are competing with that, not with historical facts. Thus, the tools need to match that.

– Most of the pro-Israel voices reach the exact same audience. After 5 years of working on social media strategies in this niche, I see exactly who are the people who like, share and engage. The circle is easily definable. Most of the times, Jews talk to Jews. The messages shared evoke emotions only in Jews, whereas BDS’s PR talks globally and their messages can touch and influence anyone regardless of religion, national background etc. As an example: you can’t run a lecture on anti-Semitism and not having no Jews in your audience. What’s the point really? Jews know what antisemitism is, your target audience should not be those, who already know what you will say and clap either way. Broaden the message.

-Finally, Israel keeps on being on the defense. Why? Is there anything to prove or justify? This type of PR weakness the position of Israel as it comes across as a non-confident person would, someone who doesn’t believe what he’s saying. Of course, this is heavily impacted by the various political affiliations and pull and push effects within Israel, but when you are facing an aggressive PR on the other side, you cannot afford to act like a teenager who needs approval from the world. Oftentimes, pro-Israel voices use cynicism as a tool. While it can be useful, once again, it will only resonate with those who fully understand the affairs in question. If I know nothing about what’s going on and I read the clear message from BDS and then I read a cynical post from the Israel sides, I’ll go with BDS, simply because that hits me better.

– Also, Israel needs to find a way to overcome the accusation that if a Jew stands up for Israel, it loses credibility as the person is Jewish. It has to be clear, that a Jew standing with Israel is nothing less accurate than a Hungarian being a patriotic Hungarian. Once again, all these accusations work because BDS is one step ahead. All the time! They created all the narratives and jargons, they planted the seeds in this PR, and Israel is trying to come up with answers instead of taking the control and come up with the jargon and narratives herself.”