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J•C•C•A•T the Jerusalem Center for Communications and Advocacy Training

POB 2534, 91024 Jerusalem, Israel

Tel.: +972-2-651-2610   Fax: +972-2-652-4968



Media Relations

1)         Don’t always feel obliged to answer the question.


“When did you stop beating your wife?” Some questions shouldn’t be answered, because doing so locks you into the wrong conceptual frame.  It may be possible to answer in theory, but impossible in practice due to the complexity of the answer, and the lack of time or commitment on the part of the audience to listen to the full story.

2)         How do you avoid answering a question?


Learn to say, “that’s not the issue, the real issue is...”.  You break out of a conceptual frame by doing this, but you will only succeed in creating your new one if the IMAGES in the new frame are at least as EMOTIONALY engaging as the ones in the old one.


a)   Israel is waging war against the Palestinian people under the leadership of the war criminal, Arik Sharon!


That’s not only insulting the intelligence of the audience, it’s willfully deceitful: the maximum Arik Sharon was ever guilty of was failing to predict that Lebanese Christians would take barbaric revenge on Palestinian Arab Muslims for their massacres of Christians. For that failure of judgment— adjudicated by an Israeli commission of inquiry—he had to resign his government position. He was never judged guilty of a war crime, because he was never accused of one. (By the way, the Lebanese Government set up a commission of inquiry at the same time... it hasn’t reported back yet!)

But you’re only trying to obscure the real issue here;

Yasser Arafat is ordering, instigating, and permitting war crimes every day.  The targeting of civilians for murder is a war crime. Agents of Yasser Arafat’s “police” and “security” forces, as well as his own party (Fatah) militia, and his officially tolerated Hamas are targeting Jews for murder for no other reason than that they are Jews, and that they can be killed.

Are you willing to condemn the kidnapping, mutilation and murder of the two reservists in Ramalah? Are you willing to condemn the bombing of the school bus? Are you willing to condemn the premeditated mowing down of Israeli soldiers and civilians with a bus? Those are not fake war crimes from two decades ago, these are real crimes being carried out by Arafat today!”

·         Always try and go on the offensive, and shape the agenda to suit your arguments.

b)   But why should Britain support Sharon?

Sharon isn’t the issue here, the real issue is; who should Britain support; the only county in the region who’s elections aren’t forgone conclusions, or the despotic dictatorships that routinely turn in votes of 97.5% in favor of the incumbent? The issue here is support for democracy, and British values.”

·         Always look for common values to appeal to.

c)   Well, what is Sharon going to do to bring peace then?

That’s not the issue. In good faith, Ehud Barak offered more than any Israeli Prime Minister could (should we give up half of London for peace with Saddam Hussein?)... only to discover that to much isn’t nearly enough for Arafat.

The real issue is; what would satisfy Arafat?  His public rallies call for “Haifa, Jaffa and the Galilee”; his school books tell students that Israel should be replaced with an Arab state; his kids TV shows tell children to be ready to die to liberate the land “from the River to the Sea”.

The real issue is what will Arafat settle for, that will give Israel a chance to survive within any borders. Did you know that he has never said what would satisfy him? Did you know that he has been exhorting his own people to Jihad for the last eight years? Did you know that he’s broken every agreement he’s ever made with Israel? The issue is what is Arafat going to do to bring peace? Israel has already been risking its life for peace for eight years.

·         Try and use the same phrase or word in a response as was used in the question. It gives the impression that you are replying.

d)   But Israel is the one with the power, Israel is using massive force against unarmed civilians.”

What planet are you living on? First of all, there are no mass, civilian, demonstrations any more, haven’t been in over a year. Israel is facing suicide and other bombers, snipers and homicidal bus drivers. You just aren’t following the news. Secondly, Israel was never using force against unarmed civilians. In the first twenty months of the current fighting Israelis have faced over 12,000 armed attacks—that’s over 20 per day! Israelis have been killed by terrorists at the rate of more than 17 a day[i].

If British police were faced with that level of violence, do you think they would be waving truncheons? The IRA’s campaign from 1970 to the mid 90s resulted in about 10 killings a month. Britain called out the army[ii], and how many people do you think they would have killed if they had faced what Israeli soldiers faced? Either Israeli soldiers are the worst shots in the world, or their trying hard NOT to kill people.

And anyway, you’re missing the point, the real issue here is not whether Israel is defending itself legitimately (it is), the real issue is why does it have to defend itself at all? Over eight years ago Arafat agreed to never use force to settle his disputes with Israel again. The real issue here is why is Arafat again breaking his word?

·         Make Arafat the problem, not Israel.

e)   But all the Palestinians want is their basic rights, the Right of Return!”

You just don’t get it do you? Have you ever wondered why the most left wing, “pro-peace” Israelis oppose the “Right of Return”?  They do you know.

They oppose it because it’s a scam. An artificially inflated number of refugee wanabees, indoctrinated to seek the destruction of Israel should be admitted inside the borders of a reduced Israel? What do you think they’re going to do, learn Hebrew and study for the Rabbinate? The “Right of Return” is a “Right to Destroy”. Israelis showed them selves willing to pay a high price for peace with the Palestinian Arabs, but suicide is to high a price to pay for “peace”.

But even that’s not the real point, the real point is, what kind of “peace process” is it that works like this; “You make peace, or we’ll make war!”?

Those are Mafia tactics.

·         This is the segue into the “Global Jihad”.

3) Media related issues

a) The “New York Taxi Driver” technique

Look for issues your audience/interlocutor thinks the media is wrong on, draw parallels with Israel.

b) Dominate the media

Leverage your personal knowledge. The Independent may not feature your article or letter, but the Sunderland Echo might be very excited to, if you grew up on Ryhope Road. Many local radio stations web-cast their shows. Calling in from Israel almost guarantees you being on the air.

4) Things to beware of

Don’t ever fall into racist language. Always nod at Muslim and Arab victims of the PA. On the issue of the indoctrination of children; point out that it’s a crime against them.

Some activists find they tend to get emotionally involved when talking about many of these issues, which weakens their ability to argue their case. You need to feel emotionally engaged, even outraged at the chutzpah of these accusations. But you need to practice your responses if you are going to channel that outrage effectively.


10 things to remember when calling a talk radio program:

1.      Think out your contribution in advance.

2.      Keep it simple. Don’t give long convoluted historical explanations (even if they’re correct!). Stick to one basic message.

3.      Use images and analogies to involve emotions.

4.      Be authentic, “I was in Israel, and I…”

5.      Be authoritative, quote objective sources (but see (2)!).

6.      Make the presenter your friend if possible. Try and couch your statement in line with their politics, style etc.

7.      Be inventive. Don’t just call the shows that deal with mid-east issues. Think of pro-Israel things to say for all kinds of shows.

8.      Support and reinforce pro-Israel statements. It’s natural to think of something to say when someone attacks Israel. Have things to say that are suitable for “pareve” and pro-Israel statements as well.

9.      Try and predict possible objections. Have counter statements prepared.

10.  Stay on topic. “The real issue here is…”.


10 things to remember when writing to a newspaper:

1.      Keep it simple. Don’t give long convoluted historical explanations (even if they’re correct!).

2.      Be brief.

3.      Use images, analogies and involve emotions.

4.      Be authentic, “I was in Israel, and I…”

5.      Be authoritative, quote objective sources (but see (1)!).

6.      Consider your audience. Try and couch your statement in line with their politics, style etc.

7.      Be inventive. Don’t just write on mid-east issues. Think of pro-Israel things to say for all kinds of contexts.

8.      Support and reinforce pro-Israel statements. It’s natural to think of something to say when someone attacks Israel. Have things to say that are suitable for “pareve” and pro-Israel statements as well.

9.      In an ongoing correspondence, remember that the readers will not have the original piece that you are replying to before them. Make sure that your contribution makes sense as a “stand alone” piece.

10.  Don’t be insulting (unless you are sure that the readers will like it!).


Key themes

What is the real argument about in the Middle East?

It isn’t about Jerusalem or the post ‘67 territories

Arab concern for Jerusalem only ever surfaces when Jerusalem is ruled by non-Arabs. For long tracts of history, Jerusalem and the whole Land of Israel have been backwaters, their status rising only as “unredeemed” parts of the Arab homeland.

It isn’t about settlements

Israel fought three wars before there were any settlements. The settlements that some complain about are on land that Israel gained in a defensive war in 1967. Hence the settlements are a result of conflict rather than a cause of it!

So what is it about?

For forty years, Israel was clearly locked in an existential battle for its existence. The Madrid Conference of 1991 and the Oslo Accords of 1993 led many to see this period as being over. Perhaps Arab attitudes had changed, and instead of seeking Israel’s destruction, the Arab world might be willing to accommodate itself to Israel’s existence, if sufficient provision were made for Palestinian Arab independence.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of over 90% of the “West Bank” and Gaza, additional land within Israel as compensation for the “missing” 10%, and parts of Jerusalem, was met not with open arms, or even tough negotiations to secure a better deal, but with the “Al Aksa intifada” (the Rosh Hashanah war). Arafat’s insistence on the “Right of Return”, and refusal to agree to an “end of conflict” agreement, convinced most Israelis that he was still (or perhaps always was) bent on Israel’s destruction.

So what is the problem?

Israel’s existence is an affront to the Arab/Islamic world

Dar Al Islam/Dar Al Harb

Islamic thought tends to see the world in dichotomies. It views the world as divided into lands ruled by Muslims, called the Dar Al Islam (“Home of Islam”), and the Dar Al Harb (“Home of War”), those lands not yet ruled by Muslims.

Once an area has been ruled by Muslims, it is always and forever part of the Dar Al Islam. Israel is such a land, and its rule by non-Muslims is an affront to the natural (or perhaps divine) order of things.


In traditional Muslim societies only Muslims can be full citizens. “Un-believers” cannot live in such a society at all. Jews and Muslims, as monotheists, can be tolerated, but only as second class citizens, forced to pay a special tax, and subject to restrictions on their religious and other rights. This status is called dhimmi (“protected people”, or “protégé”). That Jews and Christians should break out of this quasi-apartheid status, in the heart of the Dar Al Islam, is an even greater affront.


Book List


Please read the following books. Any one of them will improve your understanding of the conflict. All four will make you an expert!

In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power
Daniel Pipes: Basic Books
August 1985

Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam
Bat Ye’or: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
May 1998

Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice

Bernard Lewis: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.

March 1999

The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism
Connor Cruise O'Brien, Simon & Schuster Trade, March 1986


Also: Amusing Ourselves to Death - Neil Postman on Advocacy

NB This handout is intended only as an aide memoir for participants in a workshop. The statements made in it do not stand alone, and indeed if read as such, would give a false impression of a complex subject.

David Olesker is the founder and Director of J•C•C•A•T the Jerusalem Center for Communications and Advocacy Training. It is a nonpartisan organization specializing in training advocates for Israel.


[i]  IDF Spokesperson 19 April 2002

Injured: 2,698 Civilians + 1,132 Security Forces = 3,830 Total Israeli Injured

Killed: 314 Civilians + 152 Security Forces = 466 Total Israeli Killed

Total Attacks*: 6,116 West Bank + 5,971 Gaza Strip + 572 Home Front = 12,659 Total

* Does not include attacks with rocks or firebombs.


[ii] “The Provisional IRA's continuing conflict with British troops and Protestant paramilitary forces resulted in at least 3,000 deaths from 1970 to the mid-1990s” Encyclopedia Britannica