(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
With the Palestinians officially having fired the first salvo of their
diplomatic war against Israel at the United Nations, it’s going to be very
interesting to see what the big talkers of pre-September 24 will be saying over
the following days.
When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
promised to take his case to the UN, Israeli politicians made their share of
headlines by discussing how they would react if that scenario indeed occurred.
Threats were flying from almost every corner of the Netanyahu government to
bring the PA’s economy to the verge of collapse by cutting off the supply of
electricity and/or water, sealing off the West Bank Gaza-style, and
I hope those same ministers and MKs can now see just how
counterproductive these statements were. First of all, we all know that if there
is any serious intent to return to the negotiation table on Israel’s part,
there’s no way we would be allowed to impose any kind of sanctions on the PA.
What’s worse is that the fact that Israel can even consider making good on these
threats is one of the reasons the Palestinians claim they are demanding a state
to begin with.
In the weeks to come, assuming the international community
will manage to entice both sides back to negotiations, it will be more important
than ever for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to impose a strict gag order on
his ministers and coalition partners. In a time of extremely sensitive talks
between all of the parties, it would be ill advised for anyone to be discussing
how they or their individual parties feel about the progress (or lack thereof)
The prime minister must take leadership on the media
battlefield with regard to all decision makers. A comprehensive strategy must be
formulated and updated on a regular basis. If Netanyahu is to succeed in
reaching his goals with the Palestinians, whatever they may be, he cannot have
his partners undermining him in the Israeli or international
What’s more, Netanyahu will have to be ready to disappoint and
even cut ties with some of his allies. Keep in mind that Menachem Begin broke
with many of his political supporters when he signed the peace treaty with
Egypt. The majority of his party did not support the agreement in the final
Knesset vote. Begin wisely sought outside help to carry out the negotiations
with Sadat. If Mr. Netanyahu really does has a vision to end the conflict with
the Palestinians, he will have to show similar leadership to get the job done.
Relations with the media, both at home and abroad, will play a key factor in his
ANOTHER POLITICIAN who will have to adapt to the rules and means
of the media is the new leader of the Labor party, Shelly Yacimovich.
Personally, I don’t agree with many of the things Yacimovich and her party have
done over the past few years, but while I might never vote for Labor, I have to
admit that I admire the way she came to lead the party – through hard work and
speaking out for what she believes in even though it meant personal attacks
Yacimovich is in the very interesting position of leading
the party which now carries the torch of last summer’s social
For her there are a few challenges. First of all, how do you
keep the calls for greater economic equality alive until the next election? And
how do you convince the voting public to shift party allegiances based on a
topic which traditionally has been relegated to the political back-burner?
reactions in the press to Labor’s future under Yacimovich have been
fascinating. Many analysts see her as an X-factor. Of course this
is the first time in many years the party will not be controlled by Ehud Barak,
who many longtime voters abandoned in 2009. That said, if the end results of the
government’s various committees to even out the socioeconomic inequalities turn
out to be another runaround, I believe Labor just might end up making a
The ultimate success of the Labor Party will depend on how it
deals with the media, but that has not been the party’s strong point, to say the
least. Fortunately for Yacimovich, there are enough people in the country who
are angry with the government’s policies, especially when it comes to internal
matters like cost of living and real estate prices, to give the opposition a
platform. Only a shrewd media strategy will allow Labor to harness the
electorate’s anger with the economic status quo and translate it into political
power.The writer is an independent media consultant and a former
producer at the Fox News Channel in New York.