Media advisers to Israel's prime ministers craft the political battle

#41 - The media strategists: Brit Perets and Shir Cohen

(L-R) Brit Perets and Shir Cohen (Photo credits: Courtesy) (photo credit: JERUSALEM POST)
(L-R) Brit Perets and Shir Cohen (Photo credits: Courtesy)
(photo credit: JERUSALEM POST)
It would be an understatement to say that Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz do not like one another. According to sources who work with both of Israel’s prime ministers – the one who currently holds the office and the so-called alternate – the two don’t enjoy being in one another’s presence, let alone needing to update each other on challenges, accomplishments and national projects.
Many of the battles play themselves out in the media where the politicians regularly leak news against one another, play up one’s role in something over the other, or release statements aimed at undermining their rival’s influence and political standing.
Responsible for much of this are two women, both in their early 30s, who have climbed their way to the pinnacle of political communications in a short period of time.
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The first is Shir Cohen, who has worked as Netanyahu’s media adviser for the last four years, starting at the young age of just 26. The two are said to be close and in March – at the height of the coronavirus lockdown – the Netanyahu couple hosted Cohen and her husband’s wedding at their official residence on Balfour Street.
A graduate of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Cohen joined the PMO shortly after her discharge from the military and slowly climbed her way to being charged with the media access to Israel’s most powerful politician. During her tenure, she has accompanied the prime minister during his meetings with US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has also led various national-scale events like the unveiling of the Iranian nuclear archive in 2018.
On the  other side is Brit Perets, who was recently hired – after a series of mishaps in the party – to lead Blue and White’s strategic communications. Perets served in the past as the media adviser to Naftali Bennett and former education minister Shai Piron from Yesh Atid. She also spent two years as the spokesperson for the Migdal Group, one of Israel’s leading insurance and financial institutions.
In 2017, Perets made headlines when she publicly spoke out against the state’s decision not to allow same-sex couples to adopt children. Perets has two children together with her partner Adi Galor. At the time, she told Yediot Aharonot that going public with her family was not easy, but that “the state cannot simply cancel out entire families. Being different is not a reason to write someone off. Difference is unique and healthy.” Since joining Gantz in June, a number of politicians have noticed the change in Blue and White’s media strategy. If until then, the party stayed quiet when attacked from Netanyahu on the Right or from Yesh Atid-Telem leader Yair Lapid on the Left, Gantz and crew have started to hit back.
“It is clear that this is Perets’s doing,” one senior Israeli politician explained.
In the months to come, this media battle is not going to die down. Elections loom on the horizon and the battle over the public narrative – led by Cohen and Peretz – will continue.