Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a ceremony for fallen soldiers..
(photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)
A “masterclass in responding to tragedy” is how the Financial Times characterized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's video statement on the Orland tragedy that went viral and was viewed by more than 22 million people.
Sam Leith, the author of ‘You Talkin to Me?' Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, pointed in the British paper this week to Netanyahu's video as a classic example of how to respond to tragedy.
In addition to being seen by more than 22 million people, the 2:29 minute video of Netanyahu talking behind his desk about the June 12 terror attack garnered more than 583,000 likes, and was shared 667,243 times. It was by far the most watched video statement ever put out by Netanyahu, with the short videos his office posts from time to time generally attracting between 20,000 – 30,000 viewers.
But this one, posted on June 15, was different.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Leith wrote, “showed how not to” respond to tragedy, with this instant tweet following the massacre: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”
“That made it about him, and it projected not a sense of purpose but the complacency of self-congratulation,” he wrote.
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Leith contrasted that with Netanyahu's statement. Even though that statement also hit at ISIS and Iran, he wrote, saying that it could be argued that this also politicised the event, “it went down differently.”
"Why? Tone of voice. The speech was carefully structured but used simple language and his manner of delivery was sober and modest. It was not framed as “me v the terrorists”; it was framed as “the terrorists v us … all of us.”
Netanyahu, he wrote, “squarely acknowledged that the Orlando shootings were a hate-crime against LGBT people but then embedded that community in the wider world.”
Netanyahu, for instance, said that the shooting “wasn’t merely an attack on the LGBT community. It was an attack on all of us, on our common values of freedom and diversity and choice.”
Leith praised Netanyahu for invoking family — “sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.”
He also noted the prime minister's “variations on the first-person plural: 'All of us … all of us … we believe … we will not be terrified … we will fight … we stand together … we are all one family … we will defeat them … we need to stand united'.”
Netanyahu's new English spokesman David Keyes, who has experience in his previous positions working with human rights NGOs creating videos that “go viral,” said the video “connected with people around the world because it honestly addressed the problem, while expressing profound empathy with the victims.”
Keyes indicated the video statement is part of an effort inside the PMO to become more engaged in social media, recognizing the power of that medium to reach different audiences.
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