'We can also use unusual forms of public diplomacy'

Yuli Edelstein: "Next time editor wants to run article about how terrible settlers are, maybe they’ll think about these pictures."

fogel itamar attack body bags 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
fogel itamar attack body bags 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Graphic photos of the bodies of the five members of the Fogel family murdered in their home in the Itamar settlement Friday night will hopefully have an effect on international media outlets when they write about Israel, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said Monday.
“Next time an editor somewhere in the world wants to run an article about how terrible the IDF soldiers or the settlers are, maybe they’ll think for a moment about these pictures first,” he said.
RELATED:Israel moves to release graphic photos of slaying victimsPM: Abbas should condemn Itamar attack in PA mediaThousands bid farewell to Itamar terror victims
Edelstein laughed off claims made by some that Israel was looking to exploit the tragedy for hasbara (public diplomacy) purposes, saying, “I don’t even have a response to this ridiculous claim. We didn’t create this attack, this attack happened, and the fact that we want the world to know what we’re dealing with is our obligation.”
He declared that “our goal in sending out the photos was clear: to show that this attack crossed all lines. And to show that Israel can also take unorthodox steps in hasbara.”
Ministry spokesman Gal Ilan said earlier Monday that the pictures had been sent out because “the reality today is that the state of Israel is dealing with an organized campaign of incitement and delegitimization of Israel’s right to exist. In instances like this, we know that often the story is distorted or the message that makes it out to the media is the other side’s message only.”
Ilan also mentioned the case of 12- year-old Muhammad al-Dura, who was shot dead after being caught in a crossfire between IDF troops and Palestinian combatants in the early days of the second intifada. Video images of the incident galvanized global public opinion against Israel.
Ilan said that that image and others illustrated how “in an incident like this, a visual can be more important than any words that can be given.”
On Sunday, Edelstein instructed GPO director Oren Helman to publish the photos, on the Fogel family’s condition that the faces be blurred. The pictures spread quickly on social networking sites, but Israeli newspapers did not publish the photos, in keeping with longstanding customs in the Israeli press against printing such pictures out of respect for the victims’ surviving relatives.
A large numbers of videos showing pictures from the murder scene were uploaded onto the file-sharing site, and at least one was taken down by the site for violating its regulations. The video was later returned, but restricted to users over 18 years of age.
Edelstein explained the decision on Sunday, saying, “We have never done anything like this before, but only these horrific pictures can make the world realize who Israel is dealing with.”
He noted that “I have never had a meeting overseas on the subject of public diplomacy in which I wasn’t asked why the images representing the Israeli side are so sterile, while those of the Palestinians are quite graphic. This is a very serious incident for us, but for too many people in the world, there is a neat and cozy picture of an Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and this can help those people understand with whom we are doing business.”
On Monday, Yaron Fogel, brother of Udi Fogel – who was murdered along with his wife Ruth and their children Yoav, 11, Elad, five, and Hadas, three months – asked on Kol Hai radio, “Do we need the confirmation of the world that a despicable murder happened here?”
Fogel continued, “I don’t think that what serves Israel is the pictures, I think that what must serve Israel is the truth. A picture of little Hadas slashed in her bed won’t change the truth. Even when Hadas was alive, the truth was with us, and the truth is that the land of Israel is ours, so do we then need the approval of someone in the world that it is ours?”