Ayalon claims successes in PR battle

In ‘Post’ op-ed, deputy minister rejects criticism over delay in releasing IDF footage of commandos under attack.

Danny Ayalon JPost interview 311 (photo credit: Benjamin Spier)
Danny Ayalon JPost interview 311
(photo credit: Benjamin Spier)
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has mounted a robust defense of official Israel’s performance on the public diplomacy “battlefield” over the fatal flotilla raid this week.
Writing in a Jerusalem Post op-ed elsewhere in these pages, Ayalon said the Foreign Ministry and many other governmental agencies had been working furiously ahead of the interception “to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best. In fact the level of coordination before, during and after these events was unprecedented.”
Senior Foreign Ministry officials “held countless meetings with the leadership and ambassadors around the world,” he wrote, “especially from those countries whose citizens were involved in the flotilla, reiterating the dangers and true nature of the flotilla organizers’ strategy. The international media was briefed and many press releases and information packs on the true intentions of the flotilla were distributed well in advance.
“While some have criticized Israel’s public relations readiness for the ghastly events that took place on Monday morning, far more have expressed increasing satisfaction with the vast improvement in Israel’s official crisis management,” he added.
Responding to criticism of the delay in releasing IDF footage of naval commandos being attacked aboard the Mavi Marmara, Ayalon noted: “To be able to disseminate pictures from the operation to apprehend the ships, the IDF had to ensure that no soldier’s faces could be identified and that no operational procedures were broadcast to our enemies... Our first priority is to the safety of our citizens, especially when they are on the front lines defending us in increasingly difficult situations.”
The deputy minister added that “while public relations is vitallyimportant, it is only one of the very many tasks that we had to attendto in light of the events surrounding the flotilla. At the ForeignMinistry, we were in constant contact with our ambassadors to spreadIsrael’s message and keep them updated, speaking to the foreigndiplomatic corps based in Israel, especially coordinating with thosewhose citizens were aboard the flotilla. We coordinated our messagewith thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, NGOs, bloggersand volunteers. We kept foreign heads of government abreast of thesituation and pressed Israel’s case while working with multilateralbodies, like the United Nations.
“Israel’s public diplomacy has become the new battlefield,” saidAyalon, “and if one gauges the results, it is clear that there are manypositives. There is not one credible member of the international mediathat still parrots the stated motives of the organizers of theflotilla... More and more correspondents, many who were previously verycritical of Israeli policy, have placed the blame squarely on theshoulders of the flotilla organizers. These are very real successes.”