Ex-Sharon adviser: 'Take the media war to the enemy'

Gissin says Israel must avoid being put on trial in the press.

raanan gissin 88 (photo credit: )
raanan gissin 88
(photo credit: )
The Palestinians have succeeded in turning battlegrounds into crime scenes and forcing Israel into the defendant's dock, Ra'anan Gissin said Sunday, adding that Israel desperately needs to be proactive and turn the tables. Gissin, a longtime Ariel Sharon adviser who served as foreign media spokesman during Sharon's tenure as prime minister, said a good example of how to do this was a move being spearheaded by former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold. Gissin said Gold and other former diplomats were building a case to take to the International Court of Justice in The Hague and demand it initiate legal proceedings against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for conspiring to commit crimes against humanity. Gissin, speaking a day before the fifth annual David Bar-Illan Conference on the Media and the Middle East, to be held at the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, said this type of action would bring the Iranian president's genocidal threats against Israel to the attention of the media, which so often acts as judge and jury. Instead of constantly being on the defensive and apologizing, Gissin said, "we need to take the war into their territory. If the media is the one who adjudicates, we need to put the other side on trial in the media - use the media as theater to carry the war into enemy territory." Israel needed to look at the media battlefield as almost as important as the military one, and to act accordingly, he said. For instance, he said, Israel should have known that by shelling Beit Hanun last week the IDF was walking into an ambush, with the Palestinians eager to have pictures of dead civilians beamed around the world. He said it was clear after the Kassam rocket barrage on Ashkelon last week that the Palestinians were trying to lure Israel into making a Kafr Kana type of mistake that would fundamentally alter the world's view of what was taking place in Gaza. Gissin was referring to the errant missile attack in the Lebanese village of Kafr Kana during the fighting in the summer that killed 28 people and led to a temporary halt in air strikes, and also to IDF artillery shells that mistakenly killed more than 100 civilians in the same village in 1996 and effectively put an end to Operation Grapes of Wrath. The IDF must do everything necessary to keep from entering into a "crime scene" scenario when it was clear this was what the enemy was trying to achieve, Gissin said. "There is a pattern here. We need to identify it, and act accordingly." He said that just as Israel often "intercepts" suicide bombers with targeted killings before they carry out their attacks, it also needed to "intercept" damaging pictures that could quash a military operation. One way to do this would be to avoid military actions that would push the television lens in the direction of images harmful to Israel's interests, he said. Sharon understood this, he said, and that for this reason he waited to react for a few days to the attack on the Dolphinarium club in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2001 so that the world's camera lens would focus on the 21 Israeli victims of the Palestinian horror rather than on the IDF's retaliatory actions. Israel needed to take the media offensive and provide the world with real-time images of what the IDF was up against, he said. It would do Israel good to track with a camera a suicide bomber or those firing rockets at civilians to show the international community just how the terrorists operate, in the hope that this would provide the world a forceful explanation of why Israel reacts as it does.