Israel’s PR Nightmare

Just when you thought Israel’s international reputation had hit rock bottom: Red Cross Condemns Israel.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, World Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. markm says:

    It’s a PR hit but if they keep showing video of rockets being launched from populous/schools balanced with rockets from Lebanon…meh, it’s a wash.

  2. markm says:

    …besides, even if Israel did nothing…do you think the Red Cross would condemn Hamas?

  3. Matt says:

    Israel lives a PR nightmare almost every day, happily furthered by people like Andrew Sullivan who post horrifying pictures, blame Israel, but finally manage to admit that there is no way to authenticate the photo, and it might have been staged.

    This is also the same IRC that demanded that we release Saddam Hussein or be branded as International scofflaws. Pardon me if I wait for the story to be fleshed out completely.

  4. John Burgess says:

    Photos of dead women and children, staged or not, misidentified or not, still have the power to enrage the beholder. When it comes to emotions, ‘truthiness’ is enough. No higher standard of proof is required.

  5. markm says:

    Uh oh…another massive hit in the PR department:

    I thought he was going to be on board this go ’round…..

  6. Whoa, you mean bad things happen in war? And it is the JOOOOOOOOOOOOS fault? Who knew?

    I know you are a serious person James, but this seems a little too close to joining the propoganda deluge to me. Maybe, just maybe Israel is a little too busy dealing with Gaza and worrying about Lebanon right now to be be focused on fighting the PR war first. At some point reality takes precedence over perception. While I’m not exactly sure where that line is I am sure that when bullets are flying and bombs exploding, that the line has been crossed. The fact that you even couch this whole issue in terms of the PR war shows how warped the perspective has become. Your statement that:

    The net effect has been that the modern democracy responding to attacks by terrorists is seen by all too many as the bad guy rather than the aggrieved party.

    is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is fulfilled by articles like this.

    As someone who is far outside the beltway, literally and figuratively, I don’t accept the premise of your argument. Maybe you were really meaning to slam the Red Cross for its use of dead bodies and injured children to advance a political agenda, but it didn’t quite come across that way.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Charles: Everything that Israel does isn’t okay just because they’re the Chosen People. They’re flouting centuries-old rules for fighting wars justly and seem not to care.

    To be sure, fighting a terrorist enemy that itself violates international law as its raison detre is challenging. The Hamas cowards hide amongst civilians, in mosques, in hospitals, etc. But Israel’s sledgehammer to a gnat strategy is not only morally questionable but harmful to its own longer term interests.

  8. I think one needs to be careful about saying Israel doesn’t care about innocent lives or that they have decided to say “screw it” when it comes to just war theories. There’s an awful lot of evidence that Israel is going out of its way to avoid injuring Palestinian civilians. As you know, war is hell, and expecting perfect operations during war is ludicrous.

    I certainly never claimed that Israel is infallible or that they can do what they want for any reason they can conjure up. I do believe that the rules of the game with respect to warfare have changed substantially but that a good chunk of the world wants to continue to live in a fantasy land which demands “proportional responses” or that Israel rely solely on negotiations with an implaccable barbaric foe that just conveniently coincides with their anti-semitism. Just to be completely clear, I do not put you in that group.

    Maybe Israel does deserve condemnation for this incident. But I think you conclusions went a bit far and disregarded a lot of evidence to the contrary. With respect to PR it is a rigged game and Israel loses no matter what happens.

  9. John425 says:

    I don’t see the Red Cross/Crescent and any of the UN agencies busting Egypt for it’s closing of the border with Gaza. So much for Arabs helping their Bros!
    Israel is the aggrieved party here.

  10. steve s says:

    …besides, even if Israel did nothing…do you think the Red Cross would condemn Hamas?
    Posted by markm | January 8, 2009 | 08:07 am | Permalink

    The Red Cross has condemned Hamas. Your imaginary notions of what those evil liberals would do is no substitute for just doing a little research, Hannity.

  11. dutchmarbel says:

    Maybe you should read this post by an Israeli veteran. Or this piece by an Oxford professor of international relations who served in the Israeli army in the sixties.

    Huffington post has a nice graph about which party initiates violence more often.

    This is a blog where Israeli Human Rights organisations try to keep track of the events, especially the ones less reported in the media. Though they cannot even try to be complete since they are not allowed to enter.

  12. markm says:

    The Red Cross has condemned Hamas.

    Yeah, now that you mention it..I remember all those times. At one point I thought “like, totally what’s with all the support for Israel from the Red Cross”.