Over the years, the Israelis have succeeded in their campaign to portray themselves as the victim – not the aggressor. As a result, when there is a crisis in the West Bank, the World looks on, turning a blind eye to the aggression.
I have been watching their battle for well over fifteen years on television. Every time, the international media would report both sides of the story, from both sides of the fence.
I remember once watching one incident while sitting in a Dubai pub, along with my colleagues who were hailing from various different countries around the world. Yasser Arafat, quite angered by the Israeli atrocities was screaming on television – in his “not-so-polished” English, with his classic unshaven look. He wore a military look as always, and had the chequered bandana wrapped around his head. He was angry and furious, screaming and shouting, threatening the Israelis that Palestinians would take revenge in their honour.
Then appeared the Armani-clad, Boston educated Israeli government spokesman who spoke fluently and eloquently, to the point, maintaining his calm and collected outlook. He started the conversation by saying “We are a civilised nation living in a barbaric world...” and my newly arrived friends from Europe were immediately convinced that the Palestinians were barbarians... instantly.
No amount of arguments, or the many rounds of drinks that followed, would convince them otherwise.
For the World that’s watching, what matters is their own interpretation of events; not necessarily the truth. The West aren’t as news-hungry as we are, nor are they interested in digging deep to find the truth. They are quite happy believing what they see and what they hear on their favourite television channel. (I guess their television stations too have earned their credibility, unlike ours.)
“Image” has been one of the key reasons why the terrorist organisations from Sri Lanka have managed to successfully paint themselves as the sole-saviours of the Tamils. They are successfully conducting anti-national campaigns all around the world, raising funds for arms purchase.
When a government spokesperson clad in military uniform announces that “we are running a civil administration in Jaffna” at a press conference, we are humiliating ourselves in front of the international audience. The world doesn’t believe that statement. No one does, except for some idiots in this Paradise isle.
Its all about the image. Its all about establishing a credible and distinctive difference between the government and the terrorists. We have been continuously sending essential items, food and medical supplies to the terrorists who are fighting against us. We have been treating captive terrorists with dignity while they’ve beheaded our soldiers. Our military has been successfully maintaining the lowest civilian casualties in a conflict, giving priority to human life – sometimes even risking their own life. We must advertise, advertise and advertise the good – conquering the bad publicity around the world.
Perhaps its time we took a leaf out of the Israelis’ book.
We must improve our image – starting from the style of writing in the defence website. Imagine an Armani-clad, well-educated and well groomed government spokesperson with a well-spoken British accent handling the international media. If that person happens to be a gorgeous woman, perhaps we could even bomb-the-hell-out-of Kilinochchi and the World would still be on our side.Image Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org) swiss-image.ch/Photo by Remy Steinegger