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A New Strategy for the October 7 War

This article was originally published on the Hasbara Toolbox I launched in partnership with other professionals in the Israel Advocacy field.


The Hamas terror attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, resulted in over 1,400 civilian deaths and the hostage-taking of 240 people. For the first time in many decades, Israel has reclaimed the victim narrative and has the support of most world leaders. To maintain this support, it is crucial to focus on the silent majority who already support Israel and provide a strong counter-narrative for those who are undecided. The key message should revolve around the hostage crisis, as it is relatable, emotional, and keeps the audience engaged. By emphasizing the human story, Israel can retain world support and win the war.


The scale and brutality of the Hamas terror attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, was far beyond what anyone ever imagined possible. With more than 1,400 innocent civilians murdered and over 240 taken hostage, the horrific events of that day led to two unprecedented shifts in Israel’s global image:

  • Israel reclaims the victim narrative: For the first time since the establishment of the State, Israel is being viewed as the victim in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now, Hamas is trying to reclaim the victim narrative back from us.

  • Israel has the support of world leaders: All of the leaders of the free world immediately announced their unequivocal support for Israel. We haven’t seen support like that for decades, if ever.

As Israel wages a harsh war to free the hostages and eradicate terrorism, we need to think carefully about how we tell this story without losing the victim narrative and the support of world leaders. Because our place on the world stage is different than ever before, this requires a brand-new strategy.

Set an objective: Maintain the support of world leaders

The unprecedented support from world leaders is not just an issue of public opinion; it translates into policies that supply Israel with the diplomatic negotiation power, funds, and weapons it desperately needs to save the hostages and defeat Hamas. However, in order to continue standing with Israel, world leaders must feel that their constituents support Israel’s actions and believe that it is in the best interests of their countries to continue offering support.

While public opinion cannot beat terrorism, it can cause world leaders to second-guess their support for Israel. In contrast to our long-term Israel advocacy goals of getting more people to stand with Israel, our central goal during this war is to hold on to the support that Israel is currently receiving from world leadership.

Define our target audience: The silent majority

While many Israelis and Jews around the world are in a state of shock and fear due to the sharp rise in global anti-Semitism and violent displays of anti-Israel activity, public opinion polls show that most of the Western world actually stands with Israel. For example, recent surveys conducted in the United States, the UK, France, and Germany, reveal that between 70-80% of citizens either support Israel, support both sides or have not taken a side at all. This is the silent majority and it’s huge! We are very impacted by the loud and aggressive minority that actively supports the Palestinians – or even Hamas – but when we look exclusively at the data, it turns out that we are in a better position than we thought.

When considering what messaging to use, it is important to keep our audience in mind. We are not trying to convince our critics to switch sides. Instead, we should be embracing those who already support our cause and providing a strong counter-narrative to the other side’s for those who have yet not formed an opinion. Because these groups make up the majority of Western civilization, they have the power to sway world leaders.

Focus on a key message: The hostage crisis

Whether you are selling Coca Cola, a car, or a country, you need a singular overarching narrative that guides all of your messaging. In the fast-paced world of social media, we have just three seconds to make a point to our target audience, so we must focus on one strong message that we repeat over and over again. The Palestinians have done this very well, convincing the world that Israel = Apartheid, thereby justifying the “resistance” of October 7. Instead of trying to combat this narrative with facts, figures, and logical arguments, we will be better served by rallying together around a simple and singular message that is proactive, not reactive, and that the entire world can relate to. That key message is the hostage crisis.

There are several reasons why focusing on the release of the hostages – many of whom are children, women and the elderly – will serve our central objective of holding on to world support, and consequently, the support of world leaders.

  • Familiarity: The average person on the street is very familiar with the concept of a hostage situation, thanks to movies and TV. While much of what is going on here may seem like complicated “Middle East stuff,” the hostage crisis is relatable and clear.

  • Emotional: The most share-worthy content – especially online – is not facts, but an emotional story, especially for those who aren’t particularly invested in the subject. There is nothing more emotional than the personal stories of innocent children kidnapped from their beds and held captive by brutal terrorists in a war zone.

  • Dramatic: As sad as it is, in terms of the news cycle, the horrific events of October 7 are by now “old news.” The hostage crisis, however, is a live drama unfolding in real time. This keeps our audience interested, as they wait to see what will happen and hope for a happy ending.

  • Balanced: Expressing empathy for the hostages does not demand that people turn their backs on innocent Palestinians. For those who are primarily concerned with humanitarian rights, it is extremely important that the support of one side does not come at the expense of the other.

Hopefully, we will see the hostages returned home safely very soon, and at that point (or even before), we will need to adjust our key message.

However, as long as there is even one civilian hostage, everything we say about the conflict needs to fall under that narrative. This will shift the conversation of the silent majority to this riveting, human story, ensuring we don’t lose the support of the world leaders who are providing Israel with what it needs to win this horrible war.


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