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Israel Advocacy Do’s and Don’ts

This article was originally published on the Hasbara Toolbox I launched in partnership with other professionals in the Israel Advocacy field. When advocating for Israel, especially online, here are some Do’s and Don’ts we recommend. But first, a reminder of our strategy:

The October 7 War Communications Strategy:

October 7 marks a game-changing moment for Israel’s global reputation. When the rules of the game change, so must our strategy. Here, we offer a communications strategy for you to adopt in connection with the October 7 War launched by Hamas against Israel. Note that this strategy is not for the long-term efforts of strengthening Israel’s standing, but rather – for the short-term objectives of freeing the hostages, ending Hamas and re-establishing security for the citizens of Israel.

  • Primary Objective: Maintain the Support of World Leaders – on October 7, 2023, or immediately thereafter,Israel gained unprecedented support from the leaders of the free world who, for perhaps the first time in history, currently see Israel as the victim in the conflict. This support gives Israel the diplomatic negotiation power, funds, and weapons it needs to win this war.

  • Target Market: The Silent Majority – Despite the aggressive pro-Palestinian minority, polls show that 70-80% of the Western world is sympathetic towards Israel or has not taken a side. While public opinion cannot beat terrorism or extract hostages, it can cause world leaders to second-guess their support for Israel. Our job is to ensure that the Silent Majority isn’t drawn into the narrative of the other side, and for the leaders to see public opinion polls that support their standing with Israel.

  • Key Message: The Hostage Crisis – Rally together around a simple and singular message that the entire world can relate to: rescuing the innocent civilian hostages being held by terrorists in Gaza. This is an emotional, human story that is still unfolding and, most importantly, does not demand that people “choose a side.” When the last civilian hostage is freed, a new key message will be proposed.

Here’s What You SHOULD Do:
  1. Speak to your target audience: Think about what they need to hear, not what you want to say, and address different audiences with adapted messages that they can best relate to. For example, speak to mothers about kidnapped children, young people about the music festival, grandparents about grandchildren being held hostage, women about sexual violence, etc.

  2. Emphasize our shared values: The world doesn’t know Israelis well enough. For many people, we’re just part of the Middle East. Highlight the things we can all agree on as believers in democracy, such as freedom, family, humanity, the sanctity of life, the desire for normalcy, the pursuit of peace, love of music, etc.

  3. Get personal: Evoke empathy by telling the stories of hostages and victims in a way that is relatable to you and your audience. For example, choose a hostage that you identify with – someone you know personally, is the same age as your child, or that you share a hobby with – and tell their story in a creative, personal way.

  4. Choose the right media: Share videos and photos of victims and hostages when they are happy and full of life. For example, home videos, pictures from a family vacation, videos of people dancing at the festival, high quality pictures where they are looking at the camera and look relatable, etc.

  5. Encourage role reversal: Ask your audience to imagine how they would react if their child or grandparent was being held hostage, their spouse was murdered, their home was burnt down, their country was under rocket attack, etc. What would they expect their army to do?

  6. Use the right hashtags: Always use a hashtag that supports the key message of the hostage crisis first, such as #bringthemback or #bringthembacknow, followed, if you insist, by more general ones, like #hamasisisis, #freepalestinefromhamas, or #standwithisrael. For a deeper dive into use of hashtags, go to this article in the Guidance section.

  7. Use powerful graphics: Create and share powerful images that are visually appealing, send a clear message, and turn individual hostages and victims into icons the world can recognize and relate to.

  8. Call to action: Give your audience tangible ways to support Israel, such as sharing content, participating in rallies, hanging posters of hostages, demanding continued support from their elected leaders, reporting hate crimes, speaking out against media bias, donating to causes, etc.

Here’s What You SHOULDN’T Do:
  1. Share shocking content: Avoid overly graphic videos and images that will traumatize your audience, make them look away, or be reported. People don’t come online to see that type of content, and social media platform algorithms may block it. The exception to this is if the content is shown as part of a journalistic story on an established news platform.

  2. Share overly engineered content: Stay raw and authentic. Avoid content that is overly photoshopped, created using AI, or looks like an ad.

  3. Get stuck on facts and figures: Social media is not the place to share long history lessons, logical arguments, or statistics. Personal, emotional stories are far more effective and share worthy.

  4. Engage with haters: Don’t waste your time trying to convince people who have already made up their minds – especially not in the comment section. Engaging in these debates publicly just brings more traction to content that we do not want shared and causes the social media algorithm to make the opposing narrative to go viral. The only exception to this is when a post has gone viral (over 1,000 likes), in which case engage carefully using effective techniques we lay out in our other articles, to ensure others see that there is a counter response to the haters.

  5. Force people to choose sides: People want to support humanity without choosing a side. Instead of demanding that they choose Israel, give them a way to support innocent civilian hostages. Instead of inadvertent insist that they abandon Palestine, give them way to fight evil terrorists and support innocent Palestinians who are also the victims of Hamas.


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