NEW YORK: The Israeli government and consulate in New York launched a series of outreach efforts to garner support for Israel's military operation in Gaza that began December 27. It is working to communicate its position against Hamas, which ended the ceasefire on December 19. Hamas is considered to be a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department.
“Our message is that Israel right now is under attack,” said David Saranga, consul for media and public affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York. “People of Israel... have been under daily missile attack on part of the terror organization of Hamas.”
Saranga said that a second message it wants to convey is that Israel wants peace, but that “Israel has to defend its citizens.”
The government's primary method of communicating this message to the American public is through mainstream media, but it also devoted resources to social media efforts. It included a two-hour press conference held on Twitter December 30, in which the public asked questions directly to the New York Consulate. The consulate also posted updates on the consul's MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube pages.
“We know a huge debate... takes place on different social networks and in different blogs,” he said.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also launched a new YouTube channel that includes video of its air strikes into Gaza. The IDF site says that YouTube removed some of the footage. A YouTube spokesperson said the videos were “mistakenly taken down” after being flagged by users, but were reinstated.
Condemning Israeli attacks was the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which issued a statement on December 28 that called upon “those concerned about the ‘disproportionate and counterproductive' Israeli attacks to call radio talk show programs; write letters to the editor; and use social media Web sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to voice their concerns.”
Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for CAIR, said that efforts included a press conference, action alerts to the Muslim community, and participation in anti-war efforts throughout the US.