HonestReporting was proud to host two events over consecutive weeks at its Jerusalem headquarters. Danny Seaman, veteran of over 30 years fighting for Israel’s image as the former Deputy Director of the Ministry of Public Diplomacy as well as former Director of the Government Press Office, addressed 70 attendees on HR’s panoramic rooftop deck.
Following wine and light refreshments against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s skyline on all sides, Danny spoke of his experiences dealing with the foreign media and gave his blunt assessment of Israeli government efforts over the years to address the country’s image problems.
Danny explained how, in an era of such rapid change, the government has not kept up with the pace of technology. In today’s world, the media and the public demand immediate answers and the government’s bureaucratic and drawn-out process of information gathering and dissemination is no longer good enough.
Instead, the way in which Israel’s image is presented has undergone a sea-change thanks to the next generation of young Jews and Israelis who are fully conversant with social media and internet technology. Danny referred to the 2006 Lebanon War as a turning point when bloggers observed and exposed the faulty and skewed reporting of the journalists. The media may have been able to ignore the protests of officials but were now forced to listen and respond to the public.
Despite all of Israel’s difficulties in this battleground, Danny exuded optimism for the future. Besides his obvious love for Israel and pride in its achievements, Danny stressed that with the public now in control of the information, Israel can finally undermine the strategic weapons the Palestinians have had in cognitive warfare over the past two decades.
Referring to organizations such as HonestReporting and the hundreds of Israeli students who have volunteered during times of crisis, Danny said:
Their contribution to Israel’s ability to defend itself and to stand up for what is right is far beyond anything the government does with ten times more than what these organizations have.
Danny stressed that everyone from every generation can play their part in defending Israel:
You’re never going to win over the opinion of the people you are arguing with. You are, however, able to influence the 70% who are disinterested. By sheer volume of negativity, what most of the disinterested hear about Israel is negative—it feeds into what people are thinking.
But all of you with Facebook, don’t try to present Israel’s case. Present your personal story… let people around the world see your lives.
Commenting on the two events, HonestReporting’s Managing Editor Simon Plosker said:
Danny Seaman has been a great friend of HonestReporting since the organization’s inception and recognizes how HR has been responsible for changing how we respond to anti-Israel media bias by holding the media accountable. It’s a measure of just how concerned people are about Israel’s image in the media that Danny attracted two full houses to hear him speak. Danny has a reputation for speaking his mind and those who heard him were not disappointed.
HonestReporting looks forward to hosting many more superb speakers in the near future.