The MidEast PR Machine: From Assad to the Palestinians

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Yasser Arafat perfected the technique of telling a Western audience one thing in English while saying the precise opposite to the Palestinian people. So a Western media unprepared to see Palestinians as anything other than victims of Israeli “occupation” were only too happy to promote a narrative of peace-loving Palestinians driven to desperate measures to force out Israelis from the Palestinian homeland.

This continues to the present day as Palestinians feed Western journalists with the sound bites they want to hear. Palestinian terrorists become “activists” or “militants”; Israeli self-defence is portrayed as aggression, and PalestinianQassams become “homemade rockets”. The list goes on. And all as incitement in mosques and on television screens goes unreported.

Not everyone in the Middle East, however, is a PR guru. If you thought Israel has trouble selling itself to a Western audience, consider Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While he won’t be missed when he steps down from the presidency, there are sure to be many involved in Israeli advocacy who will quietly shed a tear.

After all, who can keep a straight face when Ahmadinejad claims, before Columbia University students, that there are no gays in Iran? Looks like someone should have borrowed Assad’s media advisor. And when it comes to Israel, unlike the Palestinians, Ahmadinejad makes it perfectly clear where he stands – advocating for the destruction of the “Zionist regime”, much like the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who only days ago announced that Iran would support any nation or group that attacks the “cancerous tumor” of Israel.

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[sc:graybox ]Cherryl Smith, PhD, is professor emerita in rhetoric and composition at California State University, Sacramento. Her blog is Framing ...