July 22, 2024
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July 22, 2024
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‘Voices for Israel’ Looks to Professionals

The minds behind Voices for Israel recently spoke with four professionals on how to increase good public opinion for Israel throughout the world and how to channel that into slogans. Below are conversations with PR professionals Juda Englemayer and Ilya Welfeld and advocates for Israel Ari Abramowitz and Eytan Rund.


Eytan Rund (former IDF soldier):

What key messages or themes would be most effective in positively influencing public opinion about Israel?


If Israel can’t defend themselves, then barbarians can kill, rape and hold people hostage without any consequences. So eventually it could happen in New Jersey, where people do bad things and then hide under hospitals but then the media says you can’t attack a hospital (with children).

It’s important to think about who your target audience is. It’s impossible to change the opinion of people who inherently don’t like Israel. These people who are anti-Israel are an extremely loud minority. We need to target the silent majority of people who don’t know better. Most people are silent because they don’t know enough and don’t want to combat the mob.

The message to this silent majority has to be that if Israel, a nation constantly defending itself against terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, were to falter, it would set a dangerous precedent. It would signal to terrorists and extremists worldwide that they can act with impunity—killing,
raping and holding people hostage without fear of retribution. This scenario is not confined to the Middle East; the repercussions could easily reach Western shores, manifesting in events reminiscent of 9/11, whether they do something in a year or a decade. We have to show Americans that the Israel situation is relevant to them.

I would recommend a strategy/focus on something along the lines of #WESTISNEXT.

History offers stark lessons on the dangers of appeasement and indifference. During World War II, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasing Hitler by allowing the annexation of Czechoslovakia was seen as a peaceful solution. However, it only emboldened a bully, leading to greater conflict. Similarly, allowing terrorist organizations to operate unchecked will only lead to more significant threats to global security.

While the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are crucial in protecting Israel, their efforts are often hamstrung by global opinion and political pressure. Here, you, as American Jews, play a vital role. As citizens with influence on policymakers, you are on the front lines of the battle for public opinion. Social media has become a battleground where narratives are shaped and opinions formed. By actively engaging in these spaces, you can help shift the discourse in favor of Israel.

A recent example of Israel’s hands being tied due to American politics is Israel being forced to supply concrete to Gaza. While intended for rebuilding, much of it has been diverted by Hamas for constructing tunnels used for terrorist activities. Despite 90% of Israelis opposing this aid until hostages are returned, international pressure, particularly from the American government, has led to its continuation. This scenario underscores the complexities of international politics and the need for informed and assertive advocacy from American citizens to influence policies that strengthen Israel.

We are in the midst of a clash of civilizations where our enemies aim to destroy Western society. This is a reality we can choose to ignore or confront head-on. Israel is currently at the forefront of this struggle, fighting not just for its survival but for the preservation of values that underpin Western civilization. The outcome of this conflict will have far-reaching consequences, and it is imperative that we support Israel in this endeavor.

Jewish Link readers, the onus is on you to wake up the Western world by offering simple, yet profound chants that underscore the message that the #WESTISNEXT if Americans don’t support Israel.

What’s your advice on creating an impactful chant or slogan?

1) Need to persuade people that the situation applies to them. It’s Civilized Society versus Barbarism. If you don’t support Israel, you pave the way for terrorists to target innocents, hiding behind hospitals or malls. Your silence today could mean danger tomorrow.

2) Jews, like any other people, deserve a homeland where they can safely identify and protect their identity, especially considering their history of persecution. Supporting Israel’s right to exist isn’t just about justice—it’s about ensuring security and countering centuries of prejudice.

Eytan Rund is an experienced Israeli tour guide known for his dynamic approach to storytelling, transforming historical and modern sites into thrilling narratives akin to a drama or thriller film. With a background in education and Middle Eastern studies, he crafts tours that deeply connect visitors to Israel’s heritage and contemporary significance. Eytan lives in Gush Etzion with his wife, Tamar. and their four children.

Ari Abramowitz:

What key messages or themes would be most effective in positively influencing public opinion about Israel?

Before assessing the specific messages we want to deliver, it is important to orient ourselves toward our primary audience: Western observers who likely do not have a significant personal connection with Israel. Our goal is to communicate to them how support for our cause aligns with their values.

Working within that framework, there are several themes on which we should focus. We can highlight Israel’s democratic values, tolerance of differing perspectives, economic success and technological prosperity. Additionally, we should emphasize the brutality and oppression of Hamas and their allies, both towards Israelis and Palestinians. Chants can draw attention to the double standards often employed against Israel, though we should be careful to avoid creating a sense of “whatabout-ism.” We can use chants to communicate the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state, as long as we keep our audience in mind. This means focusing on ideas that people without a Jewish background might connect to, such as self-determination or our historical connection with the land. As much as possible, our messages should be rooted in universal values that can easily resonate with people of any background.

What’s your advice on creating an impactful chant or slogan?

Chant-writing is an art. I’ll give a few pointers that generally make sense, but keep in mind that these are guidelines, not rules.

There are a few different groups of people to consider when writing a chant.

The Audience: Though you may refer to Hamas or the pro-Palestine protesters in the second person, your real audience is the people walking by a rally or watching one on the news. Your chants should deliver compelling messages in support of Israel directed toward those outside observers (see my response to the previous question for more on that). Also, consider whether any word or phrase might be misheard, misunderstood or taken out of context, intentionally or otherwise.

The Chant Leader: Assume the leader is not already familiar with your chant. The chant’s rhythm should be immediately obvious when they read it.

The Rally Participants: Assume the rally participants are also not familiar with your chant and do not have the words in front of them. They should be involved, but their role should be simple. This could mean either having a short chant that the leader repeats until the crowd catches on or something longer where the crowd joins in for a short recurring piece.

As a final point, do not limit yourself to the rhythms of chants that are already being used. The more unique chants we have, the better. Just make sure that if you use a new rhythm it is still easy to follow for someone reading it for the first time.

What should the winner do with their prize?

15-Foot Flagpole: Attach a fork to the end of it and use it at your fellow winner’s kiddush (or steal a few bites from the lunch…).

Ari Abramowitz is a software engineer originally from Bergenfield, now living in Givat Shmuel. He recently created chant4israel.com, a platform dedicated to compiling succinct, memorable chants that convey compelling messages in support of Israel.

PR Professionals

Juda Engelmayer:

What key messages or themes would be most effective in positively influencing public opinion about Israel?

In the realm of public perception and messaging, brevity often wields more influence than verbosity. This holds particularly true when discussing Israel and Jewish life, where complex narratives collide with public attention spans. The challenge, as starkly outlined, demands slogans that are not just memorable but resonate deeply, even if they skirt the edges of nuance.

Messages about Israel and Jewish life that resonate well enough to have impact must be short, pithy, catchy (rhyming), and not too deep. This directive, while pragmatic, speaks volumes about the landscape of public discourse today. It acknowledges a sad reality—that truth and factual accuracy often take a backseat to the allure of simplicity and emotional resonance.

The public we aim to reach often does not care for truth or facts, nor for insensitivity or prejudice when it comes to Jews. This blunt assessment forces a reckoning with uncomfortable truths about perception versus reality. It’s a tightrope walk between shaping perceptions positively without reinforcing stereotypes or neglecting historical complexities.

It’s a fact of Jewish life, and the more we appreciate that, the better we will succeed. It also encapsulates a strategic approach—accepting the landscape as it is while striving to shape it positively. It emphasizes the importance of pragmatism without resignation, resilience without compromise.

For example, getting bogged down in rhetoric about who was or is indigenous to the historical lands of Judea, or whether support for Palestinians is equal to support for Hamas, or even whether there is such an entity as Palestine or a Palestinian people isn’t going to move any needles or change any minds. Here lies a critical pivot—steering away from debates mired in historical disputes and political intricacies toward narratives that resonate universally. Again, it might be a sad commentary on the world today, the state of education, or even the fact that antisemitism is the only prejudice that gets Ivy league presidents to equivocate over what context it is spewed in, but the sooner we figure out how to emotionally get beyond it and just go forward, the better we off we will be. Let’s stop trying to make “them” like us or feel for us, and start using their own stereotypes of us to our advantage.

What’s your advice on creating an impactful chant or slogan?

We need catchy slogans that are easy to chant and remember, ones that speak of Jewish objectives of societal contributions and notions that people know and accept Jews are “suitable” for, even if it’s caving to stereotypes. This call for simplicity underscores a pragmatic approach to messaging. It recognizes the power of narrative-shaping and the enduring influence of stereotypes, aiming to wield these forces positively.

When it comes to Jews in society, there’s an awful, obvious, but useful double standard, and fixing it will require a long-term strategy. This acknowledgment of a contradictory standard challenges us to confront biases embedded deep within societal structures. It beckons a strategic, sustained effort toward redefining perceptions and dismantling barriers.

Amidst this landscape, I would suggest slogans similar to; “Solar windows clear the haze, to get around you use Waze” and “Israel has brightened lives, from Babysense to OrCam Eyes” to serve as beacons—melding innovation with impact, complexity with clarity. They encapsulate Israeli achievements in ways that transcend borders and beliefs, inviting admiration and fostering understanding.

Maybe, “From ‘Quicktionary’ to ‘Babylon,’ Israelis are the world’s liaison,” echoing a legacy of innovation and connection, illustrating Israel’s role as a global collaborator and facilitator of knowledge.

Another: “Jewish lives improve the world, from mobile phones to Polaroid” encapsulates a narrative of contribution and advancement, aligning Jewish identity with positive societal impact.

In a world where attention spans flicker and perceptions solidify swiftly, these slogans are not just words—they are catalysts for understanding, bridges across divides, and affirmations of shared humanity. They embody aspirations for a future where identity transcends stereotypes, where innovation fuels progress, and where dialogue triumphs over division.

Obviously, these may not work for everyone or every purpose, and our collective goals should be to develop ones that do. I came up with these as pithy rhymes, but the underlying idea is that we need these now, and not an everyday argument about Jewish rights to the Middle East, or even lessons about false and harmful blood libels. We will not change that in the short term—it’s been thousands of years in the making, and this period in our world is not the most conducive to schooling the ignorant, much less the hateful.

Navigating the complexities of Israel and Jewish life demands a delicate balance—between historical truths and present-day perceptions, between narrative simplicity and nuanced reality. It necessitates embracing slogans that resonate deeply, even as they skirt the surface of profound issues. It’s a journey of persistence and persuasion, of crafting messages that endure and inspire amid the noise of competing narratives.

Ultimately, the challenge remains—to distill complexity into clarity, to forge unity from diversity, and to shape perceptions that honor truth while transcending bias. In this pursuit, the power of succinct, resonant messaging becomes not just a strategy but a beacon of hope—for understanding, for empathy, and for a future where words, however brief, carry the weight of profound change.

Juda Engelmayer is the president of HeraldPR, a different kind of public relations firm. He runs a firm that specializes in corporate branding, crisis communications, lifestyle, health and beauty, and in all—garnering the attention clients want. Juda’s experience covers corporate, crisis and advocacy. His experience in media, communications, crisis communications, and public affairs is put to work building his new firm.

Ilya Welfeld:

What key messages or themes would be most effective in positively influencing public opinion about Israel?

I do not write slogans or ads but have worked with some fantastic copywriters throughout my career and admire a great slogan. Key message development is part art, part science, and while it is tempting to start with the creative elements, my best tip is to approach the effort somewhat surgically. My advice to anyone crafting a slogan is: Ask yourself a bunch of questions before putting pen to paper. Remember the Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes how) prompts from middle-school English class? Start there!

Who: What public? Whom are you targeting with the slogan? Am Yisroel Chai is a great example of an effective chant for within a community, but a meaningless or even counterproductive one for an external audience. The “public” is made up of numerous geographical, political, religious, social and cultural subsegments that occasionally overlap but more often, exist independently. First, pick a “public” to target and be as specific as possible. Politically liberal, Middle East knowledgeable, stay-at-home moms in the Midwest? Politically right-wing American immigrants? TikTok-educated social warriors? Ask yourself with whom you want your slogan to resonate because even a great slogan, heard by many, is unlikely to resonate well with all. Also, important: Do you have friends in the target audience? Do you follow what they follow on social media? Can you walk in their shoes with empathy? If not, you’ll likely miss the mark. Choose your target and write it down before you try to get profound.

What: What do you mean by influence? What does “positively” mean? If your “public” is highly engaged young Zionists, then positively influencing their opinion might involve reinforcing messages of strength, hope, even moral superiority. If, however, that public is composed of individuals with no current connection and only vague knowledge of Israel, those same messages will land differently. Is your intent for people to love Israel? Believe Israel is “right”? Hate Hamas? Know what you want to convey, before deciding what to say.

Why: To what end? What is the goal of your slogan? Why are you looking to shift opinions? Do you want to make people question their beliefs, give them something in which to believe, educate, inform, show support, demonstrate higher moral ground, combat antisemitism, and make people question what they think they know? For example, if you want to position Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East, you might go with something like “Defend Democracy: From the River to Sea’’ But, if you want to counter claims of stolen land—you might try something more like “Indigenous and Proud” or “Know What’s True: Who’s Native to Israel? The Jew.” If you are talking to the TikTok generation and want Israel supporters to feel proud but also want others to wonder if Israel’s war is more just than headlines imply—you might try something like “IYKYK, Hamas Must Go!” It’s a wink, and a welcome and a join-the-battle cry.

What’s your advice on creating an impactful chant or slogan?

A slogan does not have to rhyme but should be short and memorable. It should also include a call to action—a nudge to your target to “do” or “join” or “believe” or “herald” something—to take some action. A wise woman I know pointed out the weakness of “Bring Them Home” in the earliest days—as a too-gentle (bring?) call to action addressing a mysterious entity. Or does it put the onus on the Israeli soldiers, and if they don’t or can’t bring them home, what does that slogan do to morale? On the other hand, a wise man I know suggested “Bring Them Home” may be the most powerful call to action of all. If, rather than a too-gentle request for the return of hostages, it is a roar from above to the people of Israel and we in the Diaspora are the target audience. Then, the call to action is to bring Jews home to Israel. That wise man plans to heed the call later this year, and given the latest Israeli immigration data, it seems he’ll be in good company.

Ilya Welfeld, owner of Seymour PR, specializes in lifestyle, food, and food-tech brands, offering a unique blend of creativity and personal touch. With extensive experience in strategic partnerships, crisis communications, and corporate social responsibility, she has managed high-profile campaigns for brands like Nikon, Avis, and Visa. Living just a bridge away from New York City, Welfeld enjoys reading, practicing yoga, and embracing the vibrant chaos of life with her family.


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