Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Can T-shirts Become a Political Weapon?


When an Israeli joins the Israel Defense Force, he or she is issued, among other items, several Tzahal t-shirts in colors matching the standard uniform. However, after the Israeli Navy Commandos stopped the Turkish flotilla, causing a public relations outcry, one former Navy commander had a novel idea of changing the drab Israel Military T-shirts to use as a political tool.


It was no secret that the bad press Israel received after the incident would inspire copycat flotillas from other Israel detractors. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, retired Admiral, Ami Ayalon made suggestions of how Israel could have handled the military issue of stopping the boat from illegally breaking the sea-embargo while advancing Israeli public relations. One of his ideas was that, when boarding the ship, or when docking the boats at an Israeli port, the soldiers could have worn T-shirts showing the face of Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas, the terrorist group which controls Gaza, and the initial reason for the blockade.


Ayalon’s theory was that the media who eagerly filmed Israeli soldiers commandeering boats would then have a visual reminder why the blockade was necessary and that Gilad Schalit’s rights were being violated by Hamas.


I’m not sure such an idea would, as Ayalon suggests, direct some of the media traffic away from the plight of Gaza to the plight of a kidnapped Israeli soldier, but I would definitely be interested in seeing the IDF media office consider ways to incorporate some positive PR into their operations.


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