I recently listened to an interview with Ella Kenan, a travel blogger and a digital marketer who has been working hard on helping Israel’s hasbara. Kenan was responsible for making the hashtag #HamasisISIS go viral.

Kenan explains Hamas’s marketing prowess. Yahya Sinwar said in an interview to the US. “We are George Floyd. Just like George said, ’I can’t breathe,’ we cannot breathe since 1948.” This is dog whistling. You and I share the same struggle. This tactic is very successful.

Take the slogan “Free Palestine.” It doesn’t free the Palestinians or give them what they want. But the “brand” gives them “permission” to rape, slaughter, kidnap, abuse, murder Jews in LA, and attack them in universities and they’ll still be popular. They are freedom fighters. Freedom fighters are always good.  

man wearing a shirt with a Palestinian flag

The Palestinian narrative is also very TikTok friendly. Israel is white, we aren’t. We kill “only” 1200 and Israel blows full cities into smithereens. It’s very simple and not complicated. Complicated nuanced topics don’t do well on TikTok. The Israeli position is more complicated.

So what is left to do? Is Israel’s digital marketing strategy doomed for failure? No. Israel’s marketing strategy is behind. Israel’s branding is high-tech, start-up, AI, democracy, Tel Aviv, the city that never sleeps. The Israeli brand might sell stock nicely, but it fails Israel when there is conflict with terrorism.

As digital marketers know, when branding isn’t working, it’s time to rebrand. With social media, every voice helps.

What Messaging Does Israel Need to Resonate with Others?

  • Turn the narrative towards the other person. If you were in Israel’s situation what would you do? If your sister or daughter was gang raped and then brutally murdered, how would you react? Would you want the perpetrators to live next to you with no consequences ready to strike again? What do you think Israel should do?
  • Shiri Bibas and her babies. Baby Kfir has spent 3 out of his 12 months in captivity. Is he learning to walk in Gaza? Is he even alive? Babies are universally considered innocent and have a special place in people’s hearts.
  • #MeToo ideology. What is happening to Naama Levy who was pictured in bloody pants as she was taken captive? What about the other women? Are they being sexually abused by Hamas? Why doesn’t UN Women care about them? 
  • Equate Hamas with ISIS the same way Sinwar equated the Israeli occupation to George Floyd. The world understands that ISIS is a threat to society and specifically The West. #HamasisISIS is a powerful hashtag. So is #TheWestisNext. 

Yes, anti-Semites will be anti-Semites and they will throw back about the 20k innocent Palestinians who were murdered by the IDF. (Of course, they trust Hamas’s numbers.) Or the Palestinian “hostages” that Israel has locked up in jail.

For good measure, they will even say that the IDF killed its own people and 10/7 was a made-up excuse for Israel to commit genocide against Gaza.

Ignore all of this. Your goal is to reach the hearts of people who don’t already have an agenda. Don’t continue Israel’s marketing mistake of presenting its strength and power and using logic in arguments. Copy Hamas’s strategy and target the heart. 

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