Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Hamas playing the PR game

The Guardian reports that New-look Hamas spends £100k on an image makeover. This is a very understandable move, as the Palestinians have had a rather bad name in the Western world since the decline of the European left-wing. And Hamas, Fatah and other militants have certainly not helped that image out, reinforcing the preconception of trembling sub-urban housewives and cabinet ministers of an unruly, murderous mob without any real political direction or leadership.

But it is going to be a hard task to reconcile the Palestinian struggle for a sustainable state (and possibly the destruction of the state of Israel) with how the PR game is played in the West. Liberation movements are just not very chic at the moment, everything being labeled "Terrorism" and thus activiating an innummerable host of myths and communicative reflexes.

And judging from the Guardian's article, I am not convinced that they are going to succeed. Their new "spin doctor" Nashat Aqtash gave hints like these to Hamas:

· Say you are not against Israelis as Jews
· Don't talk about destroying Israel
· Do talk about Palestinian suffering
· Don't celebrate killing people
· Change beard colour (if red)

1 and 4 are going to be hard if it is actually the case. 2 just so as well - but if I remember correctly Hamas just stroke that part of their programme where it aims for the destruction of Israel.

It seems as if Hamas' new spinner is doing the elemental error of PR and hopes that form will overshadow matter. Without a PR strategy that combines the nature of Hamas (including its humanitarian work) with a story that is digestable in Western media, it will only be so many words and money out the window.


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