Sunday, September 30, 2007

This sounds like a very good idea to me, although I doubt that the IDF or the government will listen to and implement Mrs Aloni-Sadovnik's advice. Years ago, when I finished my MA I tried to get a job in the army spokesperson's unit. I thought that with my background and knowledge ( fluent Hebrew, Dutch, English, thorough knowledge of German and French, basic knowledge of Arabic, able to learn more languages if necessary ) I could contribute in what I thought would a fascinating and important job. From the feedback that I receive from Dutch and other European readers ( not all of whom are very Israel-friendly ) I know that knowing the mentality and language of a country or public can help to convey your message to that specific country or public. Through personal connections I reached the person who was responsible for the unit's (wo)manpower. She told me straightforward that they normally only hire people who "grew up within the unit". We all know what that means: young Israelis, most of whom never spent more than a few weeks abroad, whose English - if they have a more than very basic knowledge of the language; don't expect them to know any other foreign languages - is very Israeli ( and therefore aggressive ), who do not have even the slightest clue about foreign customs and mentalities, etc. etc. Since then I understand better how Israeli PR has come to such a dead end. I love this country, but one thing that I do not like about its people is that in most cases they refuse to listen to advice or to use outside ( or inside: immigrants such as I can hardly be called outsiders ) expertise unless they are really desperate ( or unless that expertise costs millions of shekels ). Sometimes they allow you to share your expertise, but then mostly only on a voluntary basis, at the expense of your own money and spare time. The officer offered me the opportunity to escort Dutch and other journalists in the occupied territories, but as a volunteer. I told her that I was looking for a job, not for a hobby. By then I was already Israeli enough to know what a frayer ( sucker ) is. Hopefully after the last war in Lebanon the army has come to understand that foreign media are a stage where wars can be won or lost. Still, as I said, I will be highly surprised if military and political leaders take advice from someone like Roni Aloni-Sadovnik seriously.

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