The Challenges Of Defending The IDF To The International Press Corps
On Monday, February 20th, the 2017 Write On For Israel program had the pleasure of speaking with IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner. As the chief spokesperson, Lerner explained that his job is to act on the “frontlines” of Israeli diplomacy on different social media platforms to communicate the actions the IDF is taking. Since young people are receiving a majority of their news from twitter or Facebook news feeds, social media has become a crucial aspect of communication for the IDF.
While elaborating on the threats and challenges that he faces in order to communicate with his audience, Lerner noted that the IDF has three main audiences. First, the core audience is the Israeli population. The IDF is deeply incorporated into Israeli society since the nation’s sons and daughters are under the care of the IDF. Next, the second largest audience is the world at large. He explained that the IDF social media platforms are used to ensure that the world has an understanding of the IDF’s use of military force. Lastly, the Arab world is the third audience since such public communication is a crucial element to the IDF’s public relations. For example, Lerner stressed that hope and deterrence need to be in the media constantly in order to “stay ahead” of false news allegations.
As active Israel advocates, Lerner suggested we “be engaged” and “seek the truth.” For example, he suggested writing to a journalist when you recognize a mistake or false allegation. Lerner added that as the chief IDF spokesperson he focuses of the professionalism of the IDF and his own moral standards, declaring, “the first time I lie will be the last time the journalists call me.”
Israel faces many challenges and opportunities when it comes to the IDF. This is evident as Israel has on a constant rotation, “760 foreign correspondents, who are constantly looking for a story.” Lerner—to quote Barack Obama—answers them, “Yes we can.”