Sunday, March 1, 2015

Obama, Israel and Purim

Jewish tradition teaches that Israel, in some fundamental way, stands at the center of the world. That means, in part,  that everything (important) that happens in the world has something to do with Israel.

That sounds self-centered. It sounds awful. It sounds like Jews preening that they’re somebody special. Don’t Jews know they’re nothing special?

If Jews aren’t so special, why does US President Barack Obama work so hard to increase Israel’s name recognition? Why does he build Israel’s ‘brand’?

Do you know about ‘brands’? In corporate America, those who live on ‘carpet corridor’ live for their ‘brand’—the name and image of their beloved company. The ‘brand’ means what the company represents—the product and the image of that product (safety, beauty, excitement, pleasure, taste, etc).

For a company CEO, the more people world-wide who know the brand name, the better. Think about the world’s biggest ‘brands’: Ford, IBM, Coca Cola, Toyota, American Express. Their CEO’s have just one mandate: build the brand.

Public recognition may be the most important part of brand-building. Positive publicity means a lot. But even bad publicity helps. Sometimes, it helps more than positive publicity.

Record-setting product recalls, scandals and civil lawsuits—they’re all okay. Almost every negative event helps name-recognition—because every international brand lives by ‘the Mark Twain’ rule: it doesn’t matter what they say about you in the news, so long as they spell your name right.

Mark Twain was right. He understood how readers think. He understood short attention spans. He understood that name recognition was more enduring than scandal.

Negative publicity raises product awareness. That awareness, curiously enough, creates curiosity. That curiosity helps people remember who you are. That ‘remembrance’ builds your brand.

It doesn’t matter that people remember bad headlines about you. They remember your name.

You can build on that name-recognition. You can build on it and change your reputation--because when people 'know' you, they are more willing to forgive you.

Barack Obama builds name-recognition for Israel and its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Every time Obama says something negative about Netanyahu, Netanyahu’s name-recognition goes up.

That builds the Israel ‘brand’.

Before Obama began insulting Netanyahu (back in 2009-11), few American knew who Netanyahu was. Few cared. Now many, many Americans know exactly who is Israel’s Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s the man who ‘spat into President Obama’s face’ (“Netanyahu ‘spat in our face,’ White House officials said to say”, Conservative byte. Com, January 27, 2015). Netanyahu is the man who slapped the US President in the face (“Benjamin Netanyahu's planned US speech a slap in the face to Obama”, youtube, January 27, 2015). Netanyahu is the man who committed an inexcusable ‘breach of protocol’ because he accepted an invitation to speak to Congress (“White House criticizes Netanyahu invite as breach of protocol”, McMclatcheyDC, January 21, 2015).

Americans now know that Netanyahu is the man who has outraged the President of the United States (“Obama Outraged Over PM Netanyahu Invitation To Speak Before Congress”, beforeitsnews, January 24, 2015). He’s the man who was called by ‘someone’ in the White House ‘a chickensh*t (“U.S. official calls Benjamin Netanyahu "chickensh*t," outrage ensues”, cbsnews, October 14, 2014).

He’s famous.

Americans watch their news. They learn who Netanyahu is—and why he and Obama aren’t on the same page. They learn: it’s about Iran.

Iran wants an atomic bomb. Iran wants to destroy Israel. Obama says his negotiations with Iran are working. Netanyahu says they’re not.

Obama is outraged at Netanyahu.

Americans like to see ideas condensed. They like big ideas in bumper sticker-sized bites.

The headlines give them the bumper stickers.

The bumper sticker-sized bites send a clear message: Obama believes a bad deal is better than no deal. Netanyahu believes no deal is better than a bad deal.

It gets even simpler: Obama’s bad deal versus Netanyahu’s no deal.

Americans can digest that.

Netanyahu is at stage-center. Obama’s outrage put him there.

The Jewish holiday of Purim is this week, set to begin just after Netanyahu’s scheduled speech to Congress, which everyone believes will be about Iran. In the Jewish Purim story, a man (Haman) becomes outraged at the Jewish leader (Mordechai), just as Obama has become outraged at the Jewish leader, Netanyahu (beforeitsnews, above).

In the Jewish Purim story, Haman decides that the Jewish leader ‘should pay a price’ for having caused that outrage. The White House thinks the same way (PoliticusUSA, above).

In the Jewish Purim story, Haman acts to punish the Jewish nation. Obama’s Administration has also, apparently, acted to punish the Jewish nation (“American Officials Deny Obama Admin is 'Punishing' Israel”, Arutz Sheva, February 16, 2015). 

In the Jewish Purim story, the G-d of Israel works behind the scenes, hidden from view, to save the Jewish people. Today, our story is exactly the same.

The anger of a world leader pushes Benjamin Netanyahu to stage-center. Millions of Americans will watch that stage. Millions will remember Netanyahu’s name.

The brand called, ‘Israel’ will grow. Where will Obama’s outrage take him next?

Stay tuned.




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