When I ran my own PR firm I worked with some wicked smart clients. Over time, I recognized a peculiar phenomenon. Understanding PR hardly takes the intellect of a brain surgeon, yet the smarter the client the more difficult it was for them to grasp simple concepts like how not to engage a reporter.
As an example, my colleagues and I prepared detailed media preparation materials for a particularly brilliant client explaining how reporters view the world and outlining message points that would resonate with them. We explained the rules of media engagement, emphasizing that nothing was “off the record” until the reporter explicitly agreed in advance to that condition. Most importantly, we stressed that the biggest faux pas was to approach a reporter with the mindset and expectation their job was to do the client’s PR.
The first words out of the client’s mouth when he met his first reporter: “Eric told me you are going to write a nice story about me.”
Israel is chock full of brilliant people as evidenced by the fact that the tiny country has emerged as a global center for advanced technology. Not surprisingly, PR has never been one of Israel’s strong suits, particularly dealing with the media. Over the years I’ve been aghast at how Israel and many of its supporters communicate their positions to reporters, often coming across as smug and arrogant. Frankly, if my knowledge of Israel was based entirely on what I read in the mainstream media, I likely wouldn’t have a positive impression of the country or its leadership.
Rashida Tlaib and her army of Hamas enablers understand PR and media relations, and in Tlaib’s case, her execution is near flawless.
From the moment she was elected to Congress, Tlaib began pushing the envelope expressing her undeniable Jew hatred. Initially, she received some formidable pushback from some Democrats that forced her to retreat with the excuse that she didn’t understand the insensitivity of her comments. There was a rinse and repeat cycle to Tlaib’s Jew hating remarks, and over time she masterfully created the public perception that she was a victim of Islamophobia.
Israel’s war on Hamas for slaughtering 1,400 citizens, including dozens of Americans, has been a godsend to Tlaib and the Hamas PR machine. They’ve done Madison Avenue proud deftly reducing the conflict to this explosive explanation: Israel is an apartheid state of colonial occupiers looking to commit genocide on innocent Palestinians living in the “open air prison” of Gaza. I’m not going to address the fallacy of these claims, but if you are interested, Tristin Hopper, a columnist for Canada’s National Post, provided an easy-to-understand primer.
Tlaib and her Hamas enablers deftly know when they must tweak their messages to ensure maximum public acceptance. Although legions of Jew haters around the world are using Israel’s war on Hamas as an opportunity to unleash their unbridled detestation, there remains a swath of civilized human beings who were repulsed seeing images of Hamas’ brutality and the joy the terrorists took committing and displaying their savagery.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, Hamas provided the world with volumes of detailed information explaining the true meaning of their war cry, “From the River to the Sea Palestine Will be Free,” which is call for a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. That area includes Israel and is therefore a call to arms for the violent destruction of the Jewish state.
Articles 13 of the Hamas Charter openly advocates the use of violence to kill Jews and eliminate Israel: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad [holy war].”
Tlaib and her Hamas enablers appreciated that many who have been promoting the war cry needed some cover, so they launched a campaign to say the war cry isn’t really a call for the destruction of Israel.
“From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate. My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity,” Tlaib posted on X.
Credit Tlaib for appreciating how the mainstream media would embrace her incredulously dishonest claim, given her well-worn history of unabashed Jew hatred. One such reporter was Meagan Vazquez, who covers breaking political news for the Washington Post. In a story headlined, “Democratic House member accuses Biden of supporting Palestinian ‘genocide,’” Vazquez implied that Israel’s war on Hamas constituted genocide.
“The Genocide Convention of 1948 codified genocide as an international crime, defining it as ‘acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,’” Vazquez told the Post’s readers. “Those acts include killings, inflicting serious harm on a group, making its living conditions impossible, preventing births within the group or forcibly transferring children to another group.
“As the war rages, thousands of Gazans have been killed and the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees estimates that about 1.4 million people in Gaza are now internally displaced.”
Vazquez made no mention that Hamas’ stated goal of violently destroying Israel meets the definition of genocide, nor did she mention Tlaib’s noted and long history of Jew hatred, including being ranked among the world’s most dangerous antisemites.
When I read Vazquez’s story, I instinctively sensed it was part of an orchestrated campaign to put some lipstick on Hamas’ genocidal ambitions. Sure enough, my PR sensory radar remains intact.
Various publications have recently run articles and commentaries redefining the longtime meaning of “From the River…,” including the Chicago Sun Times, the Guardian, and, of course, Al Jazeera, my go-to source for authoritative Jew hatred news and propaganda.
Nimer Sultany, a lecturer in law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, told Al Jazeera that “From the River …” expresses “the need for equality for all inhabitants of historic Palestine”.
“Those who support apartheid and Jewish supremacy will find the egalitarian chant objectionable,” Sultany, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, told Al Jazeera. Sultany argued that because some Jews participated at a rally in London where tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched in the rain, de facto that slogan wasn’t a rallying cry for the killing of Jews.
Here’s some background on SOAS: The university in 2020 was forced to refund a Canadian student named Noah Lewis £15,000 in fees after he abandoned his studies because of a “toxic antisemitic environment.” Lewis charged that when he stated his intention to write a dissertation on the “systemic biases that exist in the United Nations and target the state of Israel,” fellow students accused him of being complicit in covering up Israeli war crimes and that he was a “white supremacist Nazi.”
Tlaib’s revised definition of “From the River …” was even too much for those who long gave Tlaib a pass. One of those persons was Dana Nessel, Michigan’s attorney general, who posted on X: “@RashidaTlaib, I have supported and defended you countless times, even when you have said the indefensible, because I believed you to be a good person whose heart was in the right place. But this is so hurtful to so many. Please retract this cruel and hateful remark.”
Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin also called out Tlaib’s dishonesty.
“As the only Jewish member of MI’s congressional delegation, I have worked to reach out to Arab & Muslim constituents who I know are feeling fear and anguish right now & I have tried to reflect that empathy in my approach to this crisis. I ask the same of @RepRashida.”
Slotkin is a former Middle East analyst with the CIA who also did three tours of duty in Iraq as a militia expert. Tlaib and her squad ally Rep. Ilan Omar have previously questioned the “dual loyalties” of Jews, yet Tlaib has a Palestinian flag outside her office – the same flag Hamas terrorists who are holding kidnapped Americans proudly display.
Among those attending Tlaib’s swearing in ceremony was Abbas Hamideh, the founder of Al-Awda, a pro-Palestine group in Ohio. As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, Hamideeh last year cheered that “Hezbollah slaughtered Shitsreal.”
The Free Beacon said another Tlaib ally is Salah Sarsour, who the publication said has been accused of financing Hamas through front groups in the 1990s, according to FBI documents. Sarsour, an official at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, organized fundraisers for Tlaib in 2018 and 2020.
Tlaib has appeared frequently with with Maher Abdel-qader, a Palestinian activist who promotes anti-Semitism and Holocaust denialism on his social media pages, according to the Free Beacon. Abdel-qader organized fundraisers this year for Tlaib and she publicly thanked him for helping “stay true to my roots.”
Tlaib and her mainstream media enablers dismiss the Free Beacon and other publications providing evidence of the company she keeps as being “right wing” and therefore not credible. Here’s how the New York Times prefers to portray Tlaib.
Where Tlaib most matters is in her Metro Detroit district, which includes Jewish neighborhoods. Redefining the meaning of “From the River …” can provide cover to Corewell Health, Michigan’s biggest hospital system, and Henry Ford Health, which has a satellite hospital in a heavily Jewish area where AG Nessel was born and raised.
Corewell and Henry Ford Health have maintained a cowardly silence about a recent demonstration organized by the Arab American Medical Association in front of Corewell’s biggest Detroit area hospital where healthcare workers in white coats and scrubs were chanting, “Intifada, Intifada! Long Live the Intifada!” One of the protesters was wearing a Henry Ford Health sweatshirt and carrying a “From the river …” placard, which the hospital system, founded by a notorious antisemite, is seemingly comfortable with. The hospital system can now argue that Rashida Tlaib insists the slogan has a peaceful intent.
Antisemitism is sprouting like weeds in the Metro Detroit area, and few, if any, political, business, or healthcare leaders who aren’t Jewish are willing to take a stand. In Hamtramck, a mostly Muslim community, Nasr Hussain, a candidate for city council, posted this on Facebook:
At Cranbrook, a prestigious college-preparatory school in suburban Detroit, Palestinian flags this past weekend were displayed on the school’s windows.
The Detroit Free Press, which endorsed Tlaib but couldn’t cite even one accomplishment in her district, has ignored Jewish concerns about the spike in local antisemitism. The publication has also ignored the decline of Corewell Dearborn and Corewell Wayne, two hospitals serving many of Tlaib’s constituents.
As I reported for Deadline Detroit, both hospitals are suffering from a severe shortage of nurses. At Corewell Dearborn, there were recently 60 patients in the hospital’s ER hallways with only two nurses to tend to them. Corewell Wayne is heavily staffed by temporary nurses rotating through the hospital, which has trouble attracting nurses to treat its overwhelmingly indigent population. Tlaib is more concerned about spreading lies about Israel bombing a hospital in Gaza than addressing the sorry state of hospitals serving her constituents.
Tlaib no doubt will successfully continue to play those who believe she advocates for a peaceful Mideast solution for fools, like she did J Street, a Jewish public affairs group that for years sought to weaken Israel and AIPAC, without which Israel might not exist today.
J Street initially endorsed Tlaib’s candidacy because of her initial claim she believed in a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but she later told a publication that she only believed in a one-state solution and supported the free speech rights of BDS activists, who push for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
Therein is the true meaning and intent of “From the River to the Sea Palestine Will be Free.”