Dispatches from the PR battle: Jan. 16

Jacob Dallal, Director of Public Relations for the Jewish Agency in North America (JAFI is a UJC/Federation partner agency), was recently called up to do reserve duty in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, where he served for 5 years and hold the rank of Major. Jacob is reporting on the IDF's PR war for this blog.

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The weather in Israel this week has been beautiful and so it was on Monday as we were driving from Tzeelim, the largest training base in the country, not far from Beersheva. I escorted the board of AIPAC, which got a briefing on the soldiers training and toured a mock Arab village on the base, where soldiers do urban warfare training.

The 10,000 reservists drafted for the operation converged on this base a week earlier. They did several days of refresher training and when we arrived, most had left the base to go to staging grounds outside Gaza or had already entered and joined the fighting.

The officer I was driving to Sderot with after we left the group had spent several years with the Southern Command and in Gaza. He said that the weather is always beautiful when there is fighting in Gaza.

Indeed, as we drove along adjacent to the border the sky was clear blue and the farms bright green from the rain the week earlier. On a mound about 10 feet high, a large group of reporters with cameras on tripods focused toward Gaza. This was the point where many reporters do their standup and live broadcast "on the border with Gaza. "

Sderot remains Sderot, tired of the rockets but hanging in with no choice. The good thing is that the city is getting its fill of attention -- the city has never seen so many journalists. Business is particularly good for the kiosk owner opposite the government media center, set up to accomodate foreign journalists. By this point the journalists have had their full of Sderot, and all want to go into Gaza or join IDF troops. But there is invariably the stray reporter who just arrived from some small European country who is trying to get his bearings -- and always the willing IDF Spokesperson reservist is ready to explain the situation and take him on a tour.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jacob Dallal