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Brand Leadership: Focus, Focus, Focus - Then Focus Some More

"Without focus, it is impossible to build a brand." - Al Ries

The other day on LinkedIn, Al Ries shared the simple statement above.

Ries, along with David Aaker, David Ogilvy and Walter Landor is one of the "founding fathers" of modern branding. What sets him apart is how accessible and common-sense his writing is. It seemed to me he wouldn't waste words. So it was striking that after so many years he found such a seemingly obvious statement worth repeating.

It struck me to ask Ries and others, what makes brands lose focus? I wanted to hear what others had to say, not only as a semi-academic but also because I've got one particular brand - Israel - on the brain.

Thirty years ago everybody had a certain basic respect for the Jewish homeland. Its image was captured in Raid on Entebbe (1977), a true story on an elite group of commandos who saved a plane full of Jews taken hostage in Uganda.

Israel's brand as portrayed in the movie was highly focused: Jewish survival.

It was personified by the Israeli soldier. He (it's a gendered persona) had five key personality clusters, or characteristics:

  • Patriotic, passionate, dedicated - a believer in the cause
  • Strong, brave, courageous - walked through the fear, did not run away from it
  • Nimble, adaptable, ingenious - could handle any situation, including being outgunned
  • Self-sacrificing for the team - not just humble but willing to die
  • Skilled, smart, quick to learn - intelligent and capable
The distinguishing factor of Israel can be captured in the post-Holocaust slogan: "Never again." 

We will not be as sheep to the slaughter anymore.

The head of the Israeli special assault team in that movie, Yoni Netanyahu, was also the only Israeli soldier killed in the operation. He was lionized as a hero - but today his younger brother, Benjamin Netanyahu, the country's current Prime Minister, is widely reviled in the media.

It seems to me that Israel as a nation-brand has severely lost its focus. 

In his answer to my question, Ries said that the #1 reason brands lose focus is that they seek to expand. That made a lot of sense to me.

Israel started out as a program with a very limited scope: Establish a state in the historical Jewish homeland that would enable this tiny nation to survive. Everyone was on board with that.

Over time, the same internecine hatreds that have always torn the Jews apart also had their impact on Israel. Religious infighting and political disputation abound, to the point where some Israelis even question the basic right of Israel to self-defense. Its tourism campaigns talk about the beaches. It boasts of high-tech industry and has adopted so many Western ways. 

But all of this gets away from what's core or essential to the brand: Its Jewishness, its celebration of Jewish diversity in the context of a struggle for survival.

Unless and until Israel gets back to its brand roots, I fear its brand will continue to suffer.

* All opinions my own.

5 Key Points About Government Branding Now

* Originally posted by me on DigitalGov, July 25, 2014

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking (in my own capacity) before the Council for Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency Public Affairs Officers (CIGIE-PAO) task force about branding.

The invitation came by way of a colleague I greatly respect. Bridget Serchak is currently Chief of Public Affairs for the Department of Defense Inspector General and the group’s co-founder. She explained to me that the purpose of the CIGIE PAO is “to try to raise awareness of the role and function of IGs across government so that all federal employees in particular, but also our Hill constituencies and good government groups understand what IGs do and don’t do.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to say to a bunch of inspectors general representatives about branding. Frankly I was a bit worried they would think that branding was essentially useless propaganda and that it didn’t belong in government at all. But they were very kind and we had a great conversation around some of the issues that government communicators face right now, and how branding can potentially help.

Some highlights from the talk are now on YouTube (see playlist). Here is a brief summary, in priority order:
  • Branding is a legitimate government activity. When I started working in government, branding was not well-understood. Even the simpler and more basic idea that communication should be engaging was largely minimized if not ignored altogether. Over the past decade people have come to understand that branding is not only necessary for government but critical. You have to put money in the “trust bank” first, establishing a positive and distinct reputation for trustworthiness and a particular set of values. This is not the same thing as doing your job and explaining your mission—it is something more.
  • Most people do not have a clear understanding of branding is, even if they’re experts. Put in simple terms, your brand is your image. It is not only what you say, but rather the result of an ongoing interplay, or dynamic, between your output and the response you get from the public. The government says something, people react, and the public makes up its mind. Then the cycle begins again, over and over because the brand is always evolving. The distinction between government branding and branding in the private sector is that government branding always comes down to trust, whereas private sector branding is essentially about making a profit. (The latter is not a bad thing, it’s just a distinction. We talked about the concept that your brand is not your mission but rather the reputational qualities that set you apart. One person joked that the brand of the FBI must therefore be “seriousness.” This is not very far from the truth: If you are the FBI you want people to take you seriously when you show up at the door. It was interesting that the building where I spoke, the HHS OIG, also housed the VOA and there were posters depicting VOA employees and their unique qualities near the cafeteria. Somebody at the VOA’s communications shop or agency really gets it.
  • Narrowing down your audience is critical if you’re going to be successful. If brand is an interplay between what I say, how you respond and what the public then thinks, understanding the “you” becomes a key aspect of building the brand. This is what confuses a lot of people: They equate the people who are passionately engaged with the brand with those who form an opinion later on, normally based on experts, journalists, bloggers, and other people who respond to the agency’s official communications. (One way to think of it is that influencers are an “Audience” with a big “A,” versus the general public would be an “audience” with a small “a.”) After some discussion, the group identified four major audiences, including agency employees, who ideally need to cooperate in order for the IG to do its job well; members of the public who are particularly interested in the agency’s mission; Congress; and of course the general public, not just nationally but internationally. Another point that came up, in the context of Congress in particular, was the issue of money—that your audience is going to be tied to those who control the purse strings. This is not a bad thing, but rather a reality that must be considered: Your job is to tell the story accurately and well in a way that would set you over and above a competitor who purports to do exactly the same thing.
  • Most agencies neglect the most important focus of branding activity: the employee. One attendee commented that the head of the agency has a major impact on its brand. There was general agreement that when agency leadership changes, not only does the brand change by default but sometimes the leader intentionally does away with the signature efforts of the previous executive. Thinking about the effect of the human being on the agency’s brand image, we also had general consensus that agencies tend to ignore the critical importance of their employees in shaping the way the public thinks of them. Every time someone deals with a federal employee, they reflect on the experience and form an image of the brand; or they tell somebody else about it, discussion ensues and a decision is made about what kind of place the agency is.
  • In contrast to the private sector, agencies tend to be far too preoccupied with internal politics and not preoccupied enough with what the public is saying about them. If failing to invest in employees-as-brand-builders is one critical mistake agencies make when it comes to their image, ignoring external feedback is another. In the private sector, we frequently see that companies are highly concerned about even something so seemingly insignificant as a negative Tweet. Yet in the government, over the past decade my impression has been that there is much more emphasis placed on internal squabbling and politics than on staying in touch with what the public is experiencing and saying to us. It was perhaps fitting that Sarah Kaczmarek, Digital Communications Manager at the GAO, spoke before I did because she gave a talk on metrics that would enable any agency to objectively review how their public affairs efforts are faring and then to fine-tune what they do in response.
Overall it was a beautiful day in Washington, D.C., and I really appreciated the opportunity to get to know the CIGIE PAO task force. They’re a great group and I hope they share the lessons they are learning with the larger federal and professional communications community.

Dannielle Blumenthal is the Director of Digital Engagement for the Office of Innovation at The National Archives. All opinions in this piece were her own and don’t reflect the views of her agency.

How The Jew-Haters Won The War

Disclaimer: The following is a fictional allegory meant to humanize the impossible dilemma that Israel finds itself in. I find it necessary to write this because, unfortunately, the level of Israel- and Jew-hating rhetoric has escalated to such a point that worldwide demonstrators are now saying things like "Kill the Jews." I must speak up against this dangerous spike in anti-Semitism and call it what it really is.  

So please do not read this and say I'm in favor of illegal gun use or vigilante justice - I am not. Like you, I hate violence and bloodshed, though I do support the Constitutional right to bear arms and understand the importance of being able to defend yourself when necessary. And of course, like everyone else I recognize that every country, organization and person is capable of making mistakes - including Israel. I just don't believe the country should pay with its life for doing so, nor do I think that anybody has a good answer to the situation she finds herself in right now.

- Dannielle Blumenthal
Imagine you're a single mother living in a dangerous part of Chicago. 

You've moved back to your childhood home, where your family is. You've fled your ex-boyfriend, who used to beat you up, but when you left he said he'd come for you and kill you one of these days. 

The kids lay in their beds at night and you're shivering with fear; you can't buy enough deadbolts to make you feel safe.

One night you come home and he's standing right there outside your door. With ten of his friends, and moving boxes. They're moving in next door, all of them. They're the apartments right next to yours.

He's smiling.

You think about going to the police. But your boyfriend is pretty good friends with someone on the force. In fact, his brother is a policeman himself. He hangs out with the guys at night and shoots pool.

Maybe you could go to Legal Aid, since there isn't a lawyer who would take your case. You're broke, for one thing. And for another - what has your boyfriend done to you? 

Nothing...that you can prove.

One day you see a guy with a truck parked at the side of an alley. The back doors are hanging open. "Hey lady," he says. "Get yourself some protection, for only a hundred dollars."

Your heart is pounding in fear thinking either way you are dead. You think about your children and how they would be orphaned after he kills you. How your ex will likely get custody, then turn on them once he's gotten rid of you.

And you pick up the smooth, heavy black gun and put it in your purse, hoping never to use it. It stays in your kitchen drawer, unless you're going to work and then you've got it always within reach.

Not three months later your boyfriend jumps you in that same alley where you bought the gun in the first place. He says, "let's talk," and then one of his buddies lunges forward and starts to twist your arm behind you.

You know where all of this is headed - body and soul destroyed. Nobody is coming out there to save your life.

You pull the gun out, aim and shoot.

At the trial, your ex-boyfriend has a really good lawyer. Because he's friends with all kinds of people, including people with money, and they know what to say and how to say it just to land you in the slammer.

"She's an animal, your Honor, I swear it!" your ex-boyfriend says. "I was minding my business and she just jumped up and attacked me."

"But, but..." you try to say. 

"Pipe down," says the judge.

"Keep quiet," says your lawyer, someone from the court. "You're in enough trouble already. After all, you are the one who pulled the trigger."

"She's abusive," your ex-boyfriend says, "and that gun right there only proves it. She tried to jump me, she already stole my kids and my money, and thank goodness you were there to help."

You're sitting there, mute and helpless. Everything you say really does amount to dirt.

"Wait, your Honor, I'll show you," your ex-boyfriend says. And he produces a picture of you, bloody and tearing out your hair as if you were a madwoman.

Isn't that.... you think. Wasn't I....

And then you remember. Those were pictures he took of you when you got drunk one night, when you were still together and on vacation. He's somehow doctored them, and you didn't save any pictures and can't make any case to the contrary.

* * * 

It's 10 years later and you're out of jail. Your kids are grown up and they barely know you. 

There's that dead feeling in your head, behind your eyes, and meanwhile your ex-boyfriend has gone on and married another lady. 

Has two new kids besides.

Everybody loves and respects him. But you're written up in the newspaper. 

You're that crazy lady that attacked some guy in the alley. You're an oppressor, a colonizer and a bully who only wanted 500 square feet of safety within which to raise her trembling kids. 

* All opinions my own.

A Debt of Honor Owed The Arab Peoples

Last night I read an excellent article on Al Jazeera America about the unfortunate phenomenon of rape in America's high schools. Through one victim's story it showed vividly the lifelong trauma of being first, violated and second, punished by a system which sweeps the problem under the rug, ignoring Federal law to enable the attacker and bury the attacked.
I thought about how inspired I have always been by Muslim values and how unfortunate it is that the situation in Israel seems to polarize people by faith.

Way back when in 2003 I began to cover my hair in a traditional Jewish way. I was not inspired by my own faith. No I had seen a Muslim woman praying quietly and devoutly on the Metro in D.C., and I thought to myself, I want to be as spiritual as her.

The idea of "inner jihad" also makes so much sense to me. That the essence of strength is to stop yourself from doing bad things. Not to fight the rest of the world. There's a similar concept in Judaism, in Hebrew: "Azehu gibor? Hakovesh et yitzro," or "Who is strong? He who conquers his own evil inclination."

Notice that the Hebrew wording is in the male, not the female. Gender in religious language is a whole other topic in and of itself. But it is not unimportant.

The Arab nations are very much identified with the religion Islam. But Islam came much later on, after their forefather Yishmael (Ishmael) was born.

I thought about the issue of honor among Arabs and why it is so important. Reflected that there is a debt of honor owed to them by the Jewish people. On a conversation I had with my daughter regarding the Biblical story of Ishmael.

The Bible tells it straightforwardly: Abraham had a son with Sarah's servant, Hagar. The logic was that Sarah was infertile; Hagar was an available womb.

We're not supposed to look back and judge Biblical figures according to the logic of our day, but that seems like a negative experience at best, if you look at it from Hagar's perspective. She was an object owned, a thing to be taken, she had no choice in the matter. Sarah (and of course Abraham) dictated even the most intimate of experiences.

Then Ishmael is born, and things seem OK for awhile...until Sarah conceives and has Yitzchak (Isaac). Now what are she and Abraham supposed to do? Hagar and Ishmael are very inconvenient.

That sounds horrible to say and do you know what? It is horrible. It is shameful and painful and wrong from where I sit. But the Torah (Bible) doesn't shade the story this way or that - it is what it is.

So Hagar is exiled with Ishmael, a single mother and her child. What are they supposed to do? How will they live?

Regardless of any other factor involved, Hagar's honor was violated, and Ishmael was immediately tasked with the burden of recovering it.

Right there is the conflict over Israel.

It is 100% a spiritual conflict, a spiritual debt, and although we humans can't necessarily "see" what the problem is, it is possible to put two and two together.

Any solution to the problems taking place in the Middle East right now have to begin with repairing the debt that is owed...making peace on a spiritual level...ensuring that all parties have not just subsistence but the honor they are due.

Jews and Arabs are not enemies because of what happened to Hagar and Ishmael, any more than Jews and Germans are enemies because of the Holocaust.

Regarding the former, G-d determined what the Jewish lineage would be, and told the Jewish people to conquer and inherit the land of Israel in a very specific way and with very specific distinctions as to who should do this and who should not.

Similarly, G-d determined that a Holocaust would take place and chose the person who would try to carry out the "Final Solution."

At the same time, Jews are responsible for making right what we can in this world - Tikkun Olam ("repairing the world.") One way to do that is to honor and respect all people, specifically and especially people who have been harmed because of our actions, even inadvertently and even before we were born.

This means more than just words. It means working to make the Arab peoples spiritually, emotionally, and materially whole, and not just focusing on ourselves.

* All opinions my own.

10 Real Conditions For Peace In Israel

1. State Endorsement of One G-d: You can live in Israel and be an atheist, but as religion is integral to the state there should be a basic official support for faith in the Divine. If this exists, I truly don't know about it so maybe Israel should talk about it more.

2. Honor the Sacred: Israel can't impose the beliefs of one form of Judaism on everyone. But there are certain things that should be inviolable. Certain symbols (like the Torah), the definition of who a Jew is - these have to be worked out at a reasonable religious level. It cannot always be a "free for all" nor a nation where the ultra-Orthodox have a stranglehold on official expressions of faith.

3. Religious Integrity: Israel is a Jewish nation - a nation where Jews must be able to live freely as Jews. That is the basic precondition of its existence. There cannot be the false message that everyone is exactly equal. They're not and can never be, even as there should be equal protection under the law.

4. Rule of Law: Everybody, Jewish and not Jewish, is entitled to the same objective fair treatment under a system of law and not personal preference. That should be basic and corruption has to be rooted out wherever and whenever it exists. Israel in particular has got to make itself an example of this.

5. Expulsion of Terrorists: Free speech is one thing but advocating for the destruction of the State is another. So is holding weapons. People who want to destroy Israel should routinely be expelled.

6. Financial Justice: One of the most common anti-Semitic stereotypes is that Jews are money criminals. Therefore Israel has to be extraordinarily careful to carry out financial justice. Where these kinds of crimes occur they have to be followed by actual reparations. In such a small country, there should also be a well-organized system for providing the basic needs of life to all - food, water, housing, and medical care.

7. Education: A very good grounding in critical thinking instills basic understanding of history, of the complexity of multiple cultures living side by side. In such a complicated state education is critical to mutual understanding.

8. Honesty: On both sides there needs to be a straightforward dialogue about what the issues are and how there will be collaboration to resolve them. There should be absolute intolerance for propaganda, the deliberate manipulation of words and images to achieve political aims.

9. Universal Recognition of Israel's Right to Exist: The hidden message behind a lot of anti-Israel criticism is that Israel should somehow "lay down its arms" because the refugees are helpless. And this includes criticism that comes from within. The problem is that Israel going defenseless means its immediate destruction. Any solution has to start with the recognition that Israel is a legitimate state, and proceeding from there.

10. Global Support: Palestinians are refugees for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that they're being used as a collective battering ram to hurl at Israel as a propaganda tool. The world is complicit in this situation and is responsible for helping to resolve it fairly.

* All opinions my own. 

How Israel Has To Fight The Brand War Now

Israel is at war, and a lot of people seem to want the country to simply lay down its arms and drop dead. These people say Israel is somehow just a bad, illegitimate, criminal country:

  • Global media like The Independent (UK) writes that Israel can't "get away with murder" anymore in the social media age. 
  • Mainstream American media like USA Today adds that the country plans to openly subsidizes propaganda, just like China.
  • Jewish-sounding organizations like "Jewish Voice For Peace" show bloody pictures of Palestinian children on Twitter, writing statuses like "Though Israel pounds their homes to rubble, their spirit remains unscathed."
  • Social media is alive with hateful comments such as those on Whisper, calling for Israel to be "nuked."
  • All of the above are magnified by a seemingly endless series of comments, photos and links to each other.

I am Jewish. I believe that Israel is being targeted, should defend herself and has an inherent right to exist.

At the same time, like everybody else, I feel for the Palestinians and do not have an answer to their plight. I do know this: This war is an incredibly tragic one, but it is also one that terrorists have provoked and want to maintain until Israel is destroyed. And they are fighting on every front, including with incendiary propaganda.

Israel could fight back on the PR side, but doesn't seem to be doing a very good job of it. I think it is culturally averse to doing this job, and finds it somehow below its dignity; or even perhaps untruthful by nature. I think also the nation may be overconfident in relying on its version of things, e.g. the obvious fact that Hamas is a ruthless and determined enemy.

Another factor, looking at it from the outside, may relate to a kind of organizational dynamics. That is, because Israel is trying so hard to avoid civilian casualties (e.g. "it's not our fault"), it somehow underestimates the gravity with which people view the Palestinians' plight.

Whatever the reason for Israel's failure on this front, it's setting the country back. No matter what happens on the battlefield, human sympathy matters. And Hamas is using the people not only as human shields but inflating the body count to pump the public's tears. It's working.

Here are 10 ideas that Israel may want to consider, therefore:
  1. Stop apologizing. Israel has a tendency to apologize, negotiate publicly, try to prove that it is merciful and good, and so on. Why? The enemy is a bunch of killers. Treat them as such.
  2. Take control of the story. Israel needs to stop reacting to what others say about it, and start telling the narrative that it wants and needs to tell. Why is it that non-Jewish academics, journalists and activists seem so comfortable doing this for us, but so many Jews not only are uncomfortable backing Israel, but tend to join anti-Israel protests?
  3. Focus on the essential truth. Palestinians are victims - of terrorists, not Israelis, who keep trying to make peace treaty after peace treaty. It is well known that Palestinians who cooperate with Israel are viewed as disloyal and face incredible brutality from within. Israel needs to focus on and tell that story and not allow anyone to portray this as an Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a civilian-terrorist conflict.
  4. Stop going it alone. Israelis tend to avoid asking for help or portraying themselves as part of a network of linked allies. We live in a networked world though, where people are not trusted unless they can portray the ability to get along with others. Israel's allies speak as much or more for it, as Israel itself.
  5. Celebrate Jewish nationhood. Israel is famously tolerant and diverse. But there is also a place for celebrating the reason that the State was established, e.g. that Jews should have a national homeland. Israel could do so much more to be proud of its reason for existence, publicly.
  6. Focus on archetypes as much as facts. Israel needs to get much more in touch with American thinking and pop culture, which is subtle, more emotional and focused on externals. And then include facts and figures as supporting information. Israelis right now tend to talk a lot about facts and figures and shy away from show business. Unfortunately a certain amount of showmanship is unavoidable. 
  7. Don't oversell. In the non-insane social media world, people have a natural understanding for the territorial integrity of Israel as a nation and also a belief that it should be preserved as a Jewish state. There is no reason to argue the obvious - when you do that what happens is that you create doubt in the minds of your supporters.
  8. Get unified. There is an old cliche, "two Jews, three synagogues," and the tendency to debate and disagree is extremely valid for Israelis and Jews in general. Unfortunately, so is the tendency to hate oneself simply because one is Jewish (internalized anti-Semitism.) If the Jewish people cannot agree on the notion that Israel is a legitimate state, and that the problem is terrorism, how can we expect the rest of the world to?
  9. Don't compete for victimhood. No two brands can operate in the same space. The Palestinians, for better or for worse, own the status of "victim." Portraying images of kidnapped yeshiva students or slain Israeli soldiers does not provoke sympathy but rather the opposite, rage that the "oppressor" seems to value its own lives over the quantitatively higher number of lives lost on the other side.
  10. Stop the glitz. Instead of branding campaigns aimed at portraying Israel a certain way - e.g. as a high-tech center or a tourist destination - open the doors to the world and let the media, social media, movie and TV cameras in. The aim is to dislodge the terrorist narrative, which has it that Israelis are an evil cartoon character. In reality, the state is complex, full of good and bad and fascinating and frankly the utterly confusing. Social media would show the impossibility, in many ways, of trying to secure a tiny state while also humanely fighting an enemy full of trained dedicated killers who are also held hostage to the cause by their communities.
* All opinions my own. 
** This article may be reprinted with attribution.

Finding Strength Inside The Furnace

I never understood how Jews retained faith after the Holocaust. 

My thinking was: Why would you believe in a G-d that abandons you?

I have made my peace with religion: I know that I don't know what I don't know. 

I accept that bad things come from G-d, who makes us aware when we are off the path. That the Holocaust had to do with that, - and I will never really understand or "know" more than that.

And now the world is exploding in anti-Semitism, again. What do we do? Run and hide? Apologize to the world for existing?

No way. No way, not today, no how. We've had enough of bowing and scraping.

My Facebook feed alone is alive with emotion: anger and fear over anti-Semitism. Sadness at the loss of life. Rage at the injustice of it all, not just events but how Israel and Jews are portrayed. A dogged hope for the life and the State of Israel.

The kids absorb all this. My daughter said today, I won't be hateful. Because if I hate them like they hate us, then they've won.

I don't want to be hateful, either. So far so good on that - I actually feel sorrow for all the victims of this tragedy and only a cold eyes fury at its perpetrators, the terrorists.

But I think about how the Holocaust seems to be starting all over again - just look at France - and there are so many people just egging it on, and I get furious.

Something else is happening as well. It's like a slow-moving tectonic plate. I am becoming unwilling to live my life in fear - it is just too great a burden.

This isn't the same as being an arrogant asshole, mind you. Been there, done that way too much and I regret being such a fool.

It has to do with losing the self-hatred, the shame, the fear that comes from being born into a post-Holocaust family. With a mentality of worrying all the time about whether people will look at you and see someone who was part of that group - you know, that group - starved, tortured, raped and beaten, and very efficiently too.

It is also about absorbing the fact that all of us are subject to the Divine. And only the Creator - that's it. (My personal belief - I totally respect that many others see things differently.)

From that perspective I am aware of the importance of simply doing what is right, without excessive analysis and deliberation. 

I see increasingly that life is about living with moral clarity. The knowledge that there is a right and a wrong. The belief that you were given a conscience solely to be guided by G-d.

* All opinions my own.

Defending Israel On A Sunday

Daily life and its challenges often take us away from the things that matter most in life. Like G-d, family and friends.

Similarly, the quest to be seen as important can make us focus overly much on career and status symbols.

One of my old friends from high school captured this well the other day on Facebook when she shared a status that said something like, it's not what you do but who you are.

This morning two men were talking loudly in Starbucks about Israel and her obvious right to self-defense, a right which isn't obvious to everybody. Israel-haters are thinly veiled anti-Semites who want to see Israel - and the Jewish people by extension - dead.

The men in Starbucks were Christian. I know this because one also talked about his denomination of the faith and how it had become less anti-Semitic over time. There are others who are not Jewish nor even believers in religion who stand up for Israel relentlessly. 

My daughter said to me, why is it that the non-Jews are standing up for Israel and we are not even standing up for ourselves? 

I think she meant "not enough." 

I think she meant about Jews who protest the Gaza invasion even as it is a last ditch effort at self defense, at territorial integrity.

Her words made me ashamed that I spend relatively so much time focused on me, me, me, and not enough time supporting the causes that are not only worthy but critical.

So this is a post, unfortunately occasional, where I do want to stand up and say that Israel is without question a legitimate state by any standard and should defend herself to the fullest.

* All opinions my own.