Israel's war for hearts and minds


By Jeremy Havardi
June 6, 2010
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What is striking about last week's flotilla affair is just how easily the global media, the NGOs and Western governments were willing to swallow the lies of militant Turkish jihadists. Lakma TV's hilarious and inspired satire on these events seems so appropriate now for much of the world was indeed conned into 'abandoning reason.'

The victim nation that fends off a frenzied lynch mob is branded a bully; a terror ship containing mercenaries from the IHH is labelled a 'peace mission'; the attempt to inspect this ship is instantly condemned as 'illegal' while the blockade of Gaza (that of Israel, never Egypt) is seen as a barrier to peace. This hysterical demonisation of Israel spreads like a virus through the arteries of the global media, subverting truth and reason in the process.

It is now blindingly obvious that Gaza is the focal point of the Islamists' attempt to subvert and manipulate world opinion against Israel. It is part of a relentless propaganda war, one that the Arab and Muslim world feels it can win because of the spineless of Western governments and international organisations. But it is also a question of numbers. The deaths of 9 'shaheeds' matters little in the terrorist calculus when the number of recruits numbers in the millions. When you compare the relatively small (for them) loss of life involved in such an incident to the sustained global attention it brings, you can see the beguiling asymmetry involved.

And if one incident can cause Israel immense harm in the court of international opinion, why not another and one more after that? After the Mavi Marmama, came the Rachel Corrie and there are now reports that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards may accompany another vessel. You can understand their logic.

So how can Israel respond to this hysterical wave of diplomatic protest? First, they must not capitulate to demands to end the blockade. Allowing even one ship through will send a signal that Israel is not prepared to defend itself any further, something that will undoubtedly harm its deterrent posture towards Iran.

Second, their PR (which varies from adequate from woeful - and here it was woeful) must become strident and aggressive in the court of public opinion. Israeli leaders and spokesmen (and yes, satirists) have to tell the world what their fight is all about. They must show how they are on the front line of Islamic terror and demonstrate the linkage between Iran and its murderous proxies. Above all, they have to be swift with their message, repeating it endlessly until it becomes an unforgettable mantra. The failure to release crucial video footage in the first few hours after last week's incident was surely unforgivable. Yes, they face enormous obstacles, bigotry and preconceived agendas. But try they must.

As for the Anglo-American twins in the Special Relationship, Israelis should stop deluding themselves. Obama's desire to appease the Muslim world has led him to imbibe their twisted victim narrative. He seems to believe that Palestinian grievances lie at the heart of the region's ills and that Israeli intransigence must be punished at all costs. For this reason, he recently fixated on Jerusalem's settlements while ignoring incitement in the West Bank.

In Britain, the Conservative led coalition has proved itself a similar sucker for Arab lies, calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza. In effect, Cameron and Hague have retreated into fantasy land, pretending that a dose of Israeli goodwill will bring reciprocal Palestinian goodwill. It will not. Hamas, Hezbollah, the IHH, al Qaeda and the worldwide Islamist movement will interpret Israeli concessions as a sign of decline and weakness. And the perceived weakness of others is far more a tonic than their perceived strength. Ending the blockade strengthens the Iranian front against Israel.

The Israelis must improve their message and pursue it with vigour and without apology. For unlike previous conflicts, the battalions of this propaganda war are now virtual.

COMMENTS

Yvetta

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 23:41

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Israel needs a TV channel to press its case, a Jewish version of Al Jazeera or Press TV. I remember the WJC bigwig Isi Leibler arguing for something alone those lines this about 20 years ago, but his wise words seem to have fallen on deaf ears. It would cost millions but it would be money well-spent.


Blacklisted Dictator

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 23:59

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Yvetta,
I am not sure whether a TV channel is the answer. I think that Israel might need a more imaginative and less conventional approach. Something hip, cool and funny.
Israel need to bring on board creative people.


John Gold

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 03:57

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Jeremy you're overlooking a very important aspect. Israel killed people, when if they had managed the job properly they could have had none killed! For example why storm a boat during the night? It was again, after the mossad adventure, a foolish action. You like to live the victim role, but people are regarded by their actions. As for criticising the Muslim world or the 'west' Christian world - they have living within their borders a much larger percentage of people from other faiths than Israel - that is largely made up of people following Judaism. These countries let people of other faiths come and live within their borders, including Jews, the same can't be said of Israel that only allows followers of their own faith to emigrate and live in the country. And having driven out huge numbers of Muslims and christians (in what could be described as ethnic cleansing), why should you then rely on favours from believers of these faiths? It figures that Israel has become an insular state, with little political or religious diversity. Then why should the world care about a people like this?


Yvetta

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 08:17

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BD, I agree that something "hip, cool and funny" is required - that "We Con the World" video is a great start. If there was a broadcaster, the team responsible should have a massive role to play!


Blacklisted Dictator

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 08:28

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Yvetta,
Let's hope that "We con the world" is just the start of something. Israel needs to bring her best creative talent on board. She faces a serious PR problem and satire/humour etc might be the best way to confront it.


Yvetta

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 14:23

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It pains me to seem sexist, but some beautiful women need to be involved. I wonder whether the songstress Esther Ofarim has any daughters. She was absolutely stunning in her day (and still looks pretty good).


gold.sarah

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 15:23

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The Pixies are Jihadists also it would seem. So is that nice Swedish chap Menkell - a terrorist.

Everyone is a terrorist - Clegg, the Guardian, Al Jazeera, Elvis Costello, Italian supermarkets who banned settlement goods, the Swedish dockers, the British unions, Obama, the EU . . . all terrorists.

Amnesty International? Jihadists.

UN - Terrorists

Rachel Corrie - the crushed American, not the ship -? Terrorist.
Tom Hurndall - terrorist . . . . . .

And on and on.

_


gold.sarah

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 15:31

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Best-settling authors Alice Walker and Iain Banks have backed the boycott campaign, with Banks announcing his books won't be translated into Hebrew. Dockworker unions in Sweden and South Africa have refused to handle Israeli ships, while the UK's Unite union just passed a motion to boycott Israeli companies.

More terrorists . . . .


Jon_i_Cohen

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 17:05

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"More terrorists . . . . " - supporters!


Jon_i_Cohen

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 17:05

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"More terrorists . . . . " and de-legitimisers


Jon_i_Cohen

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 17:06

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"More terrorists . . . . " and more "useful idiots" for Hamas.


Blacklisted Dictator

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 17:27

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Saarh Gold,

You write: "South Africa have refused to handle Israeli ships."
Not the first time has this been threatened. However, the ships will probably be unloaded. All the security equipment at the South African docks has beeen supplied by Israeli companies.

Israel has also supplied all the security equipment for 2010 FIFA World Cup.


Blacklisted Dictator

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 17:57

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Yvetta,
You write:
"It pains me to seem sexist, but some beautiful women need to be involved. I wonder whether the songstress Esther Ofarim has any daughters. She was absolutely stunning in her day (and still looks pretty good)."

Yes, naked Jewish women could sell Israel.

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