The US Plays Dirty Pool With Jonathan Pollard

January 10th, 2011

By Jock L. Falkson

There is something inhuman about the continued solitary confinement of Jonathan Pollard in jail for spying. He has been serving a life sentence in solitary confinement these past 25 years.

Pollard has suffered longer than any other US convicted spy even though his 25 year old sin did not hurt America in any serious way – despite Secretary of State Weinberger’s dire warning to the judge that it could and would. It was his personal letter to the judge which resulted in Pollard being sentenced to life. It was a punishment never before inflicted on any spy – even those who caused the death of American spies.

In fact the US has never produced a single instance of the dire circumstances which Weinberger so angrily threatened would happen, during these 25 years! Indeed Weinberger has since admitted that “the Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger tha its actual importance.” And former CIA Director James Woolsey Defense Secretary too has opined that Pollard’s punishment is excessive.

Former U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary, Lawrence Korb too has stated that “the severity of Pollard’s sentence is the result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies.”

Not many know that Pollard was offered a special deal after his arrest for consenting to assist the US government in its damage assessment. Pollard agreed to the deal and cooperated with the Government’s investigation in every way over a period of several months. He submitted to all the required polygraph examinations in interviews with FBI agents and Department of Justice attorneys.

Pollard’s statement that he never spied against the US and only gave Israel documents which exposed the machinations of the surrounding Arab countries, proved to be true. He had only given Israel documents which the US had not shared – contrary to an understanding between the two nations.

Yet, in a bare faced turnaround worthy of the worst lying conman, the US shamefully, and without compunction, reneged on its sacred word.

Moreover, Israel was compelled to issue a statement that it would never again spy in the US. The US never offered to reciprocate this undertaking. Only the naïve will believe that the US, with the hundreds of employees in its huge office building in Tel Aviv – does not employ a large cadre of intelligence officers to spy on Israel. How long, I wonder, will we have to wait for the U.S. to offer that they will stop spying on Israel? And to further promise that they will not again do so?

Haifa University’s Prof. Steven Plaut has just released an article drawing attention to the anomaly that WIkileaks’ Julian Assuage, has released hundreds of thousands of classified US intelligence documents. All are available to the worst enemies of the United States and the West yet Assuage enjoys unfettered freedom, while Pollard who only released hundreds, continues to be incarcerated in solitary, without mercy or justice.

Shame on the US.

An open letter to Archbishop Tutu

November 4th, 2010

By Warren Goldstein
Chief Rabbi of South Africa

Published in The Jerusalem Post

November 3, 2010

Dear Archbishop Desmond Tutu,

I write to you with a heavy heart.

You are a revered leader in South Africa, but have recently added your iconic voice to the campaign for sanctions against Israel.

Archbishop, I believe you are making a terrible mistake. Without truth there can be no justice, and without justice there can be no peace. The Talmud says: “The world stands on three things: justice, truth and peace.” These three values are inseparable. Archbishop, I am convinced that the sanctions campaign against Israel is morally repugnant because it is based on horrific and grotesquely false accusations against the Jewish people.

The truth, archbishop, is that Israel is simply not an apartheid state. In the State of Israel all citizens – Jew and Arab – are equal before the law. Israel has no Population Registration Act, no Group Areas Act, no Mixed Marriages and Immorality Act, no Separate Representation of Voters Act, no Separate Amenities Act, no pass laws or any of the myriad apartheid laws.

Israel is a vibrant liberal democracy with a free press and independent judiciary, and accords full political, religious and other human rights to all its people, including its more than 1 million Arab citizens, many of whom hold positions of authority including that of cabinet minister, member of parliament and judge at every level, including that of the Supreme Court. All citizens vote on the same roll in regular, multiparty elections; there are Arab parties and Arab members of other parties in Israel’s parliament. Arabs and Jews share all public facilities, including hospitals and malls, buses, cinemas and parks. And, archbishop, that includes universities and opera houses.

The other untruth is the accusation of illegal occupation of Arab land. Like the apartheid libel, this is outrageously false. There is no nation that has a longer, deeper or more profound connection to its country than the Jewish people have to the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.

Archbishop, you and I as religious leaders always turn to the Bible as a source of truth. What does it mean that Israel is the “promised land”? It means, as we both know, that it was promised by God to the Jews – the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This promise was first fulfilled by God more than 3,300 years ago, when Joshua led the Jewish people into the land of Israel. Since then there has been an unbroken Jewish presence in the land, albeit small during the Roman exile.

All the books of the Old Testament – Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. – describe the deep connection between the Jews and the land of Israel, including the West Bank, known in the Bible as Judea and Samaria – the area that contained the great cities of the two previous Jewish commonwealths, such as Jericho, Shiloh (where the Tabernacle stood for hundreds of years), Beit El (where Jacob had his vision of the ladder) and Hebron (where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried with their wives Sarah, Rebecca and Leah).

Three thousand years ago, there was no London or Paris, no Washington or Moscow, no Pretoria or Cape Town, but there was a Jerusalem, capital of a Jewish state.

“If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning… if I fail to elevate Jerusalem above my foremost joy.” Those words from Psalms are recited by Jews at every wedding. At every funeral, the statement of comfort given to the mourners refers to Zion and Jerusalem. Jews pray for Jerusalem three times a day, and also after every meal.

Archbishop, the Arab/Israeli conflict is not a struggle against apartheid or occupation. It is a century- long war against the very existence of Jews and a Jewish state in the Middle East. There have already been seven major Arab/Israeli wars since the birth of modern Israel.

Today the front includes an alliance between Iran, Syria and Hizbullah, the latter now with 40,000 rockets aimed at Israeli cities. Iranian officers train Hizbullah forces, while Iran pursues nuclear weapons and openly declares its intention to wipe out Israel. Hamas, the terrorist Palestinian government in Gaza, sides with Iran and Hizbullah in rearming with the declared aim of destroying Israel.

Since 1967, one aspect of this century- long conflict has been the demand for a Palestinian state. In spite of the deep historical and religious roots of Jews in all of Israel, generations of Jewish leaders have been prepared, for the sake of peace, to give up ancestral and covenantal land to establish a Palestinian state.

SO WHY has there not been peace? The ANC taught us you can’t make peace on your own. No matter how deeply the ANC was committed to a peaceful resolution of the South African conflict, until the National Party was prepared to accept that black South Africans had a place in their own country, there could be no peace. And so too, until the Arab/Muslim world accepts that Jews have a right to a state of their own on their ancestral land, there will be no peace.

In 1948, the Jews accepted the UN resolution establishing a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, but the Arab world rejected it and five Arab countries invaded Israel to destroy it.

After that, the West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands until 1967.

There was an opportunity then – every day for almost 20 years – to establish a Palestinian state. It never happened. And since then there have been numerous opportunities – each rejected by Arab leaders.

Why? Because this war has been more about the destruction of the Jewish state than about the establishment of a Palestinian state. Even today, so-called moderate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

In 2000, the Palestinian leadership launched a massive wave of suicide bombers into Israel, leading to more than 1,300 civilian deaths and 10,000 injuries. Proportionately, such carnage in South Africa would mean more than 10,000 killed and over 80,000 injured! Israel erected a security fence with checkpoints to shield it from such attacks launched from the disputed territories.

Archbishop, you compare these checkpoints to apartheid South Africa. But they are not about pass laws, which don’t exist in Israel. The checkpoints are on the border between sovereign Israeli territory and the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza in order to keep civilians from being murdered, and have been very successful in doing so. These checkpoints – like those found in all airports – are there to prevent suicide bombers from blowing up innocent people.

Archbishop, do not bestow respectability on an immoral sanctions campaign that is an affront to truth and justice, which prevents peace and prolongs the terrible suffering of people on both sides of this painful conflict. Archbishop, let us pray for an end to all this agony, and for the fulfillment of the verse in Isaiah: “And the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.”

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Israel’s Conflict as Game Theory

October 23rd, 2010

By Prof. Yisrael Aumann
Nobel Prize Laureate

Two men—let us call them Rick and Steve— are put in a small room containing a suitcase filled with bills totaling $100,000. The owner of the suitcase announces the following:

“I will give you the money in the suitcase under one condition…you have to negotiate an agreement on how to divide it. That is the only way I will agree to give you the money.”

Rick is a rational person and realizes the golden opportunity that has fallen his way. He turns to Steve with the obvious suggestion: “You take half and I’ll take half, that way each of us will have $50,000.”

To his surprise, Steve frowns at him and says, in a tone that leaves no room for doubt: “Look here, I don’t know what your plans are for the money, but I don’t intend to leave this room with less than $90,000. If you accept that, fine. If not, we can both go home without any of the money.”

Rick can hardly believe his ears. “What has happened to Steve” he asks himself. “Why should he get 90% of the money and I just 10%?” He decides to try to convince Steve to accept his view. “Let’s be logical,” he urges him, “We are in the same situation, we both want the money. Let’s divide the money equally and both of us will profit.”

Steve, however, doesn’t seem perturbed by his friend’s logic. He listens attentively, but when Rick is finished he says, even more emphatically than before: “90-10 or nothing. That is my last offer.”

Rick’s face turns red with anger. He is about to punch Steve in the nose, but he steps back. He realizes that Steve is not going to relent, and that the only way he can leave the room with any money is to give in to him. He straightens his clothes, takes $10,000 from the suitcase, shakes Steve’s hand and leaves the room humiliated.

This case is called ‘The Blackmailer’s Paradox” in game theory. The paradox is that Rick the rational is forced to behave irrationally by definition, in order to achieve maximum results in the face of the situation that has evolved. What brings about this bizarre outcome is the fact Steve is sure of himself and doesn’t flinch when making his exorbitant demand. This convinces Rick that he must give in so as to make the best of the situation.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict

The relationship between Israel and the Arab countries is conducted along the lines of this paradox. At each stage of negotiation, the Arabs present impossible, unacceptable starting positions. They act sure of themselves and as if they totally believe in what they are asking for, and make it clear to Israel that there is no chance of their backing down.

Invariably, Israel agrees to their blackmailing demands because otherwise she will leave the room empty handed. The most blatant example of this is the negotiations with Syria that have been taking place with different levels of negotiators for years. The Syrians made sure that it was clear from the beginning that they would not compromise on one millimeter of the Golan Heights.

The Israeli side, eager to have a peace agreement with Syria, internalized the Syrian position so well, that the Israeli public is sure that the starting point for future negotiations with Syria has to include complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights, this despite its critical strategic importance in ensuring secure borders for Israel.

The Losing Solution

According to game theory, Israel has to change certain basic perceptions in order to improve her chances in the negotiations game with the Arabs and win the long term political struggle:

a. Willingness to forego agreements

Israel’s political stand is based on the principle that agreements must be reached with the Arabs at any price, that the lack of agreements is untenable. In the Blackmailer’s Paradox, Rick’s behavior is the result of his feeling that he must leave the room with some money, no matter how little. Because Rick cannot imagine himself leaving the room with empty hands, he is easy prey for Steve, and ends up leaving with a certain amount of money, but in the role of the humiliated loser. This is similar to the way Israel handles negotiations, her mental state making her unable to reject suggestions that do not advance her interests.

b. Taking repetition into account

Game theory relates to onetime situations differently than to situations that repeat themselves. A situation that repeats itself over any length of time, creates, paradoxically, strategic parity that leads to cooperation between the opposing sides. This cooperation occurs when both sides realize that the game is going to repeat itself, and that since they must weigh the influence present moves will have on future games, there is a balancing factor at play.

Rick saw his problem as a onetime event, and behaved accordingly. Had he told Steve instead that he would not forego the amount he deserves even if he sustains a total loss, he would have changed the game results for an indefinite period. It is probably true that he would still have left the game empty handed, but at the next meeting with Steve, the latter would remember Rick’s original suggestion and would try to reach a compromise.

That is how Israel has to behave, looking at the long term in order to improve her position in future negotiations, even if it means continuing a state of war and fore going an agreement.

c. Faith in your opinions

Another element that crates the “Blackmailer’s Paradox” is the unwavering belief of one side in its opinion. Steve exemplifies that. This faith gives a contender inner confidence in his cause at the start and eventually convinces his rival as well. The result is that the opposing side wants to reach an agreement, even at the expense of irrational surrender that is considerably distanced from his opening position.

Several years ago, I spoke to a senior officer who claimed that Israel must withdraw from the Golan Heights in the framework of a peace treaty, because the Golan is holy land to the Syrians and they will never give it up. I explained to him that first the Syrians convinced themselves that the Golan is holy land to them, and then proceeded to convince you as well. The Syrians’ unflinching belief that they are in the right convinces us to give in to their dictates. The only solution to that is for us to believe unwaveringly in the righteousness of our cause. Only complete faith in our demands can succeed in convincing our Syrian opponent to take our opinion into account.

As in all of science, game theory does not take sides in moral and value judgments. It analyzes strategically the behavior of opposing sides in a game they play against one another. The State of Israel is in the midst of one such game opposite its enemies. As in every game, the Arab-Israeli game involves interests that create the framework of the game and its rules.

Sadly, Israel ignores the basic principles of game theory. If Israel would be wise enough to behave according to those principles, her political status and de facto, her security status, would improve substantially.

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Copyright Yisrael Aumann

Lattes and Beach Barbecues in the “biggest prison camp” in the world

October 21st, 2010

By Peter Hichens
Daily Mail UK
October 11, 2010

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently fawned on his Islamist hosts in Turkey by stating Gaza was a “prison camp.” This phrase is the official line of the well-funded Arab and Muslim lobby, who want to make sure Israel is seen by the world as a villainous oppressor.

But if you think Israel is the only problem, think again. Realize, for a start, that Israel no longer rules Gaza. Its settlements are ruins. No Israelis can be found inside its borders. And, before you say “but Israel controls the Gaza border,” look at a map. The strip’s southern frontier – almost as hard to cross as the Israeli boundary – is with Egypt. And Cairo is as anxious as Israel to seal in the Muslim militants of Hamas.

Gaza was bombed on the day I arrived in retaliation for a series of rocket strikes on Israel, made by Arab militants. Those militants knew this would happen, but they launched their rockets anyway. Many Gazans hate them for this. The Islamist rocket-firers are also the government here, supported by Iran and others who care more for an abstract cause than they do for real people.

I won’t give the name of the rather pleasant establishment where young women with bright make-up and colorful silken hijabs inhaled apple-scented smoke from their water-pipes. Their menfolk, nearby, watched football on huge, flat-screen televisions. Nor will I say where I saw the Gazan young gathering for beach barbecues beneath palm-leaf umbrellas. Of course this way of life isn’t typical. But it exists, and it shows the “prison camp” designation is a brain-dead over-simplification.

Can anyone think of a siege in human history where the shops of the besieged city have been full of Snickers bars and Chinese motorbikes, and where EU and other foreign aid projects pour streams of cash (often yours) into the pockets of thousands?

What about Gaza’s “refugee camps.” Most of those who live in them are not refugees, but the children and grandchildren of those who fled Israel in the war of 1948. All the other refugees from that era were long ago resettled. These places are not much different from the poorer urban districts of Cairo, about which nobody, in the Arab world or the West, has much to say.

One of the distressing things which I feel all of us should be aware of is the plight of Christian Arabs under the rule of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. More than once I heard them say: “Life was better for us under Israeli rule.” One young man, lamenting the refusal of the Muslim-dominated courts to help him in a property dispute with squatters, burst out: “We are so alone! All of us Christians feel so lonely in this country.”

What is most infuriating is that many Christians in Britain are fed propaganda blaming this on the Israelis. Arabs can oppress each other, without any help from outside. Because the Palestinian cause is a favorite, some prefer not to notice that it is largely an aggressive Islamic cause.

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French court rips al-Dura film

August 14th, 2010

JTA Report

June 13, 2010

A French court found that a French documentary about coverage of the controversial death of a Palestinian boy was defamatory and not objective.

The court found June 10 that the documentary by the private French television channel Canal + about the Mohammed al-Dura case did not use available information to make the documentary more balanced and accurate.

The documentary was broadcast a month before a verdict in the original lawsuit filed by media watchdog Phillipe Karsenty against France 2 television, which aired the original footage of the 12-year-old al-Dura reportedly killed in the crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian forces in September 2000 in Gaza.

The incident came on one of the first days of the second intifada and served to further inflame tensions. Israel was blamed for the death and took responsibility but later recanted.

France 2 sued Karsenty, a French media watchdog, for libel for claiming that the footage was falsified, but a Paris appeals court overturned a judgment against him in spring 2008.

The original France 2 report claimed that al-Dura was killed by Israeli gunfire, but a subsequent investigation by Israel and additional footage that showed al-Dura lifting his head and opening his eyes after being pronounced dead raised huge doubts about its validity.

“This court victory is just another step in our journey to keep the press honest,” Karsenty said Friday in an e-mail. “The French media finds every opportunity to paint Israel in a negative light, and even though I prevailed in court, the damage has already been done.”

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Hamas injustices inflicted
on Palestinians

August 13th, 2010

By Frida Ghitis
Ex The Jerusalem Post
Aug. 02, 2o10

It’s nice that so many people around the world care so deeply about the Palestinians. One could almost — almost — get misty hearing the passionate outcry and the dramatic actions their advocates take in the name of helping Palestinians.

There’s a reason, however, why even Palestinians themselves are often suspicious about the motives of their outspoken supporters. That’s because one can easily detect the stench of hypocrisy wafting in their midst. A closer look at their efforts reveals a peculiar pattern: Those who become so outraged about the plight of Palestinians at the hand of Israel quickly forget their cause if the suffering is inflicted by anyone else.

How is it possible that if anyone besides Israel mistreats Palestinians, their kindhearted defenders don’t seem to notice? Palestinians are indeed victims of mistreatment. But you won’t hear much about what they endure, unless someone can pin the blame directly on Israel. Conditions in Gaza, for example, have made for a tough existence there. But human-rights activists have turned a blind eye to the systematic assault on individual freedom that has beset the population ever since the Islamic militant movement Hamas took over in 2005.

Never mind the assassinations of political opponents that paved the way for Hamas to consolidate its rule. Gaza, once a relatively liberal, free-thinking territory, has slowly moved along the path to full Islamic law in the past five years. All movie theaters and bars, for example, have been closed. Dozens of Internet cafes have been bombed, as have churches, monasteries and Christian schools. Earlier this summer, masked Hamas militants set fire to United Nations children’s camps, which competed with Hamas-run indoctrination activities for children. The regime has been busy shutting down NGOs that provided aid to Palestinians, but we haven’t heard much about that.

As in Iran, Hamas rule is slowly interfering with the tiniest decisions of daily life. The Interior Ministry recently declared that, “It is inappropriate for women to sit cross-legged and smoke in public.” The government banned women from smoking the popular and harmless water pipes and banned them from riding even as passengers on motorcycles, a common means of transportation. As freedom disappears at the hands of Hamas, nobody outside Gaza seems to care.

After a recent flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists challenged the Israeli blockade, a Gaza art gallery director declared, “Thanks to all of you democratic people from all over the world, who are fighting the Israeli embargo of Gaza. But please, at the same time, could you also denounce the Hamas repression of intellectual freedom?” Intellectual freedom is the least of it. Members of the rival Fatah party say Hamas is gradually adopting the tactics of Iran’s infamous Basij militias to impose oppressive social norms and destroy the opposition. Hamas rivals say beatings and torture are common.

All those Western activists that cry out for freedom and democracy, and who never tire of reminding us that Hamas was democratically elected (although militiamen threw rivals off rooftops, not so democratically) somehow ignored that Palestinian municipal elections, which were supposed to happen in July, mysteriously disappeared from the agenda after Hamas prevented voter registration.

All those Arab activists, who shed tears for the suffering of Palestinians, are also curiously unmoved by the plight of Palestinians in their own countries. In Lebanon, for example, where pro-Palestinian groups are working to launch another convoy towards Gaza, Palestinian refugees are treated like third class non-citizens. Even those born in Lebanon are not allowed to own property and are banned from many professions. Palestinians are not allowed to work as journalists or doctors or lawyers or any of 50 professions. And yet, those who sound as if they spend sleepless nights suffering for their Palestinian brethren remain curiously quiet about these terrible, inexcusable injustices. They also remain mysteriously silent about unjust restrictions placed on Palestinians in just about every other Arab country.

Legitimate concern for Palestinians demands examining Israel’s actions, and determining if Israel’s need to stop rocket attacks from Gaza, for example, justifies the naval blockade. But the curious one-sided outrage betrays the real agenda of their avowed advocates.

The true agenda is attacking Israel, not defending Palestinians. If their supporters really cared about Palestinians, they would work to help them no matter what the source of the injustice. Watching the charade, one’s eyes can get misty — from the stench of hypocrisy that fills the air.

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Copyright by the author.

Iran’s descent into barbarism

August 11th, 2010

By SHMULEY BOTEACH

Ex The Jerusalem Post
9 August 2010

My father was born in Iran and remains firmly attached to his Iranian heritage. He loves the food, the music, the language and the culture. It’s something I have witnessed with most Iranian exiles. Their country travels with them.

And why not? Iran was once one of the world’s greatest civilizations and the Middle East’s most highly educated state.

Then came Ruhollah Khomeini, and the slow descent into barbarism began.

To see what Shi’ite technocrats have done to Iran is tragic. I do not speak only of the violent clown Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, who can look an Ivy-League audience in the eye and say there are no homosexuals in Iran. Rather, I speak of a country so riddled with hate that it thinks nothing of producing cartoons, available on a website promoted by the semi-official Fars news agency, denying the Holocaust and portraying Jews as hook-nosed vermin. Have the Iranians been taught to hate Jews so much that they can caricaturize the gassing of one million children?

When I visited Poland I walked into a clearing near Tarnow where 800 Jewish orphans had been murdered, mostly by having their brains dashed against trees. The Iranians would make fun of this as well? What level of humanity must be compromised before one feels that wholesale slaughter is a matter of comic relief? I forced myself to watch all of The Stoning of Soriah M by Iranian director Cyrus Nowrasteh.

Based on a true story, it’s final scene – depicting an innocent woman buried up to her neck and having her skull slowly crushed by average men including her own father, husband and son throwing stones large enough to injure but not to immediately kill – is easily one of the most brutal events ever depicted on film.

If only it were an exaggeration.

The world is currently focused on the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old woman awaiting death by stoning in the Iranian town of Tabriz after a sham conviction for adultery.

International pressure has so far granted her a reprieve, but is that what it takes – outside objectors persuading Iranian villagers that it’s wrong to pick up a stone, take out a woman’s eye and turn her brain into mush? How can these men have lost the universal voice of conscience? Can any of us even conceive of picking up a stone and throwing it as hard as we can at a helpless woman dug into a pit? Only the truly barbaric, those who have become utterly detached from humanity could behave this way.

THE 2001 case of Maryam Ayubi is particularly gruesome. Another alleged adulteress, she fainted during the ritual washing that preceded her execution. No matter. They stoned her to death while she was strapped to a stretcher. If I met any of the men who participated I would simply stare into their eyes, pondering how the light of humanity could have been so thoroughly extinguished.

I believe the West is largely to blame for this continued barbarity. Why is there an Iranian embassy in the middle of London? Does its presence not silently condone this continuing barbarity against women? Where are the women’s groups to protest Western interactions with a country that can mutilate females in the most monstrous ways? I have a friend whose husband is a physician called upon to treat a member of the Saudi royal family.

They offered him a king’s ransom to fly to Riyadh. His wife objected. “If a woman isn’t allowed to drive a car in that kingdom, then you’re not going to treat its leadership,” she told him. He forfeited a fortune, but she made her point.

The saddest thing about all this is the absence of vocal Muslims condemning Iran’s descent into barbarism. It seems that many are too busy condemning Israel. I believe that Israel’s military actions against Hamas and Hizbullah are necessary measures of self-defense, but if any Israeli cartoonist were to caricaturize Arabs as grotesque subhumans, the way Jews are regularly portrayed in Iran, I would call it an abomination.

IN HIS speech last week from Governor’s Island about why the ‘Ground Zero’ mosque ought to be built, Mayor Mike Bloomberg said the 9/11 attacks were committed by ‘fanatics.’ He refused to mention even once that the attackers were Muslims. Are we doing our Islamic brothers and sisters a favor when we whitewash crimes committed by Islam, or should we be encouraging them to cut out the stubborn cancer in global Islam? It may be tough love, but is it not more helpful to be honest about the growing brutality in the name of Islam so that those who love and practice this great world religion and wish to restore it to its former glory can reclaim it from the killers and fanatics?

Fareed Zakaria just returned a humanitarian prize he received from the ADL because the organization came out against the Ground Zero mosque. He explained that the mosque organizers are Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare because they are moderates who repudiate violence. How patronizing. That’s the most we can expect from Muslims, that they not support terrorism? Islam was once the most educated and forward-looking civilization in the world. It degrades itself and is betrayed by so-called friends who tell it to aspire to nothing more than not being Osama bin Laden.

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Copyright by the author who hosts ‘The Shmuley Show’ on 77 WABC in NYC. He is the founder of This World: The Values Network and has just published Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life. www.shmuley.com

Cameron Badmouths Israel,
Sucks Up to India

August 3rd, 2010

By Jock L. Falkson
August 3, 2010

When David Cameron visited Turkey recently he took the opportunity to relieve himself of some malice aforethoughts regarding Israel. Such as Israel having launched an unprovoked attack on the Mavi Marmara.

The real provocation came from those on the Mavi Marmara who responded “Go back to Auschwitz.” Nice babies these peaceful flotilla folk. Israel was left with the only option to board the ship and take it over.

Its troops rapelled down and were immediately attacked by a group of roughnecks waiting for them with iron bars, sticks, knives and grenades. They would undoubtedly have been beaten to death had the Israeli troops so allowed. Instead they fired back in self defense with fatal consequences for 9 of the attackers.

Cameron also accused Israel of the continued “occupation” of Gaza disregarding the fact that the last Israeli had left 5 years earlier. If he actually means Israel’s blockade – imposed to prevent the ruling Hamas terrorists from importing lethal rockets intended and other military equipment to kill Israelis – he should have said so. Because a blockade is not occupation. Nor is it illegal under international law.

But Cameron had more anti-Israel barbs: “The situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.”

This criticism from a British Prime Minister is hard to stomach for the simple reason that were it not for the goods that go in and out the Gazans would truly be in a desperate condition. Israel not only supplies food and medicines but everything in between. Plus electricity and water. In fact Gaza is actually flourishing.

Moreover, since Gaza’s Hamas terrorist government is totally committed to Israel’s destruction can anyone point to another such example in world history to match Israel’s generosity?

Ironically, Cameron paid an official visit to India shortly after visiting Turkey. Since the UK has suffered a great deal during the recent economic meltdown his purpose was to increase business between the two countries.

Cameron was at his charming, deferential. In his public statements he said he was well satisfied with the prospects of increased future business with India.

He had plenty of guts when it came to insulting the Jewish state but none when it came to rapping India’s knuckles for its horrendous crimes against humanity.

These crimes are documented from time to time by the UN’s Human Rights Council – http://www.google.com/search?q=%22International+dalit+solidarity+Network%22&hl=en&sourceid=gd&rlz=1Q1GGLD_enIL354IL355

by Amnesty International – “http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:TO8h63keTVsJ:www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/india/page.do%3Fid%3D1011170+%22Amnesty+International%22+india&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk

and by Human Rights Watch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalit

Most people are not aware of suffered by its 200 million Dalits/untouchables at the hands of those in the upper castes during India’s horrible history. But a British Prime Minister of a country which occupied and ruled India for over 200 years has nowhere to hide.

Abuses Committed Against Dalits

Abuses against dalits take many forms. They include (but are not limited to): • Beatings, slashing, and other forms of torture • Arson — the burning of dalit communities • Violence against women • Rape, gang rape, and the parading of women through the streets naked • Beating and torture of women • Summary execution, many times by burning alive • Bonded labor • Denial of rights • Police abuses against dalits, custodial abuse.

Not one of these inhuman criminal sins can be laid at Israel’s door. Instead Cameron lambasted Israel because Israeli soldiers defended themselves against serious personal injury if not certain death. He is a hypocrite and a political bully. His shame is inextricably etched in Indian ink.

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Woefully Ignorant or Willfully Misleading?

July 26th, 2010

By Dr. Martin Sherman
July 20, 2010

In a polemic published last month in the New York Review of Books, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” the left-wing journalist Peter Beinart argued that American Jews, especially the younger generation, are turning their backs on Israel. In Beinart’s estimation, this is a most understandable and inevitable development. Beinart expounded on the points of his original essay during a recent lecture (in Los Angeles). Just as in the original article, Beinart’s argument was profoundly flawed.

For anyone with a modicum of knowledge of Israeli society and the larger picture of the Middle East, the lecture was an astonishing display of ignorance and arrogance. The following analysis of the lowlights of his talk shows how Beinart, like other Israel-bashers, rides roughshod over the truth in an effort to portray Israel as violent and inhumane and deserving of the increasing suspicion in which it is held by American Jews.

The “Radical Settlers”

Beinart stated as a matter of fact: “The same radical settlers who used violence against Palestinians used violence against an Israeli prime minister .”

Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin was not assassinated by a “radical settler,” but by a law student from Herzilya, a coastal town adjacent to Tel Aviv.

Beinart gave no evidence in this part of his talk that he knew what percentage of the settlers were involved in violence against Palestinians. Or who has been subject to greater and more lethal violence. Is it Palestinians by settlers? Or settlers by Palestinians? Nor did he mention that Palestinian movements have proven all too ready to use violence. Not only is this violence directed toward “radical settlers” and innocent Israeli citizens, but Palestinians have also embarked on a frenzy of fratricidal fury against themselves.

The Eviction of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah Quarter in East Jerusalem

On this matter, Beinart posed this rhetorical question: Is what is happening in Sheik Jarrah, where Palestinians who were living in their homes for 50 years were forcibly evicted and are now living in the street, “kosher”?

This mirrors his claim in his New York Review of Books article that: (In) the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, … a Palestinian family named the Ghawis lives on the street outside their home of fifty-three years, from which they were evicted to make room for Jewish settlers.

In fact, the Palestinians’ eviction was not a politically motivated initiative to dispossess hapless, helpless Palestinians as Beinart implies, but the result of a court ruling.

The courts (including the Israeli Supreme Court, which often — indeed more often than not — rules against the “radical settlers”) determined that the property in which the Palestinians were living in fact belonged to Jewish owners. In 1967, the court awarded the Palestinian families “protected tenant” status, whose right to reside in the homes was guaranteed as long as they paid rent to the legal owners.

In 1982, the legal owners sued 23 families for nonpayment of rent. According to an agreement reached between the lawyer representing the Palestinian families and the authorized representatives of the owners, the Palestinian families were indeed recognized as “protected tenants” whose occupancy in the buildings was ensured as long as they paid rent. However, most of the families refused to do so.

Does Beinart believe that Israel would be looked on more favorably if the rule of law was flouted, and legal property rights violated because of the ethnic identity of those ruled against? Pikuach Nefesh and Reverence for Life Over Land Beinart lamented: One of the things that bothers me is (the undermining of) the great reverence for Pikuach Nefesh (preserving lives) and the recognition that it is acceptable to withdraw from land if it meant saving lives.

This is a statement that can only be explained by either total ignorance or total insincerity. For as anyone who follows the news or reads the papers must know, a dramatic inverse relationship exists between Pikuach Nefesh (preserving lives) and withdrawal from land.

Indeed, since the doctrine of “land-for-peace” was introduced into Israeli policy, fatalities have soared to unprecedented levels on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides. To suggest otherwise reflects a massive deficit of either information or integrity.

Double Standards 1

Regarding the conduct of his like-minded Israel-basher peers, Beinart pontificated: “There is something frankly silly to me about a Jewish community that feels so self-confident in how our values apply in Bosnia, the former Soviet Union, and Darfur, but is so timid in talking about how our values apply in the place we care about most (presumably Israel).”

So Israel’s attempts to defend its people are morally comparable to the wholesale slaughter in Darfur, the widespread massacres in Bosnia, and the oppressive brutality of the Soviet regime? What a windfall for the assorted collection of Jew-baiting anti-Semites, Judeo-phobic Israel-bashers, and other hate-driven villains such thinking is. What greater endorsement could they hope for than Beinart’s exhortation that his fellow Jews relate to the Jewish State as if it were governed by the genocidal Janjaweed militias in Sudan, or by the brutish guards in the Siberian gulags, or the murderous perpetrators of the bloody events in Srebrenica.

Double Standards 2

Beinart endorses double standards when they work to Israel’s detriment, and only dismisses them when they do not. When a challenge was raised regarding the application of these double standards, Beinart’s rather glib and unoriginal response was to claim that while Israel was “far morally superior to North Korea, Syria, Libya and Iran,” these were not relevant criteria he would expect from a Jewish state. According to Beinart, he should not have to “compromise just because North Korea is worse.”

Such an approach might have some merit if Israel was being censured less severely, or even equally severely, for violations of liberal-democratic values similar to those perpetrated by North Korea, Iran, etc. But what is happening is altogether different. Israel is being censured far more harshly and frequently for infringements much less notable than those glossed over by the international community when committed by other nations.

Moreover, it is not only in comparison to the tyrannies in Tehran and Tripoli and the dictatorships in Damascus and the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) that Israel is being held to a double standard. Indeed, widely divergent criteria are used to judge the actions of Israel and those of the leading democratic countries that comprise NATO. This is true both with respect to military action in the Balkans and the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan.

In the Balkans, high-altitude bombing by NATO, including the use of cluster bombs, inflicted hundreds of civilian Serbian casualties during a military campaign in which not one single civilian in a NATO nation was ever threatened.

In Afghanistan, where military action was undertaken in response to a single terror attack on a single NATO member, estimates of civilian deaths caused directly by NATO military action since 2001 are in the range of 5000-8000, with additional indirect fatalities estimated at up to 20,000.

Why should the victims of Israeli actions taken to defend their citizens elicit a far greater expression of moral outrage on the part of the international community than actions taken to perpetuate regimes in East Asia, Central Africa, or in the Middle East?

Why should several families evicted because of failure to pay rent, after being afforded due process by the Israeli legal system, be more troubling to liberal Jews than the millions of victims of gender apartheid, creed apartheid, and gay apartheid across the Islamic world?

Israel’s Right to Defend Itself

Beinart magnanimously agrees that “to ask Israel to be willing to not defend itself would be wrong,” but predictably goes on to ask – rhetorically – “is every military action…does every Israeli policy contribute to Israeli defense..?”

To be sure, with the benefit of hindsight, some Israeli security measures may be criticized for one reason or another. But in a situation of such uncertainty, what would Beinart recommend as Israel’s working security policy: To err on the side of sober caution? Or on the side of reckless optimism?

Nothing could imperil liberal democratic values more than trying to foist on Israel unattainable standards of liberal democratic ideals that make the defense of these ideals impossible. These standards are not demanded or expected of any other country, much less from one faced with such grave existential threats.

Of course no one is disputing Beinart’s right to criticize Israeli policy. However, as someone who has chosen not to share the burden of living in Israel, he would surely understand that when he states that “as a Jew, I have a certain set of expectations… as to what a Jewish state might be,” some might interpret his approach as being more than a little presumptuous.

Indeed, it would be interesting to know what kind of Israeli military actions Beinart would condone as not offensive to his liberal sensibilities. Would they include the construction of the much maligned separation barrier? Targeted killings (with the lowest level of collateral casualties in military history)? Large scale campaigns (such as “Cast Lead”) to quell rocket and mortar fire on civilian populations?

Blockades and Balance

Beinart asks: “How did the Gaza blockade which banned a vast, vast number of consumer products that had nothing to do with making rockets…help Israeli security?” He added, ”It seems to me that all it did was lead to more and more and more hatred of Israel.”

Can Beinart really be unaware of the fact that the imposition of the blockade was a result of, not a reason for, Palestinian enmity; that it is a consequence, not a cause, of Palestinian hatred for Israel?

Is he really ignorant of the fact that whenever Israel has turned the other cheek, it has been resoundingly slapped by the Palestinians; that whenever Israel extended the hand of friendship, it has been brusquely brushed aside by the Palestinians?

Why should Israel be condemned by liberal democrats for imposing a blockade on Gaza, when the international community imposed a UN Security Council-sanctioned blockade against Iraq and its despotic ruler?

Why is the Gaza blockade more reprehensible than the U.S.-led, UN sanctioned Iraqi blockade that caused infant mortality to sky-rocket and banned importation of over 300 items – including painkillers, pencils, hearing aids, musical instruments, and shampoo?

The Ascendancy of Lieberman

Beinart bewailed the strengthening of Minister of Foreign Affairs Avignor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party as evidence of a widening disregard for liberal democratic values in Israel. However, a far more powerful case can be made to ascribe Lieberman’s electoral success to the dramatic failure of the left-wing’s ”Chamberlainian” program of “land-for- peace” and the consequent disappointment with this disastrous doctrine. It is an approach which, for the past two decades, has wrought nothing but death and destruction on both Jew and Arab alike.

Actually, Beinart’s loathing for Lieberman’s party appears to be based more on hearsay rather than hard facts. After all, Lieberman has not only accepted, at least implicitly, the notion of a two state solution but is in fact offering arguably even more territorial concessions than most left-wing parties.

It is true that this would involve redrawing the 1967 borders in certain places to exclude large population centers of Israeli Arabs. These would then be annexed to the Palestinian Authority. Yet, it is not quite clear why this would be considered odious to anyone who believes that a viable functioning Palestinian state is realistic, as Beinart presumably does.

Indeed, Israeli Arabs continually claim that the dominant Jewish character of Israel is incompatible with their ethno-religious identity and complain that, as a result, they are often subjected to various forms of prejudice and discrimination. So, if one assumes that a viable functioning Palestinian state is indeed feasible, one is compelled to ask, from both a moral and a practical perspective, why would Israeli Arabs not leap at the chance of being extricated from the clutches of the discriminatory Zionist regime and brought under the auspices of an egalitarian non-discriminatory Palestinian one?

As this would not involve the physical displacement of a single Israeli Arab from his/her home, what possible liberal democratic principle would Beinart invoke to object to such a proposal?

The Sentiments of Israeli Arab

Beinart’s contention is that Israel Arabs object to this arrangement of annexation to the Palestinian Authority because “they consider themselves Israeli.” But this has a rather suspicious ring to it. Is Beinart seriously suggesting that that Israeli Arabs “feel Israeli” in the sense they identify with: the words of the national anthem Hatikva – expressing 2000 years of yearning by the Jewish soul to be free in the land of Zion; the Star of David displayed on the flag; the biblical Menorah as the State symbol; Saturday rather than Friday as the official Sabbath; Yom Kippur Passover, Rosh Ha’Shana as national holidays; Hebrew as the predominant language; or Independence Day as a triumph over Arab aggression? And if not, how is it possible to make them, as he suggests, “feel more comfortable in their Israeliness”? To annul the Jewish character of Israel as expressed by the prevalence of Jewish symbolism in public life and Israel’s social institutions?

Beinart is of course right that Israeli Arabs strongly object to their annexation to the Palestinian Authority, but wrong in ascribing this aversion to a desire to become more fully integrated into the fabric of Israel. A more plausible explanation would be the desire of Israeli Arabs to continue enjoying the best of both worlds: the benefits of greater economic prosperity and personal freedom that life as an Israeli citizen affords them, and also the expression of their ethno-religious identity through an ongoing and intensifying hostility toward the entity that provides them these benefits.

Beinart’s attempt to demonstrate Israeli Arabs’ attachment to Israel seems curiously contradictory. He quotes a poll allegedly conducted in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War, and proclaims that “when they polled Israeli Arabs, they found that by a factor of about 3 to 1 they supported Israel “ Although several hours of Google-searching failed to produce any trace of such a poll, I have no reason to doubt that it may in fact exist.

Other survey results that are extremely difficult to reconcile with Beinart’s contention regarding the sentiments of Israeli Arabs for their country of residence. A 2007 poll conducted by Haifa University’s Sammy Smooha, a well-known sociologist of well-known left-leaning proclivities, found that:

• 48.2% of Arab citizens of Israel said they believed that Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on northern Israel during that war were justified; • 76% of Arab citizens of Israel described Zionism as racist; • 40.5% of Arab citizens of Israel deny the Holocaust; among high school and college graduates the figure was 33%.

A later poll by Smooha produced arguably even more disturbing results:

• Only 41% of Israel’s Arab minority recognize the country’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; • Only 53.7% of the Israeli Arab public believe Israel has a right to exist as an independent country – Jewish or otherwise.

So, almost 60% do not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and almost half deny Israel any right of existence at all. Was Beinart, who made no reference at all to these findings, unaware of their existence? If not, then he is surely woefully ignorant. If so, then he is clearly willfully misleading

The Nuclear Threat

While Beinart acknowledges that “an Iranian nuclear weapon would be a disaster,” he goes on to expose a massive misunderstanding of the threat Israel would face if Tehran in fact realized its nuclear ambitions. He merely proclaims that in such a case “Israel would have to deal with some of the things with Pakistan on its borders, and that has a nuclear weapon.”

This comparison is ludicrous. India has a population five times that of Pakistan spread over an entire subcontinent seven times the size of Pakistan. It is in no danger of annihilation from its impoverished eastern neighbor, even if it were to suffer a surprise first-strike that wiped out several of its population centers. India has – and Pakistan knows it has – absolute first strike survivability and unassailable second strike capability to devastate Pakistan in retaliation.

In stark contrast, Israel has a population less than one tenth and an area one eightieth of Iran’s. Moreover, 80% of Israel’s civilian population live in a narrow coastal strip 8-10 miles wide and 60 miles long, of which much, indeed most, would be wiped out by a single nuclear weapon. This would dramatically undermine the ability of the country to continue to function as a viable national entity. So although Israel allegedly has marine-based second-strike capability and may be able to inflict devastating retaliation, this will not ensure its survival if Iran miscalculates the cost of a first-strike or calculates that it is worth the risk.

It also should be remembered that while Iran has overtly threatened Israel with destruction, this has never been the declared intention of Pakistan regarding India.

Furthermore, with a nuclear Iranian umbrella, terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Jihad, could operate with far greater freedom against Israel. The fear that harsh retaliation may precipitate a nuclear confrontation would make ordinary life in the country untenable.

So, while Beinart may be right in pointing out that modern day Israel should not be likened to the powerless, helpless Jews in Europe, this does not mean it is not facing existential threats and genocidal dangers that could precipitate tragedy on the scale of the Holocaust. He should remember that if there is a lesson to be learnt from the Holocaust it is this: it is extremely dangerous to dismiss declared intentions of despots, however delusional they may initially appear.

The Real Failure of the American Jewish Establishment

Beinart is right in diagnosing the failure of the American Jewish establishment. But it is a failure quite different than the one he writes about.

Assuming that Beinart is sincere when he implies that Israel “is the place we care about the most,” then all of the following comprise a catastrophic moral lapse on the part of the American Jewish establishment:

The failure to vigorously assert Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens against attacks perpetrated against them just because they are Jewish;

The failure to unequivocally repudiate the prevailing custom that portrays every measure Israel undertakes to protect itself as “racist”;

The failure to reject the egregious standard by which Palestinian inconvenience is considered more heinous than the threat to Jewish lives;

The failure to unambiguously distinguish between the causes and the consequences of Arab antagonism; and

The failure to comprehend and support policy imperatives. Addressing and correcting these failures is a far more urgent, a far more pertinent, and a far more authentic mission than any obsessive tendency to dwell on the imperfections of Israel’s vibrant liberal democracy. Such imperfections are only the product of security driven exigencies and not illiberal, anti-democratic proclivities.

To expect Israel to conduct itself in a manner totally divorced from the exigencies of its environment and totally detached from the nature of its adversaries, is a position that reflects neither moral merit nor political prudence.

It is this that the American Jewish establishment, including its liberal democratic members, needs to understand and to address accordingly – before great tragedy overtakes the Jewish people again.

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Dr. Martin Sherman acted as a ministerial advisor in the 1991-2 Shamir government. He also served for seven years in various defense related capacities and now teaches political science at Tel Aviv University. His works have been published in academic journals such as Journal of Strategic Studies, Journal of Theoretical Politics, International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence and Nations and Nationalism. He is the author of two books on international conflicts (Macmillan UK). Dr. Sherman is also a member of the advisory board of the Nativ journal in which he has published frequently.

How Israel Can Win the PR War

July 22nd, 2010

By Evelyn Gordon
19 July 2010

In yesterday’s post, I focused on a disturbing incident described by PR guru Frank Luntz in a Jerusalem Post interview — an incident in which American Jewish college students proved utterly unwilling or unable to defend Israel. But Luntz also offered a constructive strategy for how to improve this situation.

Again, he used an example to illustrate his point: a meeting with a group of “high income, high education, politically connected” Brits who were “so hostile to Israel” that “I’d given up … There was no message that resonated remotely well with them. And I finally said ‘to hell with it. We’ll give them the Hamas Charter’” — or, more accurately, a “word for word” version taken from Hamas’s website and then “edited down to one page.”

The results surpassed his wildest expectations: at the end, “28 of the 30 said, ‘How dare Israel negotiate with these people?’” Luntz’s point is simple: when people have preconceived notions about Israel, it’s very hard to dislodge those notions — to convince them, for instance, that Israel did not wantonly target civilians in last year’s war in Gaza, or has not created a humanitarian crisis there by its blockade. But it is possible to persuade them that no matter how bad Israel is, its enemies are much, much worse — and therefore even someone who dislikes Israel should nevertheless back it against those enemies.

Though Luntz did not elaborate, it’s not hard to see why this should be so. First, people generally know much less about Hamas or Hezbollah than they think they do about Israel, so there are fewer preconceived notions to try to dislodge. Second, Israel’s enemies truly are evil and make no effort to hide it, so the case is easy to prove.

The third, and perhaps most important, reason was excellently explained by another PR professional, Sarah Kass, in a Jerusalem Post article last month. The title says it all: “It’s all defense, all the time.”

Israel’s enemies, Kass explained, are conducting a classic PR offensive, designed to keep the focus relentlessly on Israel and away from themselves. Thus they never talk about themselves; they talk only about Israel.

Israel, however, does the opposite: it talks almost exclusively about itself, constantly trying to defend its own actions rather than focusing on its enemies’ actions. And to listeners, Kass noted, this just sounds like “whining.”

What Israel should be doing, she argued, is exactly what its enemies do: focusing relentlessly on the other side. For only in that context — a battle against a truly evil enemy — can Israel’s defensive measures ever be understood.

“The country has a winning story that has nothing to do with anti-Semitism or the Holocaust,” Kass concluded. “It has to do with the degeneracy of globally coordinated fanatics who seek their own death and wish to take the world down with them.” Essentially, that’s the same point Luntz was making.

But this is a story the world doesn’t know — and never will unless Israel and its supporters start telling it.

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First published in Commentary’s blog: Contentions Copyright by the author.

Public relations battle is a marathon,

July 22nd, 2010

By Danny Ayalon
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister
June 4, 2010

There is not one credible member of the international media that still parrots the stated motives of the flotilla’s organizers.

This has been a difficult week for Israel. Faced with an armada of hate and violence, our soldiers, whose sole task was to control the boats and bring them peacefully to Ashdod, were faced with machete-wielding jihadists.

This Hamas-backed flotilla was a premeditated provocation that sought to either open up a corridor for weapons smuggling and terror that would have resulted in the loss of countless innocent lives, or to embarrass Israel and gain sympathy for their cause.

When weighing these two very difficult outcomes against each other, it is abundantly clear that Israel, like any other nation, has a responsibility first and foremost to the security and well-being of its citizens.

Although few could have foreseen the eventual outcome, the Foreign Ministry and many other governmental agencies had been working furiously to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best. In fact the level of coordination before, during and after these events was unprecedented.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials held countless meetings with the leadership and ambassadors around the world, especially from those countries whose citizens were involved in the flotilla, reiterating the dangers and true nature of the flotilla organizers’ strategy. The international media was briefed and many press releases and information packs on the true intentions of the flotilla were distributed well in advance.

While some have criticized Israel’s public relations readiness for the ghastly events that took place on Monday morning, far more have expressed increasing satisfaction with the vast improvement in Israel’s official crisis management. The Foreign Ministry had prepared a situation room in advance to coordinate between the different agencies and to send responses out to the public and relevant governments as soon as possible.

Before many in Europe had arrived at work, I held a press conference clearly enunciating the government position on the flotilla and the necessity of our operation to prevent the flotilla from achieving its aims. We had already put in place a live streaming video feed so every foreign journalist had access to the press conference without leaving his or her office. This is vital in an age where many in the international media are facing budgetary cutbacks, meaning they have far fewer correspondents and camera crews. This also made it easier for major international networks to screen it live, including CNN.

Before North America had awoken, the international media were consistently showing images from the IDF Spokesman’s Office of the attempted lynching of our forces. Many government ministers were working tirelessly, moving from one international media bureau to another for the next couple of days explaining Israel’s case. We tweeted, sent messages through Facebook and created YouTube videos in vast numbers. Just following my own tweets, I was astonished to see the ripple and multiplying effect of these messages.

Israel learned lessons from previous crises and improved accordingly. No one can argue the system worked perfectly, but we will endeavor to learn even more lessons from this crisis to further improve for the future.

HOWEVER, NO ONE should be fooled into thinking that this is an easy battle. Just as when an army is involved in asymmetric warfare, in asymmetric public relations, there are structural disadvantages for any fully functioning democratic government.

Whereas non-governmental organizations are not held accountable to abide by facts and the truth, our government needs to keep to higher standards. We are proud that we thoroughly check all information before dissemination and unlike the “Pallywood” antics of the other side, you won’t see Israel stage or fake events or blatantly and intentionally lie about the facts.

To be able to disseminate pictures from the operation to apprehend the ships, the IDF had to ensure that no soldier’s faces could be identified and that no operational procedures were broadcast to our enemies. As stated above, our first priority is the safety of our citizens, especially when they are on the front lines defending us in increasingly difficult situations.

As much as we released information about the sordid nature of the flotilla and the terror background of its main organizer in advance, there was little interest. As the saying goes: “Only when the tanks are moving do the cameras start rolling.”

It should also be borne in mind that while public relations is vitally important, it was only one of the very many tasks that we had to attend to in light of the events surrounding the flotilla. At the Foreign Ministry, we were in constant contact with our ambassadors to spread Israel’s message and keep them updated, and speaking to the foreign diplomatic corps based in Israel, especially coordinating with those whose citizens were aboard the flotilla. We coordinated our message with thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, NGOs, bloggers and volunteers. We kept foreign heads of government abreast of the situation and pressed Israel’s case while working with multilateral bodies, like the United Nations.

As witnessed by recent hostile resolutions, it is precisely within organizations like the United Nations that our structural disadvantages are most apparent. The Arab League has 22 members, the Islamic Conference has 57 and is part of the Non-Aligned group of 118 nations out of a total 192 UN members. This automatic majority is the main reason why so much disproportionate time is wasted on Israel when nations like Saudi Arabia are never reprimanded for their abject human rights abuses.

Israel’s public diplomacy has become the new battlefield and if one gauges the results, it is clear that there are many positives. There is not one credible member of the international media that still parrots the stated motives of the organizers of the flotilla. Every major international network reported the flotilla story using IDF Spokesman’s videos within hours of the events. More and more correspondents, many who were previously very critical of Israeli policy, have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the flotilla organizers. These are very real successes.

Of course, there are criticisms and we listen to them intently while recognizing that there were still flaws in our strategy, and we will need to ensure we work harder in the future to learn those lessons. It should be kept in mind that this is not about the first five minutes, but about the next five months and beyond. The public relations battle is a marathon and not a sprint. However, this government is using all the means at its disposal to ensure that our enemies do not win on any battlefield, regardless of the restrictions or the limitations.

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Copyright by the writer

Public relations battle is a marathon,
not a sprint

July 16th, 2010

By DANNY AYALON
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister
June 4, 2010

There is not one credible member of the international media that still parrots the stated motives of the flotilla’s organizers.

This has been a difficult week for Israel. Faced with an armada of hate and violence, our soldiers, whose sole task was to control the boats and bring them peacefully to Ashdod, were faced with machete-wielding jihadists.

This Hamas-backed flotilla was a premeditated provocation that sought to either open up a corridor for weapons smuggling and terror that would have resulted in the loss of countless innocent lives, or to embarrass Israel and gain sympathy for their cause.

When weighing these two very difficult outcomes against each other, it is abundantly clear that Israel, like any other nation, has a responsibility first and foremost to the security and well-being of its citizens.

Although few could have foreseen the eventual outcome, the Foreign Ministry and many other governmental agencies had been working furiously to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best. In fact the level of coordination before, during and after these events was unprecedented.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials held countless meetings with the leadership and ambassadors around the world, especially from those countries whose citizens were involved in the flotilla, reiterating the dangers and true nature of the flotilla organizers’ strategy. The international media was briefed and many press releases and information packs on the true intentions of the flotilla were distributed well in advance.

While some have criticized Israel’s public relations readiness for the ghastly events that took place on Monday morning, far more have expressed increasing satisfaction with the vast improvement in Israel’s official crisis management. The Foreign Ministry had prepared a situation room in advance to coordinate between the different agencies and to send responses out to the public and relevant governments as soon as possible.

Before many in Europe had arrived at work, I held a press conference clearly enunciating the government position on the flotilla and the necessity of our operation to prevent the flotilla from achieving its aims. We had already put in place a live streaming video feed so every foreign journalist had access to the press conference without leaving his or her office. This is vital in an age where many in the international media are facing budgetary cutbacks, meaning they have far fewer correspondents and camera crews. This also made it easier for major international networks to screen it live, including CNN.

Before North America had awoken, the international media were consistently showing images from the IDF Spokesman’s Office of the attempted lynching of our forces. Many government ministers were working tirelessly, moving from one international media bureau to another for the next couple of days explaining Israel’s case. We tweeted, sent messages through Facebook and created YouTube videos in vast numbers. Just following my own tweets, I was astonished to see the ripple and multiplying effect of these messages.

Israel learnt lessons from previous crises and improved accordingly. No one can argue the system worked perfectly, but we will endeavor to learn even more lessons from this crisis to further improve for the future.

HOWEVER, NO ONE should be fooled into thinking that this is an easy battle. Just as when an army is involved in asymmetric warfare, in asymmetric public relations, there are structural disadvantages for any fully functioning democratic government.

Whereas non-governmental organizations are not held accountable to abide by facts and the truth, our government needs to keep to higher standards. We are proud that we thoroughly check all information before dissemination and unlike the “Pallywood” antics of the other side, you won’t see Israel stage or fake events or blatantly and intentionally lie about the facts.

To be able to disseminate pictures from the operation to apprehend the ships, the IDF had to ensure that no soldier’s faces could be identified and that no operational procedures were broadcast to our enemies. As stated above, our first priority is the safety of our citizens, especially when they are on the front lines defending us in increasingly difficult situations.

As much as we released information about the sordid nature of the flotilla and the terror background of its main organizer in advance, there was little interest. As the saying goes: “Only when the tanks are moving do the cameras start rolling.”

It should also be borne in mind that while public relations is vitally important, it was only one of the very many tasks that we had to attend to in light of the events surrounding the flotilla. At the Foreign Ministry, we were in constant contact with our ambassadors to spread Israel’s message and keep them updated, and speaking to the foreign diplomatic corps based in Israel, especially coordinating with those whose citizens were aboard the flotilla. We coordinated our message with thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, NGOs, bloggers and volunteers. We kept foreign heads of government abreast of the situation and pressed Israel’s case while working with multilateral bodies, like the United Nations.

As witnessed by recent hostile resolutions, it is precisely within organizations like the United Nations that our structural disadvantages are most apparent. The Arab League has 22 members, the Islamic Conference has 57 and is part of the Non-Aligned group of 118 nations out of a total 192 UN members. This automatic majority is the main reason why so much disproportionate time is wasted on Israel when nations like Saudi Arabia are never reprimanded for their abject human rights abuses.

Israel’s public diplomacy has become the new battlefield and if one gauges the results, it is clear that there are many positives. There is not one credible member of the international media that still parrots the stated motives of the organizers of the flotilla. Every major international network reported the flotilla story using IDF Spokesman’s videos within hours of the events. More and more correspondents, many who were previously very critical of Israeli policy, have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the flotilla organizers. These are very real successes.

Of course, there are criticisms and we listen to them intently while recognizing that there were still flaws in our strategy, and we will need to ensure we work harder in the future to learn those lessons. It should be kept in mind that this is not about the first five minutes, but about the next five months and beyond. The public relations battle is a marathon and not a sprint. However, this government is using all the means at its disposal to ensure that our enemies do not win on any battlefield, regardless of the restrictions or the limitations.

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Copyright by the writer