Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Israel's image problem - and my goals

Donny writes an interesting comment.
When "everyone" is wrong that may very well mean you are correct BUT it also means that you at the very least, have an image problem. In many cases, regardless of the circumstances, factions and consipriacies against an issue, if it is perceived to be the case, it very well may become the case regardless. Your blog is full of how the west is anti-Israel or even anti-semitic and that they are all wrong or are by interest groups turned in opinion. As I said, you may be correct and in many instances I agree with your comments but in the end I always come back to the basic line that I have been taught with two quotes. The first one is "....where there is smoke there is fire" thus if the vast majority of the media and governments smell smoke there has to be substance, and second is a very famous Brussels saying that "it is not a cat until it meows". That basically means that if everyone thinks something is wrong, bad or whatever - it is until the result says otherwise.

At present, Israel has an image problem, that is the point I am making. That image problem exists if you, I or others like it or not. Right now the focus is not on fixing that image problem but rather attempting to prove each individual case, event or action as correct, justified, better than it is. In addition, I see a lot of comparisons being made and what is often referred to as 'equivilance' by showing how "bad" it is somewere else. Neither works and, in my honest opinion, looks instead like stubborn defiance and only "reactive".
It is not always true that when there is smoke, there is fire. A woman who is abused by her husband is not automatically partially at fault because her husband has a laundry list of reasons that she deserves to be punished. Even if she really did burn his steak once.

However, it is true that image is important, and hugely so.

Admittedly, Israel has almost no clue how to make its case. If they did, I would have a much easier job here!

Of course it has an image problem. Some of it is self-inflicted (for example Lieberman should not be a diplomat, although his ideas definitely need to be heard.) Some of it is the result of a relentless campaign (not coordinated, it is not a conspiracy) of demonization that has worked over the years. Some of it is Western reflexive self-hatred among the Left. Some of it is the sheer disproportionate interest in Israel from both fans and foes - a vacuum that must be filled by the media. Some of it is an ironic result of Israeli freedom of expression making self-criticism appear to be disproportionately large. Some of it is, to be frank, Jew-hatred masquerading as anti-Zionism. Much of it is from a remarkably successful re-framing of the debate that occurred after 1967 where the false idea of Israel as a colonial state gained currency as fact, and the idea of Israel as a successful example of national self-determination fell by the wayside.

I try, in my own small way, to counteract these forces. No one is claiming that Israel is perfect, and no one claims that there is not a tension between being a Jewish state and a democracy. My goal (I guess one of them) is to put things in a more proper perspective: even if one claims that Israel is immoral, then her enemies are infinitely worse by virtually every measure. If Israel is to be demonized, then it is hypocritical to ignore the neighborhood she is in. The media rarely notes this basic fact; neither do they compare Israel's actions while in a state of war with those of European governments when at peace. (To bring up Lieberman again, he made a very good point when he noted that Israel never banned the burqa like France or limited the building of minarets on mosques like Switzerland!)

Western governments sort of get it because they realize that the very same arguments used against Israel can be used against them one day as well, but they will rarely take Israel's side publicly because of a number of factors like desire for good relations with the Muslim and Arab worlds and fear of terrorism.

Whether I am successful at it or not, I try to post articles and essays that are meant to force people to look at the Middle East with a different viewpoint, one that is not obscured by the perpetual smoke machine. Some are necessarily reactive. I need to consciously try to write more pro-active posts, as playing defense is not a recipe for victory. But above all I want to put forth a viewpoint that, I believe, has the additional quality of being the truth.

In my own possibly naive way, I hope that the truth will win. And not only for Israel's sake, but for the sake of the entire free world.