Wednesday, December 15, 2010

War of Words: Israel’s Fight Against Delegitimization

by Moshe Dann

Israel’s struggle to defend herself and survive is not only on the battlefield; it is also in the coliseum of public perception. Thrown into the same dungeon as South Africa 30 years ago, threatened with extinction by Arab countries and terrorist groups, Israel is portrayed as a racist, “apartheid” country, illegitimate, a threat to civilization and world peace. Failure to take this incitement seriously and criticism of Israel’s actions in self-defense are applauded by the crowd, thumbs-downed by international community.

Denounced for “violating human rights,” on the rack for defeating terrorists, and subjected to double-standards, Israel’s very existence is anathema. Unacceptable in polite, cultured societies, however, Jew-hatred has been replaced by attacks on the Jewish state, Israel. A convenient proxy, Israel is condemned for “illegally occupying (stealing) Arab/Palestinian land,” “injustice towards and oppression of Palestinians,” etc. “Zionism is Racism” echoes throughout the world. The goal is isolation, as a prelude to destruction; the means, delegitimization, BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – and media bias.

Delegitimization, the refusal to accept the legitimacy of a nation, a country and its founding ideology, is applied only to Israel. Hundreds, if not thousands of NGO’s, many with government funding, and promoted by major media, relentlessly attack Israel. Hundreds of millions of euros are splurged by EU governments, like Holland, Ireland and Switzerland, [1] on anti-Israel political organizations.

Israel is the only democratic country whose right to exist is questioned. Nuanced by demanding a second Arab Palestinian state, there is no need to call directly for Israel’s destruction; it’s enough to demand withdrawal to 1949 Armistice lines which will render Israel indefensible. “End the occupation,” a mindless slogan that short-circuits thinking is a subtler way of calling for Israel’s demise.

These calls come not only from Arabs and the international community, but from Israeli leftists who believe that withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) will bring “Peace Now,” hoping the Arabs will accept and that Israel will be accepted and protected.

These critics of Israel, even those that are well-meaning, ignore their contribution to campaigns to delegitimize Israel. One might forgive their motives as naive, were it not for obvious threats from Hamas and Hezbullah, Palestinian terrorists, Iran, Syria and other terrorist-supporting countries.

Many of these critics of Israel, however, both domestic and foreign, refuse to defend Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish country within secure, recognized, and defensible borders. Parading as “humanitarian,” their efforts, because they are biased and often false, serve to delegitimize Israel.

Failure to distinguish between Israel’s deficiencies, and its existence, perpetuates and encourages a climate of hatred and condemnation against Israel per se, and one that easily tips into global anti-Semitism. It is fed by the West’s most powerful and eloquent spokesmen, including President Barak Hussein Obama.

What makes Obama’s administration different from his predecessors is not its anti-settlement policy – the State Dept has been consistently anti-Israel for 70 years – but the context — a new configuration of forces aligned against Israel. The sparks of his words ignite vast fires of anti-Israel violence.

Previous American administrations were more or less sympathetic to Israel and its difficult position, and were usually balanced. For example, Sec of State Condoleezza Rice’s hostility to Israel was balanced by President George W Bush and VP Dick Cheney’s generally positive attitude.

Obama’s strong-arm tactics against Israel and “outreach” (appeasement) to the Muslim world, his indifference and/or enmity towards Israel, surrounded by advisors eager to sacrifice Israel’s security to their political interests, and a disturbing naivete, from healthcare and economics to nuclear proliferation and military strategy, represent a new threat to Israel’s quest for legitimacy and acceptance.

Delegitimizing Israel seems to be a barely hidden agenda, not with an organized plan, but indirectly, making Jewish building in Jerusalem THE issue, castigating Israeli settlements as “illegal and unacceptable” – rather than constant Palestinian incitement and terrorism.

Coupled with efforts to delegitimize Israel around the world, Obama’s words are powerful indictments against Israel, which render Israel a pariah, an outcast among the nations, deserving of whatever punishment its enemies have in store.

No other American president has treated Israel with such animosity, in such a hostile environment, with so many unpredictable dangers, and amidst world-wide anathema for the Jewish state.

Not traditional anti-Semitism, this new expression of hatred and bigotry has become the semi-official language of the United Nations, many EU politicians and most Muslim and Arab leaders. Denial of Jewish history and Jewish historical claims in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), Holocaust-denial, and myriad fabrications and myths about Palestinianism are viral; they cannot be defeated unless confronted for what they are — poisons of the mind and the soul.

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[1] Holland, Ireland and Switzerland,:


Moshe Dann is an historian, writer and journalist living in Jerusalem

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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