Who is delegitimizing Israel?

A recent poll conducted by the University of Maryland in which 24,090 citizens across 22 countries were interviewed, revealed that around the world Israel is viewed as negatively as North Korea.

Considering the fact that Israel has vastly greater opportunities and resources to promote its image than does North Korea and that the North Korean government has little apparent interest in improving its global image, Israelis should be asking themselves why they have a government that is doing such an appalling job of promoting their interests.

According to those whose job it is to represent Israel, the failure is not their own — it is the result of a powerful global movement hellbent on “delegitimizing” poor little Israel.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, laments:

[W]hy have anti-Israel libels once consigned to hate groups become media mainstays? How can we explain the assertion that an insidious “Israel Lobby” purchases votes in Congress, or that Israel oppresses Christians? Why is Israel’s record on gay rights dismissed as camouflage for discrimination against others?

The answer lies in the systematic delegitimization of the Jewish state. Having failed to destroy Israel by conventional arms and terrorism, Israel’s enemies alit on a subtler and more sinister tactic that hampers Israel’s ability to defend itself, even to justify its existence.

It began with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat’s 1974 speech to the U.N., when he received a standing ovation for equating Zionism with racism—a view the U.N. General Assembly endorsed the following year. It gained credibility on college campuses through anti-Israel courses and “Israel Apartheid Weeks.” It burgeoned through the boycott of Israeli scholars, artists and athletes, and the embargo of Israeli products. It was perpetuated by journalists who published doctored photos and false Palestinian accounts of Israeli massacres.

Israel must confront the acute dangers of delegitimization as it did armies and bombers in the past. Along with celebrating our technology, pioneering science and medicine, we need to stand by the facts of our past.

The fallacy embedded in the idea that Israel is threatened by delegitimization is that Israel does not face legitimate criticism it must answer. “There’s nothing wrong with criticizing Israel…” government officials dutifully repeat yet never acknowledge the specific ways in which Israel has a responsibility to answer its critics.

The real challenge Israel faces is that it is being defended by dissembling whiners like Oren and shrill ranters like Alan Dershowitz. The message of victimhood which they disseminate resonates only with those who already hold the same view. They utterly lack any ability to influence observers who are still in the process of weighing up the issues. Indeed, they do nothing more than present Israel as a crybaby which protests it is being treated unfairly.

Contrast these voices with those that they tar as “delegitimizers” and it becomes apparent that Israel’s image problem stems not only from Israel’s actions and political failings but the fact that among Israel’s defenders there appears to be no one who can speak with integrity.

Take note, Michael Oren, this is what integrity sounds like:

American actor, Mandy Patinkin, addressing the Peace Now conference in Tel Aviv, May 11, 2012

Anyone who is really afraid of the delegitimization of Israel should consider that Israel may face no greater threat than the one posed by its own defenders.

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6 thoughts on “Who is delegitimizing Israel?

  1. dickerson3870

    RE: “Why is Israel’s record on gay rights dismissed as camouflage for discrimination against others?” ~ Michael Oren

    SEE: Israel’s Treatment of Gay Palestinian Asylum Seekers ~ by Caroline Esser, The Washington Note, 6/06/11

    (excerpts)…The newest way to sell Israel to Americans: LGBT rights. Search gay rights on the Anti-Defamation League’s website and what do you find? A ready-to-print and available for order poster that reads, “Which of the Middle East nations protects the legal rights, safety & freedom of the LGBT communities? Only Israel.” . . .
    . . . In their 2008 study, “Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum-Seekers in Israel,” Michael Kagan and Anat Ben-Dor describe in detail Israel’s unsympathetic and unbending policy towards gay Palestinians. . .
    …In pursuit of protection and the ability to openly express their sexuality, there have been at least ten cases in which gay Palestinians have sought refuge in Israel. However, despite their desperation, Israel refuses to even review gay Palestinian applications for asylum (those who have successfully received asylum have had to submit their cases directly to the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva). Moreover, gay Palestinians who have illegally entered Israel have been arrested and promptly deported–returned to the very environments in which their lives were at risk and in which they will now face further danger as they are questioned not only for their sexuality but for their choice to spend time in Israel…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2011/06/israels_treatme/

  2. delia ruhe

    Yes, I can see why people are impressed. There’s a kind of genuineness there, isn’t there.

    I can relate to the period in his life when he couldn’t understand what the problem was. That happened to me in the early 80s, during the first Lebanon war. We had an excellent onsite correspondent on CBC — Anne Modina — who reported with bombs dropping in the background. I never expected she’d return to Canada alive.

    But all the details escaped me. What really is wrong in the Middle East, I asked myself. So, finally, I travelled to the Middle East and found out what the problem is. It’s called Israel. That was a sad moment for me — someone who’d been a goyishe girl growing up among Jews.

    I didn’t want to believe that the mythology was just mythology. So I’ve spent a good portion of my life ever since — like Mandy P — figuring out how the problem might be resolved. I’ve discovered that there are a lot of possible resolutions but that Israel doesn’t want to consider any of them. “The best solution is no solution,” said Moshe Dayan.

    Israel has been delegitimizing itself from almost the beginning, making sure that lies were substituted for history; teaching ordinary Israelis to despise the Palestinians as “cockroaches,” “vermin” — much as the Nazis convinced ordinary Germans that Jews are rats, or pestilence, a dangerous bacterium that had to be eradicated; developing strategies and technologies that would get rid of the Palestinians — but slowly, slowly, so that no one would think to compare those technologies to the iconic gas chambers.

    La vérité is quite correct: we do need more Mandy Patinkins, more American and other diaspora Jews to stand up to this “democracy” that rules by martial law on illegally occupied land. Now that I am deep in research on post-war Germany, I can’t help but be haunted by a vision of future generations of Israeli and other Jews as deeply stained and humiliated by their Israeli and AIPAC ancestors and searching for some way to redeem the Jewish people from its unforgivable past.

  3. DE Teodoru

    Oren=libel…..that’s why this total propagandist posing as an historian who forgot to put on his historian’s costume and is standing at an historians’ conference STARK NAKED complaining about “anti-Israel ibel. ” Give me a break. Israel is on U-TUBE just as naked as Oran exposing its pending organs and discharging on all of us through those organs while insisting that it must be raining outside. What a load of crap! BUT PLLLLEEEAAASSEE, don’t think that’s how Israel’s best are, for those are the best of the best. That’s who MOST drive medicorities like oren craaaaazzzzyyyyy, like Crazy Eddie who sought to escape the FBI in Israel. What must he have been thinking about Israel to think he could safe-harbor there?

  4. Aditya

    I read the article below on the way home and saw this gem from Hannah Arendt via Neve Gordon, which certainly pertains to social justice causes like these:

    “Despite the legal setback with respect to the Nakba Law, as well as the well-orchestrated attack against organisations like Zochrot, the Israeli government’s concerted effort to reinitiate national amnesia is futile. As the great Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt once put it, the fact that Leon Trotsky does not appear in Soviet Russian history books does not mean that he did not exist. “The trouble with lying and deceiving,” Arendt explains, “is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide. In this sense, truth, even if it does not prevail in public, possesses an ineradicable primacy over all falsehoods.””

    Neve Gordon
    Two wrongs do not make a right

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