January 23, 2006

The PC in the Air

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:36 pm by yisraelmedad

Benny Morris, responding to criticism of remarks he published in the name of Ehud Barak regarding a “culture of lying” in among Palestinian leaders, unabashedly stated “I praise him for his frank and courageous remarks, and it’s too bad that there aren’t many politicians who are prepared to throw down the gauntlet to the dictates of the politically correct and tell the truth like he does.”

Israel’s Hasbara efforts, at all times, has been hamstrung by many factors.  Recent articles on these pages have pointed out some of them.  They include the intolerable level of English of Israel’s representatives, the push-me-pull-you unity government situation, the intensive efforts by Israel’s radical and, at times, anti-Zionist Jewish groups, the lack of women whose faces would grace any camera lens and the unwillingness to graphically illustrate what the Arabs are doing to us.  I wish to  point out some others.

Israel’s officialdom cannot tolerate or even work in coordination with volunteer private initiatives.  Israeli officialdom not only suffers the normal quirks of any bureaucracy but worse, actively seeks to offset or interfere with any other player in the field.  Has anybody heard recently of Minister Tzippi Livni who was slated to be engaged in Hasbara work in the Prime Minister’s office?  Where is she and where is the PM’s Hasbara?

When campus activists are beleaguered, are they sent young, or youngish-looking, speakers who talk in a language collegiates understand and comprehend?  Do the persons that provide them with up-dates and reports do so with enthusiasm and commitment or do they make a presentation that is perfunctory, as part of their job, and after-hours at that?

But Hasbara isn’t only style; it is content.  Israel and its spokespersons have handicapped themselves by refusing to take on the weakest chink in the Arab armor: its mendacity, its corruption and its cultural-religious perversion.  Alarmed that Israel would be blamed for ‘below-the-belt’ racism, Israel has allowed the explosives-belted enemy to literally get away with murder.

For years, several groups (the factionalisation of Jewish organizational life is a theme beyond the scope of this article, to my regret) have been pinpointing the downright anti-semitism in the Arab world and its regional Palestinian offshoot.  Aryeh Stav of NATIV, Itamar Marcus of PMW and Yigal Carmon of MEMRI have been targetting the anti-democratic and intoleration that is the Arab political reality, but for too long they were on the fringes.  To an extent, they still are working off the mainstream.

Another message shunned, one that I promoted recently on a CNN half-hour discussion, is the morality of the disbandment of Jewish communities throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the uprooting of one-quarter of a million Jews from their homes.  If peace is contingent upon such a population evacuation, why cannot the mirror-image be raised in polite company?  If “Palestine” must be emptied of its Jews, should then not the Arabs of Israel be faced with the eventuality of moving, on masse, to that future state of Palestine.  If we are going to clean the decks, then let it be done thoroughly.

Such an issue, admittedly, is anathema for official Israeli Hasbara.  But logic dictates that Arab claims, no matter how ridiculous and how dangerous, must be challenged on the moral and even irrational level they are proposed.  Hanan Ashrawi can talk all she wants about occupation but no one would accuse Arafat and Company of pursuing an occupational policy themselves until Michael Freund did so on these pages.  I myself have heard over the years Israeli officials remarking that “we don’t do things like that”.

The time and the circumstances have changed.  The threat of Arab violence obliges the Hasbara operations to change gears and accelerate in the direction and in the methods that achieve a decisive rollback.  There are people that can do the job and if a “reserves call-up” is to be instituted, that too should be done.

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