If we thought that anti-Israel brainwashing in the world was not working, then we were wrong. Israeli public relations efforts are not helping. If we wait until the next confrontation, it will be too late.
A new poll published yesterday shows that 25% of American Jews think that Israel is an apartheid state (only 52% completely reject this claim), and 22% think that Israel is carrying out genocide against the Palestinians (only 62% completely reject that claim). If we thought that anti-Israel brainwashing wasn’t working, we should think again.
Of course, there are those who are much better informed in this area than we are. “The pressure put on Israel by international public opinion is stronger than any weapon in the hands of the axis of resistance,” Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said a few days ago.
It is true that Hezbollah can afford to set up a warehouse of long-range rockets 25 meters (approximately 82 feet) from a school, as it was revealed yesterday, and it’s true that Lebanon is collapsing, and it’s true that the Hamas government is the one causing the collapse and destruction. But that’s not important. They are allowed. And so, from their point of view, the recent conflict ended in a victory for Hamas, and the pictures of the destruction, ironically, are pictures of victory. The U.S. poll came at just the right time, proving that what Nasrallah has said is not mere boasting, but reality.
Even Israel’s most outstanding supporters, such as Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took a critical and unprecedented stand toward Israel a few days after Operation Guardian of the Walls began. It’s time that the people making decisions understand that propaganda plays a central role in the conflict. Nasrallah is doing us a favor when he expresses his intentions so blatantly. But the poll is troubling. The question is, will we throw down the gauntlet or will we continue under the illusion that only F-16s will determine the outcome?
It is hard to contend with photographs of buildings that have turned into ruins and with pictures of children who have been killed. No kind of public relations will help with that. Currently, with social media, where every cell phone is a broadcasting station, it goes without saying that Israel will lose. And if this is what happened with Guardian of the Walls, what will happen with the next conflict?
If they had polled the Allied bombings of Germany in World War II in the same way they are polling the Israeli bombing of Hamas and Hezbollah, the result would certainly have been that you need to demonstrate on behalf of Germany and accuse the United States and Britain of war crimes. Nasrallah already understands this. So does Hamas. They are using this approach. And Israel? It’s lagging behind.
Will the new government change anything? It’s too soon to tell. If you look at what Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told the forum of the European Union foreign ministers, it seems as if there could be a change for the better. But there is a long road ahead with respect to changing public opinion, as people have suggested. That’s because public opinion has already had an impact, for example, on workers in U.S. and European ports. Workers there have refused to load or unload Israeli ships. It could get a lot worse in the next conflict. These are not just demonstrations, and not just articles or warnings. These are boycotts that could delay essential cargo, including ammunition. It is already happening.
What should be done? For the 101st time, I propose a plan in which Israel initiates a dramatic, public proposal for a Marshall Plan in Gaza, a plan that would simply provide rehabilitation in exchange for demilitarization. Hamas will refuse, and even such a refusal will not change the minds of the professional Israel haters. But it may change something for many others.
We didn’t have to wait for Nasrallah’s speech to know that there are many weapons pointed at Israel. But it would be worthwhile to acknowledge this situation, and to wake up and be ready to deal with it. Because if we wait until the next conflict, it will be too late.