How Israel’s So Popular – Despite Its ‘Lousy’ PR

Everyone knows Israel’s losing the propaganda war, except me.

The Jerusalem Post

April 3, 2018

How Israel’s So Popular –

Despite Its ‘Lousy’ PR

Everyone knows Israel’s losing the propaganda war, except me.

O n the speakers’ circuit, I’m constantly asked: “Why is Israel’s PR so lousy?” Everyone knows Israel’s losing the propaganda war, except me. We face challenges – especially on campus and among some liberal Jews. But a recent Gallup Poll ruined this decades-long lamentation with some devastatingly good news: “Americans remain staunchly in Israel’s corner”; Israel’s 74% approval matches the “long-term high.”

Gallup asks: “Are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” After 50-plus years of Palestinian terrorism, 25 years of Palestinian dictatorship and 17-plus years of Islamist terrorism, you need a PhD, European citizenship, or certain rabbinic degrees to be capable of endorsing Palestinians’ perfectly awful political culture over Israel’s imperfect democracy.

This weekend’s demonstrations again demonstrated Palestinians’ addiction to violence. The New York Times reported that at the Hamas march, Israel didn’t respond militarily until “some” Gazans “began hurling stones, tossing Molotov cocktails and rolling burning tires at the fence” (of course the Times editorial deemed them “unarmed demonstrators” conducting “peaceful protests”). If the Palestinians ever go Gandhi on Israel their chances of statehood will soar; until then, the stalemate persists.

Americans remain decent, democratic, pragmatic.

They respect a people who share biblical values, and who, after enduring history’s worst crime, nevertheless created a stable, democratic ally. By contrast, mocking American ideals, deploying your kids as suicide murderers, preferring killing Jews to building your state, inciting to thuggery, and making terrorism your only export doesn’t play in Peoria.

True, some millennials and liberals are wavering.

American Jews exaggerate Israel’s PR problem because Israel is least liked where they worship most: the media and universities. Still, real America – “flyover country” – loves Israel. One red-state Republican congressman told me: “I didn’t know Israel was unpopular until I came to Washington!” Conservatives must not make supporting Israel a partisan issue. And liberals who hate US President Donald Trump but still love America must remember they can hate Israeli policies or politicians but still love Israel.

So let’s celebrate Israel’s miraculous 70 years: three million refugees rescued, Jewish destiny redrawn, Jewish culture resurrected, Jewish pride restored.

Toast the democratic values upheld, the moral approach to wars often implemented, the universal good generated ideologically, technologically, scientifically.

Still, anticipate the two-front propaganda assault that might make next month rocky PR-wise. Ronald Lauder started the first – the “Israel’s-disappointed- me-and-is-responsible-for-the-assimilation-process- that-started-a-century-or-two-before-Zionism- even-began” chorus. Anyone who cannot see Israel’s many, stunning accomplishments is blind; anyone who cannot admit Israel still has improving to do is foolish. But disappointed? Find its equal.

Continuing to alienate Americans with their belligerence, Palestinians will emphasize the negative, pointing to Deir Yassin’s destruction in 1948 as proof of “the Nakba.” Calling Israel’s founding the Nakba – catastrophe – is like building your campus calendar around Libel Israel We… er, Israel Apartheid Week, not Affirm Palestinianism Day. Such reactionary nationalism gives nationalists a bad name – even the Saudis say Israelis “have the right to have their own land.”

Palestinians can mourn their 1948 loss. But Nakba talk doesn’t heal or help learn from mistakes – it tries tarnishing Israel’s victory, hoping to destroy the Jewish state. The accusation might sound paranoid if not for millions of Palestinian war cries – and hundreds of unnecessary Jewish graves.

The Deir Yassin blood libel dominates the Nakba narrative. Even if every lie about the alleged massacre of April 9, 1948, were true, Palestinian propagandists would still be drawing absurdly sweeping conclusions. They claim this one, atypical incident typifies Israelis and negates Zionism’s legitimacy.

Over-generalizing from one deviation is idiotic.

Besides, morally it rings false because Palestinians have spent decades trying to perpetrate such massacres.

Bar-Ilan University professor Eliezer Tauber’s new, authoritative, 384-page, heavily-footnoted book in Hebrew, Deir Yassin: The End of the Myth, concludes “there was no massacre in Deir Yassin.” The kind of tenacious researcher who listed every person killed – reaching 120, not the 254 alleged – Tauber then proved that most died fighting. He acknowledges a few unnecessary civilian deaths. Still, he blames the chaos of war amid house-to-house combat in a fortified village, not systematic slaughter.

With equal doggedeness, Tauber traces how two miscalculations spawned this smear. First, rightwing Irguinists trying to prove their might and left-wing Hagana Zionists trying to delegitimize the Right exaggerated the number of casualties. Alas – backfire! Palestinians have been attacking Zionism with that 254 for 70 years.

Similarly, Palestinian leaders, especially Hussein Khalidi, concocted the massacre story, inflating the death count “so the Arab armies will come.” One Palestinian survivor remembers Khalidi saying, “We should give this the utmost propaganda possible because the Arab countries apparently are not interested in assisting us.” Another backfire. His lie that women were raped sent Arabs fleeing. “Dr. Khalidi was the one who caused the catastrophe,” a Palestinian witness admitted. “Instead of working in our favor, the propaganda worked in favor of the Jews.”

Liberal Jews are most susceptible to Deir Yassin lies and Nakba laments – most Americans ignore them. Once, American Jews and Israelis, Left and Right, shared common enemies: Arab dictators in the 1960s, Palestinian terrorists in the 1970s, Soviet oppressors in the 1980s. Today, pro-Palestinian Jews often forget to affirm their love of Israel and hatred of Palestinian terrorism, while Jews who hate Palestinians, too often hate Jews who don’t hate Palestinians.

Still, for most Americans, Jews and non-Jews, their disgust for Palestinian terrorism reinforces their support for Israel. Thus, we bond over 70 years of Israeli miracle-making and American-Israeli friendship.

That’s why on Independence Day, while singing “Hatikva,” “The Hope,” we should also sing “God Bless America.”

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Gil Troy  is the author of  The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s . His forthcoming book, The Zionist Ideas, which updates Arthur Hertzberg’s classic work, will be published by The Jewish Publication Society in Spring 2018. Professor Gil Troy is Distinguished Scholar in North American History at McGill University.

Follow on Twitter  @GilTroy .

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