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5 Reasons Israel Is Losing the Public Relations Battle

There are some very good reasons -- none of them anti-Semitic -- why Israel is sinking in the perception of the outside world.

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Right-wing Israeli officials are concerned about attempts to "delegitimize" Israel, and fund former officials and intellectuals to attempt to combat this perceived trend. But it seems obvious that Israel is gradually sinking in the perception of the outside world, and there are concrete reasons for this change. Most of them derive from the train wreck that is Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Israeli blockade on the civilians of the Gaza Strip. Others derive from the hawkishness of the Likud government and its Kadima predecessor. 

They have nothing to do with anti-Israel sentiments or hatred of Jews. No one is condemning the municipality of Haifa or the administration of Tel Aviv. The criticisms are criticisms of aggressive expansionism and a trigger-happy government. The criticisms are getting louder and more mainstream, with potentially deleterious effects on Israel’s economy as time goes on.

1. Giving the finger to any ‘peace process'

Israeli land theft in the Palestinian West Bank has reached epic proportions under PM Binyamin Netanyahu, with settlement populations surging 18%. The right-wing in Israel is so isolated from the real world that they have  begun claiming that the Palestinian territories are not even occupied. They claim that the Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist forces them to occupy Palestine (in fact, the PLO recognized Israel as part of the Oslo accords, after which the Israelis screwed the Palestinians over royally).

They distort history and say the most ridiculous things, such as that the League of Nations Mandate awarded to Britain in the 1920s allows them now to steal Palestinian land and water without recompensing them. The brazenness and zombie-like relentlessness of this march onto other people’s land has provoked an increasingly influential international boycott movement, targeting the "settler-industrial complex" that preys on the hapless Palestinians under Israel’s control.  That is why the Church of England recently endorsed a World Council of Churches-inspired program that brings people to the Occupied Territories to see for themselves what Occupation is doing to the stateless and rights-less Palestinians. The resolution was a major defeat for the Likud, right-wing branches of Zionism. 

Likewise, the  US Presbyterian Church very nearly adopted a resolution to disinvest from companies perceived as enabling the Israeli land grab in the West Bank. As it was, they urged positive investment to help the Palestinian victims of Israeli injustice. These votes are straws in the wind. As Israel moves formally to incorporate the West Bank into itself, it must offer citizenship to the Palestinians on the land it covets, or else it would perpetuate the new apartheid.

2. Hypocrisy

Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu keeps threatening to launch a war on Iran and urging my country to sacrifice its young men, to stop Iran from continuing to enrich uranium. (Iran says the enrichment is for peaceful energy purposes and there is no good evidence to the contrary.)

Israel itself not only enriched uranium, it made 400 nuclear bombs. There are  allegations by an Israeli and American journalist that Israel’s Mossad spy agency has murdered a series of Iranian scientists. (If Iran were alleged to have done something similar at Dimona in Israel, all hell would have broken loose.)

And, it now turns out that  Binyamin Netanyahu was involved in a spy ring that smuggled nuclear triggers out of the United States to Israel. Israel is alleged routinely to threaten to use its nuclear weapons if it doesn’t get its way, deploying a sort of nuclear blackmail. It is very hard to see why Iran’s population should be reduced to a fourth-world standard of living by international sanctions for doing much, much less than Israel has done, or why Netanyahu should be able to smuggle US high-tech out of this country with impunity.

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