The War Israel Keeps Losing

letter-447577_1280

by Brian Schrauger

The war that Israel keeps losing is the war of world opinion, the war for individual hearts and minds. Consider recent stumbles.

Israel’s military campaign in Gaza should have been named “8,000 is enough!” This would have communicated a determination to stop the barrage of missiles from Hamas, using surgical precision to destroy its arsenal, but destroying all of it, not just a part. Enough was enough: 8,000 missiles launched on the nation’s civilian population would no longer be tolerated.

Unfortunately the operation was dubbed, “Cast Lead.” The resulting image in the English-speaking world was not helpful. Lead is a soft metal associated with poison. The implication, then, was an unprofessional plan with ambivalent determination, biased motives and toxic methods.

Which is exactly how governments and media judge “the Gaza war.” Israel and her defenders respond by arguing, “Israel has the right to defend herself.” This is true, but flawed. Why? Limiting Israel’s self-defense to a right makes it an option. Little wonder, then, that Israel’s enemies portray her as a ruthless bully. In the matter of Gaza, for example, she could have chosen to refrain.

In fact, Israel has more than a right to defend her citizens and existence. Along with every sovereign state, she has a mandate to defend against invaders, murderers, thieves, poverty and disease. And from enemies who declare war and wage it.

The Hamas unamended charter of 1988 is a declaration of war. It explicitly calls for destruction of the Jewish state of Israel through jihad – against Jews and Christians (Article 13). Any member who abandons this struggle is guilty of “high treason and cursed” (Article 32). Accordingly, any “initiatives… so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to [these] principles” (Article 13).

Even so, the United States is on the verge of engaging Hamas as entity that is on par with Israel. No, not on par: morally superior. Consider the recent image splashed across America by political cartoonist, Pat Oliphant, portraying Israel as a headless, heartless, jack-booted Nazi devouring helpless, little Gaza.

Where did that idea come from? Look at Article 20 of Hamas’s 1988 charter and see who is winning the PR war.

Of course it is more than public opinion that is being lost; it is the death of common sense; it is defeat in the war for truth.

EVEN EVANGELICAL SUPPORT is eroding. A vocal minority remain effusive on Israel’s behalf. But the broader community is not monolithic. Many of its members are hungry for change, not unlike the political appetite that won Barack Hussein Obama the presidency. Among evangelicals the religious equivalent is a movement led by people like Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian; Stephen Sizer, a pastor who has gained popularity by condemning “Christian Zionism”; and, of course, Jimmy Carter, who accuses Israel of committing a “holocaust.” How widespread is the erosion of evangelical support for Israel? Google this: “Letter to President Bush from Evangelical Leaders.” Look at those who signed it – and the organizations they represent. Their claim to “represent large numbers of evangelicals” is true.

And behind it all? A resurgence of replacement theology, an ideology that, for almost 1700 years, has been used to ignite atrocities against Jewish communities.

So what can Israel do to win its global PR war, a war for truth?

One of Judaism’s greatest traits is that, while the rest of world talks, it acts. The government of Israel has beefed up media relations and lobbying efforts to Western countries. It makes a special effort to reach Christians through its Tourism Ministry and the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus.

Religious Israeli organizations do a first-rate job in taking their case to gentiles. And a host of secular entities, most of them nonprofits, are second to none in telling the truth about Israel and exposing its enemies’ lies.

But it is not enough. What else can be done? How can Israel be a more effective light that draws the nations to her?

First, recruit the world of commerce. Independent, for-profit media companies must present the broad canvas of Israeli news. Expanded investments in Israeli technologies will yield medical breakthroughs, unleash alternative energy sources and provide water and food for the world’s population.

Second, aim directly to inform the potential “grassroot” supporters of the Jewish state. Bring Israel to them and they will come to Israel, both as tourists and supporters of the state.

Yes, methods include the Internet and its social networking tools. Still, there is nothing more effective than firsthand encounters.

So. Sponsor events. Send invitations to others instead of seeking invitations from others.

Deploy first-class conventions and shows and fairs, events hosted on civic platforms around the world. Get endorsements from influential people to market these events. Use them to showcase Israel, not defame it.

Begin these tours where demographic support is strong. Respect religious sensibilities. But use secular venues so that people from different backgrounds will feel comfortable and welcome. Participants with a variety of interests – business, social, political and religious – will enhance grassroot support for Israel and her people.

Most importantly, seek wisdom from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Listen for the whisper of His counsel. He alone is God of all the nations. Under the banner of His leadership, Israel will win.

Brian Schrauger is director of radio broadcasting for Israel World TV. I thought his article relevant to our audience because of his recommendations for us.

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23 Responses

  1. Raymond says:

    I do not understand why the Chovetz Chaim is being villified by some people here. As was pointed out, Zev Jabotinsky, whom if I am not mistaken was secular, also warned the world about the nazis. So did Winston Churchill, and he was labelled a right-wing nut. Has it occurred to Chovetz Chaim’s detractors that he DID want to warn his fellow Jews, or may in fact DID warn them, but they refused to listen? To this day, Rabbi Kahane is considered a fringe figure, a right-wing nut, even after everything he said about our islamofascist enemies, have tragically come true.

  2. Ori says:

    May I pour a bit of water on the Chafetz Chaim argument? Let us assume for a moment that he knew, via divine revelation, that another war would start in 1939. Why did he not warn the Jews to run away?

    The Holocaust is the part of WWII we concentrate on, because it affected us most directly. But WWII was a lot more than that. One can certainly imagine the Chafetz Chaim knowing that a war would come, but thinking it would be no worse for the Jews than WWI, the wars of German unification, or the Napoleonic Wars.

  3. Chaim Wolfson says:

    MB,
    I did not live in Europe in the 1930s, so I can’t really answer what or why the Torah leadership of that generation did or did not do. All I said was that although I’m sure there are stories out there about the Chofetz Chaim that never happened, a level-headed, very reputable source attested that this is not one of them. And according to Rav Schwab, what the Chofetz Chaim expressed was alot more than just fear for the possibility of future problems. And in the period between the wars, no one, in his wildest nightmares, ever imagined that any war could ever approach the magnitude of “the Great War”.

    Rav Schwab’s speech at the Agudah convention about his Radin visit was printed in the Jewish Observer, in June of 1984, I think.

  4. mb says:

    Chaim Wolfson and Raymond in #17 and #18.
    Please explain that if the Chafetz Chaim’s accurate forecast of the coming disaster was so documented, why did he and the others that he shared it with not encourage millions of Jews to leave, indeed they advocated the opposite.
    I don’t doubt that the CC, along with many others were fearful that the Versailles Treaty was unworkable and would lead to further problems. That’s a far cry from an accurate prediction, and you in support of that position are confirming the worst fears of those that say the Cheredi leaders were at fault.
    And I do agree that people didn’t want to listen to warnings. Jabotinsky’s being one of the most well known, but he wasn’t alone. But at least they encouraged Jews to leave.

  5. Ori says:

    Garnel Ironheart, I owe you an apology. I didn’t even think about shunning and out shouting, so I made unwarranted assumptions.

    However, I don’t think it would work. People who want to think Judaism means something will listen to those who tells them that’s what it means.

    How long have Orthodox Jews been telling the rest of the world that Reform Judaism isn’t Judaism, just something that many Jews do? How much of the world listens?

  6. Raymond says:

    I have heard that prediction by the Chovetz Chaim for many years now, and had no reason to disbelieve it. However, has it occurred to his detractors that perhaps he did warn his fellow Jews about the upcoming Holocaust, but they refused to believe him? People used to mock Winston Churchilll when he warned the world about both the nazis and the communists. It is all too easy to judge people when one has the benefit of hindsight.

  7. Chaim Wolfson says:

    MB,
    A pity (for many reasons) Rav Shimon Schwab is no longer alive. He could have told you that story is NOT “nonsense”, because he heard the Chofetz Chaim say words to that effect himself when he spent a Shabbos in Radin circa 1930. He told over the story of his visit at an Agudah convention around 35 years ago. “Rationalists” might disagree, but it’s also irrational to say that Rav Shimon Schwab just made it up. Maybe the reason people didn’t do anything about it is that, like you, they thought it was “nonsense”.

  8. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Ori, they can have their freedom of expression and I can have mine. Let us shun them and push them to the extreme edges of the community. Let us be open with how their idiocy is affecting Am Yisrael and how they are chipping away at the little achdus we have. Let us shout louder than them that their positions are not Jewish and in no way representative of anyone other than themselves and to claim that they are an “alternative” Jewish point of view is a lie.

  9. mb says:

    “>> I heard a story — the truth of which I cannot verify — that the Chafetz Chaim, zt”l, said in 1919 that twenty years hence would be a war that would make WWI seem like child’s play, thus accurately predicting the outbreak of WWII in 1939.
    Leonard Cohen”

    Shame on Cross-Currents for posting this. Apart from it being nonsense, you are adding fuel to the fire that the European Cheredi leaders refused to save lives. (In 1919 and for at least a few years after there was still fairly easy immigration into most countries including Palestine.)
    I’m sure you wouldn’t want that impression.

  10. Raymond says:

    To quote a local Rabbi, our problem as Jews in our relation to the world is not a public relations problem, but an antisemite problem. We Jews tend to fall all over ourselves trying to blame ourselves for having a bad image in the world, as if we have the power to change that perception. While there are a handful of individual Jews whom I am embarrassed to call Jews, I think it remains the strong case that our people’s continuing positive contributions to the world is something we can be proud of. In fact, if anything, the world does not hate us for what we have done wrong; they hate us for what we do right. Jealousy may be the single most destructive emotion there is, and its effect comes down full force when it comes to us Jews.

  11. lacosta says:

    we must realize that israel faces a convergence of factors that have not been stacked so solidly against it since pre-48–

    1] a hostile US president
    2]a further left leaning house and senate. now not afraid to defy the AIPAC line
    3] a US jewish community , including all the various religious affiliations , and none— that AT LEAST half of which is neutral or pro-palestinian/anti-israel or both
    4]erosion of xtian support
    5]more us muslims
    6]once-in-alifetime economic turmoil

    it may be the Divine decree to overturn the 67 revolution. it may be for us to realize that in the end, only the ribbono shel olam can get us out of the current mess…..

  12. Ori says:

    Garnel Ironheart: we also need to silence those idiot self-hating Jews who, the first chance they get, rush out to show how progressive they are by condemning Israel.

    Ori: How do you propose to do that? There is still a first amendment, as well as a second as backup.

  13. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Years ago I listened on the radio to a debate between the local Israeli consul-general and an Arab representative from the local “Palestine House”. The Arab was mopping the floor with the Israel for one simple reason: he had a simple message: Israel is occupying our land and torturing us.
    And the Israel? “Emmm, well it is not so simple…” “Well, emmm, we recognize that you have rights there too…”
    Thank Heaven that the host of the show finally stepped in and said to the Israel “What the hell’s going on? Why don’t you tell them that until they stop suiciding bombing and rocket attacks that you’re going to defend yourselves!?”
    We need two things: Israeli representatives who aren’t scared to hit the pulpit with their fist and say “It’s all their fault! They’re the squatters! They’re the attackers! They’re the ones who reject peace!” and we also need to silence those idiot self-hating Jews who, the first chance they get, rush out to show how progressive they are by condemning Israel.
    Then we might have a chance.

  14. Ori says:

    Yitzchok Adlerstein, would you say that Evangelical Christians’ support of Israel is eroding from similar reasons as Heterodox Jews’? Both groups want to be accepted as part of the mainstream.

    [The quick answer is that the reasons are similar and opposite. Both groups want acceptance. Heterodox Jews have been willing to change both observance and core beliefs from those of earlier generations to win acceptance – or simply to enjoy the fruits of full participation. Evangelicals already enjoy the participation, and do not show any signs of changing their religious standards. They are prepared to change some non-core beliefs to find a place in the mainstream. – YA]

  15. JewishAtheist says:

    The implication, then, was an unprofessional plan with ambivalent determination, biased motives and toxic methods.

    Regardless of the name, the problem was that this is a fair description of what Israel did. Hundreds dead with no clear objective and nothing achieved. (The rockets still fall, right?)

  16. Harry Maryles says:

    There is a HUGE amount of erosion

    Is this among the ledership or the followers? Did Pat Robertson – for example – change his tune? Last time I spoke to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein he said that Evangelical support was quite solid. But I admit that last time I spoke to him was probably over a year ago.

    Do you know Rabbi Eckstein? Have you spoken with him about this?

    [YA – I have been speaking to many people, Jewish and Christian, Israeli and American. Mostly, I try to speak to evangelical leaders who can prevent further erosion, at the same time trying to meet with those who have already gone in the opposite direction to discuss the consequences and impact. Anyone interested in learning more can Google Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding and then determine the clout of some of the people involved. And while you have Google open, check out Stephen Sizer.]

  17. Leonard Cohen says:

    >And behind it all? A resurgence of replacement theology, an ideology that, for almost 1700 years, has been used to ignite atrocities against Jewish communities. So what can Israel do to win its global PR war, a war for truth?”

    >> I heard a story — the truth of which I cannot verify — that the Chafetz Chaim, zt”l, said in 1919 that twenty years hence would be a war that would make WWI seem like child’s play, thus accurately predicting the outbreak of WWII in 1939.

    But the story continues that the Gadol Ha’dor also predicted that seventy years after that (i.e. after 1939) there would occur the final war before the geula and the coming of Moshiach. I have been waiting with great anticipation for that war to occur this year, as a reinforcement of my faith that the final geuala is imminent. Perhaps the P.R. war of which you speak, in which Israel is being clobbered (as hatred for us increases exponentially around the globe), is the very war that the Chafetz Chaim was referring to, please G-d.

  18. Bob Miller says:

    There are times that we have to do certain things regardless of the likely reaction from others. The reasons for doing them may conflict with false ideas that others hold onto tenaciously, regardless of our efforts at explanation. These others may even be enemies posing as friends. At critical moments their masks come off.

  19. Dov says:

    I’ve confirmed with a number of media people the value in letters to the editor and in calling in to radio talk show programs. Radio talk shows are listened to by huge numbers of people in cars and waiting rooms.

    With a little bit of practice, it’s not hard to learn to phrase the points very clearly and precisely. The challenge is to focus strongly on the key issues.

    And to the first commenter – your comment is proof of the truth that Israel has lost the PR war – even your own comment missed the simple point that no country in the world lets its civilians be bombed for years without any response. There was no choice but to respond, and no other country would have done otherwise.

  20. ivg says:

    No, you racist Arabs, only Artbs have a right to “exist” in the M.E….

  21. Harry Maryles says:

    EVEN EVANGELICAL SUPPORT is eroding.

    If uses Jimmy Carter as one of his examples of eroding Christian support, then I have to question his conclusion. I think Rabbi Yechiel Rckstein is a far better source for information about Evangelicals. As far as I know there is little if any erosion.

    [Note from YA: There is a HUGE amount of erosion, but it has nothing to do with the poor PR that the author wrote about. Most of it has to do with evangelicals who, for a variety of reasons, wish to move to a more respected and central position on the American landscape, and are moving to show that they can also be socially responsible and even progressive. Trust me. I do this for a living]

  22. L. Oberstein says:

    Several issues: The Israeli arrogance that they don’t need “hasbara” is long standing. They really could use some better tactics.
    Secondly, there is a lot of hypocrisy in the world and Israel is one small nation and its enemies are a larger market and export a lot of people to Europe who stir up trouble. There are no friends, only interests. Israel’s case is strong but the media prefers victims. Once we won the Six day War, we became Goliath, not little David.
    Keep up the good work and let’s do our best and have faith that Hashem will not abandon His People.

  23. Chaim Fisher says:

    Israel’s problem in the Gaza war was not poor PR, as this erroneous article would have you believe. The problem was that the government let itself get dragged into a war that had immense negatives in it for them no matter how the PR was handled.

    Getting embarrassed in public is a PR problem even if its handled by Madison Avenue.

    Israel has to learn, and maybe it will be the hard way, that especially in an age when facts trump all media they are going to have to pay strict attention to facts on the ground if they are going to win. The wound of letting one soldier make an Arab play his violin, when it goes on YouTube, cannot be mended by a thousand band-aids of friendly dinners and nice PR releases.