The message from an Israeli think-tank all pro-Palestinian activist groups need to hear
By Alan Hart
One of the best articles I read in the whole of 2012 was published at the tail end of the year, on 30 December, by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz…
The article was written by Barak Ravid. The headline over it was “Think tank: Israel’s poor international image not the fault of failed hasbara” (the Hebrew word for explaining and advocacy, for which read propaganda).
The subject of the article was the first report of a new Israeli think-tank, Molad: The Centre for the Renewal of Democracy. Outside Israel there are probably very, very few people who have heard of Molad, so let’s start with what it is.
Here is Ravid’s own description:
Molad, established less than a year ago [in January 2012] is a think tank devoted to providing Israel’s liberal left with new ideas regarding matters of foreign policy and security, as well as socioeconomic issues. The new study is the first project released by Molad as part of an effort to infuse leftist ideas in Israeli public discourse. This effort, the centre believes, will help resuscitate a political camp which is currently on its deathbed.
Molad’s governance includes a Public Council chaired by a former Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Avraham Burg, who for some years has been expressing with passion his disillusion with what Israel has become and his fears about where it is taking the Jews. In an op-ed for the New York Times last August, he castigated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his “warmongering” and Israel for its “unconscionable treatment of the Palestinians”.
…one of the main reasons for Zionism’s success for so long in selling its propaganda lies as truth was to do with the efficiency of its hasbara effort,its unity and coordination.
As Ravid noted, Netanyahu and his closest advisers believe that Israel’s poor and deteriorating image in the world is the result of ahasbara failure; and that a more effective presentation of Israel’s case, and increased advocacy efforts, will solve a large portion of the country’s woes in the international arena.
The Molad study concludes that the Netanyahu-driven criticism of Israeli advocacy is “detached from reality” and “a myth”. The real reason for Israel’s growing isolation in the world, the study proclaims, “is the Israeli government’s policies.”
Israeli success vs Palestinian failure
Ravid’s article also contains a very good explanation of why until recently the Zionist state was so successful in selling its propaganda lies as truth. It possessed the awesome ability to do so because of the National Information Directorate (NID).
Here’s Ravid’s description of what NID is:
Israel’s advocacy effort is directed by the National Information Directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office. All the other official advocacy entities, and there are several of these – the Foreign Ministry, the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] Spokesman’s Office, the Tourism Ministry, the Jewish Agency – are subordinate to the directorate. The National Information Forum, comprising delegates from these various bodies, is in charge of coordinating messages and formulating strategies. The directorate also consults media and marketing experts from both academia and the private sector. And, in addition, the government conducts an unofficial advocacy effort involving hundreds of Israelis and overseas activists, organizations and NPOs [non-profit organizations], along with non-Jewish supporters; this effort is aimed at delivering Israel’s messages mainly in the United States and the EU.
In other words, one of the main reasons for Zionism’s success for so long in selling its propaganda lies as truth was to do with the efficiency of its hasbara effort,its unity and coordination.
How on the other side of the coin has the pro-Palestinian camp performed to date?
Ravid put it this way:
After analysing Israel’s advocacy effort, the Molad study used the same tools and criteria to assess the efficacy of the anti-Israel campaign.
What it found was that the various anti-Israel efforts have failed to properly coordinate and unify their messages. The organizations do not operate under the aegis of one overall group; in many instances, they act separately from one another. Unlike Israel, with its National Information Forum, there is not a single anti-Israel group which takes overall responsibility for setting a unified agenda.
Moreover, the Palestinian Authority’s role and influence on anti-Israel advocacy is limited. “More than anything,” contends the study, “the conduct of these bodies reflects the anti-Israel advocacy campaign’s absolute failure to unify organizations and activists in this context around a single, coherent, official message.”
“Apart from basic principles,” it continues, “these groups lack a common idea or common goal that could consolidate them as partners in one official body.”
Most if not quite all pro-Palestinian activist groups everywhere are doing their own little things in splendid isolation and are like flies to be swatted away by the Zionist monster.
That’s an echo of what I have been writing in various articles for quite some time. At the risk of getting myself red-flagged by some if not many pro-Palestinian activist groups as well as by Zionism, the mainstream media and the Arab regimes, I’ll repeat myself. Most if not quite all pro-Palestinian activist groups everywhere are doing their own little things in splendid isolation and are like flies to be swatted away by the Zionist monster. Some will say I’m not being fair because pro-Palestinian activist groups are assisting the process of isolating Israel. That’s true but only at the margins. Pro-Palestinian activist groups could not point to any significant success if Israel’s actions and policies were not turning much of the world off.
Time for coordination and unified agenda
The right time for coordination and a unified agenda with a single, coherent message is now. And to my way of thinking what that coherent message should be is obvious. The only real prospect for a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict is via the creation of one state with equal rights and security for all. But as I indicated in aprevious article, for this to become the driving idea of a coordinated and unified agenda, the occupied and oppressed Palestinians would have to set the ball rolling by demanding and bringing about the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, in order to make Israel fully responsible and accountable for its occupation.
The right time for coordination and a unified agenda with a single, coherent message is now. And to my way of thinking what that coherent message should be is obvious. The only real prospect for a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict is via the creation of one state with equal rights and security for all.
That would create a new, dynamic political environment within which pro-Palestinian activist groups of all faiths and none would have their best chance of making a real difference in the struggle to change the course of history – provided they put their act together and were united and coordinated.
One of the merits of a global campaign for one state with equal rights and security for all is that the message is a positive one. It is about care and concern for both Arabs and Jews in Palestine. And that would resonate with many, many people around the world.
Israel has its NID. Perhaps what is most needed on the other side is a PNID.
The above should not be taken to mean that I believe the countdown to catastrophe for all can be stopped. It might already be too late. I am saying only that a united and coordinated global campaign for one state with equal rights and security for all offers the only real prospect for trying to prevent a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which could trigger another great turning against Jews everywhere if the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism was transformed into classical anti-Semitism.