Listen up Netanyahu government officials…..
Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld is right. This is a situation has been allowed to metastasize long enough, it’s a problem in need of a methodological solution, and Dr.Gerstenfeld provides a few of them here. Time, money and manpower will eventually carry the day if his expertise is adhered to.
This article was just published at YNET today, and republished here (a longer version) with the author’s consent.
NOTE: The Finnish media (represented in the picture below, is as bad as it is elsewhere.
How Delegitimization of Israel can be Fought
By Manfred Gerstenfeld
Can the ongoing delegitimization of Israel be fought? A high-placed Israeli official with an intelligence community career said to me that nothing can be done about it. This is an easy position: if nothing can be done, why try to do anything?
The delegitimization issue is a major problem for Israel. Slandering is simple, while deconstructing falsehoods is difficult, lengthy and often costly. For instance: a German poet, anti-Israel activist and Hamas supporter Irena Wachendorf claimed that she is Jewish, a member of a liberal Jewish community and served in the IDF. She furthermore stated that her father is Jewish and fled to the UK before the Second World War, while her mother survived Auschwitz. After research which began two years ago by an investigative German journalist Jennifer Pyka, Wachendorf has now admitted that her story was made up. She did not serve in the IDF, during the Second World War her father was in the German army and as for the remainder of her assertions, there is no proof.[1.]
The model frequently followed by foreign journalists is somewhat different. They write an anti-Israel article which often omits essential data or a reliable Israeli counter-opinion. This requires little time to write. However, for pro-Israel media watch groups such as Camera and Honest Reporting to expose the lies and fallacies, takes a long time.
In my professional career I was once asked to help a major European multinational company to deal in an orderly way with its environmental problems and the many attacks it was subject to by environmentalists. The company’s management held the common belief that these attacks were a “force of nature” one could do little about. After some time the board member in charge and I were asked to present our findings to the supervisory Board. Thereafter the company’s president said, “Today for the first time, I have understood that environmental problems are issues like any others we face.” This meeting changed the cultural view of the man at the top. With his support, we could gradually move forward to make lower levels of management aware of how to deal with environmental problems and attacks from the “Greens.”
The same applies to the delegitimization issue. For decades, successive Israeli governments have neglected dealing with it in an orderly fashion. The Palestinians have systematically succeeded in injecting their narrative into the mainstream Western world. This now sees in Palestinian society — which has largely failed in its efforts of mass murder and terrorism against Israel — victims of the “brutal Israelis.” Palestinians have succeeded in this with the help of extreme leftists and humanitarian racists, a number of whom are Israelis.
What can be done? The first step is for the Israeli government to finally recognize that delegitimization is a form of war, which has to be fought methodically. The second is to assign a government agency as the focal point to fight this war as military and cyber wars are fought. The logical candidate seems the Mossad, which would have to create a special department for this. Government ministries with their cumbersome bureaucracies are unable to fight wars efficiently.
The conceptual approach is fairly simple. A first step is to take stock of who is already in this fight on the Israeli side and what part of the front they cover. The second step is to study how one’s enemies operate and who funds them. This is a more complex task because perpetrators of delegitimization and anti-Semitism come from disparate origins such as Muslim countries, Muslims in the Western world, leftists, neo-Nazis, social democrats, liberal Christians, academics, NGO’s, media and so on. Many enemies belong to more than one category.
The next step is to investigate the main categories of lies and fallacies which are repeatedly used against Israel. The lies are relatively easy to categorize. Fallacies is a far more complex subject which requires detailed analysis of issues such as: double standards applied, the use of moral equivalence between murderers and victims, sentimental appeals to whitewash criminals, the inversion of cause and result and quite a few others.
Thereafter, one can systematically analyze the modes by which lies and fallacies are transmitted. These include the media, the United Nations, the internet and so on. One should also assess how much damage has already been caused to Israel and Jewish communities abroad by the delegitimizers.
Thereafter, one should develop a detailed and consistent strategy on how to fight this war. How can one turn Palestinians and other enemies of Israel into defenders rather than attackers? How can one spend little time to expose them and cause them to spend much more time and money to defend themselves? This is structurally a project like any other. It will take much time and also money, most of which will have to come from the Israeli government. Yet money is just the beginning.
Manfred Gerstenfeld is a member of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, of which he has been Chairman for twelve years.
1.) Benjamin Weinthal, “Anti-Israel German activist lied about IDF service,” The Jerusalem Post, 1 July 2012.