The Problem with Israel’s Public Diplomacy

Many admire Benjamin Netanyahu for the clarity and persuasiveness with which he has defended Israel, particularly during and after Operation Protective Edge. Noga Arbell, however, argues that at the UN he made a mistake common to most of Israel’s efforts at public diplomacy (hasbara): by defending Israel against the outrageous claims of its enemies, he brought more attention to those claims, placed his country on the defensive, and compromised its dignity. Arbell writes:

Our real problem is our desire to be loved. By arguing that Israel is a small country surrounded by enemies and in need of allies, we neglect the fact that they need us no less than we need them. Just to show how desperate we are to be liked, as opposed to any other country on earth, we see the virulent criticism against our country as something positive to be listened to and absorbed. As though there is truly “constructive criticism” in the messy and Machiavellian world of international politics.

Read more at Mida

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Hasbara, Israel

The Diplomatic Goals of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to the U.S.

Yesterday, the Israeli prime minister arrived in the U.S., and he plans to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, but it remains uncertain whether he will meet with President Biden. Nonetheless, Amit Yagur urges Benjamin Netanyahu to use the trip for ordinary as well as public diplomacy—“assuming,” Yagur writes, “there is someone to talk to in the politically turbulent U.S.” He argues that the first priority should be discussing how to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But there are other issues to tackle as well:

From the American perspective, as long as Hamas is not the official ruler in the Gaza Strip, any solution agreed upon is good. For Israel, however, it is quite clear that if Hamas remains a legitimate power factor, even if it does not head the leadership in Gaza, sooner or later, Gaza will reach the Hizballah model in Lebanon. To clarify, this means that Hamas is the actual ruler of the Strip, and sooner or later, we will see a [return] of its military capabilities as well as its actual control over the population. . . .

The UN aid organization UNRWA . . . served as a platform for Hamas terrorist elements to establish, disguise, and use UN infrastructure for terrorism. This is beside the fact that UNRWA essentially perpetuates the conflict rather than helps resolve it. How do we remove the UN and UNRWA from the “day after” equation? Can the American aid organization USAID step into UNRWA’s shoes, and what assistance can the U.S. provide to Israel in re-freezing donor-country contributions to UNRWA?

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship