Israel Needs Public Diplomacy

Regularly maligned in the press, condemned by European governments, and faced with the zealous propaganda efforts of its enemies, Israel in recent years has made renewed efforts at explaining its moral position to the world. Some have criticized this public diplomacy (known in Hebrew as hasbara) as self-defeating apologetics. Lynnette Nusbacher, however, argues that Israel has always engaged in bolstering its image abroad, and that such efforts are necessary and can be effective:

The narratives which underpinned Israel’s public diplomacy over its first 60 or so years were important: “Draining malarial swamps,” not “destroying wetland habitats for migratory birds.” . . . The evidence of successful public diplomacy was not only evident in the ability of Israeli government and quasi-governmental institutions to raise capital overseas. It was also evident in a widespread willingness, among decision-making elites in particular, to view Israel in terms of its own narratives, to a point.

Around the turn of the present century, structures which supported Israel’s ability to conduct its particular brand of public diplomacy were beginning to show their age. Support for Israel has become more distinctively elite, more distinctively establishment, and in the United States more distinctively Christian. Some of the old narratives were harder to support, to some extent because Israel’s economic, social, and military success made some of the old stories less resonant; but also because they were old.

Read more at Mida

More about: Anti-Zionism, Hasbara, Israel diplomacy

As Hamas’s Reign of Terror Endures, the International Community Remains Obsessed with Jews Living in the Wrong Places

On Thursday, foreign ministers of the G-7—the U.S., Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy—along with the EU, made an official “statement on the situation in the West Bank,” an area where they are very concerned, it appears, that too many Jews are dwelling. In particular, the G-7 condemned Israel’s decision to grant municipal status to five ad-hoc villages built without proper permits. Elliott Abrams comments:

I can see “condemning” murder, terror, kidnapping, and “rejecting” that legalization. Indeed in the next sentence they “reject the decision by the government of Israel to declare over 1,270 hectares of land in the West Bank as ‘state lands.’” Building houses should not be treated with language usually reserved for murder.

The statement then added complaints about the Israeli settlement program more generally, and about Israel’s decision to withhold some tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Why does Israel ever withhold such funds? Sometimes it is in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack. Sometimes it’s domestic politics. But it’s worth remembering something else: the Taylor Force Act, which became law in 2018 and stated that the “Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.” Until those payments cease, most forms of aid from the U.S. government to the Palestinian Authority may not be made. The payments continue. It is not clear if the State Department is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to end them.

Such moral considerations are entirely absent from the G-7 statement. The statement may be correct when it says, “maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is critical for regional security.” But it should be obvious that ending the pay-for-slay program and rewards for terrorism is even more critical for regional security. It’s a pity the G-7 did not find time to mention that.

The statement, it’s worth noting, appeared on the U.S. State Department website.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Europe and Israel, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy, West Bank