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Throughout its 62-years of independent existence, Israel has had to defend itself from attacks by the Arab states and in more recent decades from Palestinian-Arab terrorism and the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah. Yet, despite its existential struggle against the genocidal intentions of the Arab world and the Palestinians, Israel failed to establish an Information Ministry that would contextually present a Middle East reality: A Jewish democratic state struggling against dictatorial regimes who deny democratic rights to their people, religious freedom to minorities, and who chose to impede the lot of their people while using Israel as the scapegoat.
In the early days of the State, the horrors of the Holocaust loomed large in the minds of Europeans and Americans and the bravery of a band of Jews who defended themselves and ultimately defeated five Arab armies (at a high cost in lives -1% of Israeli Jews were killed in the 1948-49 War of Independence), elicited the admiration of the political-Left (who identified with Israel’s Socialist ruling elites and Israel’s egalitarian society) as well as segments of the political-Right. Israel was portrayed as the proverbial “David” fighting the Arab “Goliath.” Although the role of U.S. administrations was largely neutral regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially during the Eisenhower years, the general public in America and the West admired the gutsy Jews.
Israel’s stunning victory in the 1967 Six Day War changed the perception of Israel. No longer the perennial “victim” in the eyes of the political-Left, it was now seen by many in academia and the media as a tool of “American Imperialism.” The Left resented Israel’s strong pro-American tilt in the latter’s Cold War with the Soviet Union and, in short order, found a new “victim” to support – the Palestinian-Arabs. Little attention was given by the Left to the foundational underpinnings of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) or to the fact that it was created by Egypt’s dictator Abdul Nasser to harass the Jewish State. Moreover, they ignored the fact that the P.L.O. was formed in 1964, long before the Six Day War, and that it’s Charter called for the liquidation of the Zionist-Jewish State.” In other words, the true “struggle” of the Palestinians was not to create a viable Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza but rather to replace the Jewish State of Israel.
Israel’s policy-makers were and have been dismissive of allocating resources for a Ministry of Information or to a central agency that would articulate Israel’s side of the story. In the minds of Israeli leaders “Israel was morally right and did not need to explain itself.” This was perhaps true until 1967, when foreign correspondents wrote admiringly about Israel’s heroic efforts to absorb millions of Jewish refugees from Displaced Persons camps in Germany, and the Arab World (where Jews had lived for over two millennia, preceding the onset of Islam and the Arabs). In the aftermath of the Six Day War and with billions of petro-dollars in the hands of Gulf Arab sheikhs and Libya, the Arabs were able to enlist the services of the best European and American P.R. firms and lobbyists. They created a powerful narrative: Israel as “the occupier” and “victimizer,” the Palestinians as “victims,” and the urgency of “liberation.” The Left, historically attracted to “liberation,” whether in theological or political terms, quickly embraced the narrative and the cause. This, despite the fact, that the Palestinians oppressed women, minorities, and murdered political opponents and, failed to create a civil society with the rule-of-law.
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