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Even many of Israel’s friends spout the demonstrably absurd proposition that a Palestine state would solve the problem, that the impediment to a Palestine state is the settlers, but that Israel is not taking action to remove the settlers — and so therefore they too inescapably agree that Israel is the problem.
Israel and its defenders have been fighting on the wrong battleground: the one that has been chosen by its enemies. The Arabs brilliantly reconfigured the Arab war of extermination against Israel as the oppression by Israel of the Palestinians.
That has transformed Israel from victim to aggressor — the reversal of reality which lies at the very heart of the western obsession with the settlements and the territories.
Yet since Oslo, Israel has meekly gone along with this mad pressure. It has never said it is totally unconscionable. It has never put the all-important argument from justice on its own account. So it has allowed its enemies to appropriate this argument mendaciously as their own. But if Israel doesn’t make the case properly on its own behalf, how can anyone else do so?
To which Israel says realpolitik dictates it has to go along with the diplomatic game being played. But diplomatic realpolitik is what brought us all to this position — the brink of a terrible war with Iran which is treated by America with kid gloves while Israel is put under the cosh.
For the West to suck up to its enemies while bashing its friends like this is the diplomatic version of auto-immune disease. And eventually this disease will kill it.
What Israel has failed to recognize is that the battleground on which it is being forced to fight is not just military. It is also a battleground of the mind, and the strategy being used against it and to which it needs to respond in kind — is psychological warfare.
The Arab and Muslim world long ago realized if it set the narrative in its own image, it would recruit millions of fanatics to its cause and also confuse and demoralize its victims. In this it has wildly succeeded.
There is therefore an overwhelming need for Israel to alter its strategy. Indeed, it needs to have a strategy.
And this brings us to perhaps the most difficult challenge in all of the: the fact that the role played by the Israel government is of critical importance. Unless it adopts the correct strategy, its defenders will remain crippled.
Yet any promising initiatives seem to fall victim to Israel’s chaotic political structure, which appears to prevent the Prime Minister from being master in his own house. Good ideas are habitually destroyed by rampaging egos and turf wars between Israeli Cabinet ministers.
This is no way to run a chip shop, let alone a country under existential siege.
The fact remains that both Israel and diaspora Jews have to rethink. They have to realize they must start fighting on the battleground where the attack is actually being mounted against them. And the goal has to be to seize and retake the moral high ground.
This strategy requires two different tactics: one for those who are capable of rational thought, and another for those who are not.
The first group comprises those who are not irrational but merely desperately ignorant. Much of the obsession with Israel’s behaviour is due to the widespread belief that its very existence is an aberration which, although understandable at the time it came into being, was a historic mistake.
People believe that Israel was created as a way of redeeming Holocaust guilt. Accordingly, they believe that European Jews with no previous connection to Palestine — which they believe was the historic homeland of Palestinian Muslims who had lived there since time immemorial — were transplanted there as foreign invaders, from where they drove out the indigenous Arabs into the West Bank and Gaza. These are territories which Israel is now occupying illegally oppressing the Palestinians and frustrating the creation of a state of Palestine which would end the conflict.
Of course every one of those assumptions is false. But from those false assumptions proceeds the understandable belief not just that Israel’s behaviour is unjust, illegal and oppressive but that it is unjust and oppressive by virtue of its very existence.
For these people there is an urgent need for a proactive educational approach. No-one has ever told them that these beliefs are false and when they are told, the effect is often transformative.
There is a desperate and urgent need to educate such people in Jewish and Middle East history; to enlighten them about the shameful role played by Britain in Palestine in tearing up its treaty obligations; to tell them that under international law Israel is entitled to the disputed territories and land within which Britain undertook to settle the Jews ‘from the river to the sea’ because of their historic and unique rights to that land.
That’s all necessary for those who are still rational. For bigots, however, there is no point arguing with them. They are, by definition, beyond all reason. Their influence simply has to be destroyed. They have to be held to account for their lies and bigotry which should be forensically exposed.
So Israel and its defenders should be demanding of the world why it expects Israel alone to make compromises with people who have tried for nine decades to wipe out the Jewish presence in the land and are still firing rockets at it.
They should expose the pretense of Britain or European countries which claim to have Israel’s security needs at heart but forbid it from using military means to defend itself; and which as did the British Government recently — turn Israeli self-defense against the jihadi lynch-mob on board the Turkish terror ship Mavi Marmara into an attack to be condemned, or demand the opening of the border with Gaza which would allow in arms to kill more Israelis.
Israel and its defenders should be asking why so-called friends in the west want a Palestine state, since once the IDF depart the disputed territories they will become in short order yet another Iranian-backed Islamic terrorist entity which will pose a further threat not just to Israel but to the west.
They should be asking why the EU is continuing to fund the genocidal incitement against Jews promoted by the Palestine Authority.
They should be asking so-called “progressives” including Jewish “progressives” — why they support the racist ethnic cleansing of every Jew from a future state of Palestine.
They should be asking them why they are not marching against Hamas on account of its tyrannical oppression of Palestinians in Gaza. Why they are ignoring Arab and Muslim persecution of women and homosexuals.
Why they are not mounting a boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Mahmoud Abbas’s PA and Hamas, on account of Abbas’s Holocaust denial and the clear evidence of continuation of Nazi Jew-hatred in a direct line of descent from predecessors who were Hitler’s supporters in Palestine.
As for western Israel-bashers, Israel and its defenders should accuse them not of Jew-hating motives that cannot be proved but of absurdities and contradictions and untruths they cannot deny. They should ridicule them, humiliate them, destroy their reputations; boycott them, not invite them to social gatherings, show them disapproval and contempt. Treat them as pariahs. Turn their own weapons against them.
They should be telling the Jews’ own story of refugees and ethnic cleansing, the 800,000 Jews driven out of Arab lands after 1948, and who now make up more than half of Israel’ population. It’s good to see that at last Israel is beginning to bring this to the world’s attention. In Britain virtually no-one knows about it. At a stroke it takes the ground from under the feet of those demanding the “right of return” for Arabs.
They should be holding Arab and Islamic democracy weeks on campus, to expose the oppression and persecution within that world against women, homosexuals and others.
They should be singling out the Anglican church and the revival of ancient theological Jew-hatred being spread within the Anglican world by the Palestinian Christians of the Sabeel center.
At the same time, they should be focusing on their true friends within the Christian world, not just in America but also in Africa and Asia where there is an enormous reservoir of goodwill towards Israel which could be mobilized into a global fighting force.
They should be campaigning against the UN and the hijacking of international law and human rights by anti-western, anti-Jewish and anti-Christian ideologues.
They should be confronting head-on the false claim that bigotry is confined to the right. They should be pointing the finger at the “progressive” left to show how it is actually supporting the mortal enemies not just of Israel but the west.
And they should be making this case to Israelis themselves, to counter the delegitimization and ignorance in Israeli universities and to educate the Israeli young in their own national history.
In other words, both Israel and diaspora Jews have to stop playing defense and go onto the offense. Israel has nothing to be defensive about or for which it needs to apologize. It is the enemies of Israel who are promoting injustice and the denial of international law and human rights. Playing defense intrinsically cedes ground to the enemy.
It is time for Israel and its defenders to stop conniving with that smokescreen for the war of annihilation being waged against Israel — the claim that the Middle East impasse would be solved by establishing a state of Palestine to which the settlements, and thus by extension Israel, are the obstacle. It is time for them to stop agreeing that the Jews are to blame for their own predicament.
Israel and its defenders need to make the argument from justice and reclaim that moral high ground from the enemies of Israel and the west, both at home — including within Israel — and abroad. It is those enemies who deny truth, justice and human rights. It is those enemies who should be in the dock. It is time to take the gloves off and put them there.
In short, Israel and its defenders must understand that the tsunami of bigotry against Israel sweeping the west is intimately related to Israel’s seriously flawed diplomatic strategy.
For years, Israel has been playing a defensive diplomatic game, which suggests inescapably that it has a case to answer. Such diplomatic cringing has badly undermined it and hugely strengthened its enemies, who are taking advantage of such weakness over and over again.
It’s time for Israel to realize that military campaigns against its enemies are not enough. It has to call time on its false friends too, and start fighting both these and its more obvious enemies on the battleground of the mind.
[For a full analysis of the problem described above, see Melanie Phillips’ latest book ‘The World Turned Upside Down: the Global Battle over God, Truth and Power‘ published by Encounter.]
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