The conclusion of a strategic document should be short. The propaganda battles against Israel have developed over the past decades into a major war. The battles have also become far more sophisticated. Israel, however, has not properly organized its defenses, which still have a largely incidental character. This has greatly facilitated the task of its enemies.
Arab propaganda has succeeded to turn the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in many places, into the foremost geopolitical issue. This is convenient for the Arab and Muslim world as it draws attention away from the enormous crimi- nality occurring daily in parts of their world. One only has to remember the roughly 1.5 million deaths in the Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s. To that may be added the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Syria and Iraq and the millions of refugees from that conflict. In addition, there are huge problems concerning Muslims in Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, Nigeria, Mali, and many other countries. It is evident, then, that the problems in the Muslim world and the threats emanating from them to the rest of the world are the main geopolitical issues. Yet many Westerners have fallen for the false centrality of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Let us assume that a miracle happens and there is a sudden viable peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Will the United States and its allies drop one bomb less on ISIS? Will there be fewer refugees from the Syrian civil war?
Will fewer Iraqis die as a result of suicide bombers and other attacks? Will ISIS or the pro-Iraqi-government Shiite tribes behead one less person? And, as far as geopolitics is concerned, will Boko Haram kidnap one less person? Will one less person die in Eastern Ukraine?1
While it is difficult to make forecasts, some developments seem probable. The fragmentation that characterizes contemporary Western societies will increase. This will happen in a world that is likely to grow more chaotic. That, in turn, will make analysis of processes such as the delegitimization of Israel and the Jews even more complex. In this postmodern environment the war of a million cuts against Israel will continue to fl urish. The collaboration between hate-mongers is also likely to increase. The same is true for the war’s sophistication. Even if a peace settlement with the Palestinians is reached in the future, there will be many Muslims and others who will continue to incite against Israel.
At a conference on delegitimization held by the Jewish People Policy Institute, the summary included:
Clearly we face a global order, agenda and logic that differ from what we have known. We live in a global, multi-polar world with asymmetric wars and a human rights discourse that champions identification with those perceived as being weak and having their rights suppressed. This is a world challenged and frightened by radical Islam, a world with strong voices fomenting radicalism, post-modernism and post-nationalism that question, among other things, the right of existence of the ethno-religious nation-state; a world of non-state ac- tors developing new networks and formats for generating and disseminating information. In this kind of world, Israel, the Jews and the link between the two may well find themselves on “the wrong side of history.”2
There is a certain fatalism in this forecast, which is not necessarily justified. Israel could have done much to fight the propaganda war in the past decades. It can also in the near future greatly improve its performance, provided it ap- proaches this war in a strategic and structured way.
The Muslim World
Every forecast about the world’s future has to take into account developments in the Arab and Muslim world, large parts of which are highly unstable. Even if they were to stabilize, criminal ideology in significant sectors of Muslim societ- ies is so major that it is unlikely to disappear. A lengthy confrontation of parts of the Muslim world with Western democracies seems unavoidable. Extreme elements of the criminal segments in many Muslim societies will continue to aim for genocide against Israel through a second Holocaust or otherwise.
There is not only doubt as to whether peace is possible between the Palestinians and Israel. In the Palestinian camp, there are major forces that see peace as an intermediary step to Israel’s total destruction. A peace agreement may well lead to a temporary decline in hate-mongering and incitement from the Palestinian side and some of its allies. However, while the probability for peace is already limited, even if it were to occur it would be a very fragile one.
It is commonly understood in Israel that even in the case of peace a strong army must be maintained. Yet it is far from understood that the propaganda war against Israel will continue and that whatever happens, the fight against the propaganda will also have to continue. Since the 1993 Oslo Agreements euphoric, short-sighted, and irresponsible Israelis have hampered Israel’s propaganda battles. A recent typical example was when hundreds of Israelis encouraged the British Labour Party to put forward a motion in the British Parliament to recognize a Palestinian state.
In Europe today, an anti-Israeli infrastructure of criminal thought is widespread. Whoever thinks unjustifiedly that others are extreme criminals has a criminal mindset himself. Even though they are not the majority opinion, these criminal beliefs have deeply permeated the continent’s mainstream. The statistics may vary substantially from one poll to another in the future. They can and should not be whitewashed. It is the Israeli government’s duty to confront the EU leadership and that of individual countries with these findings and demand that they act against rampant anti-Israelism.
The European discrimination and criminalization of Israel has developed to such an extent that attitudes toward Israel have become an instrument to calibrate the state of overall decay and degeneration of large segments of Eu- ropean societies. The same has been the case in the past with respect to Jews. In the current century, this anti-Semitism is also repeating itself.
Europeans will not actively pursue a second Holocaust against Israel. If forces in the Muslim world succeed to carry it out, besides those who would be shocked a segment of Europeans may rejoice, many would be indifferent, and a large number of the anti-Israeli elites would deny that they contributed to the preparation of the genocide with their double standards against the Jewish state. That would be untrue.
The Israeli Side
Israel is paying a heavy price for its incompetent performance in the propaganda war. This became ever clearer after the 2014 Protective Edge campaign. That price will increase further unless it devotes sufficient intellectual, human, and financial resources to understanding the nature of this war and fighting it in a structural way. An in-depth study of this issue is a first step toward gradu- ally developing adequate tools to counter the attacks competently.
The current delegitimization of Israel is a partially opaque phenomenon. In order to fight it, one first has to understand how the delegitimization process works. This also requires understanding what demonization means, how it overlaps with anti-Semitism, what themes the delegitimizers use, what methods they apply, how they transmit their messages, and who the delegitimizers of Israel actually are.
Successive Israeli governments have fallen very short in taking the necessary measures to fight against the propaganda threats. A key issue in any system that fights against its enemies is improving its weakest link. In Israel’s case, it is not the military, the intelligence, the cyberwar units, or the country’s social structure. The weakest link is the Israeli authorities’ continuing incompetence and carelessness in the global propaganda war.
The main remedies have been set out in the previous pages. There is no substitute for the establishment of a single contra-propaganda structure, able to oversee the entire battlefield, analyze it, design how to fight, and develop actions against multiple enemies. Continuity and perseverance are essential.
There are no shortcuts. Without understanding the nature and content of the delegitimization process in detail, the fight against it will be far less effective than it could be. It will remain, as it is today, a partly losing battle, a partial waste of human and financial resources, combined with neglecting problems and underfunding of the battle. Only after the delegitimization process is bet- ter understood will one be able to discuss how to fight it far more efficiently. That will also require a gradual change in the mentality of the Israeli political leadership and of the people who are supposed to oversee the fight against delegitimization.
How Do Israel’s Enemies Operate?
The first step that should be taken toward fighting the demonization of Israel and the Jews more effectively is to understand how their enemies operate. This book exposes their actions in a number of areas.
Several authors have published books on topics such as Muslim anti-Semitism and left-wing anti-Semitism. This author has covered additional topics in his earlier books: Academics against Israel and the Jews,3 Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews,4 The Abuse of Holocaust Memory: Distortions and Responses,5 and Demonizing Israel and the Jews.6
Many more studies on other topics concerning Israel’s demonization and delegitimization are necessary to obtain a broader picture of this huge, global hate-Israel movement. Some subjects for which overview books would be most helpful include the media and anti-Israelism, Christian denominations and demonization, as well as the role of many Muslim immigrants in the Western world in threatening Israel and making life in Europe uncomfortable for Jews.
What Could Israel Do?
If Israel had an integrated structure to fight against delegitimization, it would operate in many regards similarly to intelligence services. It would also have researched the incitement in all countries of relevance, and would have pub- lished an overview of the delegitimization of Israel in the Muslim world as well as studies on hate-mongering in many countries. It would occasionally have published case studies on individual issues of larger interest, for instance, the anti-Semitism in the antiracist camp, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Goldstone Report, the Kairos Document, and so on. It would have trained its diplomats much better to meet challenges while abroad.
A second Holocaust seems possible in two ways. The one most often discussed is the possibility that Iran or a fanatic Muslim grouping will succeed to launch a nuclear bomb at Israel. A second possibility is that the pressure on Israel, from both its enemies and others who falsely claim to be its friends, will be so major that it will have to withdraw to indefensible borders.
The delegitimization process with its million cuts will have an additional consequence. Except for those committing the actual murders, few will feel responsible for what has happened. Not the many enemies who can claim that their individual contribution to the million cuts was insignificant, not the false friends who will say that they did not attack Israel, nor the many bystanders who looked away from the clear genocidal intentions proclaimed in parts of the Muslim world. At the same time, Israel will be accused of being responsible for its own fate because it turned the Palestinians—in reality a crime-permeated populace—into victims. All these lies together may flourish in an increasingly opaque society.
None of this has to happen. There is no reason to be fatalistic unless the present Israeli incompetence in the propaganda war endures. It is not too late to turn the tables on Israel’s enemies. It requires, however, an effort that is radically different from what is taking place at present.
There is a postscript to the book as well. This text deals with the perpetrators and phenomena related to the partial delegitimization of Israel. But reading it can also instruct many others. As is so often the case, what happens to the Jews and nowadays Israel is a first indication of what is to come to many other nations. The distorted realities of contemporary Islam, the media, academia, NGOs, parts of liberal Protestantism, trade unions, social democracy, and so on have and will have an impact on many other countries and individuals. Those who are aware of the current Jewish and Israeli experience can use it as a looking glass to understand and treat problems in their own environments.
1 Manfred Gerstenfeld and Jamie Berk, “The greatest lie about geopolitics,” The Jerusalem Post, December 13, 2014.
2 Michael Herzog, “Delegitimization: Attitudes Toward Israel and the Jewish People,” Jewish People Policy Institute, 2010.
3 Manfred Gerstenfeld, ed., Academics against Israel and the Jews (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2007).
4 Manfred Gerstenfeld, Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, 2008).
5 Manfred Gerstenfeld, The Abuse of Holocaust Memory: Distortions and Responses
(Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2009).
6 Manfred Gerstenfeld, Demonizing Israel and the Jews (New York: RVP Press, 2013).