One simple example of how to fight Israel’s delegitimization
A large number of cheap projects can help counteract delegitimization of Israel somewhat. One example, among many, is the blog, Bad News from the Netherlands.
What convinced me to start this blog? By 2007, I had seen a large number of articles biased against Israel in a variety – but not all – of major Dutch media. It became increasingly clear to me what their method of reporting was. They primarily mentioned negative aspects or events occurring in Israel. Papers spent little time or space on the far more negative aspects in Palestinian society, including the genocidal programs of the Palestinians’ largest party, Hamas. This approach was masked by the fact that these Dutch media also broadcast or published a few articles from time to time where Israel was not depicted quite so negatively.
By now the blog lists 2,800 negative items about the Netherlands. From these articles, one can, for instance, understand the weakness of the Dutch military. The army hasn’t a single tank left. All of what the wealthy Netherlands has provided to the Kurds in their current battle against the Islamic State barbarians is 1,000 bullet proof vests and helmets.
In the Netherlands, the integration of immigrants, Muslims in particular, has partly failed. Many third- or fourth-generation descendants seem to create more problems than their immigrant ancestors. Moroccans are regularly in the news because of the frequent extreme acts of criminality which they commit, in numbers disproportionate to the size of their community. More importantly, however, the Dutch authorities have admitted that the largest terror threat to the country is the possible return of Dutch jihadis from the Middle East and those who have already returned.
A disproportional part of the intelligence and terror-fighting units’ budget is spent focused on slightly more than 100 people, all from the Muslim community.
Rabobank, a leading Dutch bank, has admitted its involvement with others in the fixing of Libor interest rates. It has paid more than three quarters of a billion Euros of fines in settlements with authorities in the United States and Europe. The bank is now being sued for billions of dollars in both Argentina and the United States.
The Dutch police force fails on many issues. For budgetary reasons, Amsterdam detectives are not allowed to make overtime on criminal cases from now through next year. The computerization of government offices regularly goes awry.
Hundreds of millions, if not several billions, of Euros are wasted on projects which are dysfunctional or never completed.
All this is small fry, however, compared to the items re-emerging from time to time about the direct and indirect role of the Dutch army in major war crimes and the killings of civilians since the Second World War.
During the so-called “Dutch police actions” of 1947-1949 in Indonesia — then the Dutch Indies — more than 100,000 people were killed. A recent court case drew attention to some children, whose fathers were shot without trial in two towns and to houses burnt down in the South of the island of Sulawesi. There almost 300 men were killed without trial.
On the entire island, under the command of the Dutch officer Raymond Westerling, thousands of men were executed without trial. In the township of Rawagede, on the island of Java, almost all men were killed without trial. Only recently has a court decided that a few family members will be compensated. The historian who many years ago time, investigated the Dutch activities of these “police actions” has since admitted that the research had been hasty and superficial.
The flight of the Dutch UN soldiers in 1995 from the Bosnian town of Srebrenica is another recurring news item. Though under the order of the UN command, the Dutch battalion was told by their own government to flee the town. Thereafter, 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were murdered by Bosnian Serbs. Recently, a Dutch judge has found the Dutch state guilty of expelling 300 Bosnian Muslims. The court case brought by the families of the victims goes on as they want the Netherlands to be held responsible for what happened to all those who were murdered.
The blog has also reported on the killing of more than a hundred civilians in actions in which Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan were involved.
One of these lethal actions was criticized by their Australian colleagues in the region. It got far less attention in the Netherlands compared to the Israeli actions in the recent Gaza conflict- and Afghanistan had never attacked the Netherlands.
Some foreign experts and I use the blog’s items in lectures and articles both in Israel and abroad, to illustrate media bias. Its main use, however, is to be able to show experts and foreign journalists, within two minute of conversation, how the demonizing of Israel works. Many reactions I got were surprising. Irrespective of which seven negative items were up on the front page, a number of them told me that after reading this blog, the Netherlands would not be a country they would want to visit. I would argue that they knew that the blog only contains negative items. They replied that this did not matter – since as these news items are true, they would not want to go the Netherlands.
Such reactions to the blog taught me, once again, how strong the force of negative exposure is, and that it often cannot be compensated for by positive publicity, however much effort is made in that direction.
Bad News From the Netherlands, is just one example of a cheap, small, but effective tool in the fight against the unlimited demonization of Israel.
Many other such ‘out of the box’ tools can be developed. For that to happen, however, one central Israeli organization has to fight hate-propaganda.
Such a body should have been established decades ago.
The writer’s upcoming book The War of a Million Cuts analyzes how Israel and Jews are delegitimized and how to fight this. He is a former Chairman (2000-2012) of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.