Friday, September 9, 2011

Israel-Palestine. A Public-Relations War

Last night I attended a presentation by a member of AIPAC (American-Israel Political Action Committee) dealing with the Palestinian statehood issue which will shortly be coming up for discussion at the United Nations. Most of you are aware of this matter. It is the latest approach that the Palestinian "government" is taking to strengthen its position vis-a-vis Israel - a position, which the speaker maintained, has no chance of passing because of an assured United States veto as a last resort. There is, however, the strong possibility that the status of Palestine will be upgraded to what is termed "state without membership" - similar to the Vatican, or Switzerland prior to its joining the United Nations.

The speaker went to to discuss other options relating to a Palestine-Israel accord, seeming quite confident that a negotiated settlement will eventually be reached, because, in fact, there is no alternative solution.

I wonder.

At present Israel is losing a public relations battle. Palestinians are gaining ground, gaining sympathy, gaining allies - to the point where an application to the United Nations is actually going to occur! They are winning the war of words, photos, videos, and headlines. They are an "occupied" people who have been "ejected" from their homeland and are existing in "refugee" status in other countries. If it were a decision left to the General Assembly of the UN, Palestine would be granted official statehood and membership. According to the AIPAC speaker, the vast majority of UN members would vote it so.

The Israel-Palestine problem reminds me a little of psychotherapy. After some 60 years, no real change.

Israel has offered many negotiation-points - but to no avail! Has the time come to believe that this just won't work? If I were winning a war of public relations and sitting in the so-called "catbird's seat," why should I negotiate? If the world is moving in my direction, why change tactics? Time? I have all the time in the world? No reason to hurry. It can only get better for me and worse for the other side. And I have a whole group of potential "fifth columnists" ready to jump in and help.

I find it difficult to share AIPAC's optimism regarding a future negotiated settlement given the present circumstances. Somehow Israel must find a way to gain an advantage in this public-relations war. It has to somehow rid itself of its "oppressor" image - an image which, unfortunately, has come to represent the face of Israel to much of the world.

Israel is not an oppressor!
Israel is not an occupier!
Israel is not a slaughterer of civilians

Israel is merely trying to exercise its right to exist. It has been physically attacked numerous times over its period of existence and all Israel has done is to respond - to protect its citizens and its geographical integrity. In being forced to do so Israel has, somehow, taken on the face of oppression. This image must be changed.

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