Antescript: The discussion that follows here is of imminent importance as Israel unfortunately considers accepting a ceasefire (a Qatari, Turkish backed ceasefire being shoved down its throat by John Kerry) with Hamas that will not only further destroy Israel’s eroding deterrence, but cast a shadow over the deaths of the young men that laid down their lives, hoping that Israel’s leaders would ensure it would not have been in vain.
Many in today’s world, believe that the PR battles in any war are just as important, if not more important, than its physical military battles. Some will even claim, that only the battles for public opinion matter at all.
I very strongly reject this claim (as I have explored in many other articles), but sufficed it to say that many within Israel, its leadership, and its supporters worldwide strongly believe this to be true. In this spirit, the relatively small pro-Israel population has been waging a spirited war on the airwaves and social networks.
Lately, messages such as these have been common sightings:
And from the Israeli perspective, they are most sincere… it is hard to fathom, when all you want is peace, and a place among the western liberal democracies of the world for your citizens to live freely and in security, when you are threatened and cornered from every side; that the slightest and most legitimate, carefully deliberated act of self defense provokes such outrage in a world where outrages of massive magnitudes, go all too often unopposed, their victims undefended.
The logical conclusion for many a Jew, is merely anti-Semitism. In a world where only decades ago, Jews were butchered and murdered in ovens, this does not seem like much of a stretch. Certainly, some deep rooted antisemitism is sometimes if not often, at least somewhat at play. But that is not the determining factor in the overwhelmingly different responses.
Israel does itself a great disfavor by believing this.
Firstly as a more minor but important point; though it’s not their intention, the above type of arguments accept some sort of moral or other type of equivalence in the examples. It aims to hide it by the implication of anti-semitism thrown at the reader, but it is there none the less. If it is wrong to kill thousands of people without reason, it is likewise wrong to kill 100, and the anti-semitism of the accuser hardly matters. At the Lighthouse, as usual taking a rather different path, we often rebuked the notion that all the Arab regimes during the so called Arab Spring were simply “killing their people” and massacring “freedom protesters” when the truth often was that they were fighting an armed Islamic revolution. Similarly in contrast to the accusations (though obviously not the same circumstanced at all), Israel’s actions in Gaza today are completely legitimate, regardless of how many Arabs others have murdered for whatever reason. If anything they err on the side of immorality by valuing the life of the enemy higher than that of Israel’s own soldiers (another topic in itself – of great importance as the IDF’s casualties in Gaza mount).
However, that point aside, let us go back to the accepted concept that antisemitism is driving the disproportionate international condemnations.
The truth is that for the all too touted human tendency to vote for the underdog; an equally if not more powerful human tendency is that of picking on the weak (or at least the self-restrained), thus being a bully, while fearing bigger and stronger bullies. Human action, within certain parameters, is largely driven by self interest and incentive systems.
Israel is an infinitely small threat to the average nation on earth, or perhaps even a non existent threat. The UK, Norway, Japan and Bolivia for example, have absolutely nothing to fear from Israel, nor from Jews. Not war, not terrorism, not economic boycott, and not demographics. On the other hand, in its current restrained and sorry political state, Israel has little to offer. Words and ideals “the only Democracy in the Middle East etc…” but nothing tangible. While De Gaulle thought of Israel as a powerful ally against the Arab world (specifically the insurrection in Algiers), France was arguably Israel’s greatest ally.
Almost overnight, she turned into one of her European greatest adversaries when De Gaulle realized Israel had nothing more to offer. As de Gaulle famously said (to Baroness (Spencer)-Churchill of all people) “France has no friends, only interests”.
A strong successful Israel has not only what to threaten with, but also what to offer… people like to join winners. The withdrawing, appeasing, self-pitying Israel of the last few decades has precious little of either commodity.
The Muslim world on the other hand, has plenty to threaten most nations in the world with; demographic domination, terrorism, oil. It is these factors that largely guide both the thinking population of a state and its leadership. As far as the demonstrators, though these concepts always lurk at least in the subconscious, the main driver is something else entirely.
The Bottom Line
Self interest and incentive systems… as usual. The only thing that protesters love to do more than protest, is see the fruits of their labors. It is an immense feeling of empowerment for regular people to see the powerful, be they large multinational corporations, politicians or whole countries, break and succumb to their demands. Much like Israel invites terrorism by rewarding it as a successful tactic, it invites world condemnation by bending to its will.
The reason there is not the same level of protests in European capitals to say… Bashar Assad’s actions in Syria is because one cannot even imagine that Assad would give a good damn about some protesters complaining in any western city. For perhaps an even clearer example, take Russia’s Putin’s recent actions… from the war in Chechnya to the invasion of little Georgia to the seizing of Ukrainian territory, where are the mass protests?
Not too visible because no one can imagine Putin caring. People do not like to waste their time, and they don’t like to be on the losing side. They love however, the feeling of having seen the seemingly powerful bend to their will. And therein lies the key, they must only be seemingly powerful for if they truly were, there would be little need in kneeling.
Whether it’s the large corporation, trembling at the sight of bad press, boycotts, and complaints to the Better Business Bureau or Israel who is inordinately sensitive and dependent on world opinion, the protesters protest where it works. At least the masses do; true believers and fanatics will struggle against any odds… alone and for years if need be, but most people are neither. They are just people.
It is no coincidence that Israel, having chosen to be sensitive to world opinion, is so bad at ever having any of it be positive. If you want to be smacked around, you will be. Ironically, for Israel to regain a measure of world standing, it must stop caring about it; and be a bit like most other people in the world… caring about their own self interests.
This being the case, Israel owes a true debt of gratitude though those non Jews who are somehow still supporters. In some cases, they are neighbors in the region who know first hand the murderous nature of our enemies, Christian Arabs, Druze, Kurds, Circassians, etc. But internationally, not surprisingly, they tend to be those who are more thoughtful, of intellectual depth (weather one agrees with them or not), and able to at least on this subject rise above self-interest.
For example, Conservative Republicans in the US tend to support Israel, despite the fact that it cannot serve them for very much… Jews in the US continue to vote by the boatloads Democrat, and Israel as a country has precious little to offer back. These politicians lose any Muslim or pro Muslim vote available, while not gaining any Jewish votes. Then again, politicians like Newt Gingrich, who often say what they believe as opposed to chasing polls, pay a price for their honesty; never being able to win a national election.
So in short, a lesson for Israel before this latest conflict is over…. the reason there are so many protests against you is because they work… you break at their invisible assault of nothing; in the same way that there is terrorism from your enemies (who would not get their desired results merely be peaceful protesting)… you break before it.
As should have been learned already, no amount of appeasement to either terrorism nor world opinion/protesters leads to the actual appeasement (satisfaction) of either, rather it fuels both their ever growing appetite that will starve only once we are no more.
Let us pray, we ever learn, less screaming “anti-Semitism” at everyone while we surrender to its demands (our piecemeal destruction), and instead turn it into an unprofitable endeavor.