Israel does not need enemies: it has itself. Or more precisely: it has its government. The Netanyahu-Barak government has somehow found a way to lose the moral high ground, the all-important war for symbols and meanings, to Hamas. That is quite an accomplishment. Operation Make the World Hate Us, it might have been called. — Leon Wieseltier
Many share his opinion. They say “If only intelligence had been better, if only the soldiers had been better prepared, if only the planning could have been more complete, etc.” Israelis and Jews are very good at beating themselves up.
Today they are doing a better job on themselves than the Turks did on Monday.
Certainly this operation could have gone more smoothly. Somebody screwed up, and somebody didn’t catch it. But the worldwide anti-Zionist hate machine is always primed and ready to go. It would have found something else, maybe next week or next month. Or lacking an actual incident, it would have invented one.
Consider Operation Cast Lead. As I and others (video here) have said, probably never in the history of urban warfare have so many precautions been taken and the actual civilian death toll been so low, especially given the deliberate use of schools, hospitals, mosques and other civilian structures by Hamas. But it didn’t matter — the hate machine ran 24/7 in overdrive and drowned out the truth.
The tender-minded say “We have to be better,” while the tougher prefer “we have to be smarter.” Both types miss the point:
It doesn’t matter what we do or say. We are not witnesses in some celestial court. We are fighting both physical and information wars here on earth with enemies who will do anything they can to get an advantage.
The truth has no importance in the information struggle. What counts is how many sign up on your side and how loud you can be. And yes, as we often see at our universities, how intimidating. The numbers are not on our side.
Sometimes when I hear Israeli officials or diaspora Jews explaining how Israel has a right to self-defense, etc., I am reminded of this scene in “Schindler’s list”:
Reiter: I’m a graduate of Civil Engineering from the University of Milan.
Amon Goeth: Ah, an educated Jew… like Karl Marx himself. Unterscharfuehrer!
Amon Goeth: Shoot her.
Reiter: Herr Kommandant! I’m only trying to do my job!
Amon Goeth: Ja, I’m doing mine.
(Hujar shoots, point blank. Reiter falls instantly)
You see, they are not listening. The UN ‘Human Rights’ Council, dominated by latter-day Goeths, cannot be expected to listen.
Wieseltier describes the PR failures, the slow reaction of the IDF in releasing the videos showing what actually happened, the amateurish way it was presented to the foreign press, etc. All of this is true and it should have been done differently. But none of it will matter in the long run. Do you think the Turkish PM will call up Netanyahu and say “you know, I saw the videos and I’m sorry?” This is the guy who thinks Americans and Israelis conspired to steal organs from murdered Iraqis.
Yes, Israel should ‘get its act together’ where PR is concerned. And whoever was responsible for planning the boarding operation should be given a different job.
But we should not expect ‘understanding’ from the world. We should simply make sure we get respect.