Op-Ed: How Israel Can Stop Losing the Propaganda War
Ted BelmanThe author is a retired attorney and the editor of Israpundit. In 2009 he made aliya and is now living in Jerusalem.
Making peace has become synonymous with making deals, even bad ones.
During the UN World Conference in Durban in 2001, large numbers of NGOs organized a parallel NGO Forum which produced what is known as “The NGO Declaration.”
“[It] was written in highly politicized language and reflected a concerted effort to undermine Israel. Article 164 states targeted victims of Israel’s brand of apartheid and ethnic cleansing methods have been in particular children, women and refugees. Article 425 announces a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state…the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel. Furthermore, Article 426 talks of condemnation of those states who are supporting, aiding and abetting the Israeli apartheid state and its perpetration of racist crimes against humanity including ethnic cleansing, acts of genocide.”
As a result, thousands of NGO’s took this resolution to heart and began devoting their efforts to demonize, deligitimate and isolate Israel. The five largest of these have a combined budget of about $1 billion and spend a considerable portion of it effecting the attack on Israel. The NGO’s participating number in the thousands. They have great influence over the media, the UN, US an EU. They are financed by George Soros, the EU and Saudia Arabia, inter alia, all of whom influence their activities and support The NGO Declaration.
If that weren’t enough, the United Nations consistently singles out Israel for attack.
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, reported:
“Anti-Israel bias pervades the U.N. system. In 2012, its General Assembly adopted 22 resolutions against Israel– compared to four against the rest of the world.
“The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), located in Geneva, has a standing agenda item against Israel. It is the only country specifically targeted at every meeting. Not even major human rights abusers like China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria or Zimbabwe are subjected to such treatment.”
“The UNHRC adopts more resolutions condemning Israel than it does for the rest of the world combined. In its March 2013 session, there were six politicized resolutions against Israel – and only four against all other countries. [..]
“Furthermore, Israel is also the object of more emergency sessions than any other country in the world.”
To this can be added the combined voices of 57 Islamic countries.
Is it any wonder that Israel is losing the propaganda war?
This relentless attack is compounded by the fact that Israel is not fighting back, not really.
Prof Martin Sherman, the Government’s biggest critic, calls their lack of action, a Dereliction of Duty . In his article “If I were Prime Minister.” he makes this case in the strongest terms and writes that he would, “dramatically increase the budget allocation for diplomatic warfare – for promoting Israel’s case abroad, repudiating the accusations of its adversaries and repulsing assaults on its legitimacy.”
And by “dramatically,” he meant up to $1 billion which he wrote is in the neighbourhood of what is allocated to an individual defense system.
There are thousands of left wing NGO’s, academics and journalist who make the case against Israel in factual terms by distorting the facts and in emotional terms by weeping for the “blameless” Palestinian Arabs. Where is Israel in this debate? She is passive and silent for the most part.
Sure Netanyahu talks about our historical connection to the land but the world thinks this is no excuse for displacing or ill-treating the “Palestinians”. This cut muster 100 years ago when all states were nation states and the Arabs were not seen as being entitled to another Arab state. Today, the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and those that fled it during the various wars, are seen as a nation entitled to self-determination just as the Jews were seen as a nation entitled to self-determination a hundred years ago.
But there is one big difference today. The West is now against nation states such as Israel, and hypocritically makes an exception for the Palestinian Arabs.
Netanyahu rejects negotiations based on ’67 lines with minor swaps and rejects pre-conditions. His objections are too passive and defensive and despite them he enters negotiations anyway. As a result, achieving peace has become synonymous with accepting ’67 lines with swaps. If Israel continues to reject this deal, the Palestinians will get lots of traction for their argument that Israel doesn’t want peace. The world ignores whether such a solution will bring real peace just as they ignore whether the recent Geneva Agreement on a deal with Iran will bring peace.
Making peace has become synonymous with making deals, even bad ones.
Netanyahu has been lauded, except by Obama, for vociferously making the case that the Geneva Agreement is a bad deal, if any deal at all, and will bring war, not peace. He should similarly make the case against a two state solution based on ’67 lines. He should similarly argue it will bring war not peace.
Furthermore, he should be arguing that Judea and Samaria, the "West Bank", are not Palestinian Arab lands and never have been, and are not occupied. This argument should be made whenever any Government representative or influential person, describes the land as “occupied Palestinian land”. Such a statement should never go unopposed.
The land is not Palestinian Arab land because these lands were promised to the Jewish people by the British government in 1917 (Balfour Declaration) for close settlement and as the Jewish National Home. This promise was made legally binding by the San Remo Resolution of 1919 and this legality was enshrined in the Palestine Mandate whose provisions are binding today. The creation of Israel in 1948, pursuant to the UNGA Partition Plan, on part of these lands, in no way waived the right of the Jews to the rest of the land. Throughout the Mandate period the Jews were referred to as Palestinians and the Arabs as Arabs.
The Anglo-American Convention on Palestine of 1924 — ratified by the US Senate, signed by the President — made USA effectively a signatory to the Mandate, and the Mandate is (like all other ratified US treaties) a part of USA domestic law.
A long-settled practice, known colloquially in international jurisprudence as the Acquired Rights Doctrine, and codified in law in 1969 as an integral part of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, provides (inter alia) that articulated rights & duties within treaties, having themselves no statute of limitations, do NOT, as a matter of course, ‘expire’ with their original incorporating instruments [Art 70 (1)b].
The late Howard Grief, author of the definitive “The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law” published in 2008, prepared a petition to the US House of Representatives and US Senate “For the Reaffirmation of Jewish Legal Rights To the Land of Israel and Former Mandated Palestine Previously Assented to by the United States in 1922 and 1924″. This petition should be filed with them in the not too distant future.
To make the case that they are not occupied, Israel must embrace the Levy Report which concluded that the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) does not apply to these lands. The claim that they are occupied is based entirely on this convention. That Report was the product of a commission appointed by PM Netyanyahu, to study the matter, headed by Edmund Levy, a retired Israeli Supreme Court Judge and two eminent Israeli international lawyers. The legal arguments in the report make a very strong case.
The most common claim and the most damaging to Israel’s reputation, made by Israel’s critics, is that the settlements are illegal under international law. This is a lie. For the most part, this lie also goes unchallenged by Israel. It is based on an erroneous interpretation of the FGC and the faulty assumption that the FGC applies to Judea and Samaria. The US recognizes these arguments and does not label the settlements as “illegal” but merely as “illegitimate”. The US policy is not based on the legal status of the settlements but on their lack of “advisability”, as they put it. The US wants to keep the land Judenrein so that it can be given to the “Palestinians” whether entitled or not.
The US policy throughout the period of Israel’s existence has been to curry favour with the Arabs. The US deviated from this policy in two instances.
She voted in favour of UNSC Res. 242, after the ’67 War. This resolution permitted Israel to remain in occupation until she had secure and recognized borders and to retain some of the land. The Arabs totally rejected this resolution at their Khartoum Conference in ‘68 where they decided on a policy of “no recognition, no negotiations and no peace”. Then, as early as 1970, the US, under Pres Nixon, tabled the Rogers Plan, which called for full withdrawal in line with Arab demands. And that policy remains in force today. Effectively, the US is going against Res 242 which they helped draft and which they voted for.
Pres. George Bush issued a letter to PM Sharon in 2004 to support his disengagement plans from Gaza, and in which he supported Israel’s claim to the settlement blocs, but Pres. Obama rejected the letter as non-binding.
The US is not open to rational arguments against their policy because it is based on one motivation, namely, to give the Arabs what they want. Similarly they are not open to rational arguments regarding the Geneva Agreement because they want to curry favour with the Iranians rather than to fight with them. The same motivation applies to the Europeans.
For the same reason, the European countries and to lesser extent the US accept the lies and propaganda of the left and repeat it as truth, because it serves their purpose.
Israel must be steadfast in asserting the truth and her rights. She must do so at every opportunity