When you're in a competition and you're losing, one of the first things to do is to study what your opponent is doing and copy him. In this case Israel is competing for good media coverage with the terrorists. And the terrorists are winning. If the media likes them so much, maybe it's time to start doing what they do.
Daniel GreenfieldThe writer is a popular New York City based freelance commentator and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He blogs at sultanknish.blogspot.com
1. Get Good Media Coverage By Excluding Bad Media Coverage
Say that two movies will be coming out next week. One of those movies has a studio which bans all critics who have spoken unfavorably about it from seeing it. The other movie welcomes all reviewers. When the final numbers are tallied, which movie do you think will have the best reviews? The one that didn't screen the movie for any critics who were not favorably disposed toward it. Sure the other movie might claim that its favorable reviews were honest. And that and a dime will buy you a cup of coffee.
Now say that these two studios keep doing this for 10 years, and that they're the only game in town. Eventually just to be able to do their jobs, critics will almost always positively review movies from the studio that bars critics, and almost always negatively review the movies from the other studio to stay on the good side of the first studio. That is because selecting for optimal results will produce them.
Free societies "screen" for all critics. Totalitarian ones only play to supportive audiences. That is why they get the better publicity than free societies. Journalistic integrity is supposed to make up the difference by telling the truth to the public. When it doesn't, then the journalists are functioning willingly as tools of totalitarian regimes. And maybe it's time to give them the boot.
If Israel wants the same supportive coverage that Fatah and Hamas get, it needs to play by their rules. Press credentials would then go to those who provide positive coverage. Those reporters who want to take pictures of wall graffiti and stage photos of Muslim children throwing stones at Israeli tanks need not apply. If the New York Times or NBC News can't find anyone willing to play by those rules, the way they do in Gaza and Ramallah, then they can stay home and they won't be able to do their jobs.
The mainstream media will be outraged, you say. There will be even more negative coverage. As if there isn't heaps of it now. And of what will the negative media coverage be? Reporters forced to stay home. Foreign correspondents who have to cover an election in Hungary, instead of eating caviar in a Jerusalem hotel and writing vicious articles about Jewish Middle Eastern refugees living in East Jerusalem. Haaretz reporters will have to move to London to write biting columns in the Guardian about how racist the country they used to live in, is. Before they move on to the inevitable theater reviews and finally begin writing ad copy for insurance agencies. Oh the pathos, the pity. No one will care.
Should Israel do this? It's not the way of a free society, but there's only so much propaganda for a totalitarian society that even the freest society can endure before it is destroyed. Freedom comes with responsibility. The main responsibility is not to use that freedom to destroy the free society whose freedom you enjoy. Drill enough holes in a boat, and either the boat will sink or you'll be escorted off and Carnival Cruises will never let you brook a cruise with them again.
2. Get Good Coverage by Killing the Enemy All the Time
Terrorist groups are always killing people, which the media is fine with. Israel on the other hand mostly doesn't kill anyone. Occasionally it goes after terrorists and kills some of them. An international outcry immediately results. This paradox is explained by a well known defect commonly present in children and moral idiots. This moral defect judges consistently evil behavior more favorably, than inconsistently good behavior.
In other words, someone who steals all the time is viewed more favorably than a seemingly solid citizen who gets caught shoplifting. Don't believe me? Count how many ballads have been written about highwaymen, bank robbers and terrorists. The answer is a whole lot.
This defect does not judge the morality of behavior, but its consistency. Someone who is consistently bad is seen as good, because he sticks to his principles. Which are bad. Clearly proving that he's good. Because if he weren't good, why would he be bad all the time? It must be because he believes that his behavior is really good. So all we have to do is understand his point of view to see why he acts this way.
On the other hand someone who is inconsistent is clearly a hypocrite. Otherwise why is his behavior inconsistent? Clearly he knows he's doing wrong and occasionally tries to restrain himself, but still keeps engaging in wrongdoing. Which means he has no principles, and his behavior is therefore unjustifiable.
Applied to the Israeli-Muslim Terrorist conflict, this means that Israel is bad because it only inconsistently kills terrorists. On the other hand the terrorists consistently kill Israelis, which must mean that they're good. By only killing terrorists sometimes, Israel shows that it doesn't believe that killing them is ever right. By constantly trying to kill Israelis, the terrorists demonstrate a consistent value system that shows they always believe the are doing the right thing.
This seems like madness only because you aren't a cultural relativist. Which is to say that you believe some things are right and other things are wrong irregardless of who believes them or does them. But if you were a moral idiot, or a cultural relativist (but I repeat myself), you would understand that subjective labels such as right or wrong don't matter. What matters is that people behave in a way consistent with their cultural imperatives and global context. Which generally means killing people or feeling bad because their ancestors killed all those people, depending on their level of industrial development, infrastructure and average family income.
Back when Israel was much more consistent about killing enemy insurgents and terrorists, there was also a general consensus in its favor. In the 50's, Ariel Sharon snuck into Egypt and blew up an entire village being used as an insurgent base. Today a single targeted assassination of a terrorist results in shrieks of global outrage. The problem here is the "single" and the "targeted" part. The answer is to kill terrorists like you mean it.
Not only does consistently doing something result in a better global image, but it also deadens any scandal by turning it into static. Assassinate one terrorist in Dubai and the world is upset. Assassinate ten terrorists a day and the world quickly gets bored a month later after the 300th terrorist. There are only so many headlines reading, "Israel Still Killing Terrorists" that anyone will bother to read. And as a major bonus, killing enough terrorists tends to put an end to that whole terrorism thing.
3. Victims of Our Own Competence
The real problem with Israel is not that it has jets and tanks and nuclear weapons. Most of the Middle East has at least two out of three of those. North Korea has all three. The problem is that Israel works a little too well.
What do I mean by that? Israel has working traffic lights, electricity, airlines, police forces and stores filled with things made in the country. Back around 1950 when countries were expected to be able to do things for themselves, this was considered a good thing. But today the anti-capitalism paradigm is dominant, which means that any level of competence defines you as a villain.
When a reporter goes to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, he notices that despite all the flaws, things somewhat work. No one generally tries to murder him on the street. The Jewish residents at least, aren't using donkeys as transportation, no one throws rocks at his head, and sewage isn't flowing through the street.
But when he goes to Ramallah or Gaza, he sees gorgeous villas and classic Mercedes cars, but he also sees dust, dirt and yes raw sewage. Things don't work, or work only unpredictably. Abused animals are everywhere. Militia gangs prowl the streets. Kids throw rocks. The electricity goes on and off. The doctors occasionally work at the hospital, when they aren't heading up the local wing of Hamas\Fatah or selling drugs. Naturally he thinks these people must be the victims.
The solution is to make Israel appear just as dysfunctional. While the country has its problems, by comparison things do generally work. Now is the time to stop making them work. During a crisis, major cities in Israel should repeatedly lose power. The Knesset will have raucous debates by candlelight. Traffic jams will be orchestrated and donkeys will replace taxis. Raw sewage will spill out in the street and doctors will leave their jobs and do nothing but conduct press conferences denouncing Sweden for making us live this way.
Photographers will be invited to take pictures of senior citizens struggling to manually translate Henning Mankell and Iain Banks novels by hand, due to their boycott of Israel. And of children who are receiving inadequate medical care because of being boycotted by British medical journals. And of course there will be people posing buried in rubble due to the boycotts of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Presbyterian Church and Swedish dock workers.
Of course none of this makes any sense. But it doesn't have to make any sense. The facts don't matter. The Muslim terrorists proved that already. The point is to create a lot of sympathetic dramatically staged photos and blame someone for them. It might as well be Sweden since they're spoiling for a fight anyway. This is not about the facts. It's about making the competent feel guilty for their competence. If Israel is demonized because Fatah and Hamas can't provide basic services even with billions of dollars in foreign aid, then it's time for Israel to stop providing basic services.
In the anti-capitalist dogma, competence is criminality. A more advanced society is always more wrong than a less advanced one. Clearly the only way to win their sympathy is a race to the bottom. If the lights go out in Gaza, let there be no lights and sewage in Haifa. In Ramallah has open sewage, then Tel Aviv should go back to using donkeys. If Jenin has armed militias riding on donkeys that are swimming in pools of sewage, it's time to close all the hospitals in the Israel and gather gangs of schoolchildren and start stoning foreign planes.
At some point where Israeli schoolchildren achieve a lower literacy rate than their counterparts in the West Bank. When there is no electricity anywhere in the country, and cold running water only twice a week. When the only forms of transportation in the country are rusting 1960's classic American cars and mistreated donkeys. When there is no working fire department, but cell phones are everywhere. When you can't go a hundred feet without hearing the sounds of machine gun fire. And when there is an entire branch of the UN dedicated to feeding and clothing Israelis. Then finally the public relations battle will be won. Because Israel will truly be a failed state-- and therefore wholly moral.
Only successful states take the blame, because only they are judged as being responsible. Failed states on the other hand are always someone else's victim. If paradoxically the only way to be a successful state, is to be a failed state-- it's time to start failing upward.
Anyone who supports the Muslim terrorist side, and disapproves of the article should ask him or herself, why?
If censorship, homicidal mania and deliberate dysfunction are effective media relations tools for the poor "Palestinian Arabs" who can hardly walk four steps without claiming citizenship in the great state of victimhood, maybe it's time their victims got a piece of the action. If the left doesn't like working countries that don't throw critics off buildings or constantly try to kill people-- then they're writing a scenario in which those countries will transform themselves into the image of the sort of countries that the left does like.
This is only a satirical piece, but all satire has more than a grain of truth to it. If the media left calls democracy, tyranny and tyranny, democracy. Then perhaps the only way for them to recognize a country as a democracy is for it to become a tyranny. If they praise countries that violate civil rights, for their freedom, and damn countries with freedom for violating civil rights-- clearly then the only way to the leftist heart is by violating civil rights. By calling good, evil, and evil, good-- the left has written this narrative itself with the ink stains of its own moral hypocrisy. It cannot complain about its consequences.