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Jana Elazar

Jana Elazar; Israel's Reputation: A Change in Perception

by Jana Elazar, a grade twelve student at Gray Academy of Jewish Education, 2013

The perception of Israel by the rest of the world was once overwhelmingly positive. The country was seen as the underdog, a miraculous feat of modern times. However, this attitude has drastically changed. Over the past few decades, Israel has seen an immense shift of opinion on the Jewish state. Despite Israel’s important contributions in countless fields, and constant championing of human rights, this is not what people know of Israel today. Regardless of the overwhelmingly positive impact Israel has had on the world, its destruction is still called for on a daily basis. It’s citizens are threatened with annihilation, and the world not only tolerates, but encourages these charges. The question is: what happened? What significant change occurred to create this situation?
In fact, what happened had nothing to do with Israel becoming an apartheid state, taking away rights from it’s Arab citizens, or even it’s policy towards Palestinians. What actually happened was much more political. Israel’s enemies, seeing that terrorist violence against Israeli citizens would not ever successful destroy the state on its own, decided to launch a new attack on Israel. This campaign was different than previous Arab military attacks on Israel. This new war was not waged with guns and tanks, but rather with propaganda. Recognizing the military superiority of Israeli forces, Arab leaders accepted that a purely military approach was not the path to entirely eradicate the Middle East of a Jewish presence. However, they realized that a shift in public opinion might.
Due to this media crusade, expectations are placed on Israel that another country would never abide by. There are countless examples of this in the past few decades, but one such situation in which this was particularly obvious was the Goldstone Report. The Goldstone Report was supposedly a fact finding mission to be conducted by the UN. It was an investigation of infractions of international law that occurred during the 2009 Operation Castlead. Though Israel originally started the operation in order to halt rocket fire coming from Gaza into Israel, it accused Israel, of war crimes, and came to the conclusion that Israel had in fact, purposely targeted civilians.
However, this is completely false. Israel went to unprecedented extremes to prevent civilian casualties, even dropping leaflets about the coming attacks in order to warn to civilian population to leave, lest they get in the crossfire. But, Hamas uses Palestinian people as human shields, putting rocket launchers in the basements of homes and schools. Despite the IDF’s earnest efforts to limit the amount of casualties of non-military people, this was made much more difficult by the immoral, unethical actions of Hamas. Of course, this is not how it was spun in the media. The Goldstone Report was accepted as doctrine to all of Israel’s enemies, as they were urged to by Hamas, and was considered legitimate proof of the evil Israeli government’s ongoing persecution of the downtrodden, victimized Palestinian.

Another example of this also was related to the war in Gaza. Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza in order to limit the flow of weapons into the country, which would clearly be used on its citizens. Anti- Israel sentiments in the media have led to the misconception that humanitarian aid is blocked. This is not the case. Humanitarian aid has and continues to get to the people of Gaza.

However, as the  Mavi Marmara flotilla case exemplifies, the allegedly peaceful intentions of organizers of flotillas to Gaza are usually a front for something very different.  The flotilla boarded in Turkey was  filled with North American ‘peace activists’, as well as members of a terrorist organization called the IHH. After many ignored warnings were issued by the Israeli Navy warning the ship to change its course to Ashdod to unload its aid so that it could be inspected for security reasons and then sent on to Gaza, Israeli commandoes entered the ship. They were armed with non-lethal weapons such as paintball guns, tasers and stun grenades. The soldiers encountered brutal terrorists that were ready for a conflict, armed with metal poles and knives. After a violent clash, the passengers aboard were eventually detained and the ship was brought to shore.

Despite Israel’s right to defend its shores, and it’s soldiers right to defend their lives, the force displayed by Israel was widely condemned. Had any other country been in Israel’s place, they would have been congratulated for keeping their citizens safe. This incident clearly shows the bias against Israel that has been fabricated in order to advance anti-Israel causes. Activists on the flotilla are not interested in a two state solution, but the end to the Jewish state, whatever its size, in the Middle East.
These incidents merely skim the surface of the growth of anti-Israel sentiments worldwide. While Israel may be winning the war on the ground, anti-Zionists are winning the war in public opinion. This aspect of the conflict is extremely crucial to both sides, constant victory ensuring the promotion of their group’s views. The delegitimization of Israel’s right to defend itself, as well as its right to exist is perpetual. Supporters of Israel must be equally relentless in their combat of this propaganda.
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