As part of evaluating the competitive landscape of the popularity of nations, in a process referred to in marketing circles as ‘place branding,’ Israel, to no one’s great surprise, comes up short in brand likeability, ranking last out of 35 nations included in an August 2006 survey conducted by nation branding expert Simon Anholt, even less attractive to respondents than Indonesia, Estonia, and Turkey.
How could this have happened to a country that is the Middle East’s only thriving democracy and enjoys a remarkably robust economy that has spawned some 1000 startup high tech companies, for example, second only to the U.S.? How, in short, would you go about making the world hate Israel?
This is how you would accomplish that objective if you were an enemy of Israel:
Even after 60 years of its existence, you question the fundamental right of Israel to even exist and regularly, though falsely, condemn it for being created “illegally”—through the “theft” of Palestinian lands and property—and thus decide, because of its original sin, it has no “right to exist.” You accuse the government of a “brutal,” illegal “occupation” of Palestinian lands, especially Gaza and the West Bank (but for many, all of Israel), of being a “colonial settler state,” a Zionist “regime” or “project,” a land-hungry nation, a usurper of property that was lived on and owned by a Palestinian “people” “from time immemorial.”
You describe the very existence of the country as being the “greatest threat to world peace,” the core cause of all Muslim anger toward the West, the root of all of the Palestinians’ suffering and economic plight, and describe Israel as a nation that has even been referred to publicly as a “shitty little country” by the French ambassador to Britain.
You make ‘Palestinianism’ into a virtual cult whose members offer a world-wide reverence for the Palestinian cause and repeat without end that their nationalistic striving is inviolable, a basic human right, Of all the 100 million refugees who were dispersed around the globe and were re-assimilated since World War II, you chose only the Palestinians to languish, as if in amber, in barbaric refugee camps where their lives are used as political fodder to denounce the existence of an Israel that supposedly has deprived them of a home.
You have the United Nations set up an agency whose sole funct'ion it is to make sure that this one group of refugees in the whole world are coddled, advocated for, and repeat, mantra-like, that a human “right of return” has been sanctified and assured by international law for the Palestinians, giving only this group of refugees a collective, as opposed to individual, right of return—and not only to those refugees who supposedly lived in and left what is now Israel, but all of their descendents, as well.
You use the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council of the United Nations to further demonize and delegitimate Israel, making it a pariah in the world community and issuing an edict that equates Zionism with racism. In 2006-07, if you are the Human Rights Council, you pass one hundred percent of your condemnatory resolutions against Israel.
If you are the autocratic, despotic states of the Arab world, you initiate a prolonged, unceasing propaganda war against Israel and Zionism, in which it is your intention to encourage your citizens, not to question why they live under tyranny and despair under their own corrupt, defective governments, but that their circumstances are bleak because of the success and very existence of Israel. You depict Jews as apes, pigs, and subhuman monsters, and regularly produce Nazi-like propaganda and cartoons in your state-owned media that accuses Jews and Israelis of blood libels, bloodthirstiness, militarism, a desire for world domination, imperialism, and complicity with the U.S. and the West to destroy Islam—all which make Jew-hatred inevitable.
You inculcate Palestinian children, nearly from birth, with seething, blind, unrelenting, and obsessive hatred of Jews and the 'Zionist regime,' so that kindergartners graduate with blood-soaked hands while toting plastic AK 47s and dedicate their lives to jihad, and older children are recruited to hide explosives on their bodies to transform themselves into shahids -- a new generation of kindling for radical Islam's cult of death.
When Israel launches a military strike against nests of terrorists or in response to ceaseless rocket barrages, you term their response “disproportionate,” another escalation in the “cycle of violence,” a violation of human rights, aggressive, militaristic, with Apache gunships “pounding” terrorist neighborhoods.
If you are the Palestinian media, and members of the world media who are either intentionally biased or willing to be duped by anti-Israel propaganda, you repeatedly report on supposed Israeli human rights violations, such as an alleged “massacre of the 21st century,” a horrible war crime and example of “genocide” committed by Israel against Palestinians in the village of Jenin.
You talk about the Israeli security barrier as an “apartheid wall,” and describe it as a massive, soaring, unbroken division through Palestinian neighborhoods and communities, overlooking the fact that the wall is towering and solid concrete only in those regions that have been repeatedly assaulted by terrorism, and that 90 percent of the hundreds of miles of barrier is comprised merely of wire fence.
You use the “apartheid wall” image to create a broader misconception about the Palestinians living under a South African-style apartheid regime, disingenuously equating race restrictions that blacks lived under in Soweto with the open society of Israel in which Israeli Arabs have more rights than in any Arab state and are asked only not to murder Jews in their midst.
On campuses where a coddled and insulated professoriate often express antipathy for the perceived ills of capitalism, the usurpation of “Palestine” by Israel, “land grabs” through occupation, and the denial of the civil and economic rights of the Palestinians, you contend that Israel’s very existence is not at all about self-determination (something you deem appropriate only for the Palestinians) and all about greed, globalism, colonialism, exploitation, and undeserved political and economic might. No longer able to fight apartheid in South Africa, you now try to transmogrify that racist social system onto Israel, holding rallies and encouraging the signing of petitions which call from divestiture from companies doing business in Israel.
You fund Middle Eastern Studies centers on university campuses and use them as anti-Israel, anti-American “think tanks” where scholarship is tainted with ideology and singularly focused on the Palestinian cause. You fund the active and vocal Muslim Students Association on campuses across the country that hold “Israel Apartheid Week” and “Holocaust in the Holy Land” festivals at which propaganda, Jew-hatred, apologies for terrorism, and further demonizing of Israel takes place.
In the Arab world, you play fast and loose with history in your attempt to create a historical narrative conforming to your own political agenda, erasing any link between Palestine and the Jews. Though Jerusalem is mentioned not once in the Koran and over 669 times in the Jewish Bible, you claim that Jerusalem is now the “third holiest site to Muslims,” that, as Yasser Arafat announced at Camp David in 2000, the Temple Mount was never a Jewish site, that Jews now “occupy” Muslim lands, and that the archeological and historical evidence that confirms an uninterrupted 3000-year presence by Jews in the Holy Land is merely a “construct,” yet another lie promulgated by Israeli historians and archeologists as way of erasing and obscuring an Islamic past.
If you are in the traditionally Arabist U.S. State Department, or in the “realist” school of diplomacy, or part of the European Union, and you have an insatiable need for oil, you overlook the tyrannies and unfaithfulness of our Middle Eastern “friends,” and ask nothing of them, but demand that Israel, the only democracy in a sea of despotism, continually prove its loyalty to us and embrace policies that could potentially threaten their own security. You write academic books questioning the strength of the "Israel Lobby," and wonder out loud if Jewish influence and wealth forces us to lose credibility and threaten our national security on behalf of Israel.
You do all of these things, as part of a concerted effort and also as random, independent efforts on the part of Israel’s enemies, and you do it for the 60 years of Israel’s existence, and then you are shocked, shocked, when Israel is shown to rank unfavorably in surveys which measure the public’s perception of nations and how they compare to one another in the world community. But you are pleased, because you know that if Israel cannot be annihilated with armaments and rockets, perhaps you can make it cease to exist simply by making the entire world loathe it for being what it is.
Mr. Cravatts, PhD, director of Boston University’s Program in Book and Magazine Publishing at the Center for Professional Education, writes frequently on terrorism, higher education, politics, culture, law, marketing, and housing, and is currently writing a book about the world-wide assault on Israel taking place on college campuses.