As noted before, the Israelis are morons.
Iran one-upped them with the NPT treaty recently. The treaty, incredibly signed by the US, essentially excuses Iran’s movement toward nuclear weapons while singling out Israel – which has an assumed arsenal that has never been used or even acknowledged officially – for censure and potential diplomatic conflict.
Regarding its proxy armies, the rockets possessed by Hizbullah now possess bigger payload, greater range and guidance systems superior to those it had in 2006. The Iranians, with Syria’s assistance, have been able to restock Hizbullah’s arsenal under the watchful eyes of UN peacekeepers who were supposed to ensure that adherence to UNSCR 1701 (which prohibits the arming of Hizbullah with rockets) is maintained. The result – and make no mistake, Israel has allowed this to happen by not preventing it – is that Iran has a trump card that will effectively prevent an Israeli attack on Iran and presents a constant threat to Israel. If Israel attacks Iran, we can expect that it will be bombed heavily by Hizbullah in retaliation. Even Hamas has shown that its rockets now reach Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be’er Sheva, so that the southern Iranian proxy army will present another challenging front in such a war.
But this post isn’t about Iran.
Turkey, a former ally that has obviously turned into an enemy, even if Israel’s leadership is struggling to maintain a semblance of diplomatic relations, is also laughing at the Israelis’ stupidity. Their flotilla can be considered a significant victory over Israel, and has given the Turks a platform to attack Israel in the media and in international forums. This creates another front for Israel, a diplomatic one, that it fights hobbled by the fear that it could lose all relations with Turkey – a powerful Muslim country with extensive trade ties to Israel and a former prospect for strategic alliance against extreme regimes. Israel is finding it difficult to fight this one because of the diplomatic fallout, while Turkey, which has already made its strategic choice to side with Iran, continues to dangle the existing ties as a reward for Israel limiting its response to provocations.
But this post isn’t about Turkey.
No, this post is about the clever Palestinians and how they are defeating Israel in their latest war against the Jewish state. Watch this video, particularly from 0:45 to 2:15:
Now, I love Fellini. Watching that clip made me think of his movies. There I am, watching an abandoned replica of a boat without an ocean wave anywhere within miles, and this wooden boat is being attacked by soldiers from the same army that attacked its likeness on the high seas a week ago in what will surely be remembered as one of Israel’s worst blunders ever. Felliniesque? You bet. You couldn’t write a script this absurd.
The fact is that the Israelis don’t get the war they’re in. It is no longer a war between armies, or terrorists against civilians and armies, but rather it has changed into a war of ideas and images. It is also not accidentally so. The war is led by the Palestinians, primarily from the PA, with the intention of making this into their new intifada. Why use bullets or bombs that hurt your image, when you can make the Israelis use bullets and bombs and undermine their image? Can’t get them to use bullets? Get them to use tear-gas. Can’t get them to use tear-gas? Get them to create media images for you to disperse across the internet and the nightly news. Boat replicas in the desert are useful in that regard.
Think about this video. The protesters know they are heading for a protest and the Israelis know they are coming. The reporters and TV are there, brightly labeled, so that nobody in Israel can claim they didn’t know this was a set-up. The goal is not to send aid to Gaza but to generate useful images that correspond to a collective memory of what happened last week with the fauxtilla. What do the Israelis do? Exactly what they did to help Turkey give them a spanking on the high seas, they walk into the director’s mise-en-scene, performing their role of bullies or murderers to perfection. In the video above it would have been better from the perspective of the Palestinian filmmaker if somebody had been killed or injured, but even this crazy running up to the boat and then after the protesters makes them look crazed.
Why would the Israelis continue to comply with the media arrangements created for them by their enemies? Well, because they are morons. I mean it. They have had ample opportunities to comprehend that the nature of the war against them has changed. Beginning with Muhammad Al Dura, continuing with Jenin in 2002, later with the family at the beach in Gaza and then Kafr Qana in Lebanon II, the enemies of Israel have shown repeatedly and consistently that the Israeli bombs, tanks and commando heroics are rendered meaningless by even one successful media event where the other side appears to be a major victim. Of course, the media events aren’t singular in nature, they are continuous or happen over and over. Think back to the repeated showings by the media of the destruction of Beirut in 2006, even as two thirds of the city simply went about its business because the only areas hit were Hizbullah neighborhoods and targets.
The media war doesn’t just even the playing field, it actually inflicts losses on the Israelis. Israel is made out to be a monster and an ogre in these wars. It becomes the side that kills innocent civilians and it reveals itself to be the bully. So what if the enemies have sworn to destroy Israel or exterminate all of the Jews (Hizbullah and Hamas have both made such claims), or that Fatah has sworn to claim all of Israel or that Iran has vowed to destroy the state?
These claims are rendered moot, valid though they may be, when Israel gives the media and internet gifts that show ITS supposed violent inclinations. The reasons for this happening are easy to understand since Israel is a free country where the press operates freely. The press is there to cover the story, is unafraid to cover the story, and since the enemies surrounding Israel are individually weaker or perceived to be of the third world while Israel is perceived to be of the First World, it isn’t hard to show who the underdog is. It also doesn’t hurt that the enemies place all sorts of spoken and unspoken restrictions on the reporters who cover them, not to mention their civilians. The open courts in Israel, the open debate in the Knesset and the freedom of expression enjoyed by Israelis also mean that all criticisms of Israel are voiced openly and regularly. Often, the state itself subsidizes or helps to create its own enemies. We’ve all seen Israeli Arab Knesset members attack Israel, or have read organizations like Adalah and B’tselem advocate against Israel. These organizations are staffed by Israelis, Jewish and non-Jewish, who grew up and were educated in Israel. Consider, for example, Omar Barghouti, one of the leaders of the international boycott movement against Israel. He’s getting an advanced degree at Tel Aviv University, subsidized by Israeli taxpayers.
In the Sixth Fatah Congress, the membership declared that they would attack Israel by modeling their fight on the fight against South African apartheid. They also decided to keep the refugee camps open because they were an effective tool in the war against Israel. These decisions are reflected regularly in the anti-Israel activism that we see all over the world. The ongoing incitement against Israel that we see across the internet, the pressure on cultural outlets to avoid including Israel at festivals and exhibitions, the movement to prevent artists and people with high profiles from visiting Israel or if they do, to ensure they criticize it heavily, the constant attempts to unlink Jews from their connection to Israel or to the Land of Israel as their historic home, and, of course, the ubiquitous presence of anti-Israel activism on most major and large university campuses across North American and Europe.
And what is Israel doing? It’s sending out soldiers to attack a fake boat in a desert placed there by people who invite the media to watch.
Israel seems to have missed the fact that it’s no longer the age of CNN, it’s the age of Youtube and Facebook and blogs.
It is time for Israel to figure this out, because this war, the media war, is no different than the real wars it has had to fight. If it loses, then Israel will no longer be the state of the Jews. The former commandos who now sit in Israel’s prime minister’s and defense minister’s office should wake up and realize that their army still needs fighters like those in Shayetet 13 and Sayeret Matkal, but now they also need to learn to fight just as effectively in the media war. And sometimes, that will mean restraining the real soldiers and letting the media commandos figure out the best way to tackle the battle.
The third intifada is the media intifada and we are well into it.