According to the Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Facebook Page, Flighttilla activists will receive the following letter which begins, “We appreciate your choosing to make Israel object of your humanitarian concerns. We know there were many there worthy choices…”

It goes on to mention, Syria, Iran, and Hamas controlled Gaza as more worthy targets of protest and then adds, “But instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, where women are equal, the press criticizes the government, human rights organizations can operate freely, religious freedom is protected for all and minorities do not live in fear…”

While its clever, I am not sure how effective it will be in changing the mind of radical anti-Israel activists. In fact, we know that it won’t, and will only give them the impression that Israel doesn’t give a sh*t about claims that they are human rights abusers, have women’s rights issues (i.e. Bet Shemesh) etc.

I am not sure that this is the face that we want to show the world.

Why not use the opportunity to let the activists MEET SOME ISRAELIS THAT CAN SPEAK TO THEM ON THEIR TERMS AND HELP THEM TO MAYBE SEE THE CONFLICT WITH SOME COMPLEXITY? MAYBE SEE ISRAEL’S SIDE OF THE CONFLICT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THEIR LIVES?

Here you have them, a captive audience, and all your do is give them a smug letter?

This is hasbara?

How about a sophisticated approach that will turn activists that come to Israel into new ambassadors of peace for Israel and the region?

No, that might take someone to actually think through this and do something creative, radical, and complex in the defense of Israel in the PR war.

That approach will never happen with the current smugness that pervades the halls of Israel’s diplomacy.

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Rabbi Yonah

16 Comments

  • The letter is great. The activists will not be convinced by meeting any different-minded Israelis since they will not be exposed to them and are not interested in coming to volunteer on a kibbutz either. What cost would you pay to have some nationalistic university students come an chat with ISM activists? What a waste of time. No other self-respecting country would let in these kinds of activists either. Thank God [someone] is watching our borders.

    Rav Yonah, nothing we do will win brownie points more than self-respecting our sovereignty be it preventing floatilla, flightilla, and marchilla. The Lebanon war II, Cast Lead, as well as the Marmara incidents were examples of Israel standing up for itself, and actually other countries respecting us for that. This is standard border control across the rest of the world and other countries deal with illegal immigrants and problematic visitors much more than Israel does so it really is a non-story. Now if only we would block the Egyptian border faster so the Sudanese can properly seek refugee status in Egypt, not here.

  • I liked the letter. It wasn’t meant to change the activists’ minds, that’s a lost cause. It was a message for the media (and to some extent for activists who aren’t crazy or stupid enough to fly in for something like this) to remind them to have some perspective on what they do/report.

    These people aren’t a “captive audience” who are coming to Israel with an open mind. It’s not like you can use the opportunity of having them all in the airport at the same time to force them into a room and tell them Israel’s side of the story. Besides, they have no interest in speaking with “ordinary Israelis” or anyone outside their tiny circle of European white privilege.

    The letter should have made note of how they were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, not on ordinary Palestinians (who are starving/jobless/homeless/without any hope for the future according to the activists’ own warped narrative), but on little vacations for themselves.

    • Barry – I agree that the activists don not have open minds. But all it does it exemplify the arrogance that is sadly to be expected by the Israeli Foreign affairs office. We can be strong without being arrogant. We can be strong without white lies — this letter is filled with them.

      As a staunch zionist and supporter of Israel, I do not see the good that this does, only harm to Israel and our cause.

  • And the media seemed to understand all this, at least to some extent. This explains why this incident was so under-reported (at least in my view) — the media couldn’t exactly make a big deal about it without falling prey to the exact biases that were outlined in the letter.

    • I think the issue was underreported because it was not news worthy. I hear your point about the media not wanting to fall prey – but since when has that stopped them?

  • The main chapter of bench 5 has no conclusion or close. Secondary sentences are to be explained in the finish of a main clause, this is or has not been fullfilled, therefore this chapter makes no sense.

  • You ever argue with someone and realize that the less reasonable their argument the more forcefully they have to make it in order for it to stick?

    As a extreme example to make the point, think of Holocaust deniers. Do you think a warmhearted greeting and a forced visit to Yad Vashem will set them straight?

    The anti-Israel activists who, it seems, have nothing better to do than provoke Israel through flightillas are extremists, in the nature of their cause if not in deed. Given the extreme nature of their stance, what makes you think they are amenable to dialogue, particularly when they’re held as a “captive audience?”

    Maybe you’ll get one or two of them to change their minds. But for the most part you will be welcoming provocateurs, which serves only to reinforce this kind of provocation. As it stands, they are not flying into Syria, or Saudi, or Iran, because only with Israel can they get away with their nonsense.

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