Friday, March 20, 2009

Supporters: Would Israel Have "Lost Them Anyway"?

"Could've tried just a little bit harder

Kissed you just a little bit sweeter

Held on just a little bit longer

Dug down just a little bit deeper" ~Toby Keith

Even if he had taken all these measures, the imaginary lover in TK's country anthem notes to his ex, he would have "Lost You Anyway." The State of Israel, however, is hoping this won't be the case with its support abroad.
"Global opinion surveys are being closely examined and the Foreign Ministry has been granted an extra $2 million to improve Israel’s image through cultural and information diplomacy," the New York Times reported.
Why the push to "improve Israel's image"? Well, the country has recently concluded a war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip that prompted accusations of atrocities committed by the Israeli Defense Forces. And the unsavory Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, has risen to the forefront with calls for deportation of Israeli Arabs who won't take a loyalty oath. With friends like these...well, let the Times finish the sentence.
The gap between Israelis and many liberal American Jews could be seen Tuesday in
a blog by Bradley Burston, who writes on the Web site of the left-leaning
newspaper Haaretz. He said that while visiting Los Angeles he faced many
questions that amounted to “What is wrong with these people, your friends, the
He quoted an article by Anne Roiphe, an American Jewish liberal,
which said that witnessing the popularity of Mr. Lieberman in Israel made her
feel “as if my spouse had cheated on me with Mussolini.”
In the Boston area, where this correspondent is based, organizations such as Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Jewish Community Relations Council have led efforts to reach out to American Jews, sponsoring lunchtime lectures by Israeli authorities such as Hebrew University professor Reuven Hazan and activist Avi Melamed to explain aspects of Israeli politics to Jews in the diaspora. And that's important, given that other voices in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been far from silent -- like those who hold "Israeli Apartheid Week" events.
It also sounds like the Israeli reaction to criticism of its actions contains more seriousness than spin. That's important, too, because it shows a more realistic response than what it did when it invaded Lebanon in 1982. Quoth Thomas Friedman in "From Beirut to Jerusalem":
The Hadassah women and the big donors to the United Jewish appeal were
bussed up to East Beirut and taken by the Israeli army on special tours of the
front, where they got to pose in flak jackets atop mud-splattered tanks and peer
through binoculars at real live artillery blasting real live "terrorists." The
really big donors -- $100,000 a year and above -- got special intelligence
briefings with topographical maps. (132)
When Israel invaded Lebanon, we got the massacres of Sabra and Shatila. Let's hope that in the wake of its current crises with its neighbors and within, Israel acts humanely -- and conveys that message to people abroad.

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