Last week, Danny Danon, Israel’s new ambassador to the UN, was interviewed by the Jerusalem Post.
Mr Danon has experienced at the UN and described in plain words what has often been seen in so many settings:
The world is full of everyday people, politicians, business leaders, etc who bash Israel publicly while privately praising and even cooperating with her.
When asked about his first impressions on the job, Danon said there is “a public UN and a quiet UN.” … “During the day, I have many meetings with ambassadors and officials and quietly you see that there is a lot of appreciation, I would even say admiration for Israel,” he explained.
“Some members in the EU will work with Israel privately and quietly, but when it comes to an international organization, including the UN, they won’t be on our side,” he said. “They know who is to blame here and maybe they have to pay a price for doing so, but when you have evil against good forces, you have to choose the good forces.”
“We will not convince our enemies. The enemies will ignore the reality and they will be full of hatred,” he said. “But I think we need to convince many countries in the middle and move them …”
Danielle Ziri. 12 Dec 2015. Danon to ‘Post’: UN quietly admires Israel, but publicly bashes it. [my emphasis in bold]
In order to work with the middle countries, we need to understand the attitudes that allow them to silently look on or even pretend to be in agreement when Israel is being bashed. The following two attitudes are intertwined and have been known since the beginning of modern Zionism in the 1880s.
Cynical “self-interest”. “Why risk losing Arab or Muslim business to support a measly bunch of Jews in a Jewish state?” “Why risk offending our own Muslim or Arab populations by expressing support for Israel?” For some, dropping this line of thought wouldn’t actually be costly. For others, real moral courage would be necessary – and they might have to ask for help to survive.
Fear-based appeasement: As time goes by, the dynamics of appeasement are becoming increasingly important. “Why risk provoking terrorist groups and states by expressing support for Israel?” Dropping this line of thought will always require moral courage and building alliances among the righteous.
Another key issue mentioned by Mr Danon is group dynamics.
It is unacceptable that you have a very good relationship with Israel, but when it comes to an international organization you don’t care and you support the group that you belong to.” [again my emphasis in bold]
The same group dynamic is seen among academics and college students – and politicians — and …
In 1867 the British philosopher and political theorist John Stuart Mill delivered an inaugural address at the University of St. Andrews.
Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. (Quote investigator December 2010)
My challenge to those who hide their neutrality towards or support of Israel: Don’t be afraid to criticize Israel, but when you feel neutral or positive, start stepping forward, even if you are fearful. And reach out to each other to make the cost bearable.
Israel is very strong, but she can’t stand alone. And even if she could, you might want to consider what looking on silently, let alone following the crowd, could mean for your own moral and psychological health.