Here we go again: Israel’s Palestinian incitement index

Earlier this week Jewish Week editor and publisher Gary Rosenblatt broke the story of a new Israeli plan to create an “incitement index” to document Palestinian incitement and the failure of West Bank leaders to extirpate anti-Israel hatred from the schools, the media and even street names.

No doubt the hasbarah officials in Jerusalem are patting themselves on the back, but my guess is that this will be no more successful than so many previous schemes that see Israel’s standing in the world as simply a PR problem.

Israeli officials hope that their incitement index, by putting facts and figures behind their claim Palestinian incitement is unabated, will have an impact on Obama administration policy.

Well, guess what, guys: the NSC and State Department are full of people who know chapter and verse about continuing Palestinian incitement and about the miserable failure of Palestinian leaders to take any steps to curb it.

The problem isn’t that officials here don’t know about incitement; the problem is that they don’t  what to do about it.  And, as in the past two administrations, there is anxiety here that  too much  U.S. pressure on the incitement issue will undermine weak Palestinian leaders.

That strikes me as a bogus argument, but it’s not something that will change because Israel can show nice graphs and charts about anti-Jewish screeds in Palestinian newspapers and the offensive habit of naming streets and schools after suicide bombers.

The rest of the world doesn’t see much difference Palestinian incitement and the settlers who uproot Palestinian olive trees and the Israeli government’s weak response, or the Jews who venerate the late Dr. Baruch Goldstein, and I can’t imagine putting Palestinian incitement on a scale of 1 to 100 is going to change that.

Yes, I know; incitement isn’t official Israeli policy, as it is in the West Bank, but a scientific-looking incitement index isn’t going to change the perception that both sides are pretty tolerant of their extremists.

Every decade or so, some official in Jerusalem gets the idea that what’s really needed is a big public relations study to determine how Israel can get its message across better.

The results are almost always a big disappointment and a lot of money wasted. This exercise strikes me the same way.

Incitement is a big problem. Palestinian leaders who have done nothing to stop it are undercutting their hopes for statehood and greatly increasing the chances of new violence.

But the fact is, an “incitement index” that looks like something cooked up in a PR shop isn’t going to change that any more than the expensive studies of the past changed Israel’s image around the world.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.