Peter Biro
Knowledge, Experience and Limitless Internal Beauty

Thoughts on Israel’s public relations disaster

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 26: Pro-Palestinian supporters  continue to organize a protest encampment on the campus of Columbia University on April 26, 2024 in New York City. All classes at Columbia University have been held virtually today after school President Minouche Shafik announced a shift to online learning in response to recent campus unrest. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Anti-Israel protest camp at an American University

It is well known that Israel is seen in a negative light worldwide, and one has become accustomed to it in its traditionally milder form. What is new is the vehement outbreak of global hatred towards Israel, which is spreading not only in traditionally anti-Israeli countries but has also engulfed large parts of the Western media landscape. Hardly a day goes by without mass demonstrations filling the streets of the West, ostensibly serving solidarity with Palestinian victims but inevitably turning into hatred towards Israel and Jews.

It would be too easy to attribute this phenomenon to the obvious incompetence of Israel’s official information providers. They try to argue with facts, but facts are the last thing that matters in this conflict. Much more effective are drastic images, especially those showing the level of destruction in Gaza and the civilians fleeing or searching for food. Israel’s efforts to show the suffering of its own population, especially the families of the abducted, are much less prominent. And the previously successful argumentation against anti-Semitism, which presents itself as anti-Zionism, no longer holds – especially not after anti-Semitism has become an accepted norm.

There are several factors that play into the hands of Israel’s opponents:

Firstly, there is the perfectly coordinated and well-functioning disinformation apparatus available to anti-Israel protesters. It’s not necessarily the previously common crude image distortions or outright lies that need to be mentioned. Rather, it’s the half-truths that allude to actual events but are twisted against Israel in their embellishment and evaluative commentary. A typical example is the Qatari news network Al Jazeera, which sets its accents even in its choice of words. For example, it consistently refers to the “occupied” West Bank, although the term “occupation” is at least disputed. Israeli media do not counter this with “administered” or “contested” West Bank or even Judea and Samaria. Prescribed terminology has been left unchallenged to the opponents. The fact that false information is occasionally later denied (a classic example being the attack on the Al Shifa hospital) carries little weight in this context.

Another often overlooked aspect of the protests, especially in Western campuses, is that they are organized by Islamists and their trusted representatives specifically positioned there. It is easy for them to recruit sympathetic masses, tendentially left-leaning or eco-liberal and largely uninformed students and use them as “useful idiots.” University cadres are particularly noteworthy here, as they have been strategically placed as “sleeper cells” in certain social and Islamic studies institutes through long-term planning and sustained with billions of dollars in donations from Middle Eastern sources. Entire faculties depend on donations from wealthy donor countries in the Persian Gulf, primarily Qatar. The absence of these funds would plunge many top universities, conditioned by Pavlovian training for these abundantly incoming funds, into severe financial difficulties. A thorough examination of Islamist influence and disclosure of financial flows is urgently needed.

Another aspect is the attractiveness of aligning with actual or perceived oppressed groups on one hand, and the “uncool” perception of the supposedly or factually stronger side on the other. This postcolonial-tinged worldview can be easily applied to the Middle East conflict while ignoring historical facts. In this narrative, the “poor and powerless” Palestinians, whose existence can only be documented for a few decades, appear as the oppressed, while the militarily superior Israelis are seen as the oppressors. No one in the protest movement bothers to question why Israel needs to be so defensive, what has happened in its history. Dince the inception of the Zionist idea, there has been Arab-Palestinian terrorism that did not start in 1948 but decades earlier, mainly at the instigation of the Hitler-friendly Mufti of Jerusalem.

What is even more astonishing is the harmonious agreement between the Islam-fascist impulse of the Palestinian-friendly actors and the solidarity of Western pseudo-humanitarians. Interestingly, the humanitarian empathy abruptly stops when it comes to Israeli terror victims, which is often explained to be an unavoidable accompanying circumstance of a liberation struggle.

Another often overlooked aspect of the spreading anti-Israel protests is the purely quantitative dimension. The millions of immigrants from the Arab, Turkish, and Islamic South Asian regions have become a significant portion of the population in Western countries. It’s understandable that they sympathize with their fellow believers in Gaza. If most of this population stays away from protest actions, it is sufficient that small percentages of activists translate into substantial absolute numbers gathering on the streets. At the same time, they attract western critics of civilization who share a common enemy: Jews, Israel, and everything that represents Western values. In this process, the strangest combinations of worldviews come together, which, apart from their hatred for Israel, have practically nothing in common.

A large part of the Western media landscape has opened to left-ecological, woke ideas over the last few decades, not least due to the predominance of representatives and direct successors of the protest movement from the Vietnam war aera. The remaining counterweight of liberal-conservative media has increasingly been pushed into the background, since it is considered reactionary, inhumane and has the stamp of being dominated by white, old men. No one who is young and wants to be seen as cool wants to be associated with this. The liberal, qeer-friendly Israel is at best ignored, but mostly criticized, on the one hand because it is strong in fighting, and on the other hand because it is Jewish. Militant Judaism is an anathema throughout the world. According to their interpretation, Jews should be dependent, submissive dhimmis and give way to Islamic supremacism.

Then came the European Song Contest (ESC), which revealed the bizarre situation on the global opinion market in one fell swoop. While officials and national jury members gave in to islamistic pressure and awarded Israel only a few points, the Israeli entry received the second highest number of votes from the global audience. And that can only mean one thing: the official opinion is manipulated or at least driven by fear, while most of the voting audience has clearly recognized that a crudely cobbled together anti-Israel campaign is taking place here. It did not honor the mass mob that besieged a young apolitical artist, but rather a staged protest movement financed and initiated from outside with the aim of delegitimizing Israel. The global audience’s reaction gives cause for hope.

About the Author
As a single child of Shoa survivors, Peter emigrated from socialist Romania to Germany in 1970. Two decades later he moved to Switzerland, where he worked as a Senior Physician and Professor of Anesthesiology until his retirement in 2022. He occasionally writes satirical short stories in German literature magazines and in Romanian for the Transylvanian online journal He also published books about his childhood memories from socialist Romania in the 60ies and 70ies as well as several collections of satirical short stories. For Peter, humor is a vital substance whose importance is surpassed only by oxygen, water and vanilla pudding.
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