Posted on 18-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

An interesting read in Foreign Policy this week about the souring of tires between Israel and its only Muslim ally, Turkey. The last decade has seen a significant decline in support for Israel in most of the world except Washington, and even there Benjamin Netenyahu found it hard to drum up support in the usual corners earlier this year.

Israel does have the right to protect itself and its citizens from attacks and Hamas and Hezbollah’s part in the tragedy unfolding in the region should not be overlooked. However, what a large part of the world has balked at is the disproportionate Israeli response, a refusal to alleviate the human catastrophe in Gaza and a failure of the hardliners who constitute the Israeli government to appreciate that the right of the Jewish state to survive cannot mean carte blanche in keeping the Palestinians in a subjugated state for eternity.

The United States in Vietnam struggled to sustain popular support after images like the infamous picture of the 9 year old girl on fire after a napalm attack were transmitted to television sets worldwide. Winning the propaganda war today is harder. In an age where a cell phone can transmit the horrifying images instantaneously worldwide, anti-insurgency operations that appear cavalier about civilian casualties inflame world opinion. That appears to have led to the Israeli-Turkish breach.

This does not excuse the actions of Hamas and Hezbollah who have cynically exploited the suffering of their people for political gain. But as the stronger power (not to mention as a party to international treaty obligations regarding human rights) public opinion place a greater burden on Israel. Hamas’s bad acts cannot act as automatic exculpation for any Israeli action.  Winning this propaganda war will require positive actions from Israel and its friends in delineating the procedures and responses on Israel’s legitimate self defense needs, instead of the reflexive and tedious accusations of anti-semitism that were hurled when the Goldstone Report was released that only serve to harden opinion against Israel.

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