Why Does Israel Get a Bad Rap?
Writing in the Wall Street Journal this week on the occasion of Israeli Independence Day, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren penned a powerful op-ed on the erosion of Israel’s image.
His conclusion: Israel’s image has deteriorated in large part because of a “systematic delegitimization of the Jewish state.”
“Having failed to destroy Israel by conventional arms and terrorism,” he writes, “Israel’s enemies alit on a subtler and more sinister tactic that hampers Israel’s ability to defend itself, even to justify its existence.”
First, some full disclosure. I like and respect Michael Oren. He’s a remarkably talented historian, astute analyst, and able diplomat.
I also have no doubt that there are efforts to delegitimize Israel, that anti-Semitism pervades some of the anti-Israel rhetoric, that Israel is one of the few countries in the world that’s judged by impossibly high standards, and that the perception and reality of its power causes many to ignore the realities of its vulnerability.
But I just don’t buy the argument that Israel’s image has eroded principally because of a dedicated campaign to delegitimize it.
Three other factors drive Israel’s very bad PR: the realities of nation-building, the image of the asymmetry of power, and Israel’s own actions, which, like those of so many other countries, value short-term tactics over long-term strategy.