An Image Problem
Hafez Barghouti, editor of the PA-funded daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, said he was concerned that the fighting would tarnish the image of the Palestinians. “Tens of millions of people now look at us as worthless gangsters with no values”, he complained.
Columnist Mahmoud Habbash also acknowledged that the fighting had caused grave damage to the Palestinians on the international arena. The internal fighting, he said, has distorted the image of the Palestinians in the eyes of the world.
“The world is watching how the Palestinians are destroying their institutions and achievements with their own hands. They see how we are mercilessly slaughtering innocent people. We are losing the sympathy of the world. I’m afraid the world will now view us differently”.
What stands out here at first sight is, of course, the fact that the “Palestinians” don’t think all the years of their terrorism against Israel, even inside the 1949 Armistice Line, may have “tarnished their image” and made people look at them as “worthless gangsters with no values”. Only now, says one of their columnists, does the world see how they are “mercilessly slaughtering innocent people”—now, not in all the past years of carrying suicide terrorism attacks on Israeli buses, bakeries and malls.
I can elaborate on how this shows the moral depravity of the enemy, but before I reach that issue, I wish to point out an essential fact that concerns far outside our region: world opinion.
I have never spared the Muslim enemy my recognition of their mastery of the art of propaganda, their extensive knowledge as to how to play on the sentiments of the Western Left. (Just look at this recent snippet, via LGF: “Two of those caricatures make a link between Muslims and Muslim terrorists. That has a name and it’s called racism”. Compare my post from August 21, 2006, They Know What Works.) From the beginning of the “Palestinian Nation” fraud to the portrayal of Israel as an “Apartheid State”, Muslim propaganda has been successful in shaping world opinion to such an extent that the “Palestinian” spokesmen’s lack of concern that their aggression against Israel could have “tarnished their image” reflects not just their own moral depravity but the prevailing opinion of the world. The world really does see “Palestinian” terrorist acts against Israel as being acts of resistance against colonialist injustice, and really does not consider Israeli Jews to be innocent people—not the “settlers” in Judea and Samaria, that goes without saying, but nowadays not even the once “legitimate” Israeli Jewish inhabitants of Tel-Aviv and Haifa.
That, in a nutshell, is the reason why Carter’s book has raised such a furor. It wasn’t the factual errors and egregious distortions in that book—those are easy things to deal with, as CAMERA and the ADL show. Jimmy “Too Many Jews” Carter himself knows that, on the arena of intellectual debate, he can only end up as a floor mop—that’s why he refused to debate Alan Dershowitz. The great peril of Carter’s book is its provision of a strong justification for people to think Israel, or at the very least the “Zionist regime”, should be wiped off the map (G-d forbid)—Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s sentiment, now endorsed by an American ex-president’s comparison of Israel to South Africa. Indeed, throughout all history, the Jew-haters’ arguments have been pathetically weak intellectually, but their danger has always lain in providing the masses with a pretext to consider Jewish blood a free-for-all.
That is also why I spend a good deal of my time engaging Daily Kos diaries—not so much to respond to them as to alert people to the fact of the new mainstreaming of anti-Semitism, now dressed as anti-Zionism or just “opposition to Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinian people”. The Islamic propaganda machine has worked its effect, first by framing the Islamic jihad against the Jewish state as a nationalistic struggle of the “indigenous Palestinian Arab nation” against “Zionist colonialism”, and then, from that base, demonizing Israel in every way possible, by any means available, including stagings, lies and Photoshop.
We have reached a state comparable to being ordered to dance with a leg cast. The enemy tells us how to fight this war: don’t retaliate, don’t fire back, don’t bulldoze buildings of families of terrorists, don’t this, don’t that… an unprecedented situation in which an enemy bent on destroying you dictates the rules of engagement to you. And on the media front, on the left-leaning TreasonMedia and the left-wing blogosphere, we’re being told what we must feel as well: don’t hate the other side, no matter how many of your number they murder. Don’t cave in to irrationality, don’t give in to all-consuming hatred, they say. Turning the other cheek, which even for Christians applies only to individuals and not to states, is demanded of us Jews. And there is, finally, the canard that “Not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism”, usually followed by statements that would have Ahmadinejad nodding in approval.
It’s things like that that make me feel like my head’s going to explode. We are at war, dear muzzies and lefties, and we’re not going to behave as if it were peacetime. “Don’t call us anti-Semites!”, say the left-wingers—but you can keep calling Israel an apartheid state, right? We’ll call you anything we want. Your open justification of Islamic terrorism, so often disguised as “understanding what drives them”, is good enough a reason for me to call you anti-Semites. (Screenshot examples: ,  )
That wasn’t a digression. It’s the whole point: our (belated) response to the onslaught of Muslim propaganda has been hampered by our goodness, by our misplaced wartime gentlemanliness. We have limited our response to describing the humanity, the civility of the state of Israel. It’s not that that kind of response does nothing, but it just isn’t enough. Look how much mileage the Muslims have gained not by painting a positive picture of themselves (for there is nothing positive a fictional nation can say about itself apart from a few generalities, such as cultivating olive trees) but by blackening the other side with a hideously negative portrayal. Usual result: all the descriptions of Israel’s humanity and civility are brushed aside by the reply, “But you are stealing the land of another people and oppressing them with your brutal occupation!”
Let’s not stop the positive portrayal of Israel and its achievements (which are legion, thanks be to G-d!), but let us also add to them the necessary negative portrayal of the other side. First, reframe: no more “Palestinians” (except in sneer quotes as I always do) struggling for their independence, but Muslims fighting against the existence of any state ruled by non-Islamic law, of which Israel is only one. That puts it in a whole new perspective: you get a tiny white patch of land surrounded by a huge mass of green covering much of Africa and about half of Asia. It also allies us with people who could otherwise be swayed by the post-colonial discourse: the Buddhist Thais, the Catholic Filipinos, the Scandinavians, to name just a few who, if just approached to see the commonality between their situation and ours, will not be supportive of the “Palestinians” any more than they could support the Muslim terrorists of southern Thailand, Kashmir, Paris and the rest.
The second strategy, building on the basis of the first, is to demonize the enemy. There is one caveat that applies to us in following this strategy, but it is not an impediment: we cannot use lies. Fudging the numbers, staging the scenes and editing the photos with digital tools are out of the question. The Muslims can and do lie with no holds barred for the same reason that they put women and children in the front line of fire, store weapons in mosques and raise their newborn babies on the culture of suicide terrorism: a total lack of morality. We, being better than them, obviously cannot resort to such tactics.
Nor do we need to do so: reality is the best demonizer of the Muslim enemy. All the CAIR campaigns against “Islamophobia” cannot undo the fact of Islamic terrorism that jumps out before the viewer’s eyes on the daily news. All we have to do is steer the message so that it doesn’t get explained away by the bromides of, “tiny minority of extremists” or “resistance to Western imperialism”.
Stranger Than Fiction, by Cox & Forkum.
The slick campaigns portraying the “glorious past of Islam” try to whitewash the present by focusing on the past. However, even after weeding out historical falsehoods, past achievements of Muslims are a talking point against the Muslim public relations fronts, for they set the current malaise of the Muslim world against the starkest background. What good, exactly, are all those past scientific achievements of Islam when today the Muslims are suffering from self-inflicted diseases, such as genetic defects caused by inbreeding and curable diseases caused by rejecting modern medicine on religious grounds? Islamic architecture may be truly beautiful, but what do we get in that department today except the Islamic “rearrangement” of statues of the Buddha? There is here not a single lie, not a single fudging, not a single staging—reality itself paints a picture of a world, perhaps glorious in the past, but now having nothing to its name but death and destruction, nothing but the desertification of all blooms, whether literally as in Gaza, or figuratively (the replacement of prosperous civilization with anarchy and poverty) in Europe, where cities are filled with no-go zones for the police, complete with forced marriages, inbreeding, “honor killings”, female genital mutilation, murder of apostates and even the Sunni–Shi’a conflict.
Right now it takes “Palestinian” infighting to “tarnish their image”, because we have confined ourselves to the defensive position of showing how good we are. If, however, we expend more of our efforts on reframing this conflict globally and showing the reality of our being “in a new phase of a very old war” (from the Gates of Vienna tagline), their image will be such that a burka would have to be placed over reality itself in order to cover its shame.
This is a war, so… Onward!