Friday, June 11, 2010

Are people starting to get it? Let us reason together.

After all the sturm und drang of the last couple of weeks, I really have to say that I think things have gone well for Israel. Sure there have been some ignorant mixed up commentaries. I accept that as the norm, and was surprised to see positives.

In America, the left criticized Israel for botching the Flotilla incident. (did you think it went well?) But not because it has no right to self defense, rather because it didn't serve Israeli or Palestinian interests.

Folks, that's progress.

Plus, Helen Thomas helped define the line between appropriate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitic falsehood. That helps.

Internationally, the UNSC didn't single out Israel, Tzahal and Latma videos were viewed significantly more than Al-Jazeera ones on Youtube, and Abu Mazen is trying to position himself as a moderate. However unsuccessful the new sanctions on Iran will almost certainly be, it was still a bad week for them. That's good for Israel.

(Here's my big question of the day: How many of those things are related to successes of the Obama administration and its policy of reasonable engagement? Because I'm pretty sure they get some credit on the UN, Abba and Iran stuff.)

Here is a related discussion about two articles, which describe people saying things I agree with.

I'm really not used to that.

Forwarded conversation
Subject: Hasbara on the offensive

From: Rabbi Aaron Bayer

Nice article summing up the shift in mindset that hasbara needs to take.
From: Michael Unterberg

I  agree with the author generally, but not down to the details.

We should be moving away from the hasbara model. The word itself sounds defensive and defeatist to my ears, and the results of this approach speak for themselves. I won't use the word. In WOFI we call explaining the conflict "hard advocacy", and portraying the greatness of Israel and rebranding it "soft advocacy". We emphasize that the soft approach is more crucial and productive. The foreign ministry has been preaching rebranding for some time.

But I think turning to a ha’ashama model overshoots the mark. We should be demanding, and yeah - even leading, international efforts to address the issues that the author mentions as well as others. I think the most important issues to lead on are Palestinian quality of life and preparation for compromise. As we lead on those issues, the author's accusations will appear as obstacles to be overcome.

In my opinion, Israel will do best by presenting itself as working hard to help reach those goals. Even Abu Mazen seems to get that, as reported here:

By the way, I did a spit take when I saw that Abbas article. Any thoughts about it?--

From: Rabbi Aaron Bayer
I think that you’re probably right about the ha’ashama eventually becoming an obstacle although in the short term it might have a place. I think that preparing for compromise and beginning to think and (more importantly) talk about how Israel is willing to lead on the Palestinian quality of life without giving up ground on our claims is critical in the same way that reconciliation was critical in South Africa.
If you’re referring to Abbas’ acknowledgment of Jewish history and a Jewish historical claim to at least part of Yerushalayim I couldn’t believe my eyes and was wondering why it wasn’t being made into a bigger deal. That along with salam fayad actually gives me a glimmer of hope.

From: Michael Unterberg
And how about:

“Everyone around the world talks about the ’67 borders, but with some amendments, some swaps here and there,”
“We have no objections to NATO.”
“We say that west Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.”
“I will say, OK, let us say there is incitement. " - He proposed reviving a three-party committee delineated under the Wye River agreement which would monitor incitement on both sides, with the participation of an American official.


Map Source: (or just click it to see it enlarged)

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