War: Why are the Palestinian Arabs Winning?
by Chuck Chriss
are dismayed by press coverage of the conflict between Israel and
the Palestinian Arabs. While most of us supporters think it is transparently
obvious that Israel is right and the homicide bombers are wrong,
somehow the world press often reports it differently, preferring
to focus sympathetically on the "brutal occupation", the
"plight of the refugees", and the "cycle of violence".
When they report the deaths of "innocent civilians" it
is more often Arabs killed by the IDF than Israelis killed by terrorists.
Why does this happen?
Has Israel been
inept with their public relations (or "hasbara") efforts,
thereby dropping the ball? Yes, that is part of the problem. But
while Israel may have been less than perfect in its hasbara, the
larger problem is that Israel is being out-fought by the Palestinian
Arab forces in the PR war. It is not just that Israel is weak in
PR, but also that the PA has been very strong and very effective.
You have to
look no further than the terminology of the debate. Every press
account uses descriptive words that immediately put Israel on the
This is a term with shallow historical roots, a loose regional reference
to the whole general area of Southern Syria. Prior to 1948, the
term usually meant the Jews living in Palestine, not the mixture
of Arabs and others. Now it is routinely used as if there is a long-established
"Palestinian heritage" in Eretz Yisrael.
Bank". Now almost always used for the geography between Green
Line Israel and the Jordan River, displacing Judea and Samaria,
the historically correct terms used universally until about 1950.
Prior to the 1948-49 truce along that line, it was seldom necessary
to selectively refer to those areas. Those who do use Judea and
Samaria today are viewed as "fanatics" or "ultra-Orthodox".
Calling the land "West Bank", along with "occupied
territories", takes long standing Jewish rights and claims
to the land off the table.
Territories". Used to describe land that has been in dispute
since the withdrawal of the British from the Palestine Mandate in
1948, land that was not considered "occupied" when Jordan
and Egypt were there before 1967. "Occupied" implies invasion
and imposition of outside force, rather than the actual situation
of assertion of Israeli control over land with no sovereign, responsible
government to quell aggression against Israel.
A description instead of "communities". It is easy to
rail against settlements, meaning a foreign transplant or colony,
overlooking that this is a call to eliminate communities of peaceful
Jewish people on land that has no other legitimate claimant. The
term also obscures the fact that many of these communities are part
of Jerusalem or are expansions, adjacent to existing Jewish communities
inside Israel’s 1948 borders.
checkpoints". A term used for security measures that are necessitated
by Palestinian Arab violence, not by any desire of Israel absent
of violence", a phrase that implicitly equates the murder of
Israeli civilians by terrorists with Israeli defensive responses.
I like the phrase that this "confuses the arsonist with the
fire department." All civilized countries use force to quell
violence — 34 killed and 1000 injured in the 1992 Los Angeles riots,
for example. Only the Palestinian Arabs use homicide bombings and
other attacks on civilians to express their grievances.
This list can
be made much longer, but the point is clear. Israel’s enemies are
in control of the debate. The skill of the Palestinian Arabs in
manipulating the media — already biased against Israel for other
reasons — has led to today’s situation. Arab terrorism is downplayed,
while corruption in the Palestinian Arab handling of aid money and
taxes seldom reaches Western audiences. But every real or imagined
error by Israel, and its defensive forces, gets full media exposure.
To add insult to injury, the much-coddled and protected Palestinian
Arabs complain about media bias against them!
Arabs have produced this situation deliberately, through a program
of expert media communications coupled with control and intimidation
of reporting from their zones. While adopting the image of the downtrodden,
they have used every slick image manipulation skill of modern propaganda
at its peak of effectiveness. Their spokespeople are well trained,
lavishly funded, and have the latitude to use lies and intimidation
when other forms will not suffice.
This has to
change. Until it does, the Palestinian Arabs will continue to receive
international political support and funding while Israel is constantly
forced onto the defensive. A bold new approach is needed that uses
clear, unambiguous language to describe the Palestinian Arabs for
exactly what they are. While not denying the unfortunate plight
of the ordinary Palestinian Arab at the bottom, the responsibility
must be put where it belongs: on Palestinian Arab "leaders"
whose authority has been misused to promote relentless attacks on
Israel while extracting corrupt personal benefits at the expense
of their own people. And, don’t forget the culpability of the corrupt
dictatorial leaders of all the other countries — in the Middle
East and elsewhere — who inflame and manipulate hatred of Israel
to deflect the rage of their own impotent peoples.