Friday, November 07, 2014

"Can we please stop talking about hasbara?" (Daniel Gordis)

Just spotted this in my e-mail, and thought it too important not to link to ASAP.

The standing-on-one-foot version:

"The problem is not with how Israel tells the story, but with how the Western world has grown tired of Israel.

. . . 

The initial AP headline, changed following an outcry, was “Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem.” Yes, you read that correctly. As far as the headline was concerned, the story was that Israeli police shot a guy. That he had tried to kill people, that he had intentionally run them over and wounded several of them grievously, that he was a known terrorist – all that was apparently irrelevant to the headline. All the initial AP headline chose to note was that “those Israelis” had shot another Palestinian.

Tell me – what good would hasbara [public relations] have done?

. . .

No one has explained this phenomenon better than award-winning Israeli journalist Matti Friedman.

“You don’t need to be a history professor, or a psychiatrist, to understand what’s going on. Having rehabilitated themselves against considerable odds in a minute corner of the earth, the descendants of powerless people who were pushed out of Europe and the Islamic Middle East have become what their grandparents were – the pool into which the world spits.”

Precisely. And would hasbara – even the best we might imagine – have any impact on that? Obviously not. So can we please not talk about hasbara anymore? Let’s stop asking why the Israeli government is so incompetent at telling its story, and focus on the question that matters.

Let’s start asking instead: Why has the international community’s moral compass become so utterly dysfunctional?"


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