Hatred and Self-Esteem

Canadian columnist David Warren on Israel, public relations and “world opinion”:

…Countries are like companies in some limited sense, trying to preserve the polish on a brand name. There is a whole school of thought, in contemporary Israel for instance, that holds by the classic PR strategy: no news is good news. And indeed, it is hard to argue that a day without Israel on the world’s front pages is like a day of sunshine, whatever the weather happens to be in Tel Aviv.

There is an alternative school that tries to call attention to underpublicized facts: that Israel is the one fully functional constitutional democracy in a region of sordid, murderous tyrannies; the only fully open society, in which Muslims, Christians and Jews are equal before an independent judiciary; that it has the only economy in the region not entirely dependent on foreign aid, and foreign resource extraction technology. But no one is listening, so why bother?

Of course, public relations departments would not exist if managers could not foresee days without sunshine. Things “just happen,” for which one must be prepared. For instance: the flotilla that was sent, nominally to test Israel’s Gaza blockade, really to give Israel a huge black eye, courtesy Turkey’s Islamist-leaning ruling party.

There was no good response. Once you have psychopaths like the ones aboard the Mavi Marmara prepared, nay, hoping to become “martyrs” in the cause of hurting Israel — there is no “nice” way to see them off.

Compare, if you will, the PR operation of Turkey’s new ally, Hamas. It is quite the opposite of the classic strategy. The organization’s propaganda states unambiguously that it exists to remove Israel from the face of the earth, by every means within its power. Meanwhile, it will control the lives of the Palestinians in its custody, executing any who get out of line.

And the world queues to supply them with food and clothing and construction materials, thus freeing their budget for the acquisition of more weaponry…

And Shelby Steele,writing in the Wall Street Journal:

…[There] is something new in the world, this almost complete segregation of Israel in the community of nations. And if Helen Thomas’s remarks were pathetic and ugly, didn’t they also point to the end game of this isolation effort: the nullification of Israel’s legitimacy as a nation? There is a chilling familiarity in all this. One of the world’s oldest stories is playing out before our eyes: The Jews are being scapegoated again.

“World opinion” labors mightily to make Israel look like South Africa looked in its apartheid era—a nation beyond the moral pale. And it projects onto Israel the same sin that made apartheid South Africa so untouchable: white supremacy. Somehow “world opinion” has moved away from the old 20th century view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a complicated territorial dispute between two long-suffering peoples. Today the world puts its thumb on the scale for the Palestinians by demonizing the stronger and whiter Israel as essentially a colonial power committed to the “occupation” of a beleaguered Third World people.

This is now—figuratively in some quarters and literally in others—the moral template through which Israel is seen. It doesn’t matter that much of the world may actually know better. This template has become propriety itself, a form of good manners, a political correctness. Thus it is good manners to be outraged at Israel’s blockade of Gaza, and it is bad manners to be outraged at Hamas’s recent attack on a school because it educated girls, or at the thousands of rockets Hamas has fired into Israeli towns—or even at the fact that Hamas is armed and funded by Iran. The world wants independent investigations of Israel, not of Hamas.

One reason for this is that the entire Western world has suffered from a deficit of moral authority for decades now. Today we in the West are reluctant to use our full military might in war lest we seem imperialistic; we hesitate to enforce our borders lest we seem racist; we are reluctant to ask for assimilation from new immigrants lest we seem xenophobic; and we are pained to give Western Civilization primacy in our educational curricula lest we seem supremacist. Today the West lives on the defensive, the very legitimacy of our modern societies requiring constant dissociation from the sins of the Western past—racism, economic exploitation, imperialism and so on…

Israel does not seek to oppress or occupy—and certainly not to annihilate—the Palestinians in the pursuit of some atavistic Jewish supremacy. But the merest echo of the shameful Western past is enough to chill support for Israel in the West.

The West also lacks the self-assurance to see the Palestinians accurately. Here again it is safer in the white West to see the Palestinians as they advertise themselves—as an “occupied” people denied sovereignty and simple human dignity by a white Western colonizer. The West is simply too vulnerable to the racist stigma to object to this “neo-colonial” characterization.

Our problem in the West is understandable. We don’t want to lose more moral authority than we already have. So we choose not to see certain things that are right in front of us. For example, we ignore that the Palestinians—and for that matter much of the Middle East—are driven to militancy and war not by legitimate complaints against Israel or the West but by an internalized sense of inferiority. If the Palestinians got everything they want—a sovereign nation and even, let’s say, a nuclear weapon—they would wake the next morning still hounded by a sense of inferiority. For better or for worse, modernity is now the measure of man.

And the quickest cover for inferiority is hatred. The problem is not me; it is them. And in my victimization I enjoy a moral and human grandiosity—no matter how smart and modern my enemy is, I have the innocence that defines victims. I may be poor but my hands are clean. Even my backwardness and poverty only reflect a moral superiority, while my enemy’s wealth proves his inhumanity.

In other words, my hatred is my self-esteem…

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