A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
May 30, 2010 Gazan Flotilla May Become PR Disaster, Israel Suffers a Diplomatic Set-Back
Israeli news has been dominated by two events that received very little coverage in the United States. The first item will no doubt become big news tomorrow, when the Israeli Navy intercepts a group of boats that set out from Turkey to "break" the blockade of Gaza. The goal of this flotilla is to do as much harm to Israel’s image as possible, and Israel is willingly falling into the trap. There is no good solution. However, if I was an Israeli leader, I would suggest the boats be intercepted, thoughoughly searched, remove anything that might be used for a weapon, and send the boats on their way. But this highlights the larger Israeli failure; a failure to understand that the propoganda war is as important as any other war at the moment. I am humored when the Army/Navy says it is aware of the effect of propaganda. After all, they are working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; (far from one of the most effective Israeli ministries, in the best of days). Under the leadership of Foreign Minister Lieberman, this ministry seems to be consistently doing more damage than good.
In a second, related topic, Israel suffered a major diplomatic setback, when the UN Session on Nuclear Disarmament adjourned with a resolution calling for a Conference in 2012 to deal with the Nuclear Disarmament of the Middle East. However, the resolution named only one nation by name-- Israel and called for it to come clean regarding its nuclear program. The resolution, which has been sought for two decades by the Egyptians, primarily the former Foreign Minister, and now head of the Arab League Abraham Mousa, has been blocked in the past by the Untied States. This time the US went along with the resolution, and then stated it did not support the section of the resolution that dealt with Israel. The US made it clear that only after peace and full nuclear disarmament of the Middle East is it fair to ask Israel to become a signature to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The explanation for Israel’s diplomatic defeat have varied. Those defending Prime Minster Netanyahu claim it was expected, and it was the price the US (and by implication) Israel was willing to pay for World Wide support for strong sanctions against Iran. Other observers (and they seem to be the majority), believe Israel was blinded. Some say the Israeli government does not seem to understand that when President Obama talks about multi-lateral actions, he truly believes in them, and will do all he can to avoid uniltateral actions. For an even less charitable explanation, I heard a number of times in the last 24 hours, if you decide to defend Jewish building in Sheik Jarah, you may be doing that at the expense of Israel’s truly strategic issues; such as the nuclear program. In other words, getting into a fight with Obama over building in Jerusalem has precluded the intimate relations Israeli leaders need to have with America's Presidents. For an even broader perspective- one that I do not fully agree with-- though presents a number of salient points, read the article in Ha’aretz, by Tzvi Laor, called: Israel Does Not Understand the New World
Finally, for those who were not worried enough about the views of Jewish opponents of Israel, you should read Jay Goldberg's interview with Marcy Winograd. Winograd is challenging the renomination of California Democratic Congresswoman, Jane Harman. Jane Harman's Opponent on the Injustice of Israel, the Taliban and Henry Waxman's Alleged Perfidy