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Weekly Commentary: Destructive self restraint in Israel’s PR

Aaron Lerner IMRA Date: 28 September, 2006

The absence of a clear and coherent interpretation of the current situation
serves to seriously handicap the Government of Israel’s PR efforts.

And in many respects, this is self imposed.

What is Israel’s take on Egypt’s role in Israeli-Palestinian relations?

The photo-op answer is that we welcome the “positive contributions” of our
Egyptian “partners in peace” with the spin that “Egypt’s policy is driven by
the concern it shares with Israel’s over radical groups that threaten
stability.”

The truth is that we are concerned that Egypt’s operative policy vis-a-vis
the Palestinians is to facilitate an ongoing low grade Palestinian war of
attrition against Israel. This is illustrated by Egypt’s intensive efforts
to preserve the various illegal radical armed Palestinian militias as it
well as the massive flow of weapons from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

What about Mahmoud Abbas?

The photo-op assessment is that he is a “moderate” and a “man of peace”.

Yet in truth, “moderation” is a tactical choice for Abbas rather than a
commitment. Radical action is wrong only to the extent that it is
ineffectual. “Moderate” Abbas embraced the “promising” and “moderate”
Prisoners’ Document that mandates the murder of Jews in Jerusalem
(“resistance”) and Abbas wants to put all armed terrorists on the PA
payroll. Abbas has no qualms, noting that all bets are off if the
Palestinians don’t get every centimeter of land – and more – via
negotiations.

And the dichotomy between “photo-op” and reality goes on and on.

This isn’t a matter of “constructive ambiguity” or diplomatic niceties or
even a fervent hope that if the “photo-op” assessment is repeated enough
times that maybe reality will somehow catch up with it.

Unfortunately, what really drives this phenomenon is the ruling Government’s
desire not to provide ammunition to the enemy.

No. Not ammunition to the Arabs.

The “enemy” are Israelis who could potentially use the statements of Israeli
officials as ammunition against Government policy.

This is nothing new.

From the day Rabin embraced Oslo up through to the Olmert administration
today, there has been a struggle in every administration between those who
felt that the truth had to be told and the leadership who wanted to keep its
options open.

Sometimes it has reached the point of absurdity.

At a particularly severe low point in Israeli-Palestinian relations, the
Barak Government’s public affairs coordinator, Nachman Shai, released a
“white book” on 20 November 2000 detailing Palestinian Oslo violations.
While the publication was distributed by the Government of Israel at an
official meeting with the press, there was no identifying marking on it
indicating the source of the publication, the author, or that the Government
of Israel was in any way associated with the publication. The publication
was quickly pulled from distribution as Barak tried to make more “progress”
with the Palestinians.

Does Israel need a bigger PR budget? Yes.

But just as with an exorbitantly expensive sound system, it still very much
matters what you play on it.

.Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
Website: http://www.imra.org.il

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