eye on iran blog 88.
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Posted by Frank Patton, Merseyside, England
"Entebbe." That one word summed up the popular perception of the world towards Israel, following that daring and heroic mission into Uganda to rescue one hundred hostages held by the lunatic and despotic Idi Amin. The message was loud and clear to one and all: "Don't mess with the Jews!"
As certain as night follows day, the world was left in no doubt whatsoever that an assault on the Jewish State or its people would initiate an automatic response.
The respect for Israel was well rooted in experience, and it would be naive to pretend that Israel could have achieved its standing amongst the international community by using diplomacy alone.
The Israelis are tough. The Israelis don't give up without a fight. These are the thoughts that produced this mindset that probably best described the Israeli national character, superceding even the Israeli association with the Land, its long history and deeply held religious beliefs. Then to reinforce this perception, there was the bombing raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak.
One can only imagine the mutterings of United Nations diplomats in their corridors of power in New York: "Don't mess with the Jews!"
But now there has been a shift in these previously held perceptions, to such a great extent that President Ahmadinejad can declare, with apparent impunity, that Israel should be wiped off the map, and this from the leader of a country that will soon have the nuclear capability to do just precisely that!
What went wrong? What has happened to the (often) grudging respect that for so long dominated the worldview of Israel? How is Israel perceived nowadays by the international community, and more especially, by its sworn enemies?
The evacuation from Gaza could have been handled differently, with more fanfare and spotlights on the Palestinian Authority, before the withdrawal, to proclaim over and over again to the international community, how they, the Palestinians, would guarantee border security, and then this should have been underwritten by a commitment from the United Nations, to intervene on Israel's behalf in the event of a security breakdown.
In the event, the Gaza evacuation did not make the headlines internationally, and the Palestinian Authority could not, or would not take effective measures to stop the attacks on Israel that ensued.
The equation was simple. Intifada equals Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Next equation please. Use Gaza as a launching pad for further attacks on Israel equals, what? An acceleration of the withdrawal process from the West Bank? East Jerusalem? More? Why not demand the total annihilation of Israel - let's be ambitious for goodness sake! And that is precisely what Mr. Ahmadinejad is being: ambitious, and not without good reason. Because the perception of Israel is different now.
How can Israel regain the propaganda initiative? Israeli response to rocket attacks into its territory is largely confined to IDF artillery attacking ploughed fields, depriving the local residents of a peaceful nights sleep and nothing else. Its targeting of known terrorists has often resulted in collateral killing of innocents, and the world media have a field day when this happens.
So, the immediate challenge facing Israel is to take the initiative in winning the propaganda war. Ahmadinejad, and more especially, the Iranian people, must be told over and over again, in the media, and through whatever third party diplomatic channels that exist, that Iran can be, and will be wiped off the map. Turn Iran's language around and use it against them. But this is only the beginning.
Israel has to rekindle the spirit of Entebbe.
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Previous blog entries:
A ticking bomb
The true threat
In the light of history