Thankfully, the unsavory allegations of harassment against the former bureau
chief of the Prime Minister’s Office are behind us. But the fallout from further
impending resignations and bitter infighting among key officials remain the
order of the day and continue inhibiting one of the most important divisions of
government from fulfilling its primary obligations.
Yet the reality is
that the shortcomings of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) long precede the
Netanyahu government and are not primarily related to personality conflicts. One
of the principal weaknesses has been the long-standing failure to ensure that
vital government information services are efficiently managed and coordinated at
the political and military level. One would have expected that Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, sensitive to the importance of the war of ideas, would have
regarded rectifying this state of affairs as a priority.
failed to eventuate and despite possessing a powerful case to justify our
actions and display our bona fides to the world at large, due to a combination
of incompetence and failure to respond in a timely manner as issues arise, our
cause continues to be ineffectively advocated.
This was exemplified by
the appalling manner in which we mishandled the recent breakdown of negotiations
with the Palestinians.
We had agreed to discussions without
preconditions. It was the Palestinians who broke up the talks on the
grounds that we rejected their outrageous demands to accede to another
settlement freeze and recognize the 1967 armistice lines as the opening
benchmark for negotiating borders. Yet Palestinian spokesmen succeeded in
convincing the global media that it was due to our intransigence that the talks
Only several days later did an Israeli government
spokesman belatedly explain that the Palestinians refused to even consider our
security requirements, making it inconceivable for us to start drawing
In the global battle to obtain public support, our government seems
oblivious to the critical imperative of promoting our narrative in a timely and
effective manner. In stark contrast, the Palestinians, repeatedly and
systematically, articulate their distorted and false version, which alas, much
of the world now blindly accepts.
Again and again the media recycles the
false Palestinian narrative of our having indulged in ethnic cleansing in 1948
and being responsible for the “expulsion” of millions of displaced and suffering
Palestinian refugees. We seem to have given up refuting these lies.
also only recently that we began drawing attention to the massive expulsion of
Jews from Muslim countries and the appropriation of their property without any
restitution that was cruelly orchestrated at the time of Israel’s establishment.
And yet, in stark contrast to Arab refugees, they were fully integrated within
On the other hand, we frenziedly concentrate on
justifying our “legitimacy” and “right to exist as a nation” to the point where
it has become a counterproductive exercise.
During his June visit to
Washington, Netanyahu adamantly conveyed to President Obama why ‘67 borders plus
“agreed” swaps were a prescription for disaster. Yet we became silent
when the Europeans and others subsequently pressed us to implement this
formulation. Israeli spokesmen should be vigorously rejecting this
demand, pointing out that it conflicts with 1967 UN Resolution 242, conflicts
with undertakings made to Israel by the former Bush administration and would
expose Israel to utterly indefensible borders.
Besides, the intransigent
Palestinians have clearly stated that they would reject “swaps” enabling us to
retain the major settlement blocs and Jewish Jerusalem, thus ensuring that the
indefensible armistice lines of 1948 would de facto become the borders. If we
fail to firmly repudiate these demands today, a possibly reelected Obama will be
encouraged to seek to impose these disastrous borders upon us in the
Likewise, we should be far more aggressive in urging the US and
others to formally endorse our rejection of the Palestinian refugee “right of
return” to Israel, on the grounds that implementation of such a procedure would
effectively result in the demise of the Jewish state.
It is only recently
that our prime minister has belatedly begun hammering the truth about the
all-pervasive Palestinian culture of death and criminality and the barbaric
indoctrination of children from kindergarten level sanctifying the murder of
Jews. It is only now that we have begun stressing that this incitement to
genocide emanates no less from the PA than Hamas, highlighting the charade of
portraying any Palestinian leader as a genuine peace partner.
also actively refute the bizarre liberal Western and US efforts to depict the
hate-filled Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a moderate group. Otherwise a future
US administration will be more likely to seek to placate the new Islamic regimes
by pressuring us to make further unilateral concessions to the
Palestinians. We must explain that appeasing extremists not merely harms
us but poses no less a threat to Western interests and will inevitably serve to
embolden Jihadists to extort more in order to achieve their ultimate goal of
In this context, we should not overestimate the impact
on us of the conflicts between the Sunnis and Shi’ites. Yes, the Saudis would be
overjoyed if we intervened to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear
status. But we should not overlook the fact that the one issue which
continues to unite extremist Sunnis and Shi’ites is their ultimate objective of
eliminating Jewish sovereignty in the region, even if genocidal means are
required to achieve that goal.
Benjamin Netanyahu is blessed with an
extraordinary gift of articulating the case for Israel. But unless he also
ensures that the government employs competent people capable of expeditiously
responding in the war of ideas, he must be held accountable for our failures in
In the coming months we will be confronting grave diplomatic
challenges with existential implications. Netanyahu must recognize that
one of the highest priorities of his office is to provide effective liaison
between the IDF, the Foreign Ministry and other divisions to ensure that Israel
responds speedily and acts efficiently in the face of the ongoing defamatory
campaigns being launched against us.
Only too often we remain the last
cab off the rank when it comes to damage control. By the time we respond to
Palestinian lies and subterfuge, it is invariably too late and the initial
falsehoods which dominated the media cannot be undone.
One need only recall the Jenin “massacre,” the Muhammad al-Dura libel, the
Goldstone Report, the Mavi Marmara flotilla and the ongoing stream of false
allegations in which our responses were always far too late and frequently
We have a powerful, even irrefutable case based on facts.
But it must be communicated clearly and professionally. It is the
responsibility of the Prime Minister’s Office to implement this and it is
Netanyahu’s direct obligation to ensure that his office is manned by the best
available staff. Until now, notwithstanding a number of talented individuals
serving in the PMO, overall the information services remain an abysmal failure.
The time is long overdue for the prime minister to intervene. If some of his
current staff are incapable of fulfilling their obligations, he should replace
them with personnel competent to do so.The writer’s website can be
viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at