¿Por qué?

Spanish columnists question anti-Israel sentiment

Rome's Mayor Ignazio Marino claps next to the World Cup trophy, in Rome in February. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Rome's Mayor Ignazio Marino claps next to the World Cup trophy, in Rome in February.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Antonio Navalón calls it the “Goliath complex.”
A journalist with a long track record as a notorious writer for Mexican and Spanish newspapers and a winner of a national journalistic prize in Mexico, Navalón was an aide to the US’s John Kerry in his electoral campaign. Last week, he wrote a column in the popular daily El País, suggesting that Israel suffers from a superiority complex in the eyes of the media – and, increasingly, in social media.
Israel’s military advantage has led international journalists and pundits to fundamentally misunderstand the Gaza conflict, he says. One of the reasons is that they portray Israel as Goliath and the Palestinians as David, therefore causing Israel to lose the propaganda war.
“It is unfair to all Israelis living in the Center and South of the country, who are perpetually targets of missile fire, to be portrayed as the aggressors,” he writes.
“Don’t forget, humans are dangerous only when they feel insecure,” he adds, highlighting the threat that Hamas poses.
Navalón later argues that Israel has lost its military edge since 1973’s Yom Kippur War, and questions how the massive Israeli military surveillance apparatus was unable to detect the Hamas tunnels.
“Israelis now find themselves in a much more dangerous situation than before,” he writes, referring to the new war tactics of Hezbollah and Hamas.
Just a few days earlier, Alfredo Hidalgo Lavié, a professor of political science at the University of Madrid, published an extensive column titled “Between information, propaganda and horror,” which states: “The thousands of innocent civilian victims who have been killed in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan somehow don’t appeal to our citizens the same way the Gaza conflict does.”
Lavié also posits that debate and discussion in Spain are characterized by irrational arguments.
“People don’t want to go through the trouble of studying, reflecting and analyzing, as these things presuppose an honest scientific mind-set,” he says.
He compares the Gaza conflict to the thousands of murders of Christians in the Middle East, which don’t seem to garner as much attention in avenues such as social media. “It’s possible that some people who find themselves arguing for a particular standpoint are intoxicated by feelings – which ultimately result in a closed, Manichean worldview [one characterized by moral dualism].”
The professor summarizes six topics he thinks are being omitted in the news reporting of the conflict: (1) Analysis of what it means for Palestinians to be ruled by a terrorist organization; (2) Hamas’s use of civilians as human shields; (3) the lack of a political mediator to negotiate with Israel, to help create a legitimate Palestinian state; (4) the use of terrorism to extend the conflict; (5) aid by non-democratic governments; and (6) previous opportunities for the Palestinians to put an end to the conflict.
The anti-Israel banner politicians don’t want to remove
Corriere della Sera, Italy, August 8
The Jewish community in Livorno, one of the most important in Italy, is protesting a banner put up by some left-wing groups in the city, which carries this clear message: “Stop the genocide in Gaza. Israel is the real terrorist!” Livorno’s Jews have asked for it to be removed, but this has not happened.
Israeli Ambassador in Italy Naor Gilon wrote to Filippo Nogarin, a prominent citizen of Livorno, and the letter has gained nationwide attention. Among other things, he wrote: “It hurts to respond to attacks of this sort, because it expresses a serious misunderstanding of the conflict that often is based on hatred towards Israel. What is happening in Gaza is not genocide. It is a conflict which Hamas started, and they have sent over 2,000 rockets aimed directly at civilians in Israel.”
While admitting that the banner is “exaggerated,” Nogarin claims that “it expresses criticism against Israel as a state, but has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.”
Avigdor Liberman calls for more support from Germany
Bild Zeitung, Germany, August 7
The foreign minister made a statement to this high-circulation German daily, calling for increased support from Berlin. “The Germans, as the political leaders in Europe, must take a strong position in the Gaza conflict,” Liberman stated. “Berlin must round up the governments of other states in the EU and find a solution to end the economic and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”
Liberman also called for German inspectors to travel to Gaza to control the trade between the Palestinians and neighboring states, in order to stop the conflict from escalating further.
Germany, France and the UK have presented a plan to stop the conflict, and one of its suggested points is to reinstate the EU Border Assistance Mission at the Rafah crossing; international observers could then demilitarize radical groups along the Gaza border.
Posters call for boycott of Israel
La Stampa, Italy, August 9
An unidentified organization that only goes by the signature “Vita est militia” (To live is to fight) has put up posters on the streets of Rome, urging a boycott of all Israeli stores and merchants. The list includes more than 50 businesses.
“Boycott Israel and put an end to the massacre of the Palestinian people,” the posters state. “We must boycott every type of product and every Jewish merchant.”
The organization responsible for keeping the city clean, AMA, immediately removed the posters. Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino later denounced the posters, saying, “These values represent unworthy values of all Romans,” and that “the language used brings back memories of the anti-Semitism employed by the Nazis.”