Learn from your mistakes

Kasparov on Israel’s better and worse gambits.

Our Moscow-based guest, making his first visit to Israel for five years within the framework of the prestigious Dan David Prize ceremonies at Tel Aviv University, is full of praise for Israel’s economy, but concerned by its regional challenges and critical of its PR efforts, which he says need to focus more on international grassroots support.
“Economically you’re doing great,” Kasparov says. “There is more jealousy now – not only among Arab countries but also among European countries, because Israel, as far as I can judge, is doing better than other countries economically. Israel looks rock solid in this economic turmoil.”
As for the struggle for normalization, he says, “I wish there was a magic formula to change the environment, but Israel is doomed to be here in the Middle East, surrounded by countries not yet capable of changing their agenda based on the denial of the rights of the State of Israel to exist.”
While he doesn’t anticipate any of that shifting in the near future, he says he’s worried that the process of delegitimizing Israel is moving ahead, “because Western Europe is indifferent to the activities of anti-Israeli forces.”
Last year, he recalls, he was in Oslo with Magnus Carlsen, the current top-ranked chess player whom he has been coaching, and on a walk in the city center they ran into “quite a big demonstration” against Israel in front of the parliament. “There were a few hundred people chanting their slogans. An Arab boy, I assume Palestinian, was giving out pamphlets. Beautifully printed. An expensive piece of art. All in Norwegian. Someone is paying for all these activities in Norway!”
It’s been “a traditional Israel problem,” he observes, “not being very successful in confronting these PR wars.”
Specifically,he says, “Israel concentrates on the lobbying of governments,especially in the United States, while the anti-Israeli propaganda isvery much based on the streets. At a certain point, even thegovernments are forced to listen to the street. Israel has badly lostthe street.
“You can blame everybody else,” he says, “but as a professional player I always used to look at my own mistakes.”