Israel is losing the PR war so badly that even evangelical support is eroding

A Christian warns of a resurgence of replacement theology.

Netanyahu Obama white house 248.88 (photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
Netanyahu Obama white house 248.88
(photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
The war that Israel keeps losing is the war of world opinion, the war for individual hearts and minds. Consider recent stumbles. Israel's military campaign in Gaza should have been named "8,000 is enough!" This would have communicated a determination to stop the barrage of missiles from Hamas, using surgical precision to destroy its arsenal, but destroying all of it, not just a part. Enough was enough: 8,000 missiles launched on the nation's civilian population would no longer be tolerated. Unfortunately the operation was dubbed, "Cast Lead." The resulting image in the English-speaking world was not helpful. Lead is a soft metal associated with poison. The implication, then, was an unprofessional plan with ambivalent determination, biased motives and toxic methods. Which is exactly how governments and media judge "the Gaza war." Israel and her defenders respond by arguing, "Israel has the right to defend herself." This is true, but flawed. Why? Limiting Israel's self-defense to a right makes it an option. Little wonder, then, that Israel's enemies portray her as a ruthless bully. In the matter of Gaza, for example, she could have chosen to refrain. In fact, Israel has more than a right to defend her citizens and existence. Along with every sovereign state, she has a mandate to defend against invaders, murderers, thieves, poverty and disease. And from enemies who declare war and wage it. The Hamas unamended charter of 1988 is a declaration of war. It explicitly calls for destruction of the Jewish state of Israel through jihad - against Jews and Christians (Article 13). Any member who abandons this struggle is guilty of "high treason and cursed" (Article 32). Accordingly, any "initiatives... so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to [these] principles" (Article 13). Even so, the United States is on the verge of engaging Hamas as entity that is on par with Israel. No, not on par: morally superior. Consider the recent image splashed across America by political cartoonist, Pat Oliphant, portraying Israel as a headless, heartless, jack-booted Nazi devouring helpless, little Gaza. Where did that idea come from? Look at Article 20 of Hamas's 1988 charter and see who is winning the PR war. Of course it is more than public opinion that is being lost; it is the death of common sense; it is defeat in the war for truth. EVEN EVANGELICAL SUPPORT is eroding. A vocal minority remain effusive on Israel's behalf. But the broader community is not monolithic. Many of its members are hungry for change, not unlike the political appetite that won Barack Hussein Obama the presidency. Among evangelicals the religious equivalent is a movement led by people like Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian; Stephen Sizer, a pastor who has gained popularity by condemning "Christian Zionism"; and, of course, Jimmy Carter, who accuses Israel of committing a "holocaust." How widespread is the erosion of evangelical support for Israel? Google this: "Letter to President Bush from Evangelical Leaders." Look at those who signed it - and the organizations they represent. Their claim to "represent large numbers of evangelicals" is true. And behind it all? A resurgence of replacement theology, an ideology that, for almost 1700 years, has been used to ignite atrocities against Jewish communities. So what can Israel do to win its global PR war, a war for truth? One of Judaism's greatest traits is that, while the rest of world talks, it acts. The government of Israel has beefed up media relations and lobbying efforts to Western countries. It makes a special effort to reach Christians through its Tourism Ministry and the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus. Religious Israeli organizations do a first-rate job in taking their case to gentiles. And a host of secular entities, most of them nonprofits, are second to none in telling the truth about Israel and exposing its enemies' lies. But it is not enough. What else can be done? How can Israel be a more effective light that draws the nations to her? First, recruit the world of commerce. Independent, for-profit media companies must present the broad canvas of Israeli news. Expanded investments in Israeli technologies will yield medical breakthroughs, unleash alternative energy sources and provide water and food for the world's population. Second, aim directly to inform the potential "grassroot" supporters of the Jewish state. Bring Israel to them and they will come to Israel, both as tourists and supporters of the state. Yes, methods include the Internet and its social networking tools. Still, there is nothing more effective than firsthand encounters. So. Sponsor events. Send invitations to others instead of seeking invitations from others. Deploy first-class conventions and shows and fairs, events hosted on civic platforms around the world. Get endorsements from influential people to market these events. Use them to showcase Israel, not defame it. Begin these tours where demographic support is strong. Respect religious sensibilities. But use secular venues so that people from different backgrounds will feel comfortable and welcome. Participants with a variety of interests - business, social, political and religious - will enhance grassroot support for Israel and her people. Most importantly, seek wisdom from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Listen for the whisper of His counsel. He alone is God of all the nations. Under the banner of His leadership, Israel will win. The writer is director of radio broadcasting for Israel World TV.