Israel’s public relations problem can be fixed,
experts say, but not by clinging to the old narratives.
F irst, the good news.
Despite frustration among Jews in Israel and North America that the country is losing the public relations battle because of the recent Gaza war and its current hard-line government, recent surveys show remarkably robust support for the Jewish state.
The Gallup 2010 country-favorability rating ranked Israel fifth, trailing stalwart allies like the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Canada. Israel enjoys a favorability rating of nearly 50 percentage points over the Palestinians.
Reading Jewish Week editor and publisher Gary Rosenblatt's interview with Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, I can't help but wonder if this moral paragon is on his way to being perceived as just another political activist. Given Wiesel's eloquent and moving contributions to our understanding of the Holocaust and its aftermath and his stature as a moral teacher on the issue of genocide, that would be sad.
If you believe the conventional wisdom, nothing good is likely to come out of the Israeli-Palestinian “proximity talks” that will begin as soon as this week under the auspices of U.S. special negotiator George Mitchell.
There’s some solid logic behind that perception, but there is also a danger: in the Middle East, hopelessness is a contagion that can only result in more bloodshed and misery to populations that have known too much of both for generations.
Not even a beautiful Mossad agent can
save the Bondian romp, ‘Lost in Rio.’
Special To The Jewish Week
Life was so much simpler in 1967. For a brief moment, everyone loved Israel, the plucky little country that fended off attacks from all its much larger, more powerful neighbors. With the U.S. involved in an unpopular war in Vietnam, it was comfortable for progressives to view the Israelis as a model for the Third World, a nation too tough to take crap from the big boys.
A core claim of the pro-Israel movement is coming under intensified attack as shifting Obama administration priorities renew questions about whether Israeli and U.S. interests are automatically in sync.
Could Obama’s growing problems with the community translate into popularity
for our least-favorite Sarah? Despite a new website, most experts say no.
If you believe the conventional wisdom about the 2008 presidential election, Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama was having a very tough time garnering Jewish support before Sen. John McCain picked a running mate. Polls in the Jewish community had Obama getting about 55 percent of the Jewish vote, as much as 20 percentage points lower than John Kerry or Al Gore, the two previous Democratic presidential candidates.
Another poll is out looking at public opinion on Obama administration's handling of the Middle East and U.S.-Israel relations, and despite the small Jewish sample (see JTA's Ron Kampeas, who loves analyzing poll methodology; I defer to him, since I barely passed graduate statistics) there's
I've always regarded Aaron David Miller as one of the smartest, most thoughtful U.S. peace processors. Since he left the State Department a few years back, he's been one of my favorite analysts for the simple reason that his take on the Middle East doesn't flow from hardened ideology but from long experience and a willingness to constantly reevaluate old assumptions.
Call most Middle East analysts about the crisis du jour, and you know in advance what they're going to say; calling Miller often produces interesting journalistic surprises.