Last Friday, Israel outlawed six Palestinian NGOs linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, and the world is up in arms. The Biden administration is asking for “more information regarding the basis for these designations,” which Israel insists are “cast in concrete,” the UN and the EU question Israel’s decision, and Left wing parties within Israel condemn the decision of the Israeli government, of which they are a part. Israel will never be able to justify itself since rational explanations and solid proof are useless in the face of ingrained hatred. As long as Israel does not unite its ranks, its PR war is hopeless.
Every country can criticize decisions of other countries. However, with Israel, it is not a matter of criticizing a decision of the Israeli government; it is an inherent objection to the very existence of the Jewish state. Therefore, whatever the Israeli government decides, even if it is complete acceptance of the demands of the Palestinians, without any reservations, the world will still criticize Israel for things it should have done but didn’t. The point we are missing here is that the world is not trying to show that it agrees or disagrees with the decisions of this or that Israeli government; it is demonstrating its resentment of the very fact that the State of Israel exists.
After World War II, the world was tolerant toward the Jewish state because of the Holocaust. However, there is only so long you can justify your existence through the death of millions of your people. Today, humanity does not feel that the atrocities committed against our people in the 1940s justify our sovereignty in the Middle East in the 2020s.
There is a good reason why even members of the Israeli government agree with the world’s criticism. We ourselves don’t warrant our existence here. Without understanding the reason for the existence of the State of Israel, and even more importantly, without carrying out the reason we are here, even Israelis condemn the State of Israel and would gladly live elsewhere if they could.
If we want to succeed in our PR efforts, we must abandon the focus on what the world thinks or feels about Israel, and concentrate instead on how Israelis think and feel about each other. Since we are always under scrutiny, we are always an example—for better or for worse. Therefore, our relationships project on the entire world. When we are connected among ourselves, we are an example of unity and the world appreciates us. When we are divided within, we set an example of disunion, and the world hates us and accuses us of warmongering.
We exist in a sovereign state in order to set an example of how a sovereign state should conduct its affairs. If we conduct ourselves in unity, in mutual responsibility, in the spirit of loving others as ourselves, we set a good example and merit our sovereignty. If we despise each other and treat each other with contempt and derision, as we do today, we set a bad example and the world spurns us.
In the days of the Second Temple, when there was unity within the people of Israel, kings and scholars from abroad would come to learn the wisdom of the Jews. They translated the Torah from Hebrew to Greek, and their scholars learned from the sages of Israel who lived during their time. Many people also came to watch the festivities in Jerusalem during the three annual pilgrimages and cherished the feeling of brotherhood that the Jews projected.
But when infighting erupted in the Jewish people, the nations became increasingly hostile toward us. After centuries of growing division within our people, we were eventually expelled from the land and the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name Judaea to Palestine, to erase the memory of the Jewish presence in the land.
Today’s circumstances are similar. We are still judged by the example we set. If we are united, the world will welcome us. If we are divided, the world will expel us.
For an in-depth discussion about this topic, read my latest publication on this topic: The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism.
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at the State Department in Washington, U.S., June 3, 2021. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS