Want Peace in the Middle East? Vote for Trump!

The end of the historic “Arab-Israeli conflict” may be on the horizon, depending on the outcome of the US presidential election.

Oh, It wouldn’t mean that the Palestinian Arabs will soon give up on the idea that they can flood Israel with the descendants of 1948 refugees and reverse the result of the War of Independence. It wouldn’t mean that the antisemitism and misoziony that are rife in our neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, are likely to end in our lifetimes. It wouldn’t mean that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will stop trying to re-establish the Ottoman Empire, including Jerusalem, or that the revolutionary regime in Iran will stop planning to wipe Israel off the map and establish a Shiite caliphate in the region. ISIS, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood will not be normalizing relations with the Jewish state no matter what. There will be plenty of conflict and terrorism in our region for the foreseeable future.

But the classical Arab-Israeli conflict, as expressed by the Three No’s of 1967 may soon be history. The idea that no Arab nation can accept the existence of the Jewish state – or even mention it by name – until all of the extreme demands of the Palestinian Arabs have been met has already fallen by the wayside. It is becoming obvious to any honest observer that the reason the Palestinian issue has festered for so many years is that the Palestinians, encouraged by the Arab nations and European antisemites, have never entertained any possibility short of total victory. Now Arab support for their intransigence and rejectionism is falling away.

The UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan have already made normalization agreements with Israel. Others are expected to follow. The most important of those would be Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, the custodian of the Holy Mosques, and the source of funds for countless Islamic institutions around the world. There are reliable reports that the Saudi regime, which is increasingly under the control of Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), will normalize relations after the US election – if Donald Trump wins.

It’s hard to imagine that any of this would have happened if not for the change in US policy initiated by the Trump Administration. The recognition of Israeli rights in Jerusalem and sovereignty over the Golan, and the downgrading of relations with the PLO, sent an unmistakable message that America did not support the Palestinian program to replace Israel with an Arab state. Trump’s peace plan, unlike those proposed during the previous administration, is not based on the transformation of the 1949 cease-fire lines into borders, but respects the concept of “secure and recognized boundaries” as expressed in UNSC resolution 242.

In order to truly appreciate the change in policy, compare it to that of the previous administration. Even before his inauguration in January 2009, Barack Obama forced Israel to abandon its campaign to oust Hamas from Gaza, probably the last practical opportunity to do so. In June of that year he visited Cairo and made a speech in which he directly compared the Holocaust to Palestinian “suffer[ing] in pursuit of a homeland” (he didn’t visit Israel until 2013, and then chose not to speak to the Knesset in Jerusalem but rather informally to students). Obama deliberately refrained from helping Iranian dissidents in Iran’s failed Green Revolution. He supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Arab Spring conflicts in Egypt, endangering Israeli-Egyptian relations. He demanded a freeze on all “settlement activity” which was used by the Palestinians as an excuse to refuse to talk. He deliberately humiliated PM Netanyahu when he visited the White House in 2011. He stopped a shipment of missiles to Israel during the 2014 conflict with Hamas in Gaza. At the same time the FAA ordered flights to Israel canceled, in an action that many thought was ordered by the administration.

Obama rammed through the Iran deal over the objections of a majority in Congress, including huge cash payments that the regime used to finance terrorism and Hezbollah’s military buildup. In 2013, his administration leaked information to the press about Israeli attacks against Iranian weapons shipments in Syria, making a wider conflict more likely. Finally, as a lame-duck parting shot at Israel in 2016, he encouraged the introduction of an anti-Israel Security Council resolution, and instructed his ambassador to abstain, ensuring its passage. And there is much more.

One can understand why Arab leaders might have thought that there was no percentage in improving relations with Israel while the US was kicking her to the curb.

Joe Biden was deeply involved in the Obama Administration’s relationship with Israel. You may recall that Biden was “furious” after an Israeli official announced the completion of a step in the process of approval for the construction of apartments in eastern Jerusalem while he was visiting Israel, precipitating a 45-minute angry phone call full of demands from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to PM Netanyahu.

Biden has said that he would “rejoin the [nuclear deal with Iran] … as a starting point for follow-on negotiations.” He opposes Trump’s “maximum pressure” approach and even blames it for Iranian progress toward nuclear weapons. He is likely to reopen the American consulate in eastern Jerusalem that was the unofficial “US Embassy in Palestine,” and the PLO office in Washington that were closed by Trump. He will restore financial aid to the Palestinian Authority that was cut off by Trump because the PA would not agree to stop payments to convicted terrorists (“pay to slay”). He will probably restore payments to UNRWA, which supports the descendants of 1948 refugees and is closely aligned with Hamas in Gaza. And he will bring back the tired rhetoric of the impossible “two-state solution” based on 1949 lines. It’s doubtful that he would be as hostile to Israel as Barack Obama, but he would undo much of the progress made by Trump.

This explains the statement by MBS that he would not normalize relations with Israel immediately if Biden becomes president. There is plenty of opposition in Saudi Arabia to such a bold step, which could even express itself violently. MBS is willing to take the risk if it will lead to the development of a powerful, US-supported Sunni-Israel bloc which could challenge Iran for regional leadership. Why should he do so if the US returns to the Obama-era policy of appeasement of Iran? And the same applies to other Arab countries that are waiting in the wings.

The development of a Sunni-Israel bloc in the region would be a breakthrough that would fundamentally alter the balance of power, and reduce the need for the US to physically intervene to keep the peace. It might set the stage for greater regional independence, so that outside players like Russia, the US, and Turkey would be less able to use its nations as pawns in their power struggles. It might lead to the Iranian people finally throwing off the corrupt and oppressive regime of the Mullahs. It might even bring a solution to the Palestinian problem somewhat closer. It would not fix all of the region’s problems, but it would be a good start.

But all of this depends on continuing Trump’s sharp turn towards rationality in Middle East policy. And Joe Biden is not the guy to do it, especially since he has already adopted some of the same advisers and former officials of the Obama Administration that were responsible for its destructive policies, including several architects of the Iran deal. Biden’s mental condition is a matter of dispute, but the specter of the enormous power of the US president in the hands of unelected and unaccountable operatives who have demonstrated their hostility to Israel and their approval of Iranian regional hegemony is truly frightening.

Posted in 'Peace' Process, American politics, Iran, Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Middle East politics | 1 Comment

Which is Worse, Influenza or Affluenza?

What do I read during an epidemic? What else but books about epidemics, like John M. Barry’s “The Great Influenza,” about the catastrophic 1918 pandemic that killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

The 1918 disease, incorrectly called “Spanish flu,” probably first jumped from pigs to humans in the American Midwest, and then spread all over the world. It was both more contagious and more deadly than today’s Coronavirus; and medicine at that time – especially in the US – was surprisingly primitive. Some American doctors in 1918 still believed in bleeding as an effective treatment for various illnesses. Viruses had been known to cause disease – Polio for example – for some time, but most doctors and researchers believed that influenza was caused by a bacillus. There was no preventative medication and no treatment that had a significant effect on the course of the disease.

Epidemics test societies and their institutions, particularly their governments. They exacerbate divisions between groups, expose incompetence and venality among officials, and exact a price for ignorance or stupidity in the population. This was the case in 1918, where, for example, military authorities in the US transferred troops from camps where the virus was active to ones that were as yet free of it, against the advice of their own medical officers. They shipped thousands overseas in crowded troopships, where the majority of the occupants – who appeared healthy when boarding – fell ill during the voyage. Death rates on some ships exceeded 10% of the sick. Hidden incompetence became suddenly visible.

Everyone is familiar with products that look like functional items but are not. For example, you can buy a shiny wrench and find, the first time you try to loosen a tight bolt with it, that it is not properly sized and made of soft metal. You end up with scraped knuckles and possibly a rounded-off bolt that is even harder to remove. In Hebrew, something like that is called “an as-if product” (mutzar ca-ilu). There are also as-if public officials, as-if generals, and even as-if presidents and prime ministers. These are people who are sufficiently skilled in politics (or perhaps related to someone who is) to obtain a public position, but cannot or will not do the job associated with it.

Like the as-if wrench which might look good in your toolbox and even work if the job is not too difficult, as-if public officials can stay in place harmlessly for years in easy times. But when they are tested, as by a war or epidemic, their worthlessness is made manifest. Such was the American Surgeon General in 1918, Rupert Blue, and many military officers. And such are many of the members of the Knesset and cabinet ministers in today’s Israeli government.

When a society is successful – prosperous, relatively at peace, politically stable – there are negative effects on both the institutions and the general population. The longer the period of success lasts, the more serious is the decay. The effect of success is a general decline in fitness to survive; but until something comes along to test that fitness, the decline isn’t easily noticeable. But there are some early warning signs.

One is the increase in the number of as-if officials in various institutions and government. A bloated government (like the Israeli government with its 36 ministers, half of whom are unnecessary) is a warning: many of those are as-if ministers. Sadly, Israel’s Prime Minister, formerly one of the very best, has recently become an as-if Prime Minister.

Another is a continuous increase in the proportion of resources consumed by the public sector. More is not necessarily better, if the “more” just goes to increase the size of bureaucracies without improving service. It’s true that increasing populations require increased expenditures to provide the protection and services they need; but the increase should be in proportion to the population.

Some institutions are grotesquely out of balance. In the US, for example, the cost of a university education has skyrocketed along with the proportion of administrators (many of whom are as-if workers) to teaching faculty. As the cost has increased, the quality has decreased. The system is producing large numbers of poorly educated, frustrated young people who are unqualified for productive work.

Until an epidemic comes along, who cares if the head of your public health service is an idiot? Until your army has to fight, it doesn’t matter if the generals ignore such things as the condition of vehicles and aircraft, equipment stored for the use of reserve units, and the quality of their training. Until there is an economic crunch, so what if the majority of your public officials spend their workdays doing little more than consuming resources and sexually harassing their subordinates?

The general population is also not spared the deleterious effects of sustained peace and prosperity. Often called “affluenza,” one symptom is an ever-increasing desire for material goods coupled with anomie and anxiety, a difficulty in establishing long-term relationships, and an inability to defer gratification of wants.

Israel, despite her precarious location, has been spared real adversity at least since the Second Lebanon War, although the need to maintain a citizen army and repeated skirmishes with our neighbors does add a certain amount of tension. The US, because of its geographical isolation and professional military, lacks this irritant. On the surface, that’s good; but it is damaging to the psychological health of the citizens.

If affluenza continues for a long enough time, the decay in functionality of a society’s institutions plus the built-up pressure in the population, in which all but the top strata of society are frustrated from their inability to get what they want, in material and psychological terms, leads to civil disturbances and perhaps even a general breakdown in order. This appears to be what is happening today in the US. In particular, young people – who are always the point of the spear in any revolution – have been massively frustrated by the failure of the American educational system to provide the promised economic or psychic benefits.

In Israel, we see similar problems, but to a lesser degree. On the other hand, it has become clear that our political system is fundamentally broken – we have an as-if government – and because of this we could be unable to respond to the next serious crisis.

Whether either Israel or the US will make the real and fundamental changes to their institutions, governmental and otherwise, that are necessary to their survival as strong, democratic nations, is beyond my ability to predict.

Posted in American society, Israeli Politics, Israeli Society, The Future | 1 Comment

Why is There Still a World Zionist Organization?

The Zionist Organization and its parliament, the Zionist Congress, were established by Theodor Herzl in 1897 (the “World” was added to their names later). Their function was to develop and implement a program of Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael. The Zionist Congress included delegates from a wide range of ideological streams; the bottom line was a Jewish home in our historic homeland (although other locations were considered in the early years), but the nature of that home – even whether it should be a sovereign state – was subject to dispute.

Today’s World Zionist Congress (WZC) appoints the heads of several organizations that control large amounts of property and funds that come from Jewish charities abroad and the Israeli taxpayer. These include the Jewish National Fund (JNF) which manages most of the land in Israel, the Jewish Agency which facilitates Jewish immigration to Israel, the United Israel Appeal which raises funds, and others.

These organizations are closely connected to the government of Israel, but they are independent bodies. This can be confusing. For example, someone applying to make aliyah to Israel must deal with both the Jewish Agency (the sochnut) and the Israeli consulate.

The most important fact about the WZC is that its sub-organizations spend about $1 billion annually. These organizations, whose utility ended on 14 May 1948, have hundreds of employees (many of whom are politically connected individuals), and hundreds of contractors and programs are supported by them. To the extent that they perform useful functions, they could and should be done by the government of Israel. The waste of funds that come from the high taxes paid by Israelis and the generous donations of diaspora Jews is colossal. Many highly-paid functionaries do essentially nothing, and are there because somebody important owed them a favor.

But in addition to being wasteful, these organizations are dangerous, because they represent an easily-opened door to infiltration by those who not only want to benefit from the fruits of the Jewish state, but to attack it in the process.

Recently many diaspora organizations, particularly in the US, which were originally established to benefit the Jewish people as a whole, the State of Israel, or individual Jews, have been pressured to include representatives of anti-Zionist groups like J Street. In 2012, “Open Hillel” was formed in order to try to change the guidelines of college Hillel houses for acceptable programs, in the words of one reporter, to “legitimize and include groups that advance anti-Israel (and sometimes anti-Semitic) agendas in mainstream Jewish campus life.”

In 2014, J Street applied to become a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and was turned down after an acrimonious debate. Last week, a guy that previously worked for Bernie Sanders, and previously was the State Department’s liaison to Congress to promote Obama’s Iran deal, became Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress.

The WZC has also become a focus of conflict between right-wing and left-wing factions. Delegates from the Diaspora are chosen by elections, while Israelis are apportioned according to the parties in the Knesset. Although the Left was battering at the gates here as well, a new group of American delegates has recently been added, a slate called “Eretz Hakodesh” that appealed to non-Zionist Haredim. It’s platform did not include the words “State of Israel” or “Zionist.” A campaign in the Orthodox and Haredi communities gave the religious and right-wing bloc a slight edge over the Reform/Conservative/Left bloc among the total of 521 delegates (complete results by country are here, in Hebrew).

It’s possible to take comfort in the fact that the American Hatikvah slate, which included such “Zionists” as Peter Beinart, got only ten seats. It’s absurd that they or anti-Zionist Haredim should be represented at all.

The largest delegation from the US is the one representing the Reform movement, with 39 seats. Together with Reform delegates from other countries, they hold a total of 63 seats. Considering that “Reform Zionism” means misinformed American Jews telling Israelis how to run their country (because the US is doing such a good job at home), they too are not in the “helpful” category.

72 years after the founding of the state, Zionism as an ideology is still relevant. But the World Zionist Organization is not.

Indeed, it’s long past time to end this jobs program for shady politicians that didn’t make it into the Knesset, former mayors that were not re-elected, and so forth. The unnecessary bureaucracy only makes life harder for people who must interact with it, like prospective olim. And just like Israel’s bloated unity government with its 36 ministers – at least 18 of which are unnecessary – it is obscene to shovel cash into a black hole when Israelis and diaspora Jews are struggling in a wretched economic environment.

Posted in Zionism | 1 Comment

Roosevelt and the Jews

My grandparents adored Franklin D. Roosevelt. If he had lived to run, they would have voted for a fifth term. They came to America from Russia around 1910, and worked as sewing machine operators in the NY garment district. My grandmother was 17 when she arrived, and could not read or write, but she was the fastest operator in the shop. A tiny picture of my grandfather appeared in the “Forverts” when he was elected secretary of his union local. They judged politicians by two criteria: are they for the workers or the bosses? And are they good for the Jews? Roosevelt, they believed, passed both of those tests with flying colors. He had gotten the country through the Depression, and he had stopped Hitler.

My parents inherited this attitude. Their politics were similar to most other secular first-generation American Jews. They always voted the straight Democratic ticket for the same reasons, although at some point (after I left home!) my father joined the ranks of “the bosses.” And they always spoke warmly about FDR.

But for some time questions have been raised about whether the US could have done more to rescue Jewish refugees from Europe before and during the war, especially by mid-1942 when the truth about the mass murder being perpetrated by the Germans became undeniable. Why didn’t we bomb the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz, or the railroad tracks that fed them? To what extent was Roosevelt, who had almost dictatorial power during the war, responsible for the almost total failure to take any action to save the Jews of Europe, including the brothers and sisters of my grandparents that remained there?

These questions are no longer difficult. The answers can be found in a recent (2019) book by historian Rafael Medoff, The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust. And they are damning.

Medoff’s book covers the period from Hitler’s accession to power in 1933 to Roosevelt’s death in 1945. It is meticulously documented with 47 pages of notes, a 10 page bibliography, and a comprehensive index. It is a sober historical analysis based on primary sources, not a polemic. And what it establishes, beyond reasonable doubt, is that Roosevelt was well-informed about the persecution, and then the mass murder, of European Jews; he had the means to rescue a great number of them without paying a political price or impacting the war effort; and he chose not to do so.

Not only did Roosevelt fail to do anything, he deflected appeals to act by dissembling, inventing difficulties that did not exist, failing to keep promises, blaming others, temporizing, handing off decisions to the antisemitic State Department, and manipulating the leadership of American Jewry – particularly Rabbi Stephen S. Wise – to damp down protests and demands for action from the community.

Although there were tens of thousands of unfilled slots in immigration quotas before the war, State Department officials put administrative hurdles in the path of Jewish immigrants. Medoff notes that in 1934, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins proposed a system to guarantee support for refugee immigrants to simplify the process, but when State opposed it, FDR took their side.

Later, Roosevelt claimed that there were no ships to carry refugees from Europe, when Liberty Ships that transported troops and material there were returning empty, and indeed had difficulty finding ballast for their return trips. Portuguese passenger ships traveled regularly from Lisbon to New York, and there were other neutral ships available. Ships were found to transport “tens of thousands of Polish refugees to Iran, Uganda, and Mexico” in 1943 but none could take Jewish refugees. The Allies even took 20,000 Muslims from Egypt to Arabia for the Haj in 1944. American immigration quotas from the relevant countries went unfilled year after year, while Jews were first persecuted, and then murdered en masse. Although it might have been possible to argue that antisemitism and anti-immigrant feeling in the US might have put a political price on rescuing Jews during the 1930s, by 1943 public opinion in the US strongly favored helping them.

The most egregious example of Roosevelt’s resistance to doing anything to save Jews was his saying ‘no’ to numerous requests to bomb Auschwitz in 1944, when the Germans were preparing to deport and murder the 800,000 Jews of Hungary. Although planes were found for a strategically worthless (but politically advantageous) air drop of supplies to the Polish underground, nothing could be done about Auschwitz, despite the fact that the Allies had total air superiority in the region, and were bombing oil installations a few miles from Auschwitz! Indeed, Medoff notes that Elie Wiesel, a member of a slave labor battalion near the camp, witnessed such an attack.

What was Roosevelt’s motivation? Medoff examines his documented attitudes toward Jews and race in general, and finds both the antisemitism that was common in the American upper classes at the time, plus a belief in the superiority of the “Aryan” races (yes, Roosevelt used that word). He believed that the US should be primarily a white, protestant nation and that the numbers of Jews (and Catholics) should be kept low, and that they should be “diluted” geographically so that they would be more quickly assimilated. He said that Asians were inferior and “not capable of assimilation” and that “the mingling of Asiatic blood with European or American blood produces…the most unfortunate results.”

Roosevelt was also anti-Zionist, probably because of Arab oil reserves discovered in the 1930s which were beginning to be developed. And he didn’t want trouble with his British allies, who were adamant that no additional Jew should be allowed to enter Palestine under any circumstances. He made only the mildest objection to the White Paper of 1939, which closed the doors of Palestine to Jews.

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise was the most august personage of American Jewry, the head of several major Jewish and Zionist organizations, and represented the community before the President. He was, in other words, a shtadlan, or – an unflattering term – a “court Jew.” Although a brilliant man, Wise was far inferior to Roosevelt in his understanding of practical psychology, and he was manipulated by Roosevelt time and again. Awed to the point of sycophancy by the man he called “The Chief,” and hungry for the crumbs of friendship Roosevelt threw in his direction, he always put the best possible interpretation on Roosevelt’s ambiguous statements and vague promises. He allowed himself to be used to prevent protests, intemperate newspaper advertisements, expressions of dissatisfaction with the administration, and – most of all – possible defections from the Democratic party, by Jews upset about the refusal of the US to do anything to help the Jews of Europe. Thus the title of the book.

In contrast to his obsequious behavior toward Roosevelt, Wise aggressively fought his rivals like Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, and upstarts like Hillel Kook (known as Peter Bergson) who didn’t share his admiration for Roosevelt. Medoff notes that sometimes Wise invested so much energy into his intramural struggles, that he neglected his main job of trying to influence the administration. Wise has been severely criticized. But although his personality made him the wrong man for the job, it’s not clear that any Jew could have done significantly better.

Medoff, an academic historian, writes with an even tone. Although the facts he presents leave no doubt about the judgment history should render on Roosevelt, he is more polite than I need to be:

Franklin D. Roosevelt was an antisemite and a racist. His actions, especially his refusal to bomb Auschwitz, make it clear that he preferred for Jews to be murdered, rather than to come to the US. His motivations were not political or strategic; they were primarily antisemitic.

So why did my family and so many other Jews venerate him? The answer is complicated. Roosevelt often publicly expressed sympathy for the European Jews, even while in practice he did nothing to help them. He relied on antisemitic subordinates like Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long and Secretary of War Henry Stimson to take the heat for unpopular decisions, though he made no attempt to influence them. Rabbi Wise was his best publicist, deflecting criticism and hiding his own frustration. Most important, as is the case today, left-leaning Jews consumed left-leaning media, where criticism of Roosevelt was unthinkable.

Posted in American Jews, American politics, Jew Hatred, War | 3 Comments

Israel’s Information War

The “Information War” is the struggle to attack or defend the image of the State of Israel in the consciousness of the world. It is truly a world war, but the two main active fronts today are the Arabic-speaking world, where for the first time there are signs of pro-Israel initiatives, and the West.

A striking feature of the Information War in the West is the imbalance between the resources of the two sides. The pro-Israel list is much shorter. We have sporadic and uncoordinated attempts at hasbara (public diplomacy, or “propaganda,” if you prefer) by the Israeli government, the most recent of which is the allocation of funds to the Ministry of Strategic Affairs (MSA) to fight BDS and delegitimization. In 2019, MSA granted about $5.3 million to individuals and organizations. As of September 2019, it had 32 employees (Hebrew link). Al Jazeera alone has about 100 times as many.

The most important and well-known private individuals that support pro-Israel messaging, of course, are Miriam and Sheldon Adelson. Their family foundation has given millions to Birthright Israel. They  are also involved in other causes, such as Holocaust education, that are only tangentially related to the cognitive conflict over Israel’s image. Other Jewish philanthropists give large amounts of money to Jewish and Israeli causes (Jewish education, hospitals, Magen David Adom, etc.), but little for hasbara.

There are also a few private organizations. Some conservative think tanks like the David Horowitz Freedom Center give grants and fellowships to pro-Israel writers. Its 2018 Form 990 shows total expenses of about $6.8 million.  Considering its wide range of activities, its contribution to specifically pro-Israel hasbara is small.

Evangelical Christians that support Israel have some positive effects. Christians United for Israel had a budget of about $1.3 million in 2018, a surprisingly small amount given that group’s status as a bête noire for liberal American Jews.

Many large Jewish organizations, such as the Jewish Federations of North America, the ADL, and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) do publically oppose BDS and anti-Israel extremism (misoziony), but because of their need to appeal for funding from a wide political spectrum, take positions that are bland at best and negative at worst (e.g., the URJ’s failure to oppose the JCPOA, President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran). Their net contribution to pro-Israel hasbara is zero.

Turning to the other side, the mainstream media in North America and Europe is almost unanimously critical of Israel, with many important media channels – the New York Times, the BBC, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, National Public Radio (see also something I wrote about NPR 10 years ago) and the AP in the US – clearly on the anti-Israel side. And we mustn’t forget what has been called (video link, 1:36:00) the “first blood libel of the 21st century,” the false report by Charles Enderlin of France 2 on the alleged killing of Muhammad al Durah.

The United Nations and its agencies are a potent source of anti-Israel propaganda. There are countless anti-Israel resolutions passed by its Human Rights Council, the General Assembly, UNESCO, and even the Security Council. There is a “Division for Palestinian Rights” which does such things as organizing international conferences, conducts “training programs,” and puts on the annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” I have no idea of how to put a dollar value on its work – for the Palestinians, it’s priceless.

The European Union, collectively and from its members, has provided tens of millions of Euros to NGOs hostile to Israel, which are responsible for demonization and delegitimization in the information sphere, and lawfare against Israel. It also provides practical aid supporting illegal Arab colonization in Area C of the territories, which is supposed to be under full Israeli control according to the Oslo agreements. In the past nine years, the EU has even granted 38 million Euros to NGOs linked to EU-designated terror groups. All this is in addition to its own political activities, like demanding that Israeli products from the territories be given special labeling to facilitate boycotters.

There are major charitable foundations, like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), the Ford Foundation, and groups linked to George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Together these foundations funnel tens of millions of dollars into groups and activities that support BDS or simply produce anti-Israel propaganda. For example, the RBF has made grants to IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, two BDS-supporting groups in the US, and to dozens of other anti-Israel actors.

These groups are linked together. For example, the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), which paid misozionist writer Peter Beinart $110,000 in 2018 as a “consultant,” also received a contribution of $135,000 from the Alex Soros Foundation (Alex is the son of George). Perhaps the idea was to make the Soros-Beinart connection less obvious.

The FMEP, incidentally, while a small player in the Israel defamation racket, is quite active in the realm of social media, as well as producing lectures, presentations, op-eds, and so forth.

Finally, there are the direct donations from Arab countries and Iran to Western universities, primarily in the US and the UK, but also in Canada and on the continent, amounting to billions of dollars. That is not a typo: one country, Qatar, gave $1.4 billion to American universities between 2012-2018. Of course these countries have other goals in addition to defaming Israel, but still there is no doubt that a great deal of the influence they are buying is directed to the cognitive war against the Jewish state.

Given all this, and considering the tepid support for Israel from liberal Jewish communities in North America, I’m surprised that so many Americans say they support Israel (I’ve been unable to find a poll of Canadians that is fair and reasonably recent). There is a red flag: support for Israel seems to weakest in younger people, getting stronger with age. I speculate that this could be related to the increasing bias in the educational system, both schools and colleges – the product of the massive investment made by Arab countries.

Although we can’t dream of matching the investment being made by our enemies, there are a few things we can and should do.

First, we can make their propaganda activities a major issue in our normalization negotiations with Arab nations. They are not doing us a favor by normalizing; if they want our economic and military cooperation they will have to end all of their information warfare against us. That means direct propaganda, but also financial support for groups that are working against us – even if it is a department of Middle East studies in a university.

We can’t make antisemitic Europeans change their attitudes. But we can shut off the flow of their money into our country that goes to anti-state organizations. Just as we (finally) have started barring BDS supporters from entering the country, we can bar their Euros too. Let “Breaking the Silence” and the others survive on contributions they get from Israelis – if they can.

News organizations live and die by access. It should be withheld from hostile reporters and organizations. They will scream bloody murder, but ultimately they will see that we only want fairness. Or they’ll have to do their coverage from outside.

There is nothing that we can do about the UN. We are probably better off not resigning from it. Someday it will collapse from its own worthlessness.

We can’t afford to imitate Al Jazeera. But we can set up internet news and culture channels in several languages, professional in every respect. Countries used to spend huge amounts of money on shortwave broadcasting with all of its technical problems. Today we have the means to deliver high-quality content all over the world at reasonable cost. People are curious about Israel – why do we leave it to our enemies to tell them about us?

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