Thursday, December 18, 2008

Israel's Image problem

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine recently. I went to college with this lad and I can tell you he is a smart punter. But check this out. Halfway through our chat in a city center pub the subject of Israel came up , no doubt brought up by me. I don't ever recall having a conversation with this man about the politics of the Middle East before but I was astonished by what came next. Those Israelis are bastards aren't they my buddy claimed. Nothing too shocking there for that does be the general consensus about college campuses and radio talk shows. But my friend then went on to admit that he knew virtually nothing about the Israeli state. He did not know that it is the world's only Jewish state. In fact, he thought it was an Africa country.

And there in is the problem. How could a person know so little about a country yet hold such a strong opinion. OK, politics has never been this guys thing but still, alarm bells are ringing. I have Israeli and Jewish friends that are utterly convinced that the motivation behind the intense anti Israeli rhetoric that we see throughout the land is a covert form of anti semitism. There have been times when I have struggled to find a suitable argument to dispute this. But then it struck me. The vast majority of the world's population are politically inattentive. And a large percentage of those that are attentive are lazy minded. For such people, all they see is the following: About 20 times more Palestinians than Israelis have died in the conflict since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000. The Israelis have an overwhelming military superiority. Israel is a first world country where as most Palestinians live in abject poverty. These facts are undeniable and for the lazy minded no further debate is required on the subject. As my friend says, the Israelis are bastards and that's it. Having said that I did successfully turn my friend around and that is what I intend to do here at Gubu World whenever I can. I do not simply want to defend Israel in a meaningless way. But I will confront and expose badly informed Israel bashing and instead try to initiate rational discussions on the Israeli Palestinian peace process. I will have plenty of opportunity throughout 2009 to do this as the 2002 Saudi inspired peace plan, backed up by Tony Blair and his team looks set to burst on the scene early next year as it appears the Obama administration is keen to prioritise it from the outset. Interesting times ahead.

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