David Blackburn

A PR disaster for Israel

A PR disaster for Israel
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Prematurely, the world’s press has condemned Israel. As I wrote yesterday, the facts have to be established before Israel can be adjudged to have acted disproportionately. At the moment, the facts seem to support Israel. Video footage shows commandoes descending into a maelstrom of baseball bats and knives, armed with items that resemble paintball guns. The latest pictures released show a hoard of improvised explosives, machetes, bats, crowbars etc. Those sources’ veracity should be scrutinised, but there is nothing else to go on at the moment.

Iain Martin has debunked Jon Snow’s absurd genuflection that this is our fault. Being British I apologise for everything, but not this time. Israel has a right to defend itself and take pre-emptive action against its enemies. The vessel in question was given enough warning of Israel’s intentions but chose confrontation.

That, of course, is the point. What should have been a quiet piece of policing now has the word ‘atrocity’ appended to it. The press may be being disingenuous, even craven, but the Israeli commanders were monumentally stupid for falling into such an obvious trap. A hoard of the more sinister wares available at Robert Dyers looks meek next to helicopters, sub-machine guns and dead bodies. It might be sacrilegious, but David and Goliath came to mind when the word ‘slingshot’ was used to describe the affair. Hamas is a venal organisation that seeks to eradicate Israel and the Jews; it should be anathema to the West; but it is winning the war of images.

Israel repeats its mistake. Cast Lead was a justified campaign undone by a few choice pictures and Israel’s insanity in responding to them with more cold steel and arch-rhetoric. Similarly, the recent operation in Dubai placed Israel in the most invidious of positions. I won’t debate the settlements here, and there are arguments on both sides, but Israel’s defiance has been self-defeating. Diplomacy is a game of two sides, but Israel’s relations with EU countries and the US have scarcely been worse. That Turkey, a nest of human rights abuse, denial and dubious intent, holds the moral ground this afternoon should concentrate minds in Tel Aviv; they must re-appraise the propaganda war.