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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Israel's second army in formation

Yitzchak Rabin's former gatekeeper, Eitan Haber, recognizes that Israel has a problem on a non-military front: The attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel. He argues that Israel needs a second army to fight delegitimization. But he doesn't recognize that the solution is on his doorstep. If only, they would give us the resources to fight the battle....
The following comparison may be infuriating, yet the process we see now is more or less what the Nazis did ahead of World War II: They made the Jews illegitimate and (almost) the whole world cheered them on, or just kept silent at best. The de-legitimization was followed by extermination.

The world was and will always be cynical. Ms. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy are looking to the future and counting potential voters. They still try to be Israel’s friends, for the time being, yet the anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist shouts are already making their way from the streets to their offices. What will they be doing in the face of millions of Muslims in Europe?

We’re already in the midst of the war – which is not military in nature at this phase – for our existence. It’s a war that does not involve killing or shooting. Have we identified the danger? And what are we doing in order to counter it?

Israel must immediately establish a huge body – a sort of IDF in a different format. We need an army without uniforms that would attempt to fight back against Islamic, global Jihad, against the ubiquitous de-legitimization process, against the indifference, and possibly also against the despair among us.

In his interesting doctoral dissertation, Nachman Shai reviewed Israel’s public diplomacy failures in recent decades. At the conclusion of a fascinating analysis, he proposed that we rely on the “molecules” – that is, hundreds of thousands of Jews and non-Jews worldwide who would assume the task of winning over their neighbor, their priest, the shopkeeper who emigrated from Pakistan, their mayor, and possibly even their prime minister.

What we need today is an immense, well-resourced body that would aim to win the hearts of billions of human beings wherever they are, in a bid to turn the tide; a body that would aim to cover whole states and continents and use all available (non-military) tools and all means at our disposal (and while at it, possibly also wake up the Jewish people from its current stupor.)

Ages ago, veteran journalists would end such article with five words: “Our lives depend on it.”
The army exists. It's called the pro-Israel blogosphere. Unfortunately, it's only started to be recognized as such in the last few months. And it's still poor - very poor - on resources. In a word, blogging doesn't pay.

When I started blogging four and a half years ago, we got no more or less than anyone else. Conference call briefings were almost non-existent. Forget about anything in person and certainly anything official. We were totally on our own.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to participate in a program by which the government would push items they would like us to consider blogging about. It required installing a certain program on my computer. The 'push' turned out to be headline news from one of the local newspapers. Every time it pushed through my computer crashed. Inevitably, if it actually sent something that was worth blogging about, I had blogged about long before the message arrived. They didn't get the concept of real time. I deleted the program.

I have to give the government and the IDF credit. They've improved. There are some areas where they're still not great, and there are some areas I'm not at liberty to discuss, because we've started to get some off-the-record briefings. Part of that is the Netanyahu government, which came in telling us that they recognize that we're a resource and that we have a role to play. They've followed through on some things but not on others (most notably they have not followed through on getting us press credentials). But the biggest change has been the IDF.

While they still take too long to approve things for publication (an issue addressed by former IDF spokesman and current Kadima MK Nachman Shai here), the IDF finally decided during Operation Cast Lead that they were better off posting their own videos and blog posts on their own site and letting us bloggers embed and link to them, than sending them to the New York Times and letting the Times decide to take three days to post them. The IDF now recognizes that we bloggers can drive the mainstream media (the best example of this has nothing to do with the IDF - it was the Garlasco case, which went from a post on Omri Ceren's Mere Rhetoric blog to the New York Times within a week and eventually forced Garlasco to resign). I have it on good source that the Mavi Marmara incident - where the bloggers managed to get the video of what really happened out to the public as quickly as the IDF put it up - has further evolved the IDF's thinking in this area. And the IDF has given us several interesting and important on and off-the-record briefings. Much of the credit for that goes to Lt. Aliza Landes, an American-born twenty-something who is in charge of new media at the IDF spokesperson's North American desk, and who is our best resource for anything in which the IDF is involved.

But Haber refers to a 'well-resourced' army, and sadly we are not that. I don't have Photoshop and I don't have any fancy video capture programs. Sadly, some sites (notably MEMRI and Arutz Sheva) block us from embedding their videos without sophisticated equipment. That's why you won't see those videos on this site - and I rarely link to them because most people aren't going to drill down deeper. They still haven't discovered what the major television networks in the US have - that you get a much larger audience if your videos can be embedded easily.

The advertisements on a blog return less than $100 per month. The tip box returns even less unless you put it on top in a post, which no one really wants to see more than a couple of times a year (yes, I'm going to be doing that in a couple of days), and even then a few hundred dollars in contributions is a good haul. Blogging takes time, effort and costs money (bus and taxi fares, gas and tolls, parking - I've spent all of them this summer). As Mrs. Carl often points out, it's time we cannot spend on paying work at our regular jobs (none of us - as far as I know - is being paid to blog full time). And I'm speaking as one of the highest volume pro-Israel bloggers who lives in Israel and who is not affiliated with a newspaper's web site (I get around 60,000 - 70,000 hits per month and about 100,000 page views on average - that's a lot here).

Will the government of Israel decide to help us out financially? If Haber is right, they ought to.

And if they start paying me to blog, with no control over my content (because I won't do it any other way), is that something that ought to be disclosed? How often? The other side has no such qualms.

They may be playing our song, but they haven't figured out how to keep it going yet. And we're still trying to figure some of that out for ourselves.


At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haber is one of the Oslo idiots who got us into this mess in the first place.

One thing that would help Israel a lot is if these perpetual failures would retire from public life - advice included - and let some sane people take over.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I agree with Shy Guy. The people responsible for Israel's plight are the very people who pushed on it policies that have led to its sovereignty being eviscerated. And now they talk about stopping "delegitimization?" Sorry, that horse had fled the barn.

If Israel cared more for her survival and less about Obama's and Europe's opinion, things would be looking up for the Jewish State today. Israel's critics are not concerned about Israeli policy - they are obsessed with Israel's existence. The sooner Israeli Jews get it, the better off they will be.

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

We are also fighting the Israeli government!

They are wrapped in a bubble they refuse to look out and see reality!

That vile critter Anat Kam, the traitor, is under house arrest!!

Where is the scum Uri Blau? Being protected by the Israeli embassy in London?

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Clay F said...


I discovered your blog about 6 months ago and I'm completely addicted to it. As a US citizen of Christian faith, I fully support Israel and hesitate not to voice my opinions to friends and family.

Your blog provides more insight to me on the onslaught of world wide anti-semitism that Israel faces than any other blog or Israeli news site I read.

Thank you for explaining how you obtain some information through government sources, I for one wondered how you provide so many articles on a daily basis.

Your efforts to battle the propaganda of Anti-Israeli hate mongers is to be commended as is the obvious amount of personal time you dedicate to this cause.

May God make your leaders wise and protect your great nation.

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Clay F said...


I discovered your blog about 6 months ago and I find your coverage on the Anti-Israel rhetoric fascinating and extremely informative. No other source have I discovered (including Israeli news agencies) has continual updates on Israeli related issues that you provide.

Thank you for sharing the information that some of your sources are through government channels. I have often wondered how you provide such timely material.

As a mid-west dwelling US citizen of Christian faith, I am very embarrassed at how our current leadership (an oxymoron) in the White House deals with your great nation. I truly believe that as it was said by Moses, "those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed..." (forgive me if I juxtaposed the lines, I'm too lazy to look it up). Anyway, I hesitate not to voice my support of Israel to my friends, family, and congressmen.

I want to thank you for your efforts to set the historical record straight about Israel's struggles against her enemies and defamers.

May God bless your leaders with wisdom and protect your blessed nation.


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