A prominent Israeli politician urged American Jews to “be proactive” in defending Israel in the wake of what he called the Palestinians’ “cyber-Intifada.”
Beyond lobbying members of Congress and writing letters to newspaper editors, said Danny Ayalon, Jews should take their campaign to social media.
“What the Palestinians and the Arabs wage against us is psychological warfare, a political warfare, a PR war to delegitimize Israel, to render us a pariah state, isolate us, and by that, try to win the world over,” said Ayalon, speaking to an audience of 200 from the bima of Congregation Etz Chaim in Livingston on Oct. 19.
Ayalon is the founder of The Truth About Israel, a not-for-profit company that works with pro-Israel advocates in public relations and media techniques to improve Israel’s standing in the world.
He formerly served as Israel’s ambassador to the United States, as a Knesset member from the right-wing secular Yisrael Beiteinu Party, and as a deputy foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He began his 55-minute address by speaking of “lone wolves who get incited by the Internet, by ISIS, by Hamas, and by the Palestinian Authority.”
Labeling them “radical Islamic terrorists,” Ayalon cautioned his audience to “be very specific. We cannot equivocate or use euphemisms or political correctness. You have to say and point to the problem or you will not find a solution. Certainly not all Muslims are terrorists, but today all terrorists are Muslims.”
Pacing on the raised platform, he spoke without a microphone, often with clenched fists. “Where is the silent majority?” Ayalon asked. “Why don’t we hear some Muslim clergy of significance or political leaders who condemn terrorism? Are they afraid to get killed? Probably. This is a problem.”
He said Palestinians “attack us not because of settlements, not because of occupation. It is because of who we represent…. Where Israel goes, so does the Western world. They understand that if Israel’s security is compromised, so is the entire Western civilization.”
The Palestinians and their allies have failed to defeat Israel through military might or economic boycotts, he said. As a result, they are taking their fight to the media and world opinion. Ayalon charged Palestinian leaders with using “the Nazi Goebbels propaganda tactic that if you repeat a lie 1,000 times it will become the truth.”
Those who advocate for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions against Israel must be met with a strong activist response.
“They should throw away their cellphones, stop taking MRI tests and CAT scans, or even eating cherry tomatoes,” all partly developed in Israel. “But of course they won’t. They just want to make a statement. And when there are Jewish organizations calling for BDS, this is morally reprehensible and also strategically just stupid. They are cutting the branches of the tree they are sitting on.”
He praised Christian Evangelicals as “great supporters,” but said, “We have a challenge with African-Americans and Hispanics” to make them allies of Israel.
He saluted the close ties between Israel and the United States. “Notwithstanding the personal relationship between Netanyahu and Obama, the relationship is much bigger than who occupies the Oval Office or the prime minister’s office,” he said.