From Hero to Outcast

GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images

From Hero to Outcast

How did the tiny nation of Israel lose its image as the Davidic hero, victoriously battling the Goliath of surrounding enemy nations in 1967, to become today’s global pariah?
From the May 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Never a day goes by with out the tiny, struggling Jewish nation of Israel being negatively headlined somewhere in the mass media. The decades of fruitless “peace” processes—mounted by geopolitical movers and shakers despite constant attacks on Israel by those who have publicly declared their intentions to wipe that country off the map—have ensured that one of the smallest nations on Earth currently has the highest of media profiles.

What is glaringly apparent to the careful observer of the Israeli-Palestinian scenario is that it is extremely hard to obtain a truly balanced view of its reality. In particular, it’s difficult to grasp how, in little less than 40 years, the nation of Israel has gone from widely acknowledged hero status, following its overwhelming victory in the Six Days’ War of 1967, to being a global outcast.

In the Beginning

Following the victory of the Allied military forces of the British Empire in the Middle Eastern campaigns of World War i, General Edmund Allenby marched his triumphant troops into Jerusalem. This was preceded, on Nov. 2, 1917, by a communiqué from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Anglo-Jewish financier Lord Rothschild, who was considered the representative of the Jewish people. The text of the letter, known as the Balfour Declaration, read: “I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the cabinet.

“His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Following his defeat of the Ottomans in Palestine, General Allenby led his triumphant troops through the Jaffa Gate into Jerusalem on Dec. 11, 1917.

After Allied victory in World War i, the League of Nations assigned Palestine to the United Kingdom as a mandated territory. The Palestinian mandate was based on the terms of the Balfour Declaration, which promised the creation of a national Jewish homeland within the mandated territory. Initially, Arab leaders were prepared to give Palestine to the Jews if the rest of the Arab lands in the Middle East remained free. However, the mixed tribes of Arabs living in Palestine strenuously opposed Jewish immigration into the territory and the idea of the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This local resistance began to morph into a movement to create a Palestinian nation out of these disparate, stateless Arabs. Thus the early seeds of that which was to become Palestinian terrorism were sown.

Evolution of a Nation

During World War ii, due to immigration controls, many Jews who tried to flee Nazi Germany were turned back at the borders of free countries they tried to enter. Returned to Germany, masses of them were systematically murdered in Nazi death camps.

After the war, when the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed, this catalyzed the need for a homeland for displaced Jews.

Unable to come up with a solution that would satisfy either Arabs or Jews, the British handed the problem over to the newly founded United Nations. The UN ratified a partition plan in 1947 separating Palestine into Jewish and Arab regions. With expiration of the British mandate on May 14, 1948, British troops pulled out. The Jews promptly declared the creation of the State of Israel, gaining immediate recognition by a number of Western nations.

The Arab nations surrounding Israel reacted by initiating a year-long war. Undermanned, ill-equipped and largely unprepared, the gallant, fledgling Jewish nation held out, not only gaining eventual victory, but also gaining additional territory in the process.

World opinion, recognizing the brave survival of Israel, generally looked with favor on its struggles for survival, still being caught up in the wave of sympathy for the Jews that swept the world in the wake of the Holocaust.

As global reconstruction efforts continued through the mid-1940s on into the 1950s and early 1960s, the mass media were still under the influence of factual reporting in the tradition of America’s Edward R. Murrow. Thus, the nation of Israel generally gained a fair hearing in the eyes of an earlier generation of journalists familiar with its interwar and immediate postwar history. In fact, world opinion regarding Israel was so high that it readily embraced the best-selling historical novels of Leon Uris documenting the trials and tribulations of the exodus of much of Jewry from persecution in Russia and Europe to establish a new homeland in Palestine, surrounded by the Islamic enemy.

This positive opinion of the nation of Israel was even strengthened as a result of the famous Six Days’ War in June 1967. In that brief and triumphant defense of Israel, once again facing overwhelming odds, the Jews were seen as the heroes, vastly outnumbered, gallantly staving off the surrounding enemy nations and throwing them clear back beyond their prior borders.

Devolution of an Image

Now, less than 40 years later, the once plucky little Israel, wearied and worn out by decades of sacrificing Jewish lives to protect its now diminishing borders, is regarded as the enemy, its persecutors as the heroes struggling to claim a homeland.

But what happened? How has this brave little nation of Davidic peoples lost out so powerfully to fickle world opinion that now casts it in the role of pariah, and its mortal enemies, intent on its elimination, as the heroes? What changed the public image of Israel?

Much of the blame must be laid at the feet of those whom American societal commentator Alvin Toffler once described as the “opinion shapers” of society _—whom we now call the “spin doctors”—those who possess the power of the press and mass media and who spin events in order to further their own self-interest. Journalists and their media masters are largely at fault here.

But no less culpable is the gullible public—the people who nightly gawk at a screen in their living rooms, allowing the transfer of thought from their media of choice into their largely unquestioning, underexercised minds.

News, as interpreted by the mass media, has morphed from its origins in the factual field-reporting of actual events to become not much more than another “reality” program, edited, spliced and embellished, replete with sound bites designed to titillate the senses and cater to the baser drives of humanity in an effort to entertain the masses of the ignorant. If it sells, then keep it going.

But occasionally a flash of reality shines across the screen from the mind of a genuine seeker after truth. Recently one such flash, streaking across the horizon of mass confusion, emanated from New York-based writer Stephanie Gutmann.

Gutmann’s recently released book, The Other War, is a brilliant exposé of the media manipulation that has successfully changed postwar public opinion from being overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Jews, to a position where, in the public’s eye, tiny Israel has become the pariah hell-bent on the destruction of the “unfortunate” Palestinians. Gutmann cites a poll taken in 2004 in which 68 percent of Germans agreed that Israel now conducts a “war of extermination” against Palestinians; this despite the fact that there are 10 times more Palestinians today than there were in 1920, but fewer Jews. Coming as it does from people who once supported a regime that was wholly responsible for the mass reduction of the global Jewish population, that’s a bit hard to swallow. But how did the collective German mind change from one of public penance for the crime of genocide against the Jew to a mindset accusing the victim of the Holocaust of the very sin of its perpetrator?

Media Manipulation

Gutmann, in her unique and beautifully politically incorrect style, goes for the jugular on just how the media has manipulated the Middle East scenario to present an overwhelmingly negative view of Israel. It is her contention that Israel, though having a history of success in its military campaigns, has simply been, over time, largely defeated on the media front.

It is a fact that, by dint of it being an open society, Israel may well be saddled with the world’s highest per capita concentration of reporters. One reviewer of Gutmann’s book observed that she highlights the fact that “This obsessive attention necessarily distorts, by casting the Israel-Palestinian war in a theatric, world-historical light” (Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2005-06). Gutmann’s case for the media distortion of the situation in Israel is dramatized most effectively with a simple comparison of statistics: fatalities in other current international crises over the past decade, compared to those in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Consider: The first Russo-Chechen war—50,000 fatalities in two years. The Darfur genocide—300,000 in three years. The second Congolese civil war—3.5 million in five years.

Compare these with Israeli-Palestinian fighting—4,500 fatalities over the past six years.

The world sees the nightly images beamed in from Israel, while remaining largely ignorant of the effects of other major crises on the world scene which, by comparison, pale the skirmishes in Israel into relative insignificance. This is due in large part to the inability of news services to establish themselves within the extreme-level danger zones of these other largely closed societies. So images of the gruesomeness of these major crises never reach the living rooms of the masses.

But there is another element to this media distortion of the situation in Israel. It’s the element of often deliberately choreographed events on the ground, funneled through generally leftist reporters “dumped on the ground with little prior knowledge … forced to condense and ‘package’ terribly complex and crucial events,” which are then deliberately constructed to reflect the bias of media moguls by “producers sitting in carpeted, climate-controlled studios in New York and London” who are “making war their subject” (Gutmann, op. cit.).

When we consider that 80 percent of news images are provided to the news media by just three agencies—Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France Presse, all of which have liberal left-leaning agendas—it’s no wonder the public has so little chance of gaining a balanced view of any major current event. Add to this the fact that these agencies must rely on hired locals who speak the native language and who decide where to drive, what to show or not show, and what to translate or not translate for the field journalist—and the extent to which any story can be manipulated on the ground to benefit one or another interest group becomes most apparent.

Blocking the Truth

One of the more chilling examples given by Gutmann of the extent to which certain groups will go to block the truth relates to reaction of the Palestinians to the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. Gutmann relates how Palestinians took to the streets to publicly celebrate al Qaeda’s attack, with an estimated 3,000 celebrating in Nablus alone. An AP photographer filmed the celebrating masses in that city and forwarded his footage to his bureau in Jerusalem. The footage never made it to air. “Just as AP was about to put the footage on their wire, … bureau staffers got a phone call from their photographer in the field. He was standing in the office of Nablus’s governor; gunmen on each side of him held guns against his skull and had been ordered to shoot him if the video of the demonstration went on the wire.” Palestinian Authority officials told AP that if its reporters and photographers were not “more careful,” the PA “could not guarantee their safety” in the future (ibid.).

Another case Gutmann exposes is that of two Israeli reservists who made a wrong turn when driving home and found themselves arrested by Palestinian police. Taken to the local police station, the two were then mob-lynched, their bodies brutally battered and set on fire. Again, this instance was witnessed by two press representatives, the one having his camera torn from his grasp and smashed by the mob, the other managing to capture a now infamous image of one of the murderers of the two Israelis holding his bloody hands aloft to the cheering of the crowd. Death threats from the Palestinians quickly followed to those who manned the bureau for which the cameraman operated. This forced the flight of the bureau chief for his own protection.

In a piece published in the January 1-8 edition of Weekly Standard, Gutmann observed, “[R]ather than jeopardize their already tenuous access to the Palestinian territories or endanger their employees by appearing to collaborate with the enemy, many of the media covering the intifada adjust by simply ‘not seeing’ things or by finding elaborate justifications for ignoring stories that would displease their hosts in the territories.”

In her book, Gutmann lists a whole series of such instances, including deliberately choreographed scenes that occurred at a time when Palestinians were seeking to increase the photo-ops of Palestinian deaths at Israeli hands. She describes one scene caught on camera by an Israeli drone flying above a Palestinian funeral procession in the city of Jenin in April 2002. The “corpse” was filmed falling off its bier then hopping back on. This instance became tragicomical when it was repeated, frightening the daylights out of bystanders, fleeing at the sight of a “corpse” having come back to life!

However, these grand deceits have a deeply serious side to them. And their most serious side is represented by that German poll quoted earlier. For it is the backlash in Europe against those Israelis caught in the turmoil of the Palestinian crisis that is most disconcerting. Indeed, it is the increasingly prevalent anti-Semitic reaction across this continent, known through its 20th-century history for the prevalence of gross persecution of the Jew, which is deeply troubling. In her conclusion, Stephanie Gutmann sums up this phenomenon: “Looking at the virulent, vituperative tone of European coverage, and particularly at how openly jeering it grows when Israel tries to defend itself in the media war, it is hard to imagine that any Israeli public relations staff with any amount of resources at its disposal could have an impact in Europe.”

Given its history, such a collective mood building within Europe simply spells grave danger for the future of the Continent and imminent crisis for the nation of Israel. That this magazine has, for the past 16 years, been predicting such a mood swing against the nation of the Jews will be obvious to many of our longtime subscribers. What may not be so obvious to our more recent readers is why we could be so accurate with this prediction, even spelling out in detail where it is heading, and its ultimate ending.

Write now for your free copy of our startling booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy. It is an eye-opening account that goes far beyond Stephanie Gutmann’s exposé of the massive media manipulation surrounding Israel. It is a stirring analysis that really gets to the heart and core, the true cause, the impending dramatic effect and the final, ultimate solution to this rapidly reviving phenomenon of anti-Semitism!