‘The White Intifada’
Israel’s losing war for world opinion
Haaretz columnist Aluf Benn is decidedly left-wing, and so his pronouncements ought to be taken with that grain of salt. Still, the argument from his latest piece is not purely ideological, and it is compelling. It is not a criticism of the Israeli government’s policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians (in fact, Benn grants that the Netanyahu government is not hard-line, and that the Palestinians have given Israel good reason to impose a blockade on Gaza). Rather, the column is an assessment, based on conversations with European and U.S. diplomats: “The world isn’t buying Israel’s explanations and it isn’t prepared to condemn Palestinian obduracy.” That doesn’t sound entirely off-base, does it?
Moreover, Benn reports on what he calls (quoting two political scientists) the “white intifada”: the Palestinian Authority’s public relations campaign to convince the world that a unilateral declaration of independence is the best solution to the conflict. He writes:
In a document [the political scientists] distributed last week, they warn of Israeli complaisance and present a disturbing scenario: The Palestinians declare independence, and Israel refuses to recognize it and is faced with a boycott. Regardless of whether it yields or reacts with force, Israel cannot win, and will also lose control of the process.
It can be easy to disagree with Benn’s political beliefs, which are rarely hesitant to blame Israel a great deal for the larger conflict. However, it is more difficult to disagree that world opinion—America’s included—seems to be drifting ever further away from Israel’s side.