The Distorted Image of Israel

  • May 19, 2015

Anti-Israel pundits continue to invent new ways to use distortions and half-truths to attack the Jewish state, presenting Israel in a negative light as racist, inhumane and entirely objectionable. These Israel haters will often invert a positive aspect of Israeli society, flipping it on its head in an effort to delegitimize the Jewish State.

This most well-known of these tactics is dubbed Pinkwashing by its inventors. It takes Israel’s proud record on LGBT issues and the openness Israeli society demonstrates towards the LGBT community, and absurdly argues that Israel uses this issue to deflect attention away from its treatment of Palestinians.

Ken Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch, recently engaged in a similar “deflective” practice with Israel’s life-saving efforts in Nepal following the devastating earthquake.  In response to Israel’s announcement that they were sending a delegation to provide medical and search-and-rescue assistance, Roth cynically tweeted: “Easier to address a far-away humanitarian disaster than the nearby one of Israel's making in Gaza. End the blockade!”

Ken Roth

Another avenue used by Israel-hating activists is the so-called “Buzzfeed model” of trying to mainstream distorted and overly simplified lists of Israeli transgressions.

In a recent posting for Alternet, anti-Israel writer Zaid Jilani concocted a list of “6 Crazy Things Israel Has Done to Maintain Racial Purity.” The title is a dead giveaway of the tactic - trumpeting the hyperbole and distortions in the article to follow. And while there are grains of truth to each of the examples listed, they all lack full context, and are spun in the most negative of ways to accomplish outlandish offence towards Israel.

One of the examples listed is that only Jews are entitled to the right-of-return law, which provides for automatic Israeli citizenship. This law does give special immigration status to Jews and is generally championed as a positive initiative by Israel, enabling Jews from around the world, and their descendants up to four generations, to call Israel their home. Many of the Jews, especially in the early years of the State, were survivors of the Holocaust and refugees from violent expulsion by hostile Arab countries. During the 1980s and 1990s, over a million Jews from the Soviet Union and tens of thousands from Ethiopia were able to escape oppressive conditions and build new homes in Israel, thanks to this law. As the historic homeland of the Jewish people, Israel rightfully and proudly sees this law as one of its most important and positive contributions to the safety and well-being of Jews from around the world. Other immigrants to Israel are required to apply for citizenship, pursuant to laws that are similar to those in other democracies, and are not guaranteed automatic citizenship status.

Israel is not a perfect county. Like all Western democracies, it is faced with its fair share of domestic and international challenges. But it has also accomplished a great deal in its short history, and is home to a thriving progressively-minded society.

It is sad that Israel can do no good in the eyes of the Pinkwashers and people like Roth and Jilani. No matter Israel’s accomplishments and contributions to the world, these voices, cloaked in a marble of righteously promoting a human-rights agenda, seem bent on inventing new ways to use hate-filled rhetoric hate-filled to upend Israel’s positive contributions to society and the world to unjustly vilify the Jewish State.