Vol. 11 / January 2008 /  Shvat 5768                       A JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND THE ARTS


The British Academic Boycott of Israel
and some of its Deeper Meanings

Christopher Barder



“When I arrived in London, I was not fully prepared for the anti-Israeli hatred existing in Europe. My meetings with the British Left were a rude awakening. During my ambassadorship a number of major anti-Semitic events occurred, both inside and outside Great Britain, that cumulatively served as repeated warning signs.” 1



A large number of moral points can be made about the British academic boycott of Israel, concerning freedom of speech and exchange of ideas, as well as the importance of academic interaction. In the words of Dr. Sari Nusseibah, president of the Palestinian Al-Quds University:

The free flow of science and information...constitutes a powerful force against war... Of all possible bridges to burn as a form of “well-intentioned” political pressure, the boycott of academic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians should be excluded...2

Israeli academics are among the foremost to encourage Arab undergraduates and to oppose security limits on their attendance at Israeli universities.

This boycott is part of a long history of boycotts aimed at demeaning and undermining the existence of a Jewish state in the supposed Dar al Islam and so turning the region into a Dar al Harb. Therein lies its first point of significance. This one, although perhaps inspired in response to no small extent by the loud voice of Muslims in Britain and a wide-spread desire to please, appease and placate them, nonetheless represents “considered” Left-wing academic opinion rather than the Arab states’ refusal to accept Israel’s existence and their support for, at the least, the destruction of it by stages and in many instances, its immediate destruction, by direct confrontation and violence.

It is easy to overlook the history of the Palestinian work to manipulate public opinion in Britain. In December 1974 the Arab boycott spokesman in London, Kamel Georzes, made it clear that boycott offices did not need to tighten their regulations because “British businessmen were ready to conform voluntarily with the Arab boycott, in spontaneous surrender.”3 Even before that, in 1972, Zeev Schiff and Raphael Rothstein had documented the power of Palestinian propaganda in the USA and Europe and also its particular appeal to left-wing students. Indeed, the violence of the fedayeen seemed to have extra attraction for this latter constituency.

The emphasis placed by the fedayeen on propaganda in the Arab world has [sic] also been extended to the Western world where the Palestinian issue often provides a convenient and effective instrument for mobilizing public sympathy on behalf of the Arab cause and combating pro-Israel sentiments on the part of politicians, writers, and people in positions of cultural and social influence.4


A Matter of Islam and...the Political Left

Not only does the boycott reflect the growing power of the Muslim minority but it, also significantly, represents the power of the Left, its opinion’s prevalence and its deep-seated antipathy, at best, and loathing at worst, for Israel. This requires some explaining and quantifying. It is accompanied, for the most part, by astonishing ignorance.

Some British non-Jews I spoke with thought there were five million whereas the number is about 300,000. A lady from one of the University Teachers’ Unions told me that 80% of the university teachers in the UK are Jews.5

This may all suggest ominous echoes from the 1930s.

Of the three features identified to explain how the British public has been “captured by the jihad”, America, Israel and the war in Iraq, it is Israel which is the main focus, the Palestinians having

replaced the IRA as the terrorist fashion accessory du jour and have become the cause of choice for every heart that bleeds...When it is not marching against Israel or writing newspaper articles or making TV programs against it, the left is busy organizing academic and economic boycotts to bring it to its knees.6

The requirements of Israeli hasbara to counter the ignorance and pro Palestinian fashion must be stressed.7 Zvi Shtauber’s comments, however, tell an important part of the uphill climb necessary to shame by exposure the deep-rooted bigotry and prejudice that now holds in thrall, masked by political correctness and an ill-founded and mendacious ethical cry, which stifles debate. Described by one former Australian government minister as “intolerant”, “self-righteous” and “quasi-religious”, political correctness is also “a heresy of liberalism. It emerges where liberalism and leftism intersect. What began as a liberal assault on injustice has come to denote, not for the first time, a new form of injustice.”8 Shtauber encountered just this form of injustice, even if he might categorize it differently, and found it, plainly, entrenched. It is very important to understand this, in order to counter the academic boycott and other ones, which may well occur. The boycotts are not phenomena or aberrations isolated from a range of undercurrents and analyses, outlooks and attitudes.

The left-wing anti-Israeli bias is almost irreversible. I asked an editor of The Guardian: “Did you support Israel during the Camp David negotiations?” He said: “Oh no.” I went on and queried: “Why do you always quote extremists in Israel, settlers or left-wingers, rather than spokesmen of the mainstream?” To defend himself, he answered: “Many of our writers are Jews.” It shows that he does not know much about the British Jewish community and also believes the stereotype that every Jew is pro-Israeli. Writing against Israel advances one’s career. Suzanne Goldenberg, who was The Guardian’s correspondent in Israel, received several awards... In the media there is no limit to the idiocies one is confronted with. Many young journalists do not listen to what they are told. The reports they prepare are often unprofessional. But it is not only a question of inexperienced people. Shortly after I arrived in London, the board of an association of journalists came to visit me. One of the five respectable visitors, a very important journalist, asked me: “We want your assurance, Mr. Ambassador, that it is not the official policy of the government of Israel to shoot journalists.” I looked at him and hardly knew what to say.

It is the present writer’s position that “almost irreversible” does not necessarily mean totally. If enough noise is made and countering material is put forward, they are hard to ignore. The points of contact need working on. Groups need to be found to work with, whether from within the Jewish community or not. All this is part of a wider process. But, notionally at least, the Israeli government has called together a group to begin work on counter measures, itself an encouraging sign, although it would be far better if professional and expert groups were already in place, since the conditions certainly merit no less.9


The West Has Lost its Ability to Tell Truth from Falsehood

The desire for veracity and truth among academics perhaps ought to be pronounced above any other motive. However, this is plainly not the case any more. There are, so to speak, “deeper” issues, as it would appear and this represents a profound shift in emphasis, from seeking accuracy to allowing “loaded” material to take the place of searching, checked and rechecked, and documented analysis. This means that there is a veiled anti Israel agenda, and/or an absolutely overt one, which comes to the surface as a consequence of the in-built prejudices, which are no longer subject to restraint, being given an ethical cover and freedom of expression granted probably to no other ethnically slanted slurs in Britain.

It is now of critical importance to recognize the degree to which

People can be deceived by conscious deliberate lies which are directly communicated to them by word or deed... They can be systematically manipulated by propaganda designed to spread particular ideas which influence the attitudes of large numbers of people. The public can be the subject of governments “manufacturing consent”, a process of managing and orchestrating information a process received by the public so as to set and limit agendas and color opinions. They can be deceived by other forms of institutionalized forms of lying, by misinformation, the distribution of official lies to give a misleading account of the truth; or by disinformation, the spreading of false information to conceal the truth. Rather than an explicit lie being told, the truth can be evaded by manipulating information and presenting it in such a way as to disguise a problem from public view. The truth can be hidden. Official secrecy can be used to control and suppress information to prevent democratic debate about matters of substantive significance.10

The Palestinians and Hizbullah are masterful at lying and maintaining intimidatory and cunningly articulated relations with reporters and governments.

Without over-emphasizing to the point of parody, the way that governments and their advisers form policies and opinions, in ways which brook no serious debate and criticism once the die is cast, it is not difficult to discern that a powerful consensus can emerge, almost regardless of its real coherence and intellectually verifiable or falsifiable evidential basis. This is a very disturbing reality, especially considering its not inconsiderable prevalence in British academic life.

Melanie Phillips, a consistently perceptive and daring analyst of British society and politics, commented in 2005 upon “the lamentable conformity of most politicians” in Britain.11 It is therefore hard to envisage very many of them breaking with the consensus about foreign policy and Israel. If then, the vast preponderance of sources they come across, stress the wickedness of Israel, even those who might shrink back from anti-Semitism in any obvious form, certainly do not have either the daring or the willingness to challenge received opinion, or the motivation to conduct research to find it false.


An Abandonment of Reason

It is documenting a revolt against reason, which helps to explain the British phenomenon and its intensity, albeit with suggestions of Weimar Germany.

The irrational witch-hunt against the Jewish people now consuming much of Britain is surely part of a far wider revolt against reason itself.

Britain prides itself on being a secular, post-religious society that therefore stands for reason against religious obscurantism. In fact, by dumping religion it also dumped reason. This is because reason actually depends upon the Judeo-Christian tradition – and especially upon Judaism, the most rational of all religions.

The outcome is a supposedly rational society which has in fact become deeply irrational. Post-religious Britain now invests its faith in New Age cults, paganism, witchcraft and psychic phenomena such as reincarnation, astrology and parapsychology.

Wild conspiracy theories are lapped up by millions, including the belief that the Americans were responsible for 9/11 or that hidden elites manipulate world affairs, all heavily laden with paranoia about the alleged sinister hidden power of the Jews.

And in the universities, the epicenter of anti-Israel hatred and boycott hysteria, post-modernist orthodoxy has long proclaimed the death of truth and objectivity. The result is that our society has become a sucker for propaganda because it no longer has the means to distinguish between truth and lies by using evidence, logic and reasoning.

This moral and intellectual nihilism is not unique to Britain but is evident throughout the west. What is different about Britain is that there is no opposition to it. In America there is at least a culture war. In Britain there has been a rout.12

It would appear that there is a growth in political lying as a normal practice.

The trouble about a political culture that tolerates and promotes figures ... [who lie] is it sends out a message that lying is acceptable. Civil servants and others take their lead from ministers and do the same.13

It has been suggested that in Britain’s liberal democracy,

...lying, deception, manipulation and fabrication of the truth have become routine and to a large extent systemic inside the political system.14

Part of the cause at least is a cheapening of language and thence of political discourse, responding to techniques of advertising and modern communications, which create “sound bites”, distortion through over-simplification and personality cults, all of which have led one commentator to describe the new realities as “Post Democracy”.15 A major consequence of these trends affects understanding of the Middle East and the quality of debate about it helping to create a fashionable and politically correct notion of how to view Israel and its behavior. The result is that it is much harder for those seeking to create a different kind of reasoning and consensus over many issues, including the Arab-Israel conflict, to succeed.

...political debate is no longer qualified to address the deep and profound issues about what kind of society we should seek to be, or how underlying problems such as terrorism or immigration should be addressed. In fact, Humanity, complexity and truth are all being driven out of this kind of discourse.16

A new kind of political elite is willing to “manufacture” the truth and to create an illusion of it without being bothered by the way that fact and fiction merge to bamboozle and manipulate the public.

It is too easy to fall back on an almost simplistic all-embracing anti-Semitism explanation, without realizing how far the cultural and intellectual flaws have gone, so that the liberal and left-wing voices do not, in the phrase of Conor Cruise O’Brien, cast a “suspecting glance” at themselves and their own opinions.

In a nutshell, intellectuals in the liberal West do not necessarily see themselves as anti-Semitic, even if their stances and reasoning manifestly are, and plainly lead to anti-Semitic results, however they are measured by reality. That is, where interpretation of statistics and history should come into play, nonetheless the reasoning of anti Zionism and anti Israel argument carries more weight. It does so, according to this appalling paradigm, because it must do, because that is where the force of reasoning ought to lie; and so it does.

Professor Eytan Gilboa has commented “Anti-Semitism, not policy criticism, is the motor driving anti-Israel efforts in England.”17 But the one informs and interacts with the other. They have become almost indistinguishable. That is, the “case” is probably even more dangerous and convincing to intellectuals used to collective opinion forming and agreement. It has perhaps become harder to stand out and not to conform.


The Domination of Political Correctness

The demand for politically correct conformity to an anti Israel position may be all the more true as Gilboa’s list is remarkably, sadly, comprehensive:

This [academic boycott] represents a serious trampling of academic and scientific freedom. It is a political witch hunt, and to a very large degree it is a cynical, anti-Semitic move. No similar decisions have been taken about any other country, even ones responsible for serious human rights abuses.

This decision joins other serious steps. In the past year, lawyers have gotten arrest warrants for IDF generals, including Shaul Mofaz, Aviv Kochavi and Doron Almog, claiming they committed war crimes.

A group of British architects passed a resolution to boycott their Israeli counterparts because, according to them, the Israelis were partners in creating the “criminal” security fence. The editor of Dance Europe refused to publish an article by Israeli choreographer Sally-Anne Friedland unless she issue a public denunciation of the “Israeli occupation”, and the Anglican Church has recommended boycotting Israeli businesses, which would mean pulling investments from companies and factories that do businesses with Israel.

However the prejudice and ignorance which fuel these moves is rooted in perceptions about the Arab-Israel conflict and the way it is portrayed. It is a product of the misuse and clever use of information, far more than it is solely and concisely part and parcel simply of anti-Semitism. It is a product of non-existent and shoddy scholarship, lack of learning and professionalism and also of the climate of lies and opinion, which serve to “inform” about the whole range of issues, which create “the situation” in Israel. It is also, unfortunately, a product of the dire and often commented upon, defeat of Israel in the hasbara battle with the Palestinians.18

None of the above is to say that there is not anti-Semitism or that it does not have far-reaching and deep antecedents or that it lacks weight today. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, it is not just that, and failure to see that it is not just that, although it incorporates it, as stressed above, will damage and blunt Israel’s capacity to fight back.

Professor Gilboa’s brief survey serves to illustrate some of the very important points surrounding an attempt at understanding and exposing the roots of the boycott keenness in Britain and among academics in particular.

In each of these cases [of boycotts, cited above], the underlying motor driving these efforts is a rejection of Israel’s fundamental right to exist. They are more than simple criticisms of Israeli policy.

There are several reasons for this British hostility, including the anti-Israel activities of radical and post-Zionist Israelis living in England, Israel’s portrayal in the British media, and the country’s weak Jewish community.

The British media systematically supports the Palestinians, and openly slants its reporting about Israel and Israeli policy. The left-wing Guardian and Independent newspapers regularly print accusatory, anti-Israel editorials, and their correspondents in Israel file biased, and occasionally false, reports. The supposedly prestigious BBC has long been a sounding board to trumpet Palestinian propaganda.19

Britain’s academic community has proven just how small and outrageous it really is. Maybe the English think they still rule the Land of Israel. Perhaps they are just taking revenge for losing their mandate here to small, determined group of Jews.

The time has come to focus on Britain. The government must join together with non-governmental organizations to focus efforts on repelling the spiteful wave of ugly anti-Semitism.


Establishment Shared Attitudes

What Professor Gilboa seriously under emphasizes is that the government, its advisers and the Establishment as a whole, share precisely these attitudes he outlines, and have few tools if any, least of all desire and motivation, with which to fight them. Zvi Shtauber also suggested that politicians were not anti Israel, except for those on the Left. However, this is to judge by what they might be like and in the context of the widely recognized links and friendship with the Arab world, truly pro Israel opinion hardly exists among them. Often “friendship” is couched in terms of the context being criticism or the mantra that it is policy or the government, not the people, which are subject to the particular opprobrium.

There are virtually no such NGOs, which are not deeply imbued with antipathy towards Israel, as the research of Professor Gerald Steinberg and his monitoring service, all too consistently have had to demonstrate,20 and which can counter the negative views of Israel, although, in Britain, quite a number of groups disseminate corrective and informed opinions in Israel’s favor, on the internet and as minor lobbying groups. Their degree of influence at high level has yet to be demonstrated.

The British Foreign Office has a long history of espousing Arab causes and ensuring that the words which come out of foreign Secretaries’ mouths are chosen to avoid annoying Arab governments and are soft-soap to the Palestinians. This must, for reasons of limitation of space, stand for a whole raft of such instances. Then Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket is addressing the United Services Institute, a by no means unprestigious organization.

The British government has repeatedly expressed its deep concern over mounting casualties and civilian suffering in Gaza and raised these concerns with the Government of Israel. The continuing rocket attacks into Israel are also unacceptable. Only yesterday I expressed my grave disturbance at the killing of around 20 Palestinians in the Israeli strike on Beit Hanoun. Many more were injured and I was particularly horrified at the large numbers – as is all too often the case – of children and women amongst the casualties. It is hard to see what this action was meant to achieve and how it can be justified.

Such violence only adds to the difficulty of reaching a peaceful solution.21

There is no attempt at all at explaining or understanding Israeli policy or the reason that Arab women and children are wantonly placed in places, deliberately chosen, of acute danger, or why Israel attacks an incipient terror state in the making. Indeed, like so many broadcasts, cause and effect are abandoned. Israel appears far more violent than Palestinian society.22

An Early Day Motion in the House of Commons put forward by Jane Kennedy MP, opposing the boycott, has gathered 83 signatures at time of writing (out of well over 600 MPs),23 rather few considering that “Human and Trade Union Rights in Colombia” obtained 228 signatures in January 2007 and “Wallace and Gromit’s Wrong Trousers Day 29th June 2007”, put forward in June 2007, obtained 109 signatures! Priorities do not appear to lie with addressing the seriousness of the boycott and its implications.

Both academics and government ministers are in fact feeding on the same range of ideas and modes of expression, fuelling similar and consistent ways of thinking. It is the boycott as a method that differs, not the critique behind it. Therefore, although, as we shall see, government ministers may deplore boycott(s), especially for the exposure of the illiberalism and partiality that they display, nonetheless, the raw and crude criticism of Israel and the ignorance behind it are shared as if in a common cause. That is partly why the boycott is so dangerous a weapon. It could catch on and so divide opinion that a number may agree with it and try to practice it as a misplaced form of mirroring protests at South African apartheid, in a self-righteous sop to their consciences and attempt at whitewashing Palestinian society, at least partly because the reality of it is so horrifying.

The antecedent history of the PLO factions before they were ousted from Lebanon and sent packing to Tunis is replete with gratuitous violence: tying of different limbs to different cars and driving off in different directions, pulling the bodies apart; delivering dismembered body parts in plastic, transparent bags to door steps for discovery by the relatives – all of this was normative in south Lebanon as was routine rape of any woman unwise enough to venture out. All of this and more besides should be common knowledge and signs of profound change should, rationally, be sought by all prospective donor organizations and states before parting with their money and resources to the PA.

More recently, the dismemberment and display of interior body parts of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, along with the Palestinian Arabs’ response to a mobile phone call from one of the dead soldier’s Israeli wife, announcing his death, all of this, like the Palestinian “police” failure to prevent the atrocities, tells an illuminating story about the ethos and tenor of Palestinian “society”. However the West prefers to blame “the occupation” (which actually does not exist) and Israeli policies for the brutalizing effects and norms of the PA and the society it has fostered and failed to correct.

The June 2007 displays of vicious murder and destruction in Gaza and the cities given over by Israel to the PA in Judea and Samaria ought to come as no surprise to Western media writers and program-makers. Certainly governments should be well informed and therefore not taken by surprise when there has been no rule of law and only a revolving door policy when Palestinian perpetrators of violence against Israelis have suffered arrest at the hands of the many “security services” run by various factions in the Palestinian ruling cadres. Yet Israel gets the blame. Given such an ugly distortion and often-asserted apparent reality, it is hardly surprising that even serious people, who fancy themselves as possessors of a political conscience, conclude, not that they are being deceived and lied to – as they should – but that Israel must be the culprit. The “big lie” works if put forward, as by the Palestinians and Western politicians and media, consistently in a cacophony of chorused lies.

Nor is it a small minority that is responsible for such violence and deep-seated anti Israel outlook. It must be emphasized that even the Western media stressed how the speeches of Arafat and Kaddoumi, for instance, catered for a constituency – i.e. a majority. It was this majority that, despite warnings, elected, in neither free nor fair elections, to be sure, despite propaganda to the contrary and despite the Fatah hold on the levers of power and media, Hamas to take over the Palestinian Authority. Opinion polls regularly demonstrate the depth of anti-Israel antipathy among Palestinians of all types. This is, for all concerned, whether they like it or not, a gun culture, a society rooted in routine violence. However the Palestinian culture of lies and distortion has produced a convincing pseudo contemporary history and this fits with the Western agenda and British inability to discern accuracy from distortion, truth from falsehood. There is a bizarre mirroring and parallelism at work here. The delegitimization of the Jews and consequently their state, has been part of “the longest hatred”, to be sure, in Europe and Britain, but now that falsehood is so much the norm, the Palestinian mythology has a yet more fertile soil in which to grow.

Lies and distortions depicting loathsome Jewish-Israeli behavior and character traits are published and televised regularly. In educational programs and in articles, the PA media erases Jewish history in Israel, as part of an active program to negate the rights of the Jewish nation to the Land of Israel, while at the same time inventing an ancient Palestinian-Arab history. Based on these fabrications, the PA teaches its people that they have the exclusive historical right to the land.24


Bias as an Intellectual Way of Life

As an example of willful and culpable burying of one’s head in the sand, Chris Patten, when Foreign Affairs Commissioner in the European Commission, went on record for saying an investigation into the manifestly corrupt PA was needed “like a hole in the head”. His corrupted outlook, which shunned the truth, is now a common currency.25

If only Israel behaved as required, the Palestinians would behave properly, is the popular way of thinking. If this idea was seen to be deeply flawed, then Eurabia as a policy and the EU hope of a broader economic hold on the Mediterranean, especially the Eastern part, would collapse. So too would neutralization of aspects of the Islamicization threat to Europe. It remains essential to weaken Israel to curry favor with the Arabs. They supply oil and arms purchases and so augment European influence and trade. Boycotts demonstrate a kind of diplomacy by other means. They please Muslims who have a long history of boycotting against Israel.26

The BBC represents a serious and increasingly well-publicized source of bias and anti Israel opinion, constantly drip-feeding with distortions. For instance, senior correspondent (Middle East Editor, alas, no less), Jeremy Bowen makes it clear Israel is at fault in the June 2007 Gaza outrages, the above Palestinian behavior and history, a fraction of what could be said, notwithstanding. No wonder there is a boycott. Only a dedicated researcher, an expert in the field, would be suspicious and determined enough to find the truth elsewhere and by disregarding most “respectable” opinion. The boycott of an evil regime is an appealing proposition at a time when the “democratic deficit” is keenly perceived and many feel politically distant and disempowered, partly because globalization superficially familiarizes them with a plethora of unsubstantiated opinions purporting to be reputable.

On June 15, 2007, Bowen declared:

The institutions, and the hopes behind them, have already taken a severe battering from Israel’s military actions over the last seven years and, more recently, by the punishing financial sanctions imposed by Israel and other countries after Hamas won a free election [sic] at the beginning of last year... What has happened also shows the failure of the decision of the world’s big powers to isolate Hamas.27

Factually inaccurate, absurdly slanted and directly misleading, this kind of reporting of prejudiced opinion makes it clear that the true nature of the Palestinian social failure is deliberately regarded as invisible to the West altogether and therefore terrorism as a matter of domestic and neighborhood political normality is acceptable, even with Western journalists being intimidated or indeed kidnapped. The whole region is (supposedly) in turmoil because of Israel – exactly as the Arabs have always maintained. Melanie Phillips wrote in her diary, in relation to the Bowen interpretation, an appraisal in total rebuttal.28 The problem is that Bowen has a far bigger audience and sounds authoritative.

There is no mention that the Israelis have persistently benefited mankind, won Nobel prizes, treated terror perpetrators the same as their injured victims in the same hospitals, transformed life expectancy and educational opportunities among the Palestinians and consistently been the victims of terror. No such behavior pattern has taken root on the Israeli side and even when crime does occur, it is subject to court action of an appropriate kind. Instead terrible sacrifices have been made, for example in dealing with the “RPG boys” in Lebanon and in sending in ground troops to deal with the booby traps and terror infrastructure in Jenin, to save the lives of those who nurtured the terror groups there and were classified as “civilians”. Purity of arms doctrines find no place in Western reporting. Furthermore, the apartheid often uttered as a mantra by the boycotters against Israel, consists, in reality, not of Jews banning the presence of Arabs but of all PA areas and of many of the neighboring states deliberately practicing a policy of being Judenrein.

Clearly what is at work behind the boycott is not just anti-Semitism but actually a problem concerning the perception of reality as well, a kind of inability to discern truth from falsehood, in some cases a genuine incapacity to maintain critical faculties. This requires explanation on a number of levels. It is for the Israeli task force to realize this and to probe sufficiently deeply so that its counter measures can for once be effective. However difficult and uphill the forces against which it must struggle, Israeli prosecution of its case must confront the boycotters with an alternative reality and a searingly penetrative one which will operate on a multi-level basis.


The Need for Israeli Public Diplomacy

Professor Gilboa, in a seminal article, has suggested Israel must change its approach to Public Diplomacy and fix the system by which it has so far failed successfully to conduct it, although this may take years.29 He recommends doing this by working through the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office.

Governmental Implementation: Assessing the effects of actions on national image; exposing the double standard whereby Israel must behave better than others; all legations will have to be equipped with trained personnel whereby to increase their PD activities of all kinds.

Professional Training: Intensive PD training for all relevant personnel for all kinds of audiences is required, especially for the Israeli Foreign Service, and including academic university-based PD programs. Speaking and media skills are of the essence.

Focus on the Arab World and Europe: These two areas are the most important geographically and most biased against Israel’s arguments and position, whose interest, relevance and value they have to see. Proficiency in Arabic language, culture, and norms is essential to appear on Arabic television. Israel should consider satellite and radio channels in Arabic (as it has successfully managed a Persian radio program).  It is important to explain the clash with the Arabs against many various hostile media and intellectual elites.  

Cyber-PD: Ministries and agencies have been too limited in their web site content and presentation and are not consistent with one another and also not multilingual. For so technological a heavyweight as Israel, this is an area that can be and must be improved upon.

Funding: This is grossly under funded at $9 million and needs to be perhaps ten times that. Planning and thinking through are essential so as not to waste funding.

Utilization of Non-Governmental PD Programs: CAMERA, Honest Reporting, MEMRI, PMW, The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and NGO Monitor have all done specialist work in their respective areas of expertise and demonstrated that Israel need not depend solely on its government PD (or lack of it).

Branding: PR experts in the USA have suggested Israel change from the focus on the PIW (Palestinian Israeli War) to information on daily life and achievements in science and technology, which may save lives and improve them throughout the world. These then are positive images which are put out by groups such as Israel at Heart, Israel 21C, and The Israel Project. Jewish and Christian community support needs to be used effectively for PD work.

Increasing Domestic Awareness: A private US–Israeli initiative through Israel’s Channel 2 television (in cooperation with Israel at Heart) produced “The Ambassador”, a very popular reality television show, in 2004, which helped to educate the Israeli public about Israel’s deteriorating reputation abroad and the need for aggressive PD but this still remains a major priority. Such programs mainly occur in the USA whereas the main challenge to Israel lies in the Arab world and Europe. Furthermore, it is from the official channels that the main thrust must come, rather than the private ones.



There are two fundamental issues here. One is the historic failure of Israeli hasbara and the other the collapse of the necessary conditions in Britain and Europe to give Israel anything even close to a fair hearing. Explaining how Britain became a nation of boycotters is prerequisite for Israel engaging it on every level and being free from the limitations of Anglo-Jewry. The implications go far further than Britain, however, and reveal starkly the place of Israel in the world, its place among the nations and the necessity to address its failing image and the dangers to which that exposes it.

Lady Deech, former head of St. Anne’s College, Oxford and the independent adjudicator for higher education, told the House of Lords:

Academic freedom is the first target of tyrannies, and those who ignore attacks on academic pursuits are cooperating with tyranny. They must ask themselves why Jewish students and Israeli academics, alone in the world, are chosen as the targets. early as 1923 Vienna University was the focus of assaults on Jewish students and curbs on Jewish professors and on the right to learn; followed by Warsaw University which imposed racial restrictions in the 1930s. British universities have to learn from the history of pusillanimity in the face of racism.30

It is indeed they and not Israelis who are now, actually, on trial.



1    Zvi Shtauber, interviewed by Manfred Gerstenfeld, “British Attitudes toward Israel and the Jews”, in Manfred Gerstenfeld, Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss?, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2005, at <>.

2     See Israel 21c Staff, Israel 21c, Opinion, “Do They Really Want to Boycott This?”, June 24, 2007, at <
enVersion =0&enZone=Views>.

3    Terence Prittie and Walter Henry Nelson, The Economic War Against The Jews, Corgi Edition, 1979, p. 130 citing footnote 1, p. 245; Ray Vicker, in The Wall Street Journal, December 30, 1974.

4     Zeev Schiff and Raphael Rothstein, Fedayeen The Story of the Palestinian Guerrillas, Vallentine, Mitchell, 1972, especially pp. 156-162, for examples.

5     Shtauber, interview, supra.

6     Melanie Phillips. Londonistan How Britian is Creating a Terror State Within, Gibson Square, 2006, p. 185.

7    They need to be explored in greater depth than can be managed in this space, although Professor Gilboa’s recommendations are very apposite, as cited below.

8     Anthony Browne, The Retreat of Reason Political Correctness and the Corruption of Public Debate in Modern Britain, CIVITAS, Institute for the Study of Civil Society, 2006, p. 2, citing Peter Coleman, “What is Political Correctness? The Pros and Cons”, Quadrant Magazine, March 2000.

9     “New Israeli Task Force Will Confront British Academic Boycott”, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MFA Newsletter: (Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau), June 10, 2007. Please see Professor Gilboa’s prescription, below.

10   Maureen Ramsay, “Justifications for Lying in Politics”, in Lionel Cliffe, Maureen Ramsay and Dave Bartlett, The Politics of Lying The Implications for Democracy, Palgrave Macmillan, 1999, p. 5.

11   Melanie Phillips, “The Death of Politics”, The Daily Mail, September 24, 2005, <>.

12   Melanie Phillips, “The Eclipse of Reason”, The Jewish Chronicle, June 15, 2007.

13    Peter Oborne, The Rise of Political Lying, The Free Press, 2005, p. 85.

14    Ibid., p. 122.

15    Colin Crouch, Post-Democracy, Polity Press, 2004. (Used and cited by Oborne, supra.).

16   Oborne, ibid., p. 125.

17    For this and what follows, see Eytan Gilboa, “British Anti-Semitism”,, May 31, 2006, <,7340,L-3257290,00.html>.

18   On this, see for example, Ron Schleifer, Psychological Warfare in the Intifada Israel and Palestinian Media Politics and Military Strategies, Sussex Academic Press, 2006. especially pp. 191-192 and his “Jewish and Contemporary Origins of Israeli Hasbara”, Jewish Political Studies Review, 15: 1-2, Spring, 2003. I am grateful to Dr. Schliefer for sending me a copy of this very valuable article.

19   On June 17, 2007, The Sunday Times reported on the “institutionally biased” nature of the BBC and its “‘Roneo mentality’ where staff ape each other’s common liberal values”, See <>.

20    See NGO Monitor at <>.  

21   Margaret Beckett, Speech to the Seminar: “Trans-national Terrorism: Defeating the Threat”, delivered to the Royal United Services Institute, at <

22   Palestinians have used ambulances for weapons smuggling and in November 2006 at Beit Hanoun the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades summoned 1,500 women to shield some 60 gunmen hiding in a mosque. Little humiliation seems to attach to this sort of behavior. Such kinds of activities have been defended, for example, by Helena Cobban, a journalist and academic, fluent in Arabic and French, and perhaps the only Quaker who is a member of the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies. She sits on the Middle East advisory committee of Human Rights Watch and an example of her understanding may be found at <>. 

23   “University and College Union and an Academic Boycott of Israel”, dated June 5, 2007, to be found at <

24   See Itamar Marcus, “Promoting Hatred: The Systematic Use of Lies in the Palestinian Media”, Palestinian Media Watch, Special Report, No. 16, February 24, 1999, at <>.

25   Rachel Ehrenfeld and Sarah Zebaida, “EU Funds for PA Terror”, WorldNetDaily, January 24, 2003, at <>.

26    Witness the long history of the Arab boycott.

27 At <>.  Italics are the present author’s.

28   Melanie Phillips, ‘Beyond Belief’, at <

29  Eytan Gilboa, “Public Diplomacy: The Missing Component in Israel’s Foreign Policy”, Israel Affairs, Volume 12, Number 4, October 2006, pp. 714-747.

30  Tuesday, June 12, 2007, as reported in the Education Guardian, by Donald MacLeod, “Universities Urged to Combat Campus Anti-Semitism”, June 13, 2007, <>.