In an interview last Friday with Ma'ariv, former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon expressed his view that the ongoing debate in Israel regarding the solution to the conflict with the Palestinians is an exercise in futility. As he put it, "We argue over what the solution is, but we still haven't agreed on what the problem is."
On the face of it, Ya'alon's statement beggars belief. It doesn't take a genius to understand what Israel's problem is. All a person has to do is take a look at Palestinian "educational" television, where Mickey Mouse exhorts kindergarteners to become mass murderers, destroy Israel, and bring about Islamic world domination, to know that Palestinian society seeks Israel's destruction and Islamic global supremacy.
And the Palestinians are not alone. The Arab and Muslim world supports their goals. The Syrian government threatens war with Israel everyday. Hizbullah and Iran issue daily calls for Israel's annihilation. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the central clearinghouses for genocidal anti-Semitism, replete with Holocaust denial and Nazi-propaganda characterizing Jews as subhuman filth who the Muslim world must unite to snuff out.
Opposing all this is the State of Israel and its citizens. Since we are not interested in being annihilated and don't like it when people insult us, it should be fairly clear that Israel must be strong in order to defend itself and to prevent our enemies from acquiring the ability to carry out their evil designs.
But as Ya'alon points out, for the past 15 years, this obvious predicament has rarely been mentioned. It certainly has not informed the policies of Israel's governments.
So it would seem that if we wish to solve our problems, the first question that must be addressed is, why are we ignoring reality?
Over the past week, three events exposed the causes of this national flight of fancy. First, last week, B'Tselem and Hamoked published a joint report entitled, "Utterly Forbidden: The Torture And Ill-Treatment Of Palestinian Detainees."
The report purports to detail 73 testimonies of Palestinian prisoners claiming to have been tortured by IDF soldiers and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agents.
The report was extensively and dispassionately covered by the Israeli media. The fact of its publication was the first item on Israel Radio's hourly news updates for several hours running. The impression given by the coverage was that there was no reason to doubt the veracity of the report's findings.
The press reports made no mention of the fact that B'Tselem and Hamoked are radical leftist organizations with documented histories of falsifying and distorting data. No mention was made of the funding these groups receive from European countries. Representatives of B'Tselem and Hamoked were not asked why their report does not identify any of the alleged victims and so makes it impossible for the Justice Ministry to investigate any of their claims. Moreover, the media made light of the fact that the alleged victims are terrorists who were arrested and interrogated for their role in planning and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.
This Wednesday, another report received similar sympathetic coverage. The World Bank published a report claiming that Palestinian poverty in Judea and Samaria is the direct result of IDF checkpoints and roadblocks. Rather than substantively examine the allegations, in repeated broadcasts, Israel Radio gave the impression that the World Bank's allegations were credible.
The fact of the matter is that the World Bank's findings, as well as its methodology and sources, are grossly prejudicial to Israel. The World Bank based its claims on reports by the Israeli radical leftist organizations B'Tselem, Hamoked, Peace Now, Yesh Din and Bimkom; the blatantly anti-Israel UN Organization for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; and Amnesty International.
While placing the full measure of blame for Palestinian economic failure on the IDF, the World Bank report completely ignores the fact that the Palestinians are waging a terror war against Israeli society and that the IDF has a responsibility to defend the state and its citizens from murder. An indication of the report's extreme prejudice is found in the fact that the word "terror" is never mentioned.
The fact of the matter is that roadblocks are a vital component of the IDF's success in preventing terror attacks from being carried out in Judea and Samaria. In 2006 alone, security forces arrested 45 suicide bombers in Judea and Samaria en route to their murderous missions. Many of them were intercepted at roadblocks. Others were captured because the presence of roadblocks forced them to travel in a manner that facilitated their capture.
In placing the blame on Israel for the Palestinians' economic failure, the World Bank also ignored the fact that the Palestinian Authority is a kleptocracy. But this is not surprising.
Since the PA was established in 1994, the World Bank has played a central role in ignoring and so enabling Palestinian leaders to abscond with hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid money. Far from fulfilling their duty to oversee the use of development funds, World Bank officials have turned a blind eye to their diversion to private accounts controlled by Yassir Arafat and his deputies, who used the pilfered funds to enrich themselves and to raise terror militias.
To date, the Israeli media has not asked World Bank officials to explain why the august lending institution is operating as an anti-Israel pressure group and propaganda organ.
The professional malpractice of the Israeli media came through a second time on Wednesday when all three television stations opened their evening broadcasts with a radical leftist propaganda film.
The film portrayed a violent altercation at a roadblock near Otniel between IDF reservists and radical leftists and Palestinians who outnumbered the troops by a ratio of 20 to one. The leftists and the Palestinians were forcibly confronted by the reservists as they illegally dismantled an IDF roadblock.
It is hard to shake the impression that it was no coincidence that the group chose to assault a far-flung, lightly manned IDF roadblock on the same day that the World Bank published its report condemning the very existence of IDF roadblocks.
Whatever the case, the media glossed over the fact that group was not merely demonstrating. By dismantling the roadblock, they were actively sabotaging Israel's national security and the security of its citizens that the roadblock was erected to protect.
Treating the propaganda film as fact, the media gave the impression that the aggressors at the scene were the soldiers, not the saboteurs.
In recent years, the once ad-hoc collaboration between leftist anti-Israel and anti-American organizations and jihadist terror organizations has become premeditated. In one striking example in late March, 20 Canadian "anti-war" activists participated in a conference in Cairo along with senior members of several terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hizbullah. The expressed goal of the Cairo Conference was to forge an alliance against "imperialism and Zionism."
According to a report in The Ottowa Citizen, at a post-conference briefing in Toronto on April 27, the Canadians who participated in the conference encouraged their colleagues on the Left to cooperate with terrorist organizations. As one speaker put it, "We have to forge a more solid and more united anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist movement here to be able to have something to show our brothers and sisters [in the terrorist organizations] when we get back [to the next conference]."
These organizations and their fellow travelers in the UN and the World Bank have had an immense impact on Israeli and US policy-makers. Their disinformation campaigns have engendered the current situation where the US and Israeli governments base their policies on lies while stubbornly ignoring the reality of terror and the global jihad.
Case in point is the US State Department's recently released paper calling for Israel to dismantle roadblocks and checkpoints in Judea and Samaria and to enable free travel between Gaza and Judea and Samaria.
The report was greeted with shock by the IDF and the Shin Bet, which quickly understood that implementing it would be tantamount to signing the death warrants of countless Israelis. Not only would bombers be allowed to move at will, by enabling free travel between Gaza and Judea and Samaria, Israel would all but guarantee that the rockets now terrorizing residents of the western Negev would also threaten residents of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Despite the security services' logical opposition, the Foreign Ministry has given the US document passing marks. On Wednesday, The Jerusalem Post reported on one official who claimed that Israel should accept the US demand to dismantle roadblocks. As he put it, "The Western world, with the exception of the US, sees the roadblocks and checkpoints as a main problem here. It is considered collective punishment that bothers everyone, but only weeds out a few terrorists."
So rather than attacking those who would deny Israel its inherent right to safeguard its territory and the lives of its citizens, the Foreign Ministry, which is responsible for arguing Israel's case to the world, thinks we would be better off just letting terrorists run free and so endangering the lives of Israeli citizens. That is, the Foreign Ministry has swallowed whole our enemies' propaganda and is basing its positions on their false narratives of Israeli aggression and brutality.
Similarly, Wednesday night, rather than defend the reservists for their actions in defending the roadblock from attack, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Military Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit hung them out to dry.
Peretz called the soldiers' behavior "egregious and deviant." IDF officials referred to the footage as "embarrassing." Mandelblit ordered an investigation of the soldiers for their actions in defending their position.
In abandoning the reservists, the three sent a clear message that they care more about being embraced by the media than about defending the honor of their soldiers and the reputation of the country.
All of this returns us to Ya'alon's observation that before we try to find solutions to our problems, we first must understand what they are.
As long as we continue to base our national debates and policies on enemy propaganda, it should surprise no one that Israel finds itself in its current dire predicament. If we are serious about solving our problems, we must liberate ourselves from hostile forces that distort our national conversation with the help of their Israeli media buddies.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.