I imagine each country wants to put its best foot forward on the world stage, highlighting its virtues and minimizing (hiding) its faults. In that respect, nations are very much like people. Some countries are better actors (“diplomats”) than others.
Power and influence come from public perception as much as the arsenal a country possesses. In the old world (pre-nuclear age), having the largest stockpiles of weapons and the newest weapons technology, guaranteed a spot on the top of the pecking order. Slowly, that has changed. Today, countries have weapons they can’t use without risking self-annihilation. What counts even more than the size of their defense budget is the size of their diplomacy budget.
Israeli leaders have understood this reality since the creation of the State in 1948 and are probably the world’s most experienced diplomats. Since the beginning, the Zionist colonial project had a huge challenge on its hands — to convince the world that its goals were pure, its new state was legitimate, and its impact on the indigenous population of Palestinians was benevolently benign. They gave this public diplomacy effort a name — hasbara.
Up until Dec. 08-Jan. 09, I think the Israeli government was pretty darn successful in its diplomatic mission. The turning point came with Operation Cast Lead. The wool could not be pulled over the eyes of a complacent international community. The slaughter and butchery that Israel carried out in 22 days on a defenseless civilian population was more than any decent observer could stomach.
Now I finally understand why Israel has been so successful in diverting the world’s attention from the realities of its occupation of Palestine. Israelis have a diplomacy dictionary. The Israel Project’s 2009 — GLOBAL LANGUAGE DICTIONARY.
More than 100 pages long, the Table of Contents is revealing.
Chapter 1: 25 Rules for Effective Communication
Chapter 2: A Glossary of Words that Work
Chapter 3: How to Talk about Palestinian Self Government & Prosperity
Chapter 4: Isolating Iran-backed Hamas as an Obstacle to Peace
Chapter 5: The Language of Tackling a Nuclear Iran
Chapter 6: Gaza: Israel’s Right to Self Defense and Defensible Borders
Chapter 7: Peace: The Central Message
Chapter 8: Settlements
Chapter 9: Jerusalem
Chapter 10: Loan Guarantees & Military Aid
Chapter 11: The Security Fence & Checkpoints
Chapter 12: The Right of Return = The Right of Confiscation
Chapter 13: The United Nations
Chapter 14: Talking about Arab-Israelis
Chapter 15: Talking about Children and the Culture of Hate
Chapter 16: Lessons to Learn from President Obama’s Language
Chapter 17: Talking to the American Left
Chapter 18: Israel on Campus Communications
Appendix I: The Toughest Questions
Appendix II: The Hamas Covenant
Appendix III: Important Facts
Appendix IV: Posters that Work
Over the next 2-3 weeks, I intend to respond chapter by chapter. Stay tuned.