How Israel Can Defend Itself And Counterattack

By Bernard J. Shapiro

The Arabs have always been adept at psychological/propaganda warfare due to their culture of lies and verbal skills. Students of Islamic practices have long recognized that in Arab society it is the norm to prevaricate and deceive. An Arab who tells the truth about serious events affecting ideology, history, and "disputed" matters is considered foolish and naive. How this sociological pattern manifests itself in the Arab War of Extermination Against Israel is the subject of this article.

History is very illuminating on the changes and evolution of Arab psychological warfare against Israel. In the beginning (1888-1939) the Arabs in general, and the Arabs of British Mandate Palestine tended to operate on the basis of religious fanaticism and anti-Jewish incitement. Arab leaders like Haj Amin el-Husseini, the British appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, began to organize squads of terrorists (the called fedayeen) to attack Jews as early as the 1920's. The massacre of the Jews of Hebron in 1929 preceded the establishment of Israel by almost 20 years.

In these early years the motivation was to sow fear in the hearts of Jews and prevent their integration into the country. It was also meant to scare away potential new Jewish immigrants. A very important other motivation for the Arabs was to convince the British that the influx of Jews into Palestine was the cause of instability and war and thus should be stopped. This policy succeeded dramatically in 1939 when the British White Paper, limiting Jewish immigration into Palestine, was issued. The White Paper trapped millions of European Jews seeking refuge from the Nazis by closing the doors of the Jewish Homeland.

During World War II, the Arab goal shifted as Haj Amin el-Husseini became a regular guest of Adolf Hitler in Berlin. There he watched as Hitler's plans to exterminate all of European Jewry emerged. Greatly please with the Holocaust, he lobbied Hitler to bring the gas chambers and crematoria to Palestine after the war. He drew up plans to set up extermination centers near Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Of course we know that the Nazis lost the war and these plans never came to such an evil fruition.

After the war, the palestinian Arabs continue a war of terrorism against the Jewish community of Palestine. Again, they hoped that the British would abandon their promises to allow the development of a Jewish National Home. Frustrated with the fighting between Jews and Arabs and the growing Jewish resistance their rule, the British turned the entire issue over to the United Nations. This resulted in the Partition Resolution passed on November 29, 1947, which divided Palestine into two states (one Jewish and one Arab).

The Arab States declared war on the new Jewish State and Israel was reborn (1948) in blood and fire. Arab psychological warfare shifted gears in the following years (1948-67) and the cry was to "throw the Jews into the sea." This cry was repeated often by palestinian Arab leader Ahmed Shuqeiri, both in the media and in the halls of the United Nations. Israel was seen as a potential victim of Arab aggression until the Six Day War when it suddenly became Goliath to the Arab David.

The Arabs understood after the wars of 1967 and 1973 (Yom Kippur War) that Israel could not be defeated by military means. They were forced to come up with a new psychological/propaganda plan. This new strategy ceased calling for the extermination of the Jews and the destruction of Israel.

The most important improvement in Arab propaganda is its ability to utilize Jewish and left-wing groups for its anti-Israel campaign. Extreme left-wing political parties like Meretz and Labor joined pro-Arab organizations like Peace Now, Betzelem, Peace Forum and Tikkun to form a broad coalition of Jews willing and anxious to be political pawns in the hands of those that sought Israel's destruction. Since 1967 that propaganda has changed to emphasize "Palestinian self determination", Palestinian "rights" and to enlist the support of "human rights" and leftist groups.

It is important to note that the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran are still the world's largest publisher 'a of "hard core" anti-Semitic literature like the PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION. Syria's Defense Minister recently wrote a book to prove that accusations of "blood libel" against the Jews were true. That is that "Jews kill Christians, especially children, to use their blood in the preparation of rnatza during Passover."

Arab propaganda is based on deception and misdirection through the following demands and claims:


1. Self determination for "palestinians" in a new State of Palestine

2. Return of the "occupied" territories

3. Return of the Arab refugees

4. Return of all property of Arabs who lost it as a result of their failed attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Palestine


1. The State of Israel dispossessed the "palestinians" and stole their country

2. The Jews/Israelis were racists

3. The Jews/Israelis were worse than the Nazis

4. The Jews/Israelis were guilty of genocide against the "palestinians"

5. Jews had no historical connection to Eretz Yisrael (Israel)

6. The "palestinians" were the indigenous people of Palestine

7. Terrorism by "palestinians" is justified as resistance to "occupation"


"It is time that Americans and Europeans realize that these teeming masses of Zionists who infest their cities and sit astride the arteries of their commerce are, in every sense of the word, aliens."

The above quotation, in passion and paranoic ring could have come from the pen of anyone of our local or international hatemongers, whose rhetoric we have come to know well over the past half century. Yet, these words are neither the work of a professional rabble-rouser, nor of a right-wing extremist; rather they come from a presumably scholarly work written by Musa Khuri, an Arab college professor.

This points up two rather disturbing realities: That Arab propaganda and it psychological warfare against Israel has broadened into an attack Jewish populations outside of Israel. It has, in effect, joined forces with anti-Semites, both from the extreme right and the extreme left to delegitimize Israel and the Jewish people and facilitate their destruction. Secondly, this Arab, European and Jewish left wing propaganda apparatus, sanctioned, as it is, by duly recognized governments which together form an influential political power bloc, has lent these local anti-Semitic efforts the aura of respectability.

What do the Arabs hope to gain by this great effort and expense? Bluntly speaking: to bring about conditions that would facilitate the destruction of the State of Israel They concentrate most of their propaganda in the United States, Europe, the United Nations and Islamic nations. A lot of emphasis in recent years has been on the United States, because they feel that this country was the greatest single influence that contributed to the creation of Israel and that it still is the major force standing in the way of Israel's destruction.

The Arabs, therefore, aim to neutralize the impact of America on the Middle East and, if possible, to draw her over to their side. This requires that the propaganda apparatus achieve the following effects: To drive a wedge between Israel and the American Jewish community; to alienate the Jew from the rest of America, and destroy his political and economic strength; and to convince the American people, and through them the American government, that it must adopt a pro-Arab, anti-Israel foreign policy.

To achieve these goals, Islamic organizations like the Arab Anti-Defamation League, the Council of Arab Affairs have published voluminous materials and have distributed them extensively. School and public libraries regularly receive large amounts of unsolicited propaganda; civic, church and political clubs are treated to a host of polished Arab speakers who are able to lecture on a wide variety of subjects but always manage to direct the discussion to the Arab-Israeli conflict; hundreds of anti-Israel letters are kept flowing to large and small papers across the country. Of even more importance, almost every major American university has an Islamic Studies Center financed and funded by Arab money. The centers are teaching a false biased anti-Israel history of the Middle East to a whole new generation of students, including uninformed Jewish students.

The themes and techniques exploited in the letters, books, pamphlets and speeches follow a pattern. Virtually all Arab propaganda is based on the following postulates:

* The establishment of Israel represents a great "imperialistic" injustice to the Arabs.

* The Arabs of Palestine were expelled from their homes by "alien" invaders who seized their country.

Muhanimad T. Mehdi spells this out explicitly in his pamphlet The Question of Palestine:

"The question of Palestine is basically a problem of intrusion of a group of foreigners, largely Europeans, into the Arab land of Palestine, against the will of the Arab people, but with British and later American and Western support."

A wide variety of proposals, arguments, themes and accusations based on these postulates appear periodically in Arab propaganda. In all of their efforts the distinction between Zionist and Jew is blurred, although the Arabs frequently claim to have no quarrel with the Jews, but only with the Zionists. We deal with this lack of precise distinction, when we discuss the use of anti-Semitic themes in its propaganda. Here, then, are some examples of recurrent themes:

An 'international" Zionist (often Zionist-Jewish or Zionist-Jewish-Communist depending on the audience) conspiracy was able to take aver Palestine because:

(a) It controls the mass media in this county.

(b) It controls the wealth of this country.

(c) It controls both political parties

1. Israel is guilty of stealing land and property that belongs to Arabs; of military aggression; of creating tension to help its pleas for aid.

2. The UJA is not a charity; therefore contributions should not be tax-exempt.

3. Highly Organized, well financed "minority groups" pressure the American government to adopt programs that are supposedly in their respective private interest, but are, in fact, detrimental to the United States.

4.The Zionists (Jews) are, in reality, loyal to Israel, and, therefore, disloyal to America.

5. Israel benefits from anti-Semitism in the sense that it uses it as an excuse to increase immigration and ask for more aid.

6. Israel preaches peace, but is guilty of aggression since it desires territorial expansion.

7. There would be peace if Israel accepted U.N. Resolutions.

8. American prestige in the Middle East is damaged, end Arab-American friendship is inhibited by American supporters of Zionism.

9. Israel desecrates Christian and Moslem holy places.

10. Israel commits atrocities.

11. Israel persecutes the Arab minority.

12. The Jews have been worse than even the Nazis in their relations to the Arabs.

Here is how the Arabs take this and-Semitic theme and exploit it for their purposes: Haj Amin el-Husseini, former Mufti of Jerusalem, Grand Mufti of Palestine, Hitler's Middle Eastern propaganda specialist during the war and head of the Arab Republic of Palestine" in exile in Baghdad said:

"The Palestine tragedy is unequaled in history. The Zionist imperialistic plot against Palestine was most inhumane and base. World Judaism plans to take over most of the Arab countries to fulfill its so-called historical dream of a homeland between the Nile and Euphrates. The Imperialist Jewish plot is not aimed at Palestine only....."


The Palestine Liberation Organization, which has been recognized as the world's highest moral arbiter recently asked the United Nation's Secretary General Kofi Anan to draft a resolution condemning Israel and calling for sanctions. Something is obviously wrong with this picture. It is time for Israelis and their supporters to recognize that Israel has a public relations problem.

The actions Israel take to defend its security are quite moderate by Middle East standards. Its ability to explain what and why it took such action is inadequate. Along with most of the pro-Israel community, I'm a frequent critic of Israeli information policies.

What is needed is a whole new approach to Israeli public relations. Let's call it: THE MARKETING OF ISRAEL, and look at the problem from an advertizing perspective. About eight years ago, I discussed with an executive of a major advertising company the possibility of producing television spots supporting Israel's positions on various political issues. I became discouraged upon learning that the major stations do not permit "advocacy" commercials.

I think it is time to take a second look at my concept but expand it to include radio, magazines, cable television (cable will accept this type of commercial) and newspapers. The ads should range from the very soft evocative travel type to some hard hitting but subtle political messages. Pretend that Israel is a corporation with a vast market in the United States. Receipts from that market top $6 Billion Dollars (including US economic and military aid, UJA, Israel Bonds, JNF, plus all the other campaigns from Yeshivas to the Technion). What would you spend to protect a market of that magnitude? One percent would equal $60 million. You can run for president with sixty million dollars. In a wild fantasy, lets say we have that much money. And let's say we hire a talented creative ad man to develop a multi-faceted, multi-media, and multi-year campaign to win the hearts and minds of the American people (and later the Europeans).

This should not be an impossible task. Israel is a good product, lots of virtues, few vices. (Can you imagine convincing the American people to love Saddam or Osama bin Ladin?) We could do nothing, but the consequences are not so good. Public opinion polls are beginning to show the Arabs winning more and more sympathy despite terrorism. Today the movement of university students and their professors, blacks, and the leadership of the Democrat Party toward support of Arab anti-Israel goals is truly frightening. Yes, Arabs who keep their women in bondage; Palestinians who disembowel pregnant teachers in front of their classes; Syrians who peddle narcotics to American inner city youth and commit mass murder if provoked; Saudis who threaten to behead a man for practicing Christianity; all of these and more are almost as popular as Israel. The Arabs are good at smearing the good name of Israel. Just listen to Hanan Ashrawi some time. No matter what the question, she manages to fit in a lie about Israel in her answer. Israel has already lost the college campus, half of the Afro-Americans, a good portion of the Protestants except for the Baptists and the Evangelicals and some in the Jewish community.


Israel must stop being inhibited from its national Zionist mission because of Arab psychological intimidation. The Israelis must know that they are NOT racist despite accusations of racism from racist Arabs and their left wing fellow travelers. In their military/strategic policy, Israel must act in its own best interests and that of its citizens and NOT at the command of any other nation. The security and survival of Israel and the Jewish community has the highest priority in Jewish law and MUST be observed. And I mean by that, the Israel Defense Forces must be given complete freedom to destroy the enemy. Israel's political establishment MUST NOT negotiate with an enemy seeking its destruction in the false hope of preventing the final battle between the forces of good and evil (light and darkness).


The Israel government needs to realize that we are living in a new world where telecommunications brings us closer that ever before to each other. In the fifties when Israel was criticized, Ben Gurion used to say, "Its not what the world thinks, but what the Jews do that is important." It is a different world now and for every Israeli policy, the public relations aspect must be examined. I am definitely not calling on Israel to submit to public opinion but instead to organize and mold it for their benefit. I don't want Israel immobilized by fear of bad public relations. I want Israel to plan, with the help of experts, a strategy to counteract the negative effects of any public policy move. Would Sharon send his soldiers into battle without a detailed plan and strategy to win? The time has come for Israel to develop a strategy the win the public relations battle. The Jewish community in this country is more than willing to lend its money and advertizing talent to aid in this task. Let's do it! (Are you listening Sharon?)


Bernard J. Shapiro is the executive director of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies

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