Israel Education 'Blitz'

Building a Political Firewall against the Assault on Israel's Legitimacy - Executive Summary

The assault on the legitimacy of Israel 
 1.             In recent years, Israel has been subjected to a systematic and systemic assault on its political and economic model, which aims to bring about its implosion and is inspired by the fate of the Soviet Union, and apartheid South Africa.

2.             This assault is increasingly perceived to be a strategic threat for Israel. This understanding underlies the recent mobilization by the Government of Israel (GOI) to offer a systemic response to this challenge.

3.             Two forces promote Israel's delegitimization: The Middle East-based Resistance Network that is driven by Islamic and Arab ideology and nationalism, and the primarily Europe-based Delegitimization Network that is driven by political and philosophical ideologies.

4.             A network of individuals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) drive the delegitimization campaign against Israel. These few dozen 'catalysts'operate out of a handful of metropolitan areas that are the networks' 'hubs.'

5.             Delegitimizers represent marginal political forces but are increasingly able to mainstream and achieve disproportionate influence. They do so by harnessing support from within the liberal progressive elite, and by focusing on a few arenas in which they enjoy structural advantages, such as the judiciary, academia, churches, and trade unions.

6.             The main drivers of delegitimization are leaders within what is commonly known as the Red-Green Alliance, a reference to the increasing connection between Islamists and radical-left elements.

7.             In some Jewish communities Israel has become a polarizing issue – The smear campaign against Israel eroded the support for Israel in some communities. Nonetheless, Jews do not become pro-Palestinian overall, and instead they tend to become 'agnostic' towards Israel.

8.             Polarized Jewish dynamics serve as fertile ground to promote the assault on Israel legitimacy – Whether by generation, political affiliation, or religious denomination, Israel has become a major fault-line.

Overarching principles for response 

 9.             Caveat: This document focuses on the structural response to the challenge of Israel's delegitimization. Its scope does not cover a discussion of closely related issues such as the battle of narratives or arguments or the relation between Israel's delegitimization and anti-Semitism. 

10.         The logic of delegitimization stems from a rejection of Israel's existence, and therefore cannot be made to disappear by policy or public relations (PR). Hence, our working assumption is that neither changing Israel's policies nor improving PR will suffice in the battle against delegitimization, although both can have a significant impact in this context. In fact, credible and consistent commitment by Israel to ending the control over the Palestinian population and to integration and equality of Israel's Arabs citizens is essential for success among progressives.

11.         Hence, the campaign against Israel's delegitimization must represent a systemic and structural approach. The following is a set of principles for such a response:

12.         Narrow the definition of delegitimization and expand the definition of 'pro-Israel' in order to shrink the base of delegitimizers and expand ours:

          -        Delegitimization should be narrowly defined, i.e., as negating Israel's right to exist and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.

          -        Open tent 1: The threshold for membership in the pro-Israel community should begiving Israel the benefit of doubt and possessing the ability to provide a single conceivable context that could make Israel's actions understandable.

13.         It takes a network to fight a network – The power and resilience of human networks is determined by their 'hubs' and 'catalysts.' Hence,effectively contending with the Delegitimization Network requires embracing a network-based logic and response that focuses on hubs, and undermines the catalysts by mobilizing our network.

          -        Open tent 2: GOI and Jewish institutions must get comfortable with a flat, loosely coordinated response

          -        Open tent 3: The response to the assault on Israel’s legitimacy starts from within: It takes 'all instruments of the orchestra' to win this fight – from the political right and left. This principle requires embracing the paradox in which the more critical a voice against Israeli politics, the more credible its stance against delegitimization. Simply put, the most effective voices against Israel's delegitimization come from the progressive left

                    Thus, Jewish communities should attempt to establish a code-of-conduct with regards to Israel, which applies to both the left and right, enhances community cohesion, and widens the anti-delegitimization tent. 

          -        Open tent 4: Encourage experimentation - An effective response will require continuous learning and adaptation based on extensive experimentation, which usually takes place at the edges of the system outside of the traditional institutions.

          -        Any organization that embraces network logic and is able to inspire and mobilize can be its catalyst, including synagogues, community centers, and formal institutions, as well as other NGOs and individuals.

          -        Mobilize Israeli Diaspora communities, particularly on campuses or in multinational corporations.

          -        Be a part of the global network ofanti-delegitimization, whose hubs should include London, the San Francisco Bay Area, Madrid, Paris, Toronto, Brussels, and Johannesburg.

          -        Work behind-the-scenes, for example by hiring outside 'movers-and-shakers' to coordinate mobilization work on campuses.

14.         Develop public relations and branding practices, as well as the negative branding of the other side.

15.         Substantively engage liberal and progressive circles – Mobilizing this constituency to stand against delegitimization requires substantively responding to their concerns and building personal relationships. Special emphasis should be given to Jewish liberals.

16.         Establish a policy and practice of engaging with NGOs focused on Israel on a substantive level, by addressing their concerns, queries, and questions, and by building relations with their boards, management, and professionals.

17.         In this context, our task is far simpler than that of the delegitimizers: While they must demonstrate that Israel's actions prove its illegitimacy, we only have to show that there is a single context through which these actions can be understood and justified.

18.         Out, name, and shame the delegitimizers. This means systematically exposing information about them, their activities, and the organizations that they operate out of. The goal is to eventually frame them, depending on context, as anti-peace, anti-Semitic, or dishonest purveyors of double standards.

19.         Present the other side of Israel

          -        Promote and expose joint projects in fields in which Israel excels – such as humanitarian activity in the developing world, biological and medical technology, emergency response, and science and the arts – involving British and Israelis NGOs and/or government agencies.

          -        Initiate or encourage twinning projects that emphasize a non-conflict-oriented Israeli brand and bring value to the local community, such as in medical areas, emergency response, education, etc.

          -        Consider establishing an Israeli cultural center (Israel House), especially within Jewish communal infrastructures.

20.         The relationship and division of roles between Israeli diplomatic missions and local leadership are critically important to fighting delegitimization. The main attributes of this cooperation are based on the unique values of each side:

          -        The local Israeli diplomatic mission should focus on communicating the voice of Jerusalem to the local community and vice versa; serving as a formal front of Israel that draws 'fire.' It should be tasked with exposing their arguments, mobilization methods, and structure; introducing new and innovative information and analysis; and engaging in the labor-intensive work of relationship-based diplomacy.

          -        The local pro-Israel community should take responsibility for: Providing people, funding, resources, and platforms for response; nurturing key relationships across liberal and progressive circles; driving local media campaigns; and mobilizing the loosely orchestrated pro-Israel network.  

            In general, the local Jewish community is likely to possess greater sensitivity to local contexts and nuances, enabling it to operate with greater effectiveness against delegitimization.