Lewis Barber: A step back for Israel

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Israel, just like the Conservative Party had for many years, is having a brand problem and its own minor identity crisis.

In May, the hard work of many activists and members paid dividends as the Conservatives mopped up the centrists votes to win a majority. Even better, they now are polling around forty per cent and have an opportunity to shape the country in their image once again.

For Israel, however, there is still a long way to go. The recent Jewish Extremist attack killing an 18 month year old Palestinian in the disputed West Bank will only further damage its image abroad. Much of this negativity that surrounds the Jewish State, just like for the Conservative Party before it. But it is misleading propaganda.

Israel is held up to impossibly high standards. Despite its tolerant society Israel has been the focus of 20 UN resolutions this last year. The rest of the world has only had 3 combined. Many images shared showing apparent atrocities by Israeli forces are more often than not drawn from Syria or even staged, leading to the term ‘Pallywood’. Remember the children playing on the beach that Israeli forces allegedly killed, proof of its bloodlust? They were children of senior Fatah officials, the ruling Hamas’ rivals, which the Islamist group nearly certainly targeted.

The list of misinformation and distortion by anti-Israel groups is endless, but it is working. Israel is frequently voted more unpopular than serial human rights abusers, such as North Korea. The only plus side is that these negativity numbers only stretches to about thirty per cent. But it is this sizeable minority who tend to be left wing, active and vocal who are setting the account of the conflict.

Fortunately, pro Israel groups such as Stand With Us are working tirelessly to unravel the lies. Nevertheless, isolated extremist events by far right groups in Israel are a disappointing step back. Israel’s critics seize on these incidents to show proof of what they see as Israeli aggression. The masses may largely be apathetic to the conflict but it will only give hostile elements the opportunity to grow bolder, shout louder and allow their poisonous views to seep into the mainstream subconscious. Even now, Zionism has became a dirty word to many.

Thankfully, across the spectrum, Israel has responded how I would expect. PM Netanyahu said there was “zero tolerance” for such attacks, while rallies were held by thousands in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem against extremist of all forms. Jewish extremists groups are a small minority in Israel with membership below two hundred. Crucially, there is no support for these Jewish extremists in Israel in the way certain Islamist groups are supported and funded throughout the Middle East. Nor is there even tacit sympathy from the mainstream as Irish nationalists occasionally apologised for the IRA. For me the response of our ally’s society is telling.

Lewis Barber writes for Jerusalem Post and is a Conservative activist.

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