Jonah Goldberg

If you took Western news outlets at face value, you'd think that every Arab hamlet, no matter how humble, must have at least one thriving American and Israeli flag merchant. For whenever the Big or Little Satan sneezes, it seems all anyone has to do is run down to Achmed's Flag Emporium to set one on fire for the cameras.

The point here, alas, is that Westerners are suckers. Or, put another way, terrorists aren't stupid. They understand that images are more important than armies. Heck, that's why they're terrorists in the first place.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the global war against Israel. Its enemies understand that they cannot defeat Israel militarily. Instead, they must fight a war against Israel's resolve. This requires fighting on several fronts. One of them is terrorism. We know how that works: Blow up children. Tear apart buses. Shred wedding parties. Etc.

Another tactic in this "asymmetric" war is to make the Israelis the bad guys for resisting terrorism. Jews have a well-cultivated sense of guilt (take my word for it). And, for obvious reasons, no insult could hurt more than depicting Jews as Nazis. Hence, the nigh-upon global campaign to depict Israelis as the heirs to Hitler. Of course, ad hitlerum argumentation is just the tip of the propaganda spear. "Aggression," "apartheid," "racist": no insult is barred from the anti-Israel script. Terrorize your enemy and make them feel like villains in the process - that's a powerful strategy.

This strategy depends on the willing support of what Lenin called "useful idiots." These are the accommodating Westerners - many of them intellectuals - all too willing to take the word of totalitarians and even more eager to believe that the champions of democracy are in the wrong. Some social scientists call these people "French," but that is too limiting. There are plenty of them in America, too.

All they require is a steady stream of "facts." For example, in 2002, a Palestinian camera crew was videotaping a staged funeral at which the "corpse" accidentally spilled out of the stretcher and was miraculously reborn.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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