Jonah Goldberg

Among Israel's friends, there's a deep and wide consensus that the "flotilla fiasco" was a public relations disaster, proof that Israel doesn't know how to work with the global media to shape world opinion.

The first part is almost indisputable at this point. The raid was a disaster. As for the second part -- that Israel's problems are about public relations -- I'm not so sure.

The assumption is that world opinion is open to hearing Israel's side of the story. But that hasn't been the case for years. From the "Jenin massacre" that was no massacre to the idiotic charges of "genocide" that erupt across the Arab world, the moment Israel defends itself from missiles or "martyrs," the presumption is always that Israel is the villain. When it turns out the facts support Israel, it's at best a footnote or proof the Israelis have manipulated the media.

Question: If Israel is always hell-bent on murder, massacres and genocide, why is it so bad at it? If its battle plan called for a slaughter, why kill "only" nine people? Why not sink all of the boats?

Meanwhile, is it really the case that Hamas is objectively "good" at public relations? Or Hezbollah? Or Iran? Really? I just don't see it. To me, these PR operations are less "Wag the Dog" and more Baghdad Bob (the Monty Pythonesque spokesman for Saddam Hussein's regime). But instead of everyone laughing at the lies and idiocy, millions of people nod their heads in agreement.

North Korea recently sank a South Korean ship. The international reaction has been muted and sober. Turkey -- the Palestinians' new champion -- has been treating Kurdish nationalists harshly for generations; no one cares. The Russians crush Chechens, the Chinese trample Uighurs. Real genocides unfold regularly in Africa. Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb. Hamas is openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel. So is Iran.

And yet the only villain as far as much of the world is concerned is Israel. Always Israel.

But none of these facts matter. Indeed, it's tiring even to recount them in an environment where big lies matters more than obvious truths, where self-defense is "aggression," where restraint is "genocide," and where the heirs of Gandhi wield steel pipes.


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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