The hasbara battle looks grim. It seems like there’s no way we can win, no way to convince anybody that we were acting in self defense, no way to show that they started it, no way to come out of this situation with the upper hand. The truth is, there is one way we can win this fight and come out on top, but it will require one heck of a paradigm shift that the current Israeli leadership is not willing to execute. Neither are the people of Israel ready for such a shift, but I present it here as the only option Israel will eventually have no choice but to turn to when things get really, really tight.
First, we must understand the other side. In order to do that, we must first ask ourselves a simple question. Why are we blockading Gaza? Why not just let the ships in? People answer weapons, rockets, whatnots. But if that’s true, why not blockade Lebanon? We could theoretically do that, and prevent Hizballah from rearming, weapons we definitely will have to deal with whenever the Third Lebanon War breaks out, and we all know it will sooner or later.
The answer is simple. We’re not blockading Lebanon because Lebanon is a sovereign state, it is not our territory, and we are not currently at war with it. Then why blockade Gaza? It isn’t our territory either, it’s pretty much a sovereign state with a Hamas government, and Israel disengaged from it 5 years ago, expelling every Jew who lived there and even exhumed bodies and transported whole cemeteries in an attempt to tell the world the Gaza is definitely not our territory.
And now we can understand the other side. The other side understands that Gaza is not our territory. What the other side doesn’t like is that we are blockading a territory that is not ours. How do you think the world would respond if we suddenly blockaded Lebanon because we don’t want them to have weapons? Just because our soldiers responded in self defense does not mean that they suddenly have a right to blockade another nation’s land.
The self defense argument is irrelevant, even if true. The only relevant question is to whom does Gaza belong? If it belongs to Hamas, then let them do what they want with it. If they fire at you, fire back and conquer until the other side surrenders unconditionally.
But doing that of course will not win the hasbara fight, nor alleviate political situation. You can’t conquer a land that isn’t yours for long.
The only thing that will win the PR fight and will solve the political situation is simply declaring that the Gaza Strip is an inseparable part of Israel, rebuilding Gush Katif and settling it one thousandfold, and paying the Arabs there to leave using the military budget we are currently spending on rocket-proofing the entire Southwestern Negev.
The world doesn’t care if you’re acting in self-defense. They care about whether you are a freedom fighter or a terrorist, and even terrorists have the right to self defense. The difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist is simply this: A freedom fighter is fighting for his own land. A terrorist is fighting for somebody else’s.
Israel must declare to the world what her land is and fight for it with a sense of justice, not self defense. Until she does that, she is destined to lose not only the Hasbara fight, but the legitimacy of her own existence as the only Jewish State on the face of the globe.