November 15, 2015

When the best hasbara is no hasbara

Has anyone who ever suffered loss appreciated a condolence message that opens, "I'm so sorry for your loss, but…" Most of us would consider such words to be off-message or insincere at best, vindictive and insensitive at worst.

I suppose what amazes me most about the numerous opportunistic Facebook posts following the Paris attacks is the total lack of shame or pretense. Between cartoons, unsourced videos and personal manifestos, the message ranges from shcandenfreude to resentment, from incitement to satisfaction. They nearly outnumber the messages of support.

The worst of the worst are those who either fool themselves or perhaps are trying to fool the treat of us: "My heart aches for the people of Paris, BUT…" The trend is so prevalent, particularly among my fellow Israel-supporters, that I've clicked "hide" instead of un-friending the dozen or more offenders, after I post my own criticism. 

Honestly, it's hard to rank the levels of perversity, because so many Facebook friends didn't even register a condolence followed by "but" -- they just launched right into a series of posts playing up their own sense of righteousness, superiority, and self-satisfaction.

Thanks for your sympathy?
One message I keep seeing, is that the French are too focused on boycotting Israeli products (presumably because the European Union just voted to label -- but NOT boycott -- products from the West Bank), and not enough on keeping out terrorists. The moral of this meme is that the French have it coming. (Of course, even if they were, they wouldn't have it coming.)

Another message complains that Facebook and the world make such a big deal when 129 (now 132) people are killed in France, while ignoring or excusing smaller attacks on Israelis. Anyone with two or more kids will recognize this sort of jealousy as perfectly natural and understandable…for a six-year-old. 

The fact is, European leaders like French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls have stood at Israel's side in its fight against terrorism and other threats, and defended the rights of French Jews -- pretending that they haven't should elicit derision, not applause and "like" clicks. 

Then there's the video, unsourced and undated, of Pakistanis in London dancing with Pakistani flags and repeatedly chanting "Pakistan!" -- with a caption claiming that Muslims around the world are celebrating the Paris attacks. On this basis, we're to believe that -- until we hear otherwise -- the attackers have the support of all Muslims everywhere. The fact that even the Hizbullah terrorist movement condemned the attacks makes this too farcical to merit a response, and yet, it's essentially a reverse blood libel. 

And so on, and so on, and so on. 

And then come the posts mocking Barack Obama for not appeasing the terrorists, which should come as news to the bin Laden family and to the hundreds of dead Al Qaeda and ISIS operatives. These may be inspired by recent revelations about the extent to which the Bush administration repeatedly ignored CIA requests to increase surveillance and operations against Al Qaeda in the months before 9/11...

Jews and Israelis justifiably demand equal treatment, sympathy and solidarity in our struggles for security and acceptance, in our own countries and in our Jewish homeland. This can be achieved only if we lead by example, and not by showing the world "how it feels". It's a poor PR strategy, and it's an even poorer moral case for our continued existence as a people and a culture. It's an embarrassment for all humanity, and especially for the majority of Jews who openly and honestly identify with the victims and with all those being targeted and/or fighting back. So thanks for nothing.

The RIGHT way to make Israel's case.
Europeans and Americans should at least get credit for everything positive they do, and so should Jews and Israelis who legitimately care about the other victims and refuse to use the pain of others as a cause for personal comfort, amusement. or self-righteousness.

Fortunately, Most Israelis and their leaders have rallied to unqualified solidarity with the people of France. In Jerusalem, the Old City walls and the Knesset are floodlit in French colors, and Prime Minister Netanyahu and others have expressed their condolences and their support for the fight against extremist Islamic terror. No complaints, no sarcasm, no dancing on the fresh graves. 

We can't fight the barbarians unless we are civilized. We can't hold the rest of the world accountable to the Golden Rule if we don't stick to it ourselves, when it really counts. And now is when it counts. On second thought, I may have to lose a few Facebook friends today after all...

Vive la France!

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