The last time I felt this way was when The Israel Project had the guts to make Frank Luntz’s hasbara opus public, thus laying out almost the entire game plan of the Israel lobby. Now, comes word of a new report by Israel’s Reut Institute, spooky think tank devoted to speculating on who’s trying get Israel and how we get ’em first.
Reading the summary of this report gives one the sense of listening in on a bunch of generals and intelligence officers plotting Israel’s global strategy against the bad guys. Of course, the main problem is that the bad guys aren’t just the ones hiding in caves in Pakistan or building bombs to kill Israeli civilians. For Reut, the bad guys are, well–you and me. That’s what makes this report so monstrous. Yes, I use that term deliberately because this isn’t some document produced by David Horowitz or Moshe Feiglin, a bunch of crazy loons no one takes seriously. This is a manual for Israeli pols and spooks outlining how to fight the enemy. And I gotta tell ya, when they say enemy, they mean it literally. We are in the cross hairs along with all the usual suspects like Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. This is pro-Israel paranoia and it strikes deep:
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your heart it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the Man come and take you away.
–For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield
Just like the IDF made no distinction between civilians and fighters in Gaza, the new tack by Reut seems to treat all Israel’s critics as, if not terrorist, then fellow travelers and accomplices. The rhetoric is feverish, apocalyptic. You’ll notice how many times the word “existential” is used in the Bibiesque context.
The only truth in the entire report is the introduction which posits that the greatest danger to Israel in the recent past has been the Gaza and Lebanon wars because they have served to unify Israel’s enemies as never before. But every idea proceeding from this thesis is bogus starting here:
There are two main generators of attacks on Israel’s legitimacy. The Resistance Network – which operates on the basis of Islamist ideology and includes Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas; and the Delegitimization Network – which operates in the international arena in order to negate Israel’s right to exist and includes individuals and organizations in the West, which are catalyzed by the radical left.
…The erosion in Israel’s status internationally is driven by the coalescence of two parallel process:
The Resistance Network advancing the ‘implosion strategy’ that aims to precipitate Israel’s internal collapse through a policy of ‘overstretch’: To achieve this, the Resistance Network increases the burden of the ‘Occupation,’ delegitimizes Israel, and develops an asymmetric use-of-force doctrine in the military arena and towards Israel’s home front. These groups take their inspiration from the collapse of the former Soviet Union and apartheid South Africa.
- The Delegitimization Network aiming to turn Israel into a pariah state by undermining its moral legitimacy and ultimately aspiring towards eliminating the ‘Zionist entity.’
- …The Resistance Network relies on military means to sabotage every move directed at affecting separation between Israel and the Palestinians or securing a two-state solution.
- The Delegitimization Network tarnishes Israel’s reputation, ties Israel’s hands in defending itself against military assaults, and advances the ‘one-state solution.’
This attack on Israel’s political and economic model is effective, possesses strategic significance, and may develop into a comprehensive existential threat within a few years.
Note here that it is Israel’s enemies undermining the two-state solution and not Israel itself. Can you think of anything more deluded?
So far, the rhetoric is overblown, but the analysis is standard hasbara. But then it takes an unusual tack:
A harbinger of such a threat would be the collapse of the two-state solution as an agreed framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the coalescence behind a ‘one-state solution’ as a new alternative framework.
What’s especially strange about this notion is that Israel is doing everything in its power to avoid a two-state solution, which in turn drives Israel’s critics into the arms of the one-state solution as the only remaining viable option (the view of some critics, though not necessarily my own). So Reut has set up a beautiful tautology: if Israel’s enemies coalesce around a one-state solution it will be the ultimate expression of hatred of the state of Israel. But Israel itself will do everything in its power to avoid a two-state solution. The logic is beautiful, twisted and totally self-fulfilling.
Where will the next anti-Israel weapon come from after the Gaza and Lebanon wars lose their resonance? Israel’s Palestinian citizens of course (do I hear, “fifth column” anyone?):
…The issue of Israel’s Arab citizens may become the next ‘outstanding’ issue on these groups’ agenda. In fact, the Resistance Network has already attempted to harness this community, albeit with very limited success.
And if you’re wondering, as I have, what formal or informal role Israel’s security establishment has played in the vicious attack on Israel NGOs who cooperated with Goldstone, this should key you in:
…The threat undermining its [Israel’s] legitimacy originates in a network of NGOs around the world whose role on the global stage is increasingly influential. Israel lacks a response to this threat…
This is part and parcel of the alarmy Israeli effort to criminalize advocacy on behalf of democracy and human rights. In fact, I’ve been following Israeli society going back to 1967 and I’ve never felt there was a time in Israel more like the McCarthy era. The Israeli right and intelligence agencies are playing and playing for keeps.
The practical “policy options” are the most chilling element of this analysis. This is a practical blueprint for Israeli intelligence and its activities for the coming years. Pay attention especially to the italicized passage also noted by Ali Abunimah in this incisive analysis of the report:
Israel’s security doctrine must ensure ‘Synchronized Victories’ in a number of arenas simultaneously: the military arena, the political-diplomatic arena, in the home front, and within the media. Because these arenas are interlinked in a number of contexts, they should be considered as a whole.The above threat may become existential in nature. It is imperative to treat it as such: Israel needs to harness the intelligence establishment, to develop new knowledge, to draw upon all the relevant bodies, and to create a relevant strategy.
It takes a network to fight a network – In order to contend with the Delegitimization Network, Israel must operate according to a network-driven logic:
On the one hand, Israel must identify and focus its efforts on global hubs of delegitimization (such as London, Toronto, Madrid, and the Bay Area [ed., damn they left out Seattle!]). In this context, Israel should sabotage network catalysts and drive a wedge between its component parts, primarily between soft critics of Israeli policy and delegitimizers of its existence.
- On the other hand, Israel must cultivate its own network on the basis of the diplomacy establishment and a network of ‘informal Ambassadors,’ comprised of individuals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Israel must empower these catalysts and harness NGOs in order to act against those NGO that advance delegitimization. In addition, the Histadrut’s international department should be invigorated.
When Reut uses the term “sabotage” above they don’t mean it symbolically or metaphorically. I take this as literal. This is why Sheera Frenkel’s Times of London article on the Mossad assassination campaign against Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian targets adds weight and fear to the above passage. Further, the creation and maintenance of Israeli rightist NGOs like Im Tirtzu and NGO Monitor would seem to be a deliberate outgrowth of the advice in the last paragraph above. We must presume that many of these groups are either creatures of the security establishment or doing its bidding (intentionally or unintentionally). But not just NGOs, Reut is recommending the cultivation of local spies and fellow travelers (“informal ambassadors”). And the former worker’s union, the Histadrut, which presumably might find favor in some international leftist circles, is to be exploited on behalf of Israeli intelligence objectives.
The report revives the deluded notion that Israel, the damaged goods product, can be miraculously re-branded as a peace-loving, hip, cool, technologically sophisticated place:
Brand Israel – The perception of Israel as a violent country that violates international law enables delegitimizing forces to portray the country as an apartheid, pariah state. Israel’s re-branding can yield strategic implications which will improve its ability to communicate its message and reduce the Delegitimization Network’s ability to achieve its goals. In this context, the importance of international aid should be emphasized (in addition, of course, to its clear moral value).
Among the most cynical advice here is that Israel should shamelessly and fawningly create friends among “influentials” who can put in a good word here, write a puffy op ed piece there, and pass along useful intelligence to Tel Aviv:
Relationship-based diplomacy with elites and ‘influentials’ – An effective barrier against delegitimization is a network of personal relationships. Working within identified hubs, Israel should aspire to maintain thousands of personal relationships with political, financial, cultural, media, and security-related elites and influentials.Harnessing the Jewish and Israeli Diaspora communities – There are a significant number of Israelis abroad, such as academics, business people, and students. These communities should be harnessed to Israel’s cause before they embark on their international interactions. Additionally, Israel should make a concerted investment in Jewish communities, without taking their commitment for granted.
The rhetoric here is so Luntzian I’d be surprised if he wasn’t a–or the consultant preparing this document. Not to mention the utter cynicism displayed. It’s Frank Luntz through and through.