Isabel Kershner, a British-Israeli correspondent for the New York Times in Israel, is married to Hirsh Goodman, a writer who moved from South Africa (where he opposed apartheid), to Israel. His most recent books is The Anatomy of Israel’s Survival, and he writes today in the Jerusalem Post about a “war” Israel must conduct for its image.
Stand back. This one’s a little hot:
Fighting those who seek to channel Israel into a parallel identity with apartheid South Africa with the goal of crippling it through isolation and sanctions is a national imperative. Israel is dependent on trade, allies, imports and support of the world’s democracies currently happy to be identified with Israel in the international arena. Those who proactively work to remove Israel from the family of nations, cast it as a pariah, and place next to North Korea on the axis of evil, want to achieve through manipulation and lies what the Iranians are threatening to do by force: Bring Israel to its knees and, ultimately, make it another short chapter in the tempestuous history of this region…
This is smart, persistent warfare against Israel’s foreign relations, economy, alliances and image, which is amorphous despite its often pinpoint impact, as when senior Israeli officials could not travel to England, for example, and the boycotts and strikes of Israeli products and academics in several parts of the world…
The war to delegitimize Israel can only become more intense with time. The tools for this warfare are constantly improving, free, intellectually challenging and converge to serve a host of Israel’s enemies from anti-Semites to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and had better be clearly understood.
Israel has been very good at fighting its physical battles and its wars. It has managed to contain Iran in a serious way. The attacks against its legitimacy have until now been sporadic and noncoordinated. One of these days, however, someone smart is going to understand the dimensions and potential of this new weapon, and Israel would be very well advised to concentrate its efforts on being prepared. Smart threats require smart responses, and these cannot be found when everyone is dealing with the subject and no one seems to be cooperating.
Obviously the Prime Minister’s Office has to be the leader in this. It has the organizational capacity, the authority and the budget.
A former reporter, Goodman works for a university’s thinktank and would seem to owe his job to the Israel lobby: “Hirsh Goodman is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University where he directs the Charles and Andrea Bronfman Program on Information Strategy that deals with the interface between policymaking and the media.” (Charles Bronfman and his late wife Andrea founded birthright Israel, paying for young Jews to tour the Jewish state.)
The New York Times’ conflict of interest policy for its reporters states right at the front that spouses can be trouble (boldface mine):
Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, may arise in many areas. They may involve tensions between journalists’ professional obligations to our audience and their relationships with news sources, advocacy groups, advertisers, or competitors; with one another; or with the company or one of its units. And at a time when two-career families are the norm, the civic and professional activities of spouses, household members and other relatives can create conflicts or the appearance of them.
I visited this turf before, the last time Goodman wrote about Israel’s information “war,” in 2010. I went with a cute headline, something about Pillow Talk. But maybe this isn’t so ha-ha? What about if Isabel Kershner had to interview Peter Beinart, who has said that Palestinians under occupation should have the right to vote. Or Omar Barghouti, a leader of the boycott movement. Would these people have an expectation of fairness? Would the reader?