Palestinians and Israelis visit the Mediterranean Sea shore during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, in Tel Aviv. Picture: Reuters

In response to: Israeli arms industry is world menace

Terry Crawford-Browne bandies about words and gives them a pejorative sense either through ignorance or malicious intent (Israeli arms industry is a world menace).

He proceeds to paint Israel as a heartless, apartheid state hell-bent on slaughtering Arabs and building an arms industry for entirely this purpose. If this were not a grossly untrue summation of the facts, it would be laughable. He implies that support for Israel, which is what Zionism means, is somehow disreputable.

Far from being cowed by his bullying tactics, I am comforted to know that I share an admiration for that country with many millions of Jews, Christians and yes, even Muslims, representing races of every hue, and that he represents a gang of haters and insular racists who are the standard-bearers of apartheid.

As a matter of fact, I am pretty proud of my support for an ethical, moral country that more than pays its dues in a world beset by hatred. Two examples among many should suffice:

The Israeli organisation, Save a Child’s Heart, has brought more than 3000 children from all over the developing world, including about 1500 from Gaza and the West Bank to Israel for vital heart operations at Wolfson Medical Centre in Holon. Eighty doctors and nurses working with the non-profit organisation give their time as volunteers.

Israel set up a field hospital along its border with Syria where army medics treated hundreds of wounded Syrian civilians in the country’s bloody civil war that saw over 500000 civilians slaughtered.

Another word-meaning that is turned on its head is hasbara. I strongly recommend as essential reading by Crawford-Browne as well as his small but vociferous band of cohorts, a thesis submitted by Jonathan Cummings to the department of international history of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Hasbara (meaning explaining) is a mutual process. It tries to arouse responses in the form of dialogue from its recipients. In this way, a country’s citizens are part of public diplomacy, are humanised and there is ongoing human contact between the “explainers”, and their audiences.

Israel’s search for international support and sympathy is as integral and natural an element of its foreign policy, as it is in almost every other modern state. A positive national image is a cornerstone of the rational pursuit of international legitimacy.

However, Israeli hasbara, a variant of this unremarkable element of diplomacy is the recipient of Crawford-Browne’s scorn.

It is the target for his endless, often heated and wrong interpretation.

The success of the Israeli government in communicating its message to the wider world is trumpeted by him in ideological terms as proof of deviousness, whereas it is the cornerstone of a free and democratic system.

Anyone seeking to engage in “knowledge production” centred on justice might begin by condemning terrorism, cutting ties with dictators, and pursuing objective, empirical scholarship.

The only country in the world with a standing agenda item at the Human Rights Council is not North Korea, a totalitarian state holding an estimated 100000 people in gulags; not Syria, which has gassed its people - lots of them. It is Israel.

Since the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established it has systematically indoctrinated young and old to hate Israelis and Jews. Using the media, education, and cultural structures that it controls, the PA has actively promoted religious hatred, demonisation, conspiracy libels etc.

These are packaged to present Israelis and Jews as endangering Palestinians, Arabs, and is a “world menace”.

This ongoing campaign has so successfully instilled hatred that fighting, murder and even suicide terror against Israelis and Jews, and more recently, European and American Christians are seen by the majority of Palestinians as justified self-defence and God’s will.

PA libels and goals have been to inculcate hatred to the degree that fighting and murdering Jews and Israelis are glorified as heroic self-defence.

It is no surprise that a “commentator” so morally challenged as to ally with a terrorist-friendly institution will have trouble with basic research.

Crawford-Browne relies on the erroneous information about Israel.

* Rodney Mazinter is vice-chairman and chairman of media at the SA Zionist Federation.

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*** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

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