Cutting through the bullshit.

Tuesday 23 January 2007

Stunts and action

In a post about Benny Morris’s latest rantings last night, Lenin reminded me of the curious fact that the Jewish community in Iran has neglected to respond to the call from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), Israeli officials and American Jewish communal leaders to leave. After all, Ahmedinejad is a notorious anti-Semite and wants to slaughter us all. So why hasn’t he carried out the dire threats everyone accuses him of on the Jews closest to hand? And perhaps more important, why aren’t they afraid he will?

According to the statistics compiled by HIAS, 152 out of 25,000 Jews left Iran between October 2005 and September 2006 — down from 297 during the same period the previous year, and 183 the year before. Sources said that the majority of those who have left in recent years cited economic and family reasons as their main incentive for leaving, rather than political concerns.

According to the 12 January report in the Forward,

“Iranian Jews have a comfortable Jewish life,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Middle East analyst now living in Israel.

… the 25,000 Jews of Tehran, Shiraz and Yazd attend packed synagogues, send their children to Jewish schools, buy their meat in kosher butchers and are even exempt from prohibitions on alcohol.

Clearly there must be some ulterior motive. The Forward reports that according to

Amir Cyrus Razzaghi, a Tehran-based commentator who is not Jewish. “There is a genuine interest to keep the Jewish community in Iran to demonstrate to the world that the government is anti-Israel and not anti-Jewish. This is especially important to a government that strives to be not only the leader in the Islamic world, but also a key regional and global player.”

A propaganda stunt. Like Venezuela’s subsidized Citgo heating oil for poor Americans. Except those Americans actually are warmed by the propaganda and the Iranian Jews are apparently content to live as Jews in Iran.

It would be good to see Israel pull a propaganda stunt like that. For example, according to Ynet,

the human development index of the Arab public in Israel ranks in 66th place out of 177 countries, 44 slots below the general ranking of the State of Israel…very similar to Libya. For Israel overall, the HDI is 0.9…

Moreover, in comparison with the rest of the world, Israel is ranked 22 out of 177 countries. However, when looking at only the Arab population, the ranking plummeted to 66.

This was also the case for health. The overall level of health in Israel was calculated at 0.9, while health amongst the Arab population was rated at 0.85, which is lower than countries like Costa Rica and Cuba.

It would be a great propaganda stunt if Former US President Jimmy Carter’s description were actually true, Israel is a wonderful democracy with equal treatment of all citizens whether Arab or Jew’? What if some of the billions the US plows into expanding the settlements every year went into education and services for the Israeli Arabs? What if, instead of just claiming an intention to dismantle some roadbloacks in the West Bank, and pretending to do so, they actually made life easier for the occupied Palestinians? Why they could even let the Palestinians drive on their Aryan only ‘bypass roads’! That would be a terrific propaganda stunt. Cut some of the ground right out from under those antisemites accusing them of apartheid.

When the chair of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial council, Holocaust survivor Yosef Lapid can say,

"I was afraid to go to school, because of the little anti-Semites who used to lay in ambush on the way and beat us up. How is that different from a Palestinian child in Hebron?"

I’d say a propaganda stunt is in order. Amira Hass has itemized a long list of prohibitions:

* Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are forbidden to stay in the West Bank.

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter East Jerusalem.

* West Bank Palestinians are forbidden to enter the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing.

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter the Jordan Valley.

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter villages, lands, towns and neighborhoods along the "seam line" between the separation fence and the Green Line (some 10 percent of the West Bank).

What if Palestinians were permitted to do those things and the other fourteen she lists? What if they didn’t need all those permits she enumerates? Good press.

Left I found a study reported in the NY Times to the effect that attitudes to the US in 25 countries suggest that the US has a bit of PR to attend to.

In 18 countries polled previously, an average of 29 percent of those surveyed saw the United States as having a mainly positive influence, down from 36 percent last year.

Imagine how it would affect those nasty ratings if the US were to do something nice for a change, like help its own citizens to heat their homes? Or maybe reprieve a few death row prisoners? Or flood Darfur with food and doctors? Or even pull their troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan? They wouldn’t have to actually mean anything by it. Just a propaganda stunt, after all

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