Gideon's Blog

In direct contravention of my wife's explicit instructions, herewith I inaugurate my first blog. Long may it prosper.

For some reason, I think I have something to say to you. You think you have something to say to me? Email me at: gideonsblogger -at- yahoo -dot- com

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Wednesday, April 24, 2002
Paul Johnson has a good piece on Israel in NRO. Nothing surprising here but two key points: Israel's foreign public relations skills have dramatically deteriorated in recent decades and Israel's currently dominant politicians are gerontocrats. It is worth remembering that Israel used to be great at public relations, and that it had a lot more friends when it did. There are hundreds of private individuals (myself included) who have taken upon themselves a small portion of the burden of making Israel's case to the world. But ultimately it's something Israel has to do, and Israel stinks at it, and didn't used to. What changed? My suggestions: (1) The Israeli foreign service used to be foreign-born, and know something about the outside world. Now it is native-born, and more provincial. (2) The increasing factionalism of Israeli politics has meant that small parties have an increasing role to play in patronage, and the people these parties choose are frequently not the cream of the Israeli education system. David Levy specifically is completely useless but has repeatedly appeared as foreign minister in Likud and Labor governments because of his importance in forming a governing coalition. (3) In the glory days, an overwhelmingly dominant Labor establishment knew exactly what it stood for and why it was right. Now, we have two major (if ever-dwindling) parties, one (Likud) that sees itself as a populist counter-establishment and, as a consequence, has a cultural interest in alienating the rest of the world, while the other (Labor) lacks confidence and has little idea what it stands for. Neither of these is capable of making a strong Israeli case to the world. In the current National Unity government, this is exacerbated by the fact that the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister are pursuing opposite agendas. As for gerontocracy, the dominance of Sharon and Peres is the consequence of the flame-outs of the first two Prime Ministers of the new generation - Barak and Netanyahu. And both of these failures were caused in part by the individual failings of these men, but to a greater extent by the utter dysfunction of the Israeli political system. So here's another reason to support a constitution of the sort I outlined earlier this week: it will dramatically improve hasbara.