Ban Ki-moon's Occupation Comments Prove Ineffectiveness of Israel's PR Strategy

We must compel the world to address the basic argument about the Jewish people’s deep roots in its land, compared to the Arabs’ superficial ones.

Israel Harel
Israel Harel
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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 26 ordinary of the African Union Summit in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, on January 31, 2016.
The UN's Ban Ki-moon speaking in Addis Ababa on January 31, 2016. In a Times oped, he tried to clarify remarks that had sparked sharp Israeli responses.Credit: AP
Israel Harel
Israel Harel

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the man who speaks for the whole world, essentially legitimized Palestinian terrorism. The wave of terrorism striking Israel is “a natural response to occupation,” Ban declared before the UN Security Council.

A week later, the man whose job it is to safeguard the world from terrorism published an op-ed in the New York Times (which is always more than glad to open its opinion pages, not to mention its news pages, to anti-Israel articles) with this complementary assertion: “Palestinian frustration and grievances are growing under the weight of a half-century of occupation.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted swiftly: “The words of the secretary general give a tailwind to terrorism,” he said. “The Palestinians do not want to build a state, they want to destroy a state They want to murder Jews everywhere.”

These accurate statements did not make an impression on world public opinion; nor do they contain an answer to the false assertion by the secretary general, which is supported by plenty of Israelis as well, that Judea and Samaria are “occupied” territory.

If Netanyahu or his advisers had any capacity for creative thinking, they would have summoned all the Israeli and foreign media for a dramatic occasion at which they would quote to the secretary general the words of Shimon the Hasmonean, as recorded in the Book of Maccabees: “We have neither taken foreign land nor seized foreign property, but only the inheritance of our ancestors, which at one time had been unjustly taken by our enemies. Now that we have the opportunity, we are firmly holding the inheritance of our ancestors.”

Granted, the world wouldn’t open its eyes in awe, and the Israeli media would surely respond, as ever, with scorn and derision upon hearing, for a change, the rights of Jews being cited (without which there would be no such thing as an Israeli media that spits poison into the well from which it drinks). The Jews’ assertion of historic rights, one that only the Palestinians (who may have property rights, but no historic rights) normally use, would compel the world to address the fundamental, essential argument about the Jewish people’s deep, ancient roots in its land, compared to the superficiality of the Arabs’ roots in it.

This truth is something that the vast majority of the world, including those who take an interest in the region, does not know – because no one ever told it. The only gospel that has come out of here in the past decades, from Zion too, has been the “gospel” of the occupation.

Only a resounding assertion that the Jews have returned to parts of the Jewish homeland that were occupied by the Arabs could possibly shake up the au courant talk about “the occupation.” The last time Netanyahu loudly proclaimed that the Jewish people is not an occupier in its land was back when he was ambassador to the UN and in his book “A Place Among the Nations.” Ever since he became prime minister, Netanyahu has concentrated on security arguments and pointing out Palestinian recalcitrance. Ban’s remarks show how completely ineffective this has been.

Ever since some of the nation has lost its faith in the rightness of the path, and the people’s elected representatives, following suit, ceased to speak the truth about the reasons for our return to the land of our ancestors – and about Judea and Samaria being the heart of this land – we lost the upper hand in the fundamental moral discourse. Even our friends, as Ban wrote, have a hard time morally with “the occupation.”

I am not saying that proclaiming the truth will convince the Palestinians, or most Europeans, or some Americans, or even a good number of Jews in Israel and elsewhere. But I do believe that continuously and unapologetically proclaiming this truth will force them to confront an argument that on the moral and historic level cannot be denied. Yes, in the discourse over rights, we have much more convincing arguments than the Arabs do.

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