Molad: The Embarrassing Debut of a New Israeli Think Tank

January 3, 2013 4:18 am 2 comments

A Molad meeting. Photo: Molad.org.

A recent report in Ha’aretz highlighted the first major study published by a new Israeli think tank that goes by the name of Molad. According to its website, Molad was established a year ago as “The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy” and one of its main goals is “to inject quality content into the Israeli public discourse.” Unfortunately, Molad’s first attempt to fulfill this mission is a dismal failure.

The just published study is entitled “Israeli Hasbara: Myths and Facts” and its main finding is that:

“Israel’s public diplomacy apparatus, contrary to its poor reputation, is well-coordinated and highly sophisticated. Israel’s diplomatic isolation, therefore, cannot be attributed to a mythic ‘hasbara problem’; it can only be a product of Israeli policy itself.”

This summary of the findings of the 60-page study already indicates one of the basic flaws of Molad’s debut work: the research focuses on Israel’s “hasbara” – which is meant to counter efforts to mobilize global public opinion in support of campaigns branding Israel as an illegitimate state guilty of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, brutal oppression and pretty much any other crime under the sun – but when it is time to draw conclusions from the research, there is suddenly a switch to a very different arena, even though it is utterly unrealistic to think that hasbara can do much about “Israel’s diplomatic isolation.”

Indeed, if this was a medical study, Molad is doing the equivalent of setting out to examine a flu medication and concluding that it was quite effective in combating flu, but then noting the persistence of cancer and suggesting that cancer was caused by different problems.

If such a completely nonsensical argument came from an unpaid blogger whose only qualification was an all-consuming fascination with Israeli hasbara, it would be pathetic enough. But the Molad study was done by Shivi Greenfield, a Research Fellow at Molad with a Ph.D. in Political Theory from Oxford University.

Perhaps Dr. Greenfield’s main problem is that he doesn’t know much about history. If he did, he would know that Israel’s diplomatic isolation has always been first and foremost due to the intransigent hostility of all the Arab and Muslim countries, which is amplified at the UN by groups like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the so-called Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Explaining the resulting Apartheid-style discrimination against the world’s only Jewish state and listing the relevant examples would fill a book; suffice it to note here that the UN has by and large done its best to prove that Abba Eban was right to quip that “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.”

Over the decades, Israel has worked very hard to overcome its isolation at the UN, scoring some successes – most recently by joining the UNICEF Executive Board for 2013 – but without a doubt, there have been also failures.

The Molad study presumably tries to capitalize on recent concerns that Israel may be “loosing” Europe. These concerns were voiced when Palestinian efforts to be upgraded to the status of a UN nonmember state were overwhelmingly supported in the UN General Assembly. However, if Molad wants to argue that this outcome “can only be a product of Israeli policy,” the organization’s researchers would do well to read a related article by Jonathan Schanzer and Benjamin  Weinthal who explain the complex considerations – including domestic issues, EU-internal haggling about austerity measures, or the ambition to get a seat on the UN Security Council – that may have influenced the UN vote of some European governments.

But Molad obviously wants to drive home the simplistic message that no amount of Israeli hasbara will reconcile Europeans to the failure to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Unfortunately for Molad, the fact that this failure is indeed usually blamed on Israel is clear evidence that Israeli hasbara isn’t as fabulously effective as Molad would like us to believe.

A reality check shows that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas openly declared in May 2009 that the far-reaching offers made by Ehud Olmert in fall 2008 hadn’t been good enough and that he didn’t intend to negotiate with Binyamin Netanyahu, but instead preferred to “wait” until US pressure would lead to the collapse of the Netanyahu’s government. This is exactly what Abbas did – even when Netanyahu accepted an unprecedented 10-months settlement freeze and endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state. In the meantime, Hamas continued to rain rockets on Israeli towns and villages near Gaza – and Europe continued to blame Israel for the lack of peace.

As far as Molad is concerned, this is apparently just as it should be – and in view of the fact that Molad describes itself as committed to a “progressive vision,” one could note that progressives everywhere tend to agree with reactionary Islamists and Jew-haters that Israel should not only be blamed for the lack of peace in the Middle East, but also for pretty much everything else that is wrong in the region.

Molad may be a new think tank, but its first study seems to suggest that it will offer the same old progressive pieties that have led so many Israelis to conclude that the far left is unable to deal with the reality of a Middle East that has so far preferred to respond with hostility and derision to Israel’s territorial withdrawals and offers for peace and win-win cooperation.

Even if we just consider developments since 2000, Molad’s argument that it “can only be a product of Israeli policy itself” if the world’s only Jewish state faces hostility and isolation is laughable. The latest efforts to revive the appalling “Zionism is racism”-mantra first gathered steam at the disgraceful Durban conference in September 2001 – barely a year after the Palestinians had decided to respond to far-reaching Israeli proposals for a Palestinian state with a murderous terror campaign. Similarly, after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, the world was largely silent when the Palestinians decided that they would focus their energies and resources on making their territory into a launching pad for rockets. It was only when Israel belatedly moved to defend its citizens against the relentless rocket barrage from Gaza that the world took notice – and reacted by following the lead of the OIC that initiated the notorious Goldstone Report, which not only made a mockery of Israel’s right to defend itself but also insisted that Hamas-ruled Gaza was still occupied.

Moreover, if we accept that only “Israeli policy itself” is to be blamed when Israel is considered by so many around the world as a state beyond the pale, we surely have to assume that global support for the Palestinians is the reward for their conduct. The year that just ended provided an excellent example to test this notion: the 2012 Olympic Games in London marked the 40th anniversary of the massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorist during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. But while the Palestinians participation in the games got much enthusiastic media coverage, efforts to organize an official commemoration of the massacre were rejected, and it’s not hard to figure out why. As Jennifer Lipman put it:

“It seems clear that the IOC [International Olympic Committee] is worried about rocking the boat, angering Arab nations by honouring men who were killed by Palestinian terrorists. It’s afraid to take Israel’s side; it does not see it as a gamble worth the cost.”

Perhaps Molad’s think tankers believe that this kind of cost-benefit considerations could be easily changed by the right (read: far-left) Israeli policies – and they would have a point given the fact that there are quite a few progressives who think Israel shouldn’t exist. As it happens, this is a view that is widely shared by Muslims in the Middle East and beyond. Under the apt title “Muslims lament Israel’s existence,” the New York Times reported on a 2003 Pew survey, noting:

“at a time when the Israeli government has accepted the right of Palestinians to statehood, most Muslim populations surveyed believe by wide margins that the needs of Palestinians cannot be met so long as the state of Israel exists. […] The conviction that no way can be found for Israel and the Palestinians to coexist is strongest in Morocco (90 percent), followed by Jordan (85 percent), the Palestinian Authority (80 percent), Kuwait (72 percent), Lebanon (65 percent), Indonesia (58 percent) and Pakistan (57 percent).”

Another Pew survey from 2007 documented similar sentiments – which were apparently unaffected by Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

The progressives working in think tanks in Europe, Israel or elsewhere may prefer to ignore the implacable hatred for Jews and the Jewish state that is so widespread in the Middle East and the Muslim world. But it seems that most Israelis who have to do their thinking in their own spare time and rely on common sense instead of hyped research have rightly concluded that they can’t afford to ignore this hatred just to please an international community that has shown precious little concern when Israeli concessions are rewarded with terrorism and rocket barrages.

2 Comments

  • Molad is exactly what Israel doesn’t need!

  • …suffice it to note here that the UN has by and large done its best to prove that Abba Eban was right to quip that “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.