No public diplomacy campaign, no sloganeering and no infographic shared online can counter Israel's reputation as synonymous with bigotry, violence and the oppression of human rights.
Ilan Manor, haaretz.com
I am an Israeli, and therefore I am accountable for the policies, statements and actions of the Israeli government, policies that I have spent a decade adamantly opposing.
Despite immense efforts, Oxford scholars do not regard Israel as a high tech nation, a gay tourist destination or a model for modern democracy. They remain unconvinced by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assertions that Israel is the bastion of Western norms, the forefront in the struggle over terror. Nor do they prescribe to Israel’s moral relativism according to which the world must denounce Saudi Arabia and Bashar Assad before it denounces Israel. In the eyes of Oxford’s students, injustice elsewhere is not a defense for injustice in Israel.
To this international community, Israel is synonymous with bigotry, violence, hate and the oppression of human rights. It is the global spread of this notion that reveals that no public diplomacy campaign, no sophisticated national slogan and no infographic shared online by StandWithUs can counter the impact of the images that arose from Gaza in 2008, and 2012 and 2014, or those that currently emerge from Jerusalem.
Nelson Mandela, in his 1994 inaugural speech, spoke about how post-apartheid South Africa would never more “suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.” It is after you have talked with all these students from all over the world, after you have been greeted time and again with the same expression of condemnation, that you realize that these days, Israel is the skunk of the world.
Ilan Manor is a PhD Candidate at the University of Oxford. He blogs at www.digdipblog.com.