Norman A. Bailey, globes.co.il
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Israel is not adept at diplomatically justifying its right to evict illegal land grabbers -whether West Bank settlers or Negev Bedouin.
A sure test of whether a governmental action is appropriate is if it is attacked by both the left and the right.
The forcible evacuation of an illegal Bedouin settlement followed by the forced evacuation of a illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank is precisely such an instance. After all administrative and judicial measures available to the inhabitants to delay the evacuations were exhausted, they were carried out. The reactions in both cases, the first by the left and the second by the right, were typically hysterical in form and uninformed in content.
Whether in the case of Umm al-Hina excessive force was used is another matter which should be investigated thoroughly, but what cannot be alleged in either case is that the actions themselves were illegal or that the settlers were not offered acceptable alternatives and/or compensation.
Most importantly, the evacuations demonstrated yet again that Israel is a country in which the rule of law is honored and observed, and that this rule of law is the same whatever the ethnicity or religion of the citizens involved might be.
Unfortunately what has also been reaffirmed is the absolutely inability of the Israeli state to make this point either within or outside the country. Israeli public diplomacy is simply pathetic and the result is there for all to see. For a remarkably large percentage of both Jews and non-Jews, inside Israel as well as in Europe, America and elsewhere, Israel is a rogue state guilty of multiple violations of human rights and international law. That the exact opposite is the truth simply does not penetrate.
Granted, the hard-core anti-Semites and the descendants of the Jews who, though taken out of Egypt, never had Egypt taken out of them, will not be convinced, no matter what is done or said. The truth and the facts are for them, simply irrelevant. Reality is what they want it to be, not more and not less. But those who are not inveterate Jew- and Israel-haters, who are in the Western world at least, the great majority, are influenced by the side that most effectively and persistently presents its case. They cannot and should not be expected to fact-check everything themselves, but they are entitled to make their judgments based on being exposed to all sides, not just one.
That is not now the case. It is vital that this deficiency be addressed, and immediately.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.