Bennett at Shurat HaDin — Good Message Marred By Glaring Error
Education Minister Naftali Bennett had three major points he sought to impart to the audience at the Shurat HaDin conference. The first two points were good ones but the third made it seem like Bennett hasn’t been paying attention to what is happening in his own government. Almost like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing (if you pardon the poor play on words).
After announcing that the Israeli public is the real hero of this past year of terrorism in our country, Bennett went on discuss his ideas for combatting the war being waged against us in the public relations field. He suggests three very clear approaches:
- If the battlefield is not favourable to your side, move to another field.
- Focus on our rights and not security.
- Get on the field and start fighting because you can’t win if you don’t fight.
“As Israel struggles with security issues, we have much to show the world regarding what we are doing right.”
We are the most threatened nation on earth. In the north we’ve got Hezbollah, in the northeast we’ve got Jabel el-Nusra, in the south we’ve got Daish, and in the southwest we’ve got Hamas. But we’re all having a ball here [at this conference, laughter in the audience]. So something’s working. We’ve cracked the formula for dealing with terror and thrive, and we’re not ruining our quality of life. . . . I know there’s a national sport to hit ourselves and blame ourselves, but, man, we’re doing a very good job. The whole world needs to learn this.
Therefore, Bennett suggests we move from the battlefield of defending ourselves against offensive antisemitism/anti-Zionism. Furthermore, he claims that we are “obsessing about the Israel-Palestinian conflict” and that we need to stop obsessing about this by turning to a different focus: We need to bring world attention to how Israel serves global needs in the fields of technology, medicine, agriculture, energy and more.
In other words, according to Bennett, we need to increase our expertise in the area of “exporting the art of innovation”. He gave a prime example of our success in this area: a meeting attended by ambassadors to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The purpose of the meeting was to teach how to teach innovativeness.
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I’m not sure that I put much stock into this approach. I do agree that we should continue to announce our amazing new developments. I am very proud of them. But people can go on hating Jews and Israel even as they make extensive use of Jewish/Israeli innovations. Stephen Hawking is one famous name that comes to mind. He promotes hate toward Israel in spite of the fact that his means of communication with the world around him (and probably many other things as well) depend totally upon Israeli technology. Recognizing our contributions to the world has not inspired love – respect perhaps, but it has not abated the hate.
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“It’s not about security — it’s about “This is our home”!”
When you effectively say that this land belongs to a different people, but [we need it] because of security needs, that claim will hold for a month, a year, but it erodes. Ultimately people say, if it’s their [Arab] land, why do THEY [Jews] live there? It’s inconsistent. . . . In the short term, security works, but in the long term it doesn’t. And let’s be honest with ourselves: Are we in Israel just because of security? Is Israel really the most secure place on earth? What about Perth, Australia, or Teaneck, New Jersey? . . . So is it really about security? No, it’s something simpler: It’s our home. . . . How do we expect the world to fight for us if we don’t make [this] basic claim?
We are cognizant of the fact that there are 1.8-2 million Arabs in Judea & Samaria. They need a solution; I believe in autonomy. We should talk; there is a lot [to talk about]. We don’t want to govern them. So we’re not in lala-land. We’re in the real world, but it starts from: “It’s our home. Now let’s talk.”
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To me, this is the most important point. This is our ancestral homeland; we are not colonizers — we are a people coming home. When that basic fact is accepted, we can talk about compromise. However, as long as we are still fighting the true colonizers who want to delete all signs of our belonging to and on this land, there is no room for compromise because the other side just wants us OUT!
This point should not be sandwiched between the two other points – this is the main point!
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“Why is the start-up nation acting like a dinosaur when it comes to [fighting] delegitimization?”
Everyone realizes that . . . the delegitimization battle, the lawfare battle, the diplomatic battle is a dangerous one. It’s a central one to our future. Yet, the energy that we spend as a nation on security, on the army, on the air force, is infinite while we barely deal with this. But THIS effectively ties our hands and erodes our physical force. . . What we need to do, we have several agencies in Israel, the Mossad, the Shabak, the military. We need an agency dedicated to lawfare, delegitimization, BDS and the diplomatic war.
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Here is where Bennett disappoints – does he not know about the new task assigned to Gilad Erdan in May 2015? Has he not heard of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs charged with exactly this mission Bennett says is required? Erdan has a 2016 budget of 100 million NIS and in December 2015 appointed Sima Vaknin-Gil as Director-General of the Ministry. At the Stop BDS conference run by Ynet and Stand With Us, Erdan proudly announced that other government ministries are cooperating with his new mission. I wonder how Bennett seems not to know about this. Maybe someone should tell him about it.