These days, when a story is hot, its grab for the public’s attention is usually signaled by a video going viral on YouTube. An example of the phenomenon is the current, heavily-viewed video ‘We Con the World’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOGG_osOoVg)*.
The video is a very clever satire on the classic, but melodramatic video ‘We Are the World’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ne7fPpxAnuM), which featured famous pop stars preening for Aid to Africa. The hot story dealt with in the new video is the ill-fated Israeli interception of the ‘Humanitarian Flotilla’ that Turkish-based terrorists engineered in order to break the naval blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza. The production uses the same tune, but altered lyrics from the original video. It is deeply sarcastic, even sardonic, but like the original, quite entertaining. It blows a huge hole in the ridiculous claim that the people of Gaza are suffering under a barbaric quarantine by the Israelis.
But the video raises a serious question for me: does its release, which, in some fashion, has constituted Israel’s main response to the event, say something positive or negative about how Israel is dealing with its increasing isolation and vilification in the world arena?
I will offer two reasons for each answer.
First, it is an effective response because:
1. It shows that Israel has retained its sense of humor, upbeat attitude and self-confidence despite the vile lies, slander and physical threats to which she is subjected daily.
2. It shows that the Israelis are more seriously and effectively engaged in the PR battle that accompanies their struggle for survival. In the past, Israelis assumed the world would see the obvious justice of their cause and so they concentrated all their firepower on military preparation and response, neglecting the propaganda field of battle.
No, it is an ineffective response because:
1. It is a weak retort to a grave military and political provocation. Moreover, it is consistent with the following assessment: Following heroically successful efforts to defend their freedom in the 20th century (War of Independence, Suez War, Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, Entebbe, 1st Lebanon War), Israeli performance in the past decade has weakened considerably (2nd intifada, 2nd Lebanon War, retreats from South Lebanon and Gaza). This video represents a silly response to Iran’s deadly attempt to establish a beachhead on the Mediterranean within easy reach of Israel. It does not augur well.
2. The video suggests that the Israeli public might not sufficiently appreciate the dire circumstances in which the country finds itself – politically isolated, surrounded by hostile and implacable foes, with weakened support from its main benefactor and even desertion, to some extent, by coreligionists in America and Europe.