Israel Mismanages Public Relations over Mahmoud al-Mabhouh Killing
by Bill Levinson
- The King hereby forbids all cavalry officers, under penalty of being cashiered [dismissed, sacked], ever to allow themselves to be attacked by the enemy in any action. Prussians must always attack the enemy. –King Frederick II
What part of this guidance does Israel not understand? All of it, as shown by its totally defensive reaction to international condemnation of its alleged killing of terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, and this is true of Israel’s public relations in general. This is why Israel’s enemies feel free to attack, defame, and even blood libel the Jewish state at every opportunity. Israel’s FIRST response to the Dubai controversy should have been to demand publicly why Dubai has made itself an accessory to international terrorism.
We do not know whether the Mossad killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, and Israel’s “neither confirm nor deny” policy is the only thing it has done right so far. This keeps the terrorists looking over their shoulders for fear that they might be next. Israel then, however, allowed itself to be placed completely on the defensive because of the alleged violation of Dubai’s sovereignty–thus allowing its enemies to set the rules of the argument to focus on Israel instead of terrorism. In any controversy, whether military or political, the offensive is far more successful than the defensive. As stated by Moltke,
- The advantages of the offense are clear and permanent. He who acts on his own decision lays down the law to which the waiting party must conform his countermeasures. …In doubtful cases and in unclear conditions (which occur so often in war), it will generally be more advisable to proceed actively and keep the initiative than to await the law of the opponent.
Israel could have easily put this advice into practice as follows. It could have pointed out that Canada will not issue a visa to a foreigner who has so much as a drunk driving conviction (misdemeanor), and that the United Kingdom (which is bleating about Israel’s alleged use of British passports to facilitate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s death) banned talk show host Michael Savage simply because it does not like what he says, but that Dubai admitted a known terrorist and confessed violent felon:
- Al-Mabhouh was involved in the 1989 abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa’adon. In a video taped two weeks before his death, and broadcast on Al-Jazeera in early February, Mabhouh admitted his involvement, saying he had disguised himself as an Orthodox Jew.
…Al-Mabhouh was believed to have been involved in smuggling weapons and explosives into Gaza. He spent most of 2003 in an Egyptian jail. He had been arrested and released several times by Israel. At the time of his death, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was wanted by the Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian governments, and living in Syria.
In other words, it is a fact that Dubai knowingly and willfully harbored a kidnapper, a murderer, and a fugitive from not only Israeli justice but also that of fellow Arab countries. It is therefore a fact that Dubai gave material support to terrorism. Israel could have thrown Dubai and its other critics onto the defensive by equating Dubai to a country that knowingly and willfully serves as a haven for pirates, drug dealers, and other international criminals. Instead, as usual, Israel allowed its own alleged conduct and not that of its enemies to become the focus of the discussion.
The alleged criminally negligent homicide (if not worse) of peace activist Rachel Corrie by the International Solidarity Movement–and that is our official position on the matter–is another example of offensive as opposed to defensive doctrine. Rachel Corrie was killed when she knelt in front of an Israeli bulldozer, and below the driver’s line of sight because of the bulldozer blade and/or the narrow view slits in the bulldozer’s armor. In other words, an overly-idealistic young woman took a foolish chance and was apparently killed by accident. The International Solidarity Movement, however, chose to make the libelous accusation that the Israeli bulldozer driver had “murdered” Rachel Corrie–and it’s heap bad medicine, heap bad juju, to exhibit a motive for wanting somebody dead once the possibility of murder comes into the picture. The ISM, however, did exactly that; it raised the accusation of murder and then expressed motives for wanting Rachel Corrie dead.
(1) From StandWithUs.com, “Recently, the Director of the Solidarity Movement, George Rishmawi, explained to the San Francisco Chronicle that the recruitment of American student volunteers is useful to the Palestinian Movement because “if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.”"
(2) From ISM member Joseph Smith, who was present when Rachel Corrie died: “The spirit that she died for is worth a life. This idea of resistance, this spirit of resisting this brutal occupying force, is worth anything. And many, many, many Palestinians give their lives for it all the time. So the life of one international, I feel, is more than worth the spirit of resisting oppression.”
(3) “‘Her death serves me more than it served her,’ said one activist at a Hamas funeral yesterday. ‘…Her death will bring more attention than the other 2,000 martyrs.’” Making of a Martyr by Sandra Jordan, Guardian Newspapers
So there we have it: two ISM members and a Hamas terrorist said openly that Rachel Corrie was more useful to their cause dead than alive. The ISM also says Rachel Corrie was murdered. It is pretty standard practice for police who are investigating an actual murder to take a very close and hard look at anyone who has a motive for wanting the decedent dead–e.g. somebody who took out a million dollar life insurance policy on somebody who then dies in a suspicious airplane crash or, in this case, entities that boast openly about how valuable Rachel’s death is to them in public relations capital.
The bottom line is that an offensive doctrine denies the enemy the initiative and the ability to dictate the terms of the battle, whether physical or public relations. This is something our side must understand if it is to win.