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Tuesday, October 01, 2002
The truth is unhelpful
The New York Times reports that some Jewish groups are going to run pro-Israel television advertising campaigns to improve Israel's public image in the United States.
The two commercials they created, which differ only slightly, include images of everyday life in Israel, while a voiceover says that Israel gives all its citizens American-style freedoms, including freedom of religion and expression, and the right to vote. One spot begins by saying, "Israel is America's only real ally in the Middle East."
Sounds reasonable to me. How could anybody object to that? Well, guess who does:
One critic, James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, said the spots did not address the real problems facing Israel and the Middle East.

"The issue people have is not on that level," Mr. Zogby said. "Even though Americans never identified with Palestinians, they are not happy with Israeli policy."

Moreover, he said, the ads set back peace efforts by emphasizing the differences between Israel and its neighbors. By arguing that Israel and the United States share a love of freedom and respect for individuals, the commercials imply that those values are exclusive to the United States and Israel, he said. "That is a set of assumptions that play into a kind of ethnocentrism and a not so subtle form of racism."
There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth: by telling the truth about Arab countries, the ads "set back peace efforts." I think that says it all about those "peace efforts."

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