Mak­ing David into Goliath: How The World Turned Against Israel

  • Review
By – November 6, 2014

At once impas­sioned and clear-head­ed, this abun­dant­ly researched dis­cus­sion of Israel’s decline in world pub­lic opin­ion is nec­es­sary read­ing for all who care about this high­ly vul­ner­a­ble coun­try. How is it that an inno­v­a­tive, demo­c­ra­t­ic, peace-seek­ing nation keeps los­ing the pro­pa­gan­da war? Muravchik shows us how in a series of well-craft­ed chapters. 

The author begins by remind­ing read­ers of the high esteem with which Israel was gener­ally regard­ed in the first decades fol­low­ing its dec­la­ra­tion of nation­hood. To some mea­sure, that esteem grew out of how the tiny new nation had over­come seem­ing­ly insurmount­able odds — and con­tin­ued to do so. 

Over time, how­ev­er, var­i­ous forces dimmed the lus­ter of the glo­ri­ous David. The chap­ter enti­tled The Arab Cause Becomes Pales­tin­ian (and Pro­gres­sive’)” out­lines the sto­ry well, explor­ing the psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare in Arab and Mus­lim pol­i­tics that slow­ly repo­si­tioned David and Goliath. Israel was posi­tioned not as threat­ened by the Mus­lim mass­es, but as the demon­i­cal usurp­er of Pales­tin­ian rights. Los­ing under­dog sta­tus in world opin­ion was a major blow. 

Ter­ror­ist assaults on Israel did one kind of dam­age, con­stant­ly divert­ing resources. Assaults on Jew­ish insti­tu­tions in Europe weak­ened the moral fiber of Euro­pean nations and also released latent anti-Semi­tism. On top of this, Arab coun­tries were able to use the petro­le­um weapon to make Europe cow­er. The mes­sage was clear: If you want oil, detach your­self from Israel in every pos­si­ble way. 

The takeover of the Unit­ed Nations by so-called non­aligned nations ren­dered Israel a pari­ah, con­stant­ly charged and found guilty of crimes against human­i­ty rather than respon­si­bly defend­ing its pop­u­la­tion from attack. Any­thing Israel did in retal­i­a­tion was imme­di­ate­ly labeled as disproportionate. 

Nation­al and inter­na­tion­al social­ist bod­ies rede­fined Zion­ism as both racist and clas­sist. Weigh­ing evi­dence was rarely an issue. The once-sym­pa­thet­ic polit­i­cal Left moved inevita­bly to the oth­er side through­out Europe, and that tran­si­tion became appar­ent in the U.S. as well. 

Edward Said. Need I say more? The moral cor­rup­tion of aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions whose fac­ul­ties were brain­washed by a smooth char­la­tan did enor­mous dam­age to Israel’s standing. 

Yes, as Muravchik admits, Israel’s own lead­ers and polit­i­cal par­ties made a num­ber of poor deci­sions. He details sev­er­al key in­stances and their con­se­quences. Just as much of a prob­lem is the cul­ture of dis­sent that has weak­ened Israel from within. 

This author sees a severe­ly imper­iled Israel whose ene­mies might suc­ceed. The result,” he insists, would be a sec­ond Holo­caust.” This time­ly study, punc­tur­ing illu­sions and fac­ing hard facts, is must read­ing. Index, introduc­tion, notes.

Relat­ed content:

Philip K. Jason is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of Eng­lish at the Unit­ed States Naval Acad­e­my. A for­mer edi­tor of Poet Lore, he is the author or edi­tor of twen­ty books, includ­ing Acts and Shad­ows: The Viet­nam War in Amer­i­can Lit­er­ary Cul­ture and Don’t Wave Good­bye: The Chil­dren’s Flight from Nazi Per­se­cu­tion to Amer­i­can Free­dom.

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