Public opinion is a funny thing.

In a world where perceptions are far more important than reality, Israel has been the victim of a vicious public relations campaign that runs the risk of turning public opinion against the young Jewish state.

This mission, born in organizations that are committed to Israel’s destruction, has been effective in changing the dynamics of a years-old conflict between Israel and the Arab world. The demonization of Israel, employed by terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and eaten up by global political powers like the United Nations and the European Union, puts Israel on the defensive and makes the conflict less about fact and more about gritty, compelling fiction.

The recent “Freedom Flotilla” fiasco is a perfect example of this new virtual battleground and the fight Israel is losing there. The news coming out of the Mediterranean Seas on Sunday night would have the world believe that Israel brutally and methodically attacked and murdered peaceful activists who wanted nothing more than to deliver aid to a population suffering on the brink of destruction from lack of humanitarian supplies.

Recently, Fox News has shown footage other media seems not to show

Footage showed bloodied internationals in orange life vests fleeing for their lives. But few showed footage of the Israeli navy calling out to the “Flotilla” to co-operate and have humanitarian aid peacefully transferred to Gaza (a method used daily, as documented by the Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit and countless unbiased observers).

It seemed nobody dared explain that five of the six ships which made up the “Flotilla” successfully co-operated with the Navy, suffering no casualties.

And it seemed nobody wanted to show footage of Israeli soldiers equipped with paintball guns and crowd dispersal gear being dragged down from the ropes from which they repelled onto the boat, smashed with metal rods, brutally beaten with sticks, and stabbed with knives.

You’d be hard-pressed to find reports of the 40-minute battle without gun fire, one that only featured live fire when the “peace activists” took a handgun off an Israeli soldier who was thrown overboard and suffered serious head injuries.

And with all of Al-Jazeera and Turkish media’s reports, not a single playing of the audio of Israeli soldiers telling each other not to use live fire, even as their lives dangled in front of them and their comrades were being beaten to death. To quote a member of the Shayetet 13 Special Forces Unit which carried forward the operation, they “went into war, but were equipped with toys.” Israel didn’t want a fight.

A person’s political opinion may tell them whether or not Israel’s blockade of Gaza is righteous, but anybody who can put two and two together knows that if you attempt to defy any military blockade, no less attack the soldiers who are enforcing it, they will act as all trained soldiers would. This is a situation which has been exploited for a much-needed popularity boost to Hamas, a distraction from Iran’s nuclear growth, and a big clump of cotton to be pulled over the eyes of all Western nations.

Claims that Israel violated international law in upholding a blockade after warning several times the violent “peace activists” are laughable and ludicrous. Hit anybody over the head with a metal rod and see how the person reacts.

When Syria and Lebanon violate Resolution 1702 on a regular basis to global silence and Hamas and Hezbollah violate the Rome Statutes in similar fashion, it reeks of hypocrisy that the UN Security Council would rush into an emergency meeting up-in-arms to the backdrop of global protests calling for an end to the “Zionist regime.”

When Egypt has as much to do with the blockade of the Gaza Strip, Hamas executes its citizens on a daily basis for such things as holding hands in public and destroys their homes for “government buildings,” homosexuality and women’s rights are impossible to attain in most all other areas of the Middle East, it is a crime to isolate Israel in a global media firestorm over its treatment of human beings.

Israel is a liberal democracy with potent and powerful minorities who are free to criticize and even serve in the government, wish death upon their country, and riot violently at the slightest mention of historic Jewish presence in the nation. The countries surrounding Israel are by-and-large theocratic dictatorships with no patience for public debate and difference. This “Flotilla” must have recognized the difference and ignored the Egyptian side of the blockade.

It is important to recognize that while there can be difference in opinion, the muting of an entire nation by shouting death wishes, threats, and racist chants will never bring forth a productive solution.

Those who question Israel’s right to exist have no place telling it how to deal with bombardments of its border. Those who invoke the army of Muhammad and bless the killing of Jews have no place questioning Israel’s morality.

It is the responsibility of free countries with the benefit of a free press to promote truth and it is a standard we should all strive for. When public opinion becomes a tool for war, it is incumbent on each person who claims to believe in democracy and the free exchange of ideas to give both sides of a story a fair chance. Until then, Israel will blow against the wind.

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