(Communicated by the Deputy Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
Last week, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon released a video describing the history of the Israeli Palestinian conflict in a concise easy to follow video on YouTube. The video explains where the terms "West Bank", "occupied territories" and "67 borders" originated and how they are incorrectly used and applied. The video has already been viewed by over 170,000 worldwide.
Ayalon explains that the idea behind the video is to disseminate Israel’s long-standing but neglected position, in an innovative way, to combat the Palestinian attempt to have a unilaterally-declared state recognized. In addition, when direct negotiations will restart the historical context should be well known to the interested public to provide a greater understanding of the current situation.
"For too many years, our public diplomacy has been mainly based on a ‘peace narrative’, where Israeli officials talk about how much we are willing to concede for peace, while the Palestinian public diplomacy is all about supposed rights and international law," Ayalon said. "While we do all we can do promote peace, it is time for Israel to return to a ‘rights-based diplomacy’ and talk about the facts, rights, history and international law which are little known but give a dramatically different viewpoint to what is currently accepted."
"Israel’s case is harder to make in an era where context, background and history are less important than an image or a headline. Social media in general and YouTube in particular are major battlegrounds in the clash of narratives and public diplomacy. It is vital that a strong rights-based Israeli presence is seen and heard, especially for the YouTube demographics who are more interested in easy to digest explanations."
Following the release of the video, the Palestinian Authority put out an official press release condemning the video claiming that it was a "cynical and falsified account of history and international law". Chief Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erakat demanded an official explanation for the video. In reaction to the condemnation, Ayalon said: "For too long the Palestinian narrative of international law and rights has gone unchallenged and this over the top reaction to a public diplomacy video proves that they are acting like spoilt children who have had their way for too long. They are unable to challenge a single fact in the video and have completely avoided a legitimate and honest discussion on the issues."
In the press release, Erekat claims that Israel was accepted to the United Nations on the basis of UN General Assembly Resolution 181. "This false claims shows that Erekat misconstrues international law and its system proving exactly how misguided the Palestinian attempt to have their unilaterally declared state recognized at the United Nations really is. Israel was admitted as a full United Nations member in 1949 by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 273, after a recommendation by the Security Council, because it met the criteria of statehood and signed armistice agreements with our neighbors, something the Palestinians should bear in mind before they further their confrontational and damaging plan towards September."
"I challenge any of the Palestinian Authority political leadership to an open debate on all the issues ahead of September."
The video produced in English includes translations in numerous languages including Arabic, Spanish, French, Russian and German. The video will also be shown in hundreds of schools and educational centers worldwide as part of their curriculum on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The video was produced for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with StandWithUs, an international organization dedicated to Israel education worldwide, by filmmaker Shlomo Blass of Rogatka Ltd, and directed by internationally-renowned director Ashley Lazarus.