In such a climate, the delegitimization campaign against Israel can grow and spread, giving rise to more attempts at BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), not to mention a corresponding rise in anti-Semitic sentiment directed against Jewish populations in those countries.
That’s why it is imperative that Israel and her supporters take the results of this BBC survey seriously, starting with the positives. The country that Israel most depends on for diplomatic cover and military support is the United States, where views on Israel have actually improved.
And what of the remaining global 50% who did not answer in the negative concerning Israel? While only 21% held positive views, it means that there are still some 29% of neutrals or undecideds who can potentially be converted either way. It would also be foolish to disregard making inroads into the negatives.
We may not be able to convert all of these people into card-carrying Zionists and it may be unrealistic to expect to turn these negative trends around in a short period of time, particularly given the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as the wider view of Israel as another cog in a very unstable Middle East.
There is, however, plenty that can and should be done, starting with holding the media to account for the often biased and one-sided reporting from Israel.
Ensuring that Israel is fairly represented in the media just might be enough to open the eyes of the public to the possibility that there is another side to the story coming out of the Middle East – a story that doesn’t need to endow Israel with the status of a pariah in the company of Iran, Pakistan or North Korea.
The Israeli state and the IDF are steadily improving. Where a flotilla or flytilla would have previously ended in a PR catastrophe now barely register with the media. Where Nakba Day protests would have ended in violence and global accusations of Israeli brutality we now see nothing more than a storm in a teacup.
So if we are capable of at least putting something of a lid on things, please don’t tell me that the game is lost. That 21% of people who are positively disposed towards Israel is a virtual army of advocates. This may be a David v Goliath situation but we know how that turned out.
All it takes is the click of a mouse button, the forwarding of an interesting article, or the writing of an email to the letters page of the local newspaper.
Let’s turn off that drip, drip of negative headlines and articles and start slowly drying out the swamp of anti-Israel bias.
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Image: CC BY-SA HonestReporting.com, flickr/proimos.