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"The image of Israel as a weak nation surrounded by enemies seeking its annihilation evaporated [after 1967], to be replaced by the image of an aggressive nation challenging world opinion"
[Arab Palestinian strategist, AI-Haytham Al-Ayubi, analysis of the efficacy of Arab propaganda tactics in 1974]

New Strategy - New Tactics - New Rhetoric

Arab Nationalism's New Tactic

Ever since the 1967 Israeli victory, when the Arabs determined that they couldn't obliterate Israel militarily, they have skillfully waged economic, diplomatic, and propaganda war against Israel. This, Arabs reasoned, would take longer than military victory, but ultimately the result would be the same. Critical to the new tactic, however, was a device designed to whittle away at the sympathies of Israel's allies: what the Arabs envisioned was something that could achieve Israel's shrinking to indefensible size at the same time that she became insolvent.

Program Review
This program was reviewed in 1971 by Mohamed Heikal, then still an important spokesman of Egypt's leadership in his post as editor of the influential, semi-official newspaper Al Ahram. Heikal called for ...

  • A change of Arab rhetoric - no more threats of "throwing Israel into the sea"
  • A new political strategy - aimed at reducing Israel to indefensible borders and pushing her into diplomatic and economic isolation. He predicted that "total withdrawal" would "pass sentence on the entire state of Israel."

Humanitarian terminology
As a more effective means of swaying world opinion, the Arabs adopted humanitarian terminology in support of ...

... the "demands" of the "Palestinian refugees," to replace former Arab proclamations of "carnage" and "obliteration".

PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein
in an interview with the Dutch newspaper "Trau" (March 31, 1977),

"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism."

"Israel" as the cause
In Egypt, for example, in 1968 "the popularity of the Palestinians was rising," as a result of Israel's 1967 defeat of the Arabs and subsequent 1968 "Israeli air attacks inside Egypt."

It was as recently as 1970 that Egyptian President Nasser defined "Israel" as the cause of "the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their land."

Although Nasser thus gave perfunctory recognition to the "Palestinian Arab" allegation, he was in reality preoccupied with the overall basic, pivotal Arab concern. As he continued candidly in the same sentence, Israel was "a permanent threat to the Arab nation."

Later that year (May 1970), Nasser

"formulated his rejection of a Jewish state in Palestine,"

but once again he stressed the "occupation of our [Pan-Arab] lands," while only secondarily noting:

"And we reject its [Israel's] insistence on denying the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in their country."

Subsequently the Arabs have increased their recounting of the difficulties and travail of Arab refugees in the "host" countries adjacent to Israel

Public Relations
Photographs and accounts of life in refugee camps, as well as demands for the "legitimate" but unlimited and undefined "rights" of the "Palestinians," have flooded the communications media of the world in a subtle and adroit utilization of the art of professional public relations.

Rosemary Sayigh wrote in the Journal of Palestine Studies, "a strongly defined Palestinian identity did not emerge until 1968, two decades after expulsion." It had taken twenty years to establish the "myth" prescribed by Musa Alami.18


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