Forty years as an occupier can result in thinking like this:

"When we show Sderot, others also see Gaza," said Ido Aharoni, manager of a rebranding team at the Foreign Ministry. "Everything is twinned when seen through the conflict. The country needs to position itself as an attractive personality, to make outsiders see it in all its reality. Instead, we are focusing on crisis management. And that is never going to get us where we need to go over the long term."

Mr. Gilboa, the political scientist, said branding was not enough. "We need to do much more to educate the world about our situation," he said. Regarding the extra $2 million budgeted for this, he said: "We need 50 million. We need 100 million."

Let’s dispense with the idea that anyone thinks peacemaking is in any sense easy. It’s arduous and painful and filled with missteps, acrimony and paranoia. It involves earned trust and blind faith. But the first step to repairing a condition of international isolation is to address its root causes. $100 million in international education is not going to persuade anyone that the Palestinians do not have a right to independent statehood. Alternatively, it takes maybe 75 cents’ worth of conversation to persuade any fair-minded person that Israel faces unreasonable and intolerable threats to its security. These are settled arguments. There’s a story that David Petraeus tells about his arrival in Baghdad. A few weeks into his command in Iraq, he started receiving guests from the U.S. concerned about opposition to the surge. "Dave, you’ve got a real public-diplomacy problem," they’d say. "Respectfully," he’d respond, "I don’t have a public-diplomacy problem. I have a results problem." Israel should learn from that example. If Benjamin Netanyahu’s government opposes a robust peace process that leads, concretely, to the formation of a Palestinian state — particularly with a racist as his foreign minister — there’s no amount of Karen Hughes-ery that can get around history’s verdict. Will the creation of an independent Palestine end the Muslim world’s problems with Israel? No, of course not — but anyone who uses that as an excuse for inaction is a fool; and, if antisemetism now means the espousal of ideas damaging to Israel, an antisemite. The important thing is to remove the legitimate grounds for Muslim opposition to Israel. When the illegitimate grounds are all that remain, Israel will find that it’s just greatly improved its public image internationally.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman