Amid all the doom and gloom that seems to fill the news of late, here is a neat little statistic that offers a glimmer of hope.
Despite years of relentless propaganda and concerted media indoctrination, a majority of Israelis continue to hold patriotic views.
In its latest monthly peace index survey for March 2008, Tel Aviv University's Steinmetz Center for Peace Research found that, by a wide margin, the majority of Israeli Jews view Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Jewish people, as "liberated" rather than "occupied" territory.
Summarizing their findings, the researchers noted that, "We were surprised to discover that even though, over the years, the concept of 'occupation' has become more common both in the political discourse and the media, today a majority of the Jewish public defines the West Bank as 'liberated territory' (55%) and not as 'occupied territory' (32%)."
This is an astonishing and welcome bit of data, for it demonstrates unequivocally just how strong and resilient the bond still is between the people of Israel and their land.
Even with the onslaught of negative portrayals of Jewish settlers over the years, and the persistently poison pens of various Israeli journalists, the bulk of Israelis have remained immune to the venom.
They continue to see this land as ours and have not allowed the mainstream media's cynicism and disapproval to cloud their most basic of instincts.
No less interesting were several other findings contained in the survey, which further underline the durability of the public's patriotic leanings.
By a margin of 57% to 23%, or more than two to one, Israeli Jews oppose a return to the pre-1967 borders, and a clear plurality (47% vs. 40%) now agree that the Oslo peace process was "a mistake."
Not surprisingly, the authors of the survey suggest that "the hard-line positions that most of the Jewish public now takes" are attributable to "pessimism", as though recognizing that Oslo has failed is merely a function of mood swings, rather than taking a cold, hard look at reality.
TO BE sure, not all the results were encouraging. The poll found that strong support remains for the establishment of "two states for two people" despite the Palestinians' ongoing failure to curb terror and halt anti-Israel incitement and violence.
But even there, a dose of realism has begun to creep in. For the results also showed that nearly three-quarters believe that even if an agreement is signed with the Palestinians, "it will not, from the Palestinians' standpoint, end the historic conflict with Israel."
In other words, deep down, most Israelis acknowledge that the thrust of the conflict with the Palestinians is not about land, but about our very existence.
What are we to make of all this?
Consider the following: if more than 40 years after the Six Day War, just a third of Jewish Israelis consider the territories to be "occupied," then it means that however vocal and strident the Left might be, they remain nothing more than a small and unpersuasive minority in this country.
For all the sympathetic coverage, reports, articles and editorials that have amplified its position over the years, the Left has clearly failed to do more than dent the nation's underlying attachment to places such as Hebron, Bethlehem and Shiloh.
This represents a colossal failure on their part in the battle for public opinion. While they may have succeeded in altering the reality on the ground by establishing the Palestinian Authority and supporting the Gaza withdrawal, the Left has not succeeded in wearing down our faith.
And, as Menachem Begin pointed out in The Revolt, "Faith is perhaps stronger than reality, for faith itself creates reality."
The findings of the peace index also point to a tremendous opportunity. They underline the fact that Israelis are not "suicidal" or "lemmings," as some on the far right are wont to believe. Rather, they continue to hold on to a healthy set of nationalist values and beliefs, however unpopular these might be among our media elites.
PERHAPS THAT is precisely why the media does its best to shut us up and shut us out.
Indeed, just think what would happen if Israel had a more impartial media, one that actually gave equal time and respect to those who remain loyal to the Land of Israel.
Imagine the difference it would make if there were one - even one! - major media outlet that allowed Israel's right to air its views alongside those of the left.
It would, quite simply, revolutionize the entire political system.
In the United States, media baron Rupert Murdoch tapped into the disconnect between the liberal media and America's conservative impulses by creating Fox News Channel. Within a few years, Fox had rocketed to the top of cable news ratings, leaving CNN and MSNBC in the dust.
In an October 2006 interview with the Financial Times, Murdoch explained the secret of Fox's success. He said, "The real story about Fox is the business story. The real thing is by being fair and balanced - by putting on both sides all the time - we really have changed the political equation in this country."
"People think we're conservative," he added, "but we're not conservative... I mean that it has given room to both sides, whereas only one side had it before. I think people are responding to that very strongly."
There is no doubt that Israelis would too. Just imagine if Israel had its own version of Fox News - balanced yet patriotic, fair yet loyal. It would further energize the country's underlying nationalist and Zionist proclivities, and possibly even invigorate the near-dormant political right.
Hence, establishing such a channel should become a top
priority for those who wish to preserve the land of Israel and protect her from harm.
For, if the peace index teaches us anything, it is that the right must never make the mistake of writing off the Israeli public or giving up on them as a lost cause.
The public can see through the mainstream media's left-wing political agenda, and they are obviously hungering for something new and different.
Now is the time to do something about it. And a good place to start would be to change the channel, and give the Israeli people a media they can be proud of.
One that isn't ashamed to wave the flag and boost the country and its values.
What a breath of fresh air that would be.