Opinion polls indicate widespread concerns among Israelis over Tel Aviv’s ‘acute’ image problem and unprecedented criticism from the international community.
A survey conducted by the Kelim Shluvim Research Institute at the request of the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs said 91 percent of respondents believed Israel suffers an "acute" or "very acute" image problem in the world.
Sampling 495 adult Israeli Jews in early December, the survey also found 51 percent saying the image problem "very acute," while 80 percent said Israel is deemed worldwide as an "aggressive state."
"These findings are not surprising," Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein said of the poll results, adding Israel has always had "very serious difficulties" explaining its perspective to the world.
Israel’s plummeting popularity worldwide is partly due to a massacre of Palestinians in its December 2008 offensive on the Gaza strip.
The three-week onslaught killed more than 1,400 Gazans — among them some 500 women and children — which drew abrupt condemnation from the international community.
Investigations into the Gaza offensive further highlighted the Israeli crimes against civilians in the Gaza Strip and perched the Israeli initiators of the war on the verge of trial in the International Criminal court in The Hague.
Israel had to cancel a visit of a delegation of senior military officers to Britain last week after the UK failed to guarantee that they would not be arrested over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.
A British court earlier issued an arrest warrant against Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni for "war crimes" committed when she was foreign minister during the 22-day Gaza war, forcing her to call off her participation in a Jewish conference in London.
But Tel Aviv’s refusal to freeze the illegal settlement expansions in the occupied West Bank has worn thin the patience of Israeli allies as well as its foes.
The continued construction activity, generally seen as a major obstacle to reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, has received a rare criticism from the US and the European Union.
Another major issue is the continuing Israeli blockade which holds virtually everything including food, fuel and medical supplies away from Gazans causing a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished coastal enclave.