A new government public relations clip shows Israeli Jews as the perpetual victims of history. But once upon a time Israeli leaders were able to consider the pain of others, too.
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs managed to out-do itself on Thursday when it released its latest hasbara (state-sponsored PR) video of Jews as eternal victims of persecution in their homeland.
The clip tells the story of Rachel and Jacob, two contemporary Israeli Jews who live in a large, comfortable home, which is meant to be a metaphor for the Land of Israel. Slowly, the couple’s home is invaded and occupied by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Hellenists, the Romans, the Muslims, the Crusaders, Mamelukes, the Turks (just wait for the extremely Orientalist portrayal), and finally the British.
Each invasion pushes Rachel and Jacob into a smaller space in their home. The message is hard to miss: for 3,000 years the Jews have been subject to invasions and occupations in their homeland that have left them powerless and oppressed. Only the State of Israel has, finally, granted them a home they must fight to defend and protect at all costs.
Notably absent from the list of invaders are the Palestinians. But watch until the very end, when Rachel and Jacob’s Jewish home(land) is finally safe and secure: That’s when we see a suspicious-looking Palestinian couple knock on the front door and peer into the home. The symbolism is hard to miss: The angry Palestinians appeared in Israel, as if out of nowhere, to take over a land that never belonged to them.
The fact that the video portrays Palestinian refugees as potential usurpers is unsurprising, to say the least. At best, they are entirely absent from the Israeli public discourse — at worst they are widely viewed as a threat to the very existence of the Jewish state, not to mention a direct threat to Jewish presence in Israel-Palestine.
That’s because the very notion of Palestinian refugees has become nearly invisible to the average Israeli — a relatively new phenomenon that is the result of a stubborn attempt to craft a final-status solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that makes cosmetic changes to the landscape without actually addressing the root cause of Palestinian indignation.
But it wasn’t always this way. In the early days of the state, Israel’s mainstream political parties argued tirelessly...Read More