Israel’s latest hasbara schtick falls flat in days
A couple of days ago, a Youtube video of some guy calling himself Mark popped up. Mark claimed to be an American gay rights activist who decided to broaden his horizons and, going all hog, decided to join the Gaza flotilla, representing the gay rights group of which he is a member. He sent an email to the flotilla organizers, but – alas! – after waiting for quite a while, received a negative reply. Upon which Mark experienced a Road to Damascus moment, the scales fell from his eyes, and he saw the bright, shining light of truth: The flotilla is organized by Hamas-supporting Islamists, all of whom are good friends with Ismail Hanyieh.
We are, of course, dealing with a professional hasbara flick. “Mark” refrains from showing us the bomb he pretends to hold, namely the mail he purportedly received from the flotilla organizers. This is not an accident: As Max Blumenthal quickly found out, the video was promoted by someone named Neil Lazarus, a professional hasbara man. The video was promoted in Twitter, Blumenthal found out, by the Israeli Government Press Office, who was quoting someone called Guy Seemann, who works for the Prime Minister’s Office. Seemann’s tweet promoting the video was his only one, and it seems he opened his account for this purpose.
Last night, Electronic Intifada exposed the fact that “Mark” is in fact the Israeli Omer Gershon, a two-bit micro-celeb from Tel Aviv. This exposes, if this wasn’t clear yet, the lie behind the video: As an Israeli, “Mark”’s naiveté and his claim to see the light is particularly ridiculous.
I don’t have much of a problem with Gershon. He’s an actor, presumably he was paid for his part, and actors have promoted untruths and myths since the times of Thespis. The office of the PM, promoting such clumsy propaganda, is another case entirely.
This schtick ought not to be surprising: After all, the Foreign Ministry decided more than a year ago (Hebrew) to outsource hasbara, since official Israeli sources are burned, and considered unreliable. Israel is conducting a dirty tricks campaign against the flotilla, trying to poison the minds of people in the West, by dispensing lies through people allegedly unrelated to it.
Trying to make the Western world forget for a while it holds millions under occupation and is running the largest open sky prison in Gaza, Israel is trying to wave its relatively good record in the area of gay rights. To do so, it focuses on the homophobia of traditional Muslim society while hoping nobody pays attention to the homophobia of traditional Jewish society and while silently praying nobody will notice homophobia is the only thing bringing Orthodox rabbis and imams together, as in the protests against the Jerusalem gay parade. It also hopes nobody will realize its Chief rabbis, past (Hebrew) and present (Hebrew) incited against the gay community, while receiving a government salary and pension and trusting to their position to protect them from investigation.
As collateral damage, Israel tars the gay groups in the Middle East as its collaborators. There have been claims before these groups are “pro Zionists”, and in fact there is nothing surprising in an oppressed group seeing the bright sides of the enemy of its oppressor.
But the use Israel makes of the gay cause and gay groups will easily allow the authorities in the rest of the Middle East to portray them as Israeli collaborators, perhaps even spies, and use this excuse to persecute them. Paradoxically, Israel’s embrace of gays will promote their harassment in neighboring countries.
Then again, who cares? We’re only talking about gentiles, after all, Muslim and gay ones to boot. At least, we gave them a good hasbara fight. Next time, we won’t get caught. Hopefully.