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The slow unraveling of Hasbara in America

Something is happening over at the Jewish Daily Forward, one of the pillars of American Jewish media. In recent days, editors at the Forward, notably Gal Beckerman have gone head to head with one of Israel’s Hasbara masterminds, deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. About two weeks ago, Ayalon was engaged in a heated Twitter battle with Didi Remez of Coteret at 3 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon. I noted on Twitter, somewhat in jest, that perhaps the deputy Foreign Minister of the State of Israel might have something better to do than tweet in the middle of the day with leftists. Beckerman picked up on this line of thinking and wrote a piece effectively  posing the same question. But the critiques did not stop there.

Yesterday, Beckerman wrote a piece about Ayalon’s recent Hasbara YouTube sensation which explored legal issues regarding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. In the video, Ayalon argues with smug cocksureness that the West Bank is not an occupied territory but a disputed one. The video is an exact replica of a similar YouTube clip produced in Hebrew by the settler council YESHA back in May. So, Beckerman asks, “Should we not be concerned when the foreign ministry of Israel is using the same propaganda as the settlers? Or should we just assume that their interests are one?” Considering that the Foreign Minister of Israel is, in fact, a settler living in Noqdim, and that the state is addicted to building settlements while rent costs in major Israeli cities are causing nationwide protest, it is a safe bet that the interests of the state are in line with the settlers.

The arguments presented in these two pieces alone, given their place of publication, should be enough to posit the question of whether Israeli hasbara is slowly unraveling inside the American Jewish community. But there is another component of the story. The dark lord of American Zionist hasbara, Jeffery Goldberg, has decided to weigh in on the issue as well. Goldberg argued in the Atlantic yesterday that “ The deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, the former ambassador to the U.S., argues, in essence, the following: The West Bank belongs to Israel now and forever, so fuck off.” Strong words for one of Israel’s strongest allies in the American press other than Ethan Bronner of the New York Times. Danny Ayalon’s addiction to pointless banter on Twitter during work hours promises that this is a story that will not soon go away.  In fact, hours after  Goldberg published his piece challenging the hand that feeds, Ayalon was busy refuting it on Twitter.

How long will the Israeli foreign ministry expect American Jews to defend and disseminate inaccurate propaganda regarding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza? In the absence of Palestinian violence directed at Israeli civilians and as the image of the conflict is reformulated to highlight the deprivation of human/civil rights because of the Israeli Occupation, defending Israeli hasbara is growing increasingly more difficult in America. Ayalon’s antics and the passage of clearly anti-democratic laws are not making the battle much easier.

Ultimately, Israel has to produce better material for American Jews to use and exploit in their quest to defend Israel from any and all criticism. Israel’s new hasbara campaign (see embedded video), which features sock puppets explaining misconceptions about Israelis, does not bode well for the future.

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    1. Bridget

      While I like the idea of following youth in their everyday lives in highly politicized areas of the world…what is with the muppet-German-old man…? It’s just really weird and out of place, like the stick figures used in the Avalon video…..
      They could use footage of, you know, actual Israelis (ha, my former roommates would have been great and entertaining!) as opposed to German-muppet thing…

      Reply to Comment
    2. Yitzchak

      One can argue the aesthetic quality of Alayon’s video, but the facts he provides, are, indeed, facts. Want to dispute them, go right ahead, but don’t denigrate deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon for having the audacity to present the facts as he sees them. Whenever I witness a journalist resorting to expletives, (Jeffrey Goldberg – “so fuck off”), I have to question the journalist’s professional detachment. It’s hard to take a journalist seriously when he can’t express himself more intelligently. (Isn’t that, after all, the goal of a journalist?) Another skewed notion is the idea presented that inexpensive housing in Judea and Samaria, within easy commuter distance to the major cities, somehow contradicts the need for cheaper housing throughout all of Israel. In fact, the Obama (undemocratically, dare I say?) imposed building freeze in Judea and Samaria, and, yes, in Jerusalem as well, is still 90% in effect. It’s a shame. To paraphrase form Sec. of State Baker, housing, like money is, (or should be), fungible.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Leonid Levin

      Maybe he’s a deputy foreign minister responsible for International hasbara, in which case twittering is part of his direct duties.

      Reply to Comment
    4. It’s not “Israel” that is producing the Is.Real hasbara videos, but rather a group of TAU students supported by StandWithUs. Still, sock puppets explaining misconceptions about Israelis do not, as you say, bode well for the future.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Prof A. Levine.

      Rarely do I read such ideologically driven twaddle masquerading as journalism. Full of clouts here and swipes there, but not one single refutation of the facts. And that dear man, says it all.

      Reply to Comment
    6. directrob

      “don’t denigrate deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon for having the audacity to present the facts as he sees them”
      The “as he sees them” (or as he copied them) tells it all, these facts are no facts. Some of his facts are just opinions or even outright lies. Even if they were proper facts they are facts out of context. A selected pile of facts does not make a proper case.
      I give you another fact: not one of the cited documents promised to deliver the land of Israel empty of indigenous people or to deny the indigenous people their universal human rights.
      As for disputed see this:

      Reply to Comment
    7. Sylvia

      What, of what he says – is false?

      Reply to Comment
    8. directrob

      Secure borders does not imply defensible borders!
      67 war was started by Israel.
      Rights of indigenous people are ignored. Settlements are illegal.
      West Bank is occupied by international right. Disputed is false.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Mihai-Robert Soran-Schwartz

      Fine, I watched – attentively – the propaganda video and I may tell that Ayalon is deforming the facts and the exact history and local politics as much that it’s not exaggerated to call him an ultra-Zionist propagandist addressing the truth by making out of it an unilateral lie. He is a good scholar of all the extremist propaganda schools: ultra-orthodox Talmudists (like Lior Dov, Shapira),Communists (just take Stalin’s docile servants), Nazis (you certainly know Ayalon’s step-brother Goebbels, Jean Marie Le Pen, Wilders anc Co.). Oh, not to forget Breivik with his 1518 pages of adulation for the ultra-Zionist Israeli government.
      My problem is not at all to prove that Ayalon lies in each of his sentences, but the volume of lies that would need – one by one – to be deconstructed and annihilated in order to restore a reality the ethno-racist, colonialist settler, segregationist and moderately Judaist, but virulently Nazionist Ayalon distorts with the typical chutzpa of the Israeli extreme Right

      As an Israeli who decided to leave Israel before it really becomes a autocratic-theocratic ultra-orthodox citadel of Judeofascism ( similar to Iran, Saudi-Arabia …) but never ceased to fight for the universal human rights I may tell that the Hasbara is – despite its still pretty civilized, but nevertheless violence-ready ultra-Nazionalist infection – on the best way to become a Jewish pendant to the pro-Zionist, anti-Muslim Christian fundamentalists that populate Breivik’s world of visions, hate and hope.
      This is part of what Breivik had to say: “”Were the majority of the German and European Jews (1933-45 under Hitler) disloyal? Yes, at least the so called liberal Jews, similar to the liberal Jews today that opposes nationalism/Zionism and supports multiculturalism. Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism (Israeli nationalism) as they are to us. So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists. Conservative Jews were loyal to Europe and should have been rewarded. Instead, [Hitler was wrong and] just targeted them all…”
      ” “So, are the current Jews in Europe and US disloyal? The multiculturalist (nation-wrecking) Jews ARE while the conservative Jews ARE NOT. Aprox. 75% of European/US Jews support multiculturalism while aprox. 50% of Israeli Jews does the same. This shows very clearly that we must embrace the remainingloyal Jews as brothers rather than repeating the mistake of the [Nazis].”

      No further comment … but still best regards to all, including Yitzhak 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    10. Shoded Yam

      Snap out of it. Contrary to popular belief, the universe does not revolve around Israel. America is now in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the great depression. Take my word for it. Most American Jews I’m acquainted with (if they have any sense whatsoever)are focused on either getting a job, keeping the one they have, or figuring out how to rebuild their pension fund so they don’t end up living in a cardboard box and eating gov’t cheese when their 72. Yeah. I read Beckermann’s piece. What did he write? 180,000 hits for that stupid video. How many Jews live in America? Do the math.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Michael W.

      “twitter battle”

      I think we should ignore “debates” occuring in the tweet-o-sphere. You can’t make a serious point and engage in an intellectual debate with a message of 140-characters or less.

      +972 writers, why do you cite such debates? Do we really not have the patience to read a well thought out paragraph? Or a series of paragraphs?

      Perhaps one of you can write a piece about the dumbing of our public debates due to tweeter and facebook?

      Michael W.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Carrie

      The left-wing used to love how Obama used social media to campaign and get his message across. Why the sudden change of heart?

      Reply to Comment
    13. Perhaps you should refer to these puppets as “actual” sock puppets. As opposed to the virtual kind who’ve been doing hasbara on my blog and elsewhere for many years now…

      Reply to Comment
    14. You really think Danny Ayalon tweets on his account? Heh… and uhm, thanks for the history lesson directrob. I am now convinced. Down with the Zionists!


      Reply to Comment
    15. James Hovland

      The whole debate about whether the Palestinian territories are occupied or disputed will likely come to an abrupt close this September at the UN. That is the point of seeking recognition. The international community needs to make it very clear to Israel, and apparently America, that the land in question belongs to Palestine and the Palestinian people.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Tozluk

      Why do you throw the word “Hasbara” around if it’s some sort of insult or dirty word? It means “explanation” yet to people like you it means lies, deceit and manipulation, sort it out!

      Plus, you’re not exactly one to talk about Hasbara. It was just a few weeks ago that you disingenuously tweeted a video claiming a girl had been “physically attacked” when a closer look at the [much edited]video shows the girl repeatedly provoking the soldiers only to be shoved when she refused to move.

      Then of course you have to consider the Palestinian “Hasbara” or propaganda as it’s known to reasonable people. Israel ‘propaganda’ can be anything from tacky gay rights videos to Avalon’s piece – no harm. Palestinian propaganda on the other hand, included faking violent scenes, the deaths of children and indeed massacres – things that lead to violence and indeed vitriol to not only Israel but Jews world wide.

      Please, Dana, stop talking as if Israel is ‘failing’ – you talk like Israeli “Hasbara” is some sort of desperate last ditch attempt and that Israel is on the verge of collapse. You’ll find that your leftist narrative is the one being exposed – more and more people are realizing that you’re using noble causes as a guise for hatred and fascism – your attempts to portray yourself in a superior position only indicate your desperation.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Watcher465

      TOZLUK, I don’t know if Hasbara means “explanation”, I don’t speak Jewish, Yiddish, Hebrew or any other language you feel like invoking when it suits. However if it does then why do Hasbarat “explanations” always end up being full of lies, deceit, manipulations, you sort it out. Pathological psychopaths would probably sum up your group of braindead zombies.Your whole comment is Hasbara as reasonable people would see it.And I believe the term Hasbara should begin with upper case H just as Holocaust does. Words so different but both intrinsically connected to the Jews.

      Reply to Comment