Friday, September 18, 2009


Israel Facts is yet another example - or proof, or explanation - of the sorry state that hasbara is in. Apart from religious nationalists and other rightwingers ( extreme and less extreme ) today few Zionists feel the urge to actively explain and defend Israel's current actions, particularly those concerning Gaza and the occupied territories. Maybe that is because the settlers and their various lobbies in and around the Knesset dictate much of Israel's ( foreign ) policies and reality, apparently today more than ever before. Several of the most visible and audible bodies that deal with hasbara are partly or completely staffed by extreme and not so extreme rightwingers, from the Foreign Ministry to organizations like NGO Monitor and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Of course the occupation is not the only, or maybe not even the main reason why Israel is doing so poorly today, PR- and otherwise, but I - and many Zionists and true friends of Israel with me - continue to claim that the settlements cause Israel huge diplomatic and economic ( and social, military, etc. ) damage. As long as the government does not radically change its policies towards the Palestinians and the settlers, hasbara hardly has a leg to stand on. Early last year I attended a conference on anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, organized by the Foreign Ministry and the Minister for Diaspora, Society and the Fight against anti-Semitism ( I was invited by one of the conference's organizers ). I remember very well how David Hirsh of Engage ( a group that does extraordinary and extraordinarily important work in the fight against anti-Semitism ) was booed and verbally attacked when he dared to mention some of the less kosher sides of Israel's behavior in Gaza and the occupied territories and to suggest that a) there is a link, no matter how irrational and unjustified, between that behavior and some expressions of anti-Semitism, and b) no one would profit more from an end to the occupation than Israel itself. Unfortunately, these days people like Richard Gold and David Hirsh - whose work I admire, and who in my opinion are true friends of both Israel and the Palestinians - are lone voices crying in the Zionist wilderness.

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