In 1982 Ariel Sharon enabled the massacres in refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila. To Israel, this was a disaster. Not because innocent human beings, already victims of a mass ethnic cleansing, were brutally murdered, but because, for the first time, Israel was suffering a major wave of criticism from the international community. How does one untangle from such a nasty debacle? No! One does not apologize, compensate, and bring the guilty parties to justice! Instead, one creates one of the most successful and unscrupulous PR systems in the 20th century.
Lately, however, it seems there are cracks in the system. One might conclude, that Hasbara isn’t as airtight as it used to be, and maybe it needs a bit of a facelift. Either that, or we could say, one may be overlooking some facts.
The New IT Phrase
DELEGITIMIZATION, folks. Learn it, rinse it, repeat it. This is the new “8 years of rockets”, the new “no partner”, the new “72 virgins”, the new “second holocaust”. The article, Lieberman is Helping to Delegitimize Israel (Originally titled in Hebrew “The Minister of Delegitimization”), written by Ari Shavit (the man who, in 2006, chastised PM Olmert for not using enough fire power in Lebanon), in which this highly conspicuous word appears 8 times (including the title) in its different forms (delegitimization, delegitimize, legitimacy), is the article to spread the latest Hasbara street-talk:
A wide coalition of radical forces has leveraged Operation Cast Lead to speak ill of Israel and has used the occupation to delegitimize sovereign Israel as well… A study recently published by the Reut Institute rightly states that the threat of delegitimization has become a matter of survival – requiring a comprehensive change of approach.
Netanyahu must rearrange his foreign affairs alignment and adopt an innovative strategy. First, he must dismiss the delegitimization minister without delay and place at the head of the Foreign Ministry a worthy individual who will represent enlightened Israel properly.
I’d like to quote myself from a few paragraphs ago:
One might conclude, that Hasbara isn’t as airtight as it used to be, and maybe it needs a bit of a facelift. Either that, or we could say, one may be overlooking some facts.
The Never-Ending Loop of War-Mongering Scare Tactics
Of course, Ari Shavit isn’t much of an original thinker, and we couldn’t possibly conclude that he’s single-handedly responsible for such a catchy phrase. Equating “delegitimization” with “antisemitism” has been practiced since, at least, 2007, by both the The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) and the Anti Defamation League (ADL):
The trend toward delegitimizing Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is growing not only in Europe, but also in the United States, according to Jewish-American academics and community leaders.
These institutions are very influential. They have the full attention of the media, especially in Israel, where they are blindly quoted. Shavit mentions some old acquaintances of ours, which were, most likely, also influenced by such talk, and happily utilize it as a Hasbara tool. Remember our friends from the Reut Institute? Those lovely chaps who support the Dahiyah Doctorine? Well, it seems they are the ones responsible for the launching of this word, as a Hasbara tool. All you have to do is take one look at Reut’s front page to see what’s on their minds:
2.14.10 – “The Delegitimization Challenge: Creating a Political Firewall”
2.14.10 – “Presentation: The Challenge to Israel’s Global Legitimacy”
2.12.10 – “Israel Faces Global Delegitimization Campaign”
1.28.10 – “Eroding Israel’s Legitimacy in the International Arena”
All these are, of course, filed under “national security”, where you can find such gripping headlines as “Israel Delegitimizers threaten its existence” (1.17.10) and romantic titles the likes of “Hubs of Delegitimization” (12.24.09).
Lest we forget, Reut is also very influential in Israel. A non-profit NGO, who’s “clients” are “Israeli leaders and decision-makers”. As Ali Abunimah reports about Reut’s latest presentation, about- you guessed it- The Challenge to Israel’s Legitimacy, it has been given a special session with the Israeli cabinet. Abunimah goes a great length in order to describe Reut’s inconsistencies and lack of ability to correctly asses the situation, so I won’t go into it. I will however share one image out of the PowerPoint presentation, which I think captures the Zionist mind frame:
The image of- what is considered by Israelis to be- Israel, covered in the Palestinian flag is a horrific thought for the typical Israeli. Add to that, the face-covered “terrorist” kid and the equating of Israel to “Axis of Evil” states (which is usually only done by Zionists in the form of “what other country…” or “we’re committing human rights violations?! Look what’s happening in Iran!”). Finish it off with a huge caption: “Danger: Implosion” and what we’re seeing is actually the people of Reut- typical Israeli citizens, concerned enough to erect a non-profit organization- using scare tactics on the government of Israel. The government, in turn, will scare the people, some of which are the media, one of which is Ari Shavit. Ari Shavit, in turn, will promote Hasbara that will so quickly reach his audience, that already in the Hebrew article talkback section you’ll find commenters that use the infamous word: Delegitimization.
Governmental Hasbara Enlistment
The government was very quick to respond to the Reut Institute’s recommendations (which, again, solidifies the Reut Institute’s direct culpability in war crimes and crimes against humanity), and issued a far-reaching campaign for the whole of the Israeli public, through NRG, Ma’ariv’s website (Ma’ariv is the second most read newspaper in Israel):
Ironically enough, I stumbled on this doozy of a pickle, when reading an article about something called the “Jewish Values Lobby” trying to get employers in Zefed to force “Arab” (Palestinians don’t exist in NRG) workers to sign a statement, where they’ll keep the Seven Laws of Noah, as a prerequisite to their employment. After being thoroughly disgusted by the article, something about the above ad caught my suspicious eye and I, untypical of my anti-consumerist self, clicked the link.
The “Hasbara and Diaspora Office” is giving us our money’s worth with a web 2.0ish campaign, called “Masbirim Israel” (loosely translates into ”We Explain Israel”). The campaign is complete with whimsical videos, showing world media commentators misinterpreting fireworks and an airshow as war, and just being anthropologically condescending; Running talking points of Israel’s achievements and Muslim terrorism, all bundled under the title “did you know…”; Links to essays of pure Hasbara. I won’t bother to translate the known drivel, I’ll just satisfy your curiosity with the front page call to action:
Hasbara and Diaspora Office
Together We Change the Picture
Going abroad? Entertaining guests from other countries? Be ambassadors for Israel!
Many of us, whether vacationing abroad or staying for long periods of time abroad, get entangled in conversations with the locals in which prejudice and wrongful information about Israel arise. This without having the tools and information to deal with the questions and arrows of criticism. In such moments, the will and feeling of responsibility beats within us, to cause the other side to “open its mind”, and especially its heart, and see us, Israel, a little differently.
This site, that was erected by the Hasbara and Diaspora Office, will allow each one of us to obtain information, and especially a lot of pride in our enormous national achievements.
Surfing the site will allow us to take with us on our way a bundle of tips and suggestions for good Hasbara up against people across the sea, because in every encounter outside of Israel our country, we are ambassadors!
Let’s show the world together our beautiful Israel!
So is beautiful Israel, the one which forces workers of a certain ethnicity to take oaths as prerequisite for work? Or is it the one building Zionist landmarks through what is suppose to be the future Palestine [Hebrew]? (if you’re not one to delegitimize that kind of solution) Maybe it’s the one that supports and employs the Dahiyah Doctorine? So beautiful is this colony called Israel that its delegitimization comes as a surprise. So far up its beautiful ass is its beautiful head that it can’t identify the reasons why this beauty queen is no longer belle of the ball. Allow some words of wise delegitimization:
It’s the occupation, stupid!