Avigdor Liberman’s Foreign Ministry understand Israel’s brand is poisonous, and acts accordingly
Israel’s ambassadors in western Europe received an urgent cable last week (Hebrew), ordering each to immediately recruit at least a thousand people loyal to Israeli positions, in order to deploy them in the battle of Hasbara. The recruits are supposed to be ready to arrive in demonstrations and rallies at short notice, and publish articles in the media as needed.
These legions are to be commanded by paid lobbyists, whose main purpose is the dropping of messages in the local media, while obscuring the fact that these are Israeli talk points; the latter are supposed to reach the European public “free of Israel’s finger print”, to quote Haaretz. Aside from explaining the official Israeli line, those puppet-masters will also explain to the Europeans that Israel is a technologically-advanced country; an American blogger who recently visited Israel said all that needs to be said about this line, noting that as an American, when acts of the US government are denounced, she does not immediately say “but we gave the world Apple”. A third line of Hasbara would be a denunciation of capitalist regi… err, Arab/Islamic regimes.
If all this raises the suspicious fragrance of Soviet propaganda in your nostrils, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the person behind it, who considers it as the apple of his eye and who doubled the embassies’ propaganda budget, is Avigdor Liberman. To make a long story short, the Foreign Ministry seems to have reached the conclusion that his psychological warfare against Israeli Jews has been won, and now it’s time to use the same tools against the uncircumcised. This leaves the question of what, precisely, will be the job of the Hasbara and Diaspora Ministry, now that Liberman has taken its job, but that’s OK – Minister Yuli Edelstein knows all to well his job is an empty decoration.
An interesting point is that even the Foreign Ministry has lost faith in Israel’s righteous path. A certified goon like Liberman – he has been convicted of assaulting a child – might be expected to proudly and openly blast the gentiles with Israel’s righteousness, not skulk behind those most hated creatures of the modern world, PR people.
But even Liberman seems to have understood that Israel’s brand is poisonous, that a direct message from it will be immediately dismissed as unreliable, as false. 43 years after the occupation, after that first Lebanon war intended to enslave the Palestinians, after the war of attrition of the Second Intifada, after countless lies, Israel finds itself in the position of the Soviet Union after it trampled the Prague Spring:
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.
After all, it was Liberman himself, in his UN speech, who smashed Israel’s old lie – “we want peace” – by saying unequivocally that peace was unattainable and that Israeli Arabs ought to be deprived of their citizenship and transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s liberal friends, all alones or in twos, abandon it. The people who are still willing to speak out for the Liberman-Netanyahu Israel are quickly turning into caricatures and lose their credibility, becoming the equivalent of the ossified Communist parties still toeing the Moscow line after 1956 or 1968.
So Israel has to – like those parties, like the Pentagon in Iraq, like the Scientologists, like the rulers of Iraqi-conquered Kuwait, like the Israeli gas corporations, like any justly-hated group – deliver its messages through other, hidden, channels.
Tragically – to those people who will still speak out for Israel – what it means is that from now on, they will be automatically be suspected of being Israeli agents, paid or otherwise, even if they are not. Liberman’s manouver would justify this suspicion, will encourage it. Any person who will become a notable speaker for the Israeli position is likely to find himself in a whirlwind of accusations: did he take Liberman’s shilling?
So the privatization of Hasbara – which is precisely what this is – will have one clear outcome: Israel will now speak in two voices, none of them credible. Brilliant.