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.