You know those pro-Zionist Jews, the ones who can't argue themselves out of a paper bag, who hit my blog now-and-then to tell me in rude words how hate-filled my site is, yet they do not read what I write? Well, there's a whole bunch of these internet sleuths for the protection of Israel out there. Randa Abu Shakra explains:
"Israel launched a campaign after the end of the Gaza war (January 18) to counter negative blog postings about Israel. “The Absorption Ministry is recruiting new immigrants and Jews living abroad who have access to a computer and who speak a second language to a volunteer effort to improve public relations for Israel on the internet,” Saranga said.
The ministry said over 1,000 multi-lingual internet users have invaded blogs, posted comments on news sites, joined social networking, opinion and polling websites, and posted videos on Youtube. “Some 60% of the applicants are immigrants, old and new. The rest are Jews living in the Diaspora, Israelis living abroad, and even non-Jews who support Israel and want to help out,” Saranga wrote.
In The Guardian online, Richard Silverstein has also written an article discussing Israel's new media propaganda strategy. Silverstein's article is called: "Hasbara spam alert. With Israel's foreign ministry organising volunteers to flood news websites with pro-Israeli comments, Propaganda 2.0 is here." He writes:
"The [Israeli] foreign ministry shouldn't get a pass on this one. It may view such hasbara as maximising its efforts to "explain" Israel's position in the world media. I view it as a cynical attempt to flood the web and news media with favorable flackery in a vain attempt to tilt public opinion toward Israel. Not only does it do Israel a disservice, it stains every legitimate effort that the ministry might make to explain Israel to the world, since no one will believe a word it says knowing it engages in such outright propaganda.
Not to mention that this is such cheap pennyante stuff. What do they gain by this? How effective can it be and how many can be convinced? By the way, I've even noticed the hasbaraniks in my own blog. You can see them a mile away because they've never published a comment before yet write something like: "I've enjoyed your blog for a long time, but anyone with a brain in their head knows that Hamas is out to destroy Israel blah, blah blah." Pretty formulaic stuff. Also, you can Google a few phrases of the comment and if you find it appears elsewhere on the web you know you either have a hasbaranik or someone who has repetition compulsion."
There are numerous hasbara (pro-Israel information)sites and groups, from Israel Citizens Information Council Hasbara and Hasbara at York University, to The Jewish Agency for Israel's The Department for Jewish Zionist Education Hasbara Israel Advocacy Your Guide to the Middle East Conflict site.
The article by Randa Abu Shakra that I linked to at the beginning discusses in particular the joint media campaign that Israel and the Israeli Consulate General of New York have recently undertaken to freshen up the image of Israel, that is, to wipe out the ugly, violent images of their military actions and the occupation of Palestinians and replace that with, what else? images of nature:
"Israel has launched an unprecedented number of public image campaigns in the last year to help present a unified narrative of the Jewish state to the world.
The [Israeli] consulate [General in New York] has long been spearheading various innovative PR projects and now it stands to fly seven media experts to Israel, including video and stills photographers, who will be tasked with capturing the country's more beautiful and unfamiliar sides, on film,” Eichner said.
The article states that an online search for “Israel” reveals horrible pictures of the Israeli bombing of civilians in Gaza, or of the Dimona nuclear plants, it is a blight on Israel's public image.
The new [Israeli] Foreign Ministry media project that Eichner describes will attempt to divert these internet searches to Israeli websites that include photographs of Israel's natural heritage sites, one of the Negev's cowboy ranches, Sde Boker, Caesarea, Akko and the Galilee, as well Israel's beaches, parks, cafés etc.
The Foreign Ministry is also trying to organize an aerial tour of Israel for the mission, so it may have a bird's-eye view of the country's sights. The photos are to be loaded up to prominent websites the likes of Wikipedia, Wikimedia, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, as well as to be featured in several blogs."
I wonder if on these sites there will acknowledgment about the confiscation, appropriation and theft of these nature sites and beaches? Of the Palestinian blood shed to make them pristine? to make them the playgrounds of leisure for Israelis and Western tourists who are non-Arab?