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Israel Plants Shills at U.S. Events

In the annals of hasbara, some interesting developments.  First, in an attempt to shoot itself not in one foot but both, deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon refused to allow a J Street Congressional delegation to meet with government officials.  Why?  Well, certainly because J Street is anathema to his rightist political agenda.  But Ayalon demanded that the delegation exclude Jeremy Ben Ami, the J Street leader accompanying the mission, from such meetings.

Mossad killers in tennis outfit disguise

Think about this.  Aipac brings Congressional delegations to Israel regularly.  Its staff routinely accompany members to all of their meetings on these trips.  So Ayalon wishes to throw up a wall between the “bad” J Street and the “good” Aipac.  It’s ludicrous.  Beyond that, these four members of Congress actually vote on foreign aid appropriations which are critical to Israel’s well-being.  Does Ayalon really think he can take their votes for granted?  Does he care?

What I hope will happen is that the next J Street delegation will contain 25 members and then Ayalon will be forced to meet with them or at least allow them to meet with officials under his thumb.

I’m pleased that Tzipi Livni has bucked Ayalon and met with the delegation.  As a leader of the opposition I would expect she’d welcome an opportunity to stick her finger in Ayalon’s eye.  And he’s made it oh so easy for her to do so.

Some true dufus from Israel’s UK embassy thought the accompanying tweet was cute, alluding to Shahar Peer’s tennis victory in a Dubai tournament and Israel’s alleged “hit” against a Hamas operative.  Rememeber too, that the Mossad hit men wore tennis gear to disguise their evil intent.  Next time you see overweight middle aged men with beards or mustaches in your hotel, beware.  This is what passes for wit at the MFA these days.  Keep in mind this is the very same embassy whose ambassador has been summoned by the foreign office to explain how the Mossad managed to steal the identities of five British nationals and use them to murder the Hamas leader in Dubai.  Now, that’s effrontery.  Thanks to a commenter noting this true oddity of Israeli hasbara.

Here’s more from the Israeli foreign ministry.  Apparently, they’ve been stung by the hostile reception meted out to Michael Oren at UC Irvine and Ayalon himself at Oxford on recent speaking engagements.  So how are they going to respond?  Listen to this from M.J. Rosenberg:

The Israeli daily, Ma’ariv, reported on Tuesday that the foreign ministry has devised a plan to counter the demonstrators who turn out whenever an Israeli diplomat appears on a campus.

“The Foreign Ministry intends to include groups of Israeli university students on trips of high-ranking Israelis overseas. The goal is to counter the heckling,” Ma’ariv reported.

“The students [in groups of five] will wave Israeli flags, will blow whistles and call out.”

Talk about a couple of hare-brained schemes. Once upon a time, Israeli policies were defended by people who thought they were right and spontaneously turned out. Now the government is enlisting ringers.

I’m sure that’s going to be welcomed by security personnel at campuses around the world.  As if they didn’t have enough to worry about keeping the peace at these events.  Now, they’ve got a foreign, non-student element with a built in goal of provoking hostility from students.  Have you ever heard of such an idiotic plan in your life?

I’ve already written here about the new Israeli Hasbara Ministry (yes, that’s literally what it’s called in Hebrew) headed by settler leader, Yuli Edelstein.  Of course, Bronner won’t tell you about Edelstein’s rightist background because that’s the kind of pro-Israel reporter he is.  The Hasbarists plan to enlist Israelis who travel abroad and all of world Jewry, according to Ethan Bronner, in a campaign to rebut the negative image Israel has around the world.  What will they tell those who have yet to appreciate Israel’s virtues?

One main message of the campaign is that Israel is a technically advanced and diverse society and that its government policies are not the source of regional conflict. It notes that a number of important agricultural breakthroughs have occurred here, including drip irrigation and the development of the cherry tomato.

Yes, that’s the way to dispel notions that Israel is a blood-thirsty nation that represses millions of Palestinians and engages in all out war with its neighbors: remind the world about drip irrigation and those delicious cherry tomatoes they eat every day.  Not to mention Israel’s other major export–high-tech lame-brained political assassinations.  If that doesn’t turn things around for Israel, nothing will.

What other elements of the campaign will bring the world around to Israel’s point of view?

…It also seeks to puncture what the ministry considers common myths about Israel — that it is a big and primitive country, that its food consists of little more than hummus and falafel, and that Israelis as a group do not seek peace.

Yes, tell ‘em that Israelis also eat schwarma and schnitzel and all those other wonderful foods gracing their own western kitchen tables.  That’ll do the trick.  And peace?  Of course Israelis want peace.  If only those pesky Palestinians would realize they don’t need all that land in Judea and Samaria which God promised to the Jews anyway.  Then we could have peace.

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  • Ilene February 18, 2010, 1:10 PM

    Speaking of ill-considered public relations, Israel just sent this tweet about their tennis player in Dubai:

    @israeluk You heard it here first: Israeli tennis player carries out hit on #Dubai target

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/18/israel-dubai-hamas-twitter

  • Donald February 18, 2010, 1:23 PM

    I don’t know–I like cherry tomatoes. Might have to rethink the whole thing. Ethnic cleansing and indiscriminate firepower used in an urban setting vs. my fondness for juicy vegetables. Apartheid doesn’t so bad when you put it in perspective.

  • mary February 18, 2010, 2:45 PM

    I personally hope that Danny Ayalon and Avigdor Lieberman alienate every single member of the US Congress. Nothing would make me happier. Maybe we’ll see this ridiculous and dangerous “special relationship” with Israel come to an end, and we won’t be sending $3 billion a year to this lunatics anymore.

    • Gene Schulman February 18, 2010, 10:58 PM

      What could they do to alienate members of congress other than to stop kicking back (through the lobby) to those members they have bought with part of the 3 billion they get from the U.S.? C’mon, Mary, Israel isn’t doing anything worse that what their U.S. benefactors are doing in Iraq, Afpak, Somalia, Yemen, and soon Iran. It is time everyone realized that Israel and the U.S. are one, and have the same policy goals: Complete hegemony over the Middle East. Peace is not an option for these people.

      • mary February 19, 2010, 7:01 AM

        You’re right, Gene, especially in light of the fact that the majority of the American people support this “special relationship,” if they even care about it all. The symbiosis of the US and Israel has produced huge industries, with the Palestinians having the honor of being guinea pigs for the development of everything from surveillance equipment to sophisticated weapons technology. The surveillance industry is very lucrative in Israel, which exports the technology to places such as the US which uses it not only in wars but in domestic spying. And we already know the fruits of US weapons industry labors in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t we?

  • Mary Hughes-Thompson February 19, 2010, 3:04 PM

    If all of the following is true (about J Street) then I’m beginning to agree with Omar Barghouti, who told his audence when he was in Los Angeles recently, that he considers J Street to be “Aipac Lite”

    (forwarded by Mazin Qumsiyeh)
    Quote of the day: Israeli U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren “The major concern with J Street [US Jewish Zionist lobby but not AIPAC] was their position on security issues, not the peace process. J Street has now come and supported
    Congressman [Howard] Berman’s Iran sanction bill; it has condemned the Goldstone report; it has denounced the British court’s decision to try Tzipi Livni for war crimes, which puts J Street much more into the mainstream.”

    • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2010, 4:03 PM

      I have serious problems w. Omar Barghouti which I can into at some time. But calling J Street Aipac lite is rhetorical overkill & typical of the far left anti-Zionists. Denouncing every possible ally fr. the other side except those willing to turn their backs on Israel may make them feel righteous & politically pure, but it does the overall cause no good. I believe in being critical of J Street. But I don’t mistake them for the real political enemy.

      Just as an example, Barghouti spurned an invitation to participate in the Sabeel conference happening this weekend in Seattle. Apparently it wasn’t ideologically righteous enough for him. The reasons are complicated & more far reaching than that. But ultimately the entire experience of inviting him & feeling burned & spurned left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

      • Mary Hughes-Thompson February 19, 2010, 4:17 PM

        Thanks for sharing that piece of information about your experience with Omar Barghouti. I can understand your reaction to his declining your invitation to the Sabeel Conference. Personally I don’t know enough about him to know how much he and I agree on specific issues.

        Apart from Barghouti’s opinion of J Street, though, it does give me pause if J Street “condemned the Goldstone report and denounced the British court’s decision to try Tzipi Livni for war crimes.”

        • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2010, 4:42 PM

          I would never claim that J Street is a perfect organization or THE address for progressive Jews. But just as they find me a useful resource to amplify their message I find them when they are right on the issues to be an important voice worth hearing.

        • Mary Hughes-Thompson March 13, 2010, 6:08 PM

          Richard, maybe you gave Omar Barghouti food for thought re the Sabeel Conference, since he was a speaker at the Sabeel Conference I attended in San Anselmo, California last weekend.

          • richards1052 March 14, 2010, 2:18 AM

            You'll notice Neve Gordon wasn't in attendance. Had Neve been speaking Barghouti wouldn't have. He has a bad case of ego I'm afraid & is pissed off at Neve because he's not writing his BDS book w. him & is writing it w. another Palestinian.

  • Mary Hughes-Thompson February 19, 2010, 5:17 PM

    I agree. I do appreciate the fact that J Street is out there, and I am sure there are issues on which we are of the same mind. It’s important, as you say, to be open to those with whom we agree even part of the time. For instance, I consider myself anti-Zionist (if to be a Zionist means to be against the ROR) although I’m anything but anti-Richard Silverstein

    • mary February 21, 2010, 6:43 PM

      Me, too, Mary. I cannot support Zionism in any way, shape or form from what I know about it. But I love the Jewish people, and Richard is phenomenal; I am one of his biggest fans, I am sure. He does a great service by providing a place for us to discuss what is controversial and important, and he is a compassionate and kind man who is a truly righteous person in the world of human rights. May God bless him and his family.