Since Josh Block took over as chief of The Israel Project, they’ve been heard of very little, except for this semi-fraudulent opinion survey they cranked out recently. So it came as no surprise when I read that Josh got right on this Scarjo thing.
This poster is beautiful. It represents the hasbara auxiliary of the Lobby so perfectly. I had to write about this because it’s an example of a pro-Israel group being hoisted by its own graphic petard. In effect, the poster accomplished exactly the opposite of what it intended.
You can just see the mental wheels of TIP and its ad mongers at work: we’ll get an image that shows Israel and Palestine working together thanks to Scarjo’s beneficent intervention. What better way of showing that than the liquid equivalent of breaking bread: have them sipping Sodastream. Israelis, Palestinians meeting as equals.
But the ad almost heaps ridicule on itself from the beginning. Bibi and Abbas look like elderly equivalents of high school sweethearts at the malt shop. Not to mention that no one apparently thought of the symbolism of the Palestinian leader sipping from a Sodastream straw. Abbas is already believed by many to be a quisling. Why not pile on with that image? Nor is it wise to having him graphically snuggling with a sultry Hollywood actress in a way that would be guaranteed to offend his more traditional constituency.
Not to mention that the image transforms Johansson from a serious messenger of hope and understanding (what TIP hoped to convey) into a blond bimbo canoodling with two jowly, overweight politicians. Further, note that the Sodastream bottle sits deep in her cleavage, making it appear visually that Sodastream’s mayim chayim (“living waters”) spring up like a fountain from Scarjo’s breasts. Again, not the image TIP wanted to convey.
This is what $20-million will buy you (TIP’s annual budget). A whole lot of borsht, bulbes (potatoes) and gornisht (“nothin'”). And Josh is earning every penny of his $220,000 annual salary!
Activists who see this on Twitter think it must be a hoax because they have a more nuanced, criticial eye for these things. But I’m delighted that TIP is doing our work for us and discrediting everything they hold dear. And shush, don’t tell Josh! We want him to run this everywhere!