Those wonderful folks who bring you Israeli hasbara have invested $6-million in a new advertising campaign in the aftermath of that rather nasty and inconvenient little war in Gaza. The Israeli tourism commissioner for North American was interviewed in the Canadian Jewish News:
He said Israeli tourism officials had forecast an “even better” year in 2009 [than 2008], but the war in Gaza and the global economic downturn have dampened expectations. Now, Sommer said he’d consider the year a success if there was only a 20 per cent drop in tourism this year…
Sommer also spoke at length about how the Canadian market is expanding due to recent, local public relations campaigns that paint Israel in a new light as a safe and fun travel destination.
…On another front, Sommer said Israel has also increased its trips for journalists to Israel in order to increase the country’s positive exposure in the worldwide media.
It is unfortunate what a dirty little war does to a nation’s tourism image, isn’t it? As for “safe,” that depends on your perspective doesn’t it? If you asked residents of Gaza about that question they might have a few ideas of their own to add. Do you think that all the journalists in the world giving Israel “positive exposure” could mend the image conveyed by 1,400 dead Gazans? Rhetorical question–you don’t need to answer.
The campaign (shall we call it “Operation Cast Gold?”) is designed to cast Israel in the most favorable light possible and it’ll really make your skin crawl if you have any sensitivity to the ironies in the ad copy:
Today in Israel
Children are playing, people are smiling, and visitors from around the world are enjoying restaurants, the hostels, the ancient sites, and the endless wonders of today’s Israel. In other words–today is another beautiful day in Israel, where everyone always has a warm and friendly “Shalom” for you. Today is a perfect day for you to plan your trip to Israel.
Israel: No One Belongs Here More Than You
They tried pretty much the same thing about a year ago in preparation for the spring-summer tourist season, a campaign I skewered here. My post drew a sharp scolding from the resident Comment is Free Anglo-Israeli progressive, Seth Freedman, no doubt influenced by the fact that Alex Stein, his best friend, protested my approach sharply. I thought it was rather unfortunate that Seth used his CiF bully pulpit to fight his best friend’s battle for him.
Returning to our subject, why is it that Israelis believe the answer to a horrific, blood-curdling war is a pretty ad campaign? No, don’t answer that. It was just a rhetorical question. Oh hell, give it a shot–answer it if you like.
I encourage my readers to have as much fun with the ad copy as possible (fun in the darkest sense of the word, of course). Let’s talk back to these hasbaraniks. Here’s my contribution:
Today is another beautiful day in Israel, where everyone always has a warm and friendly “Shalom for you”…unless you’re a dirty stinking Palestinian.
Yes, it’s grim. I know. You can do better. So give it a shot.