I couldn’t have made this up myself if I’d tried (and a big h/t to Paul Woodward). It seems that despite Israel’s best hasbara efforts, it manages to shoot itself in the foot on a regular basis. Comes word that Maariv, Israel’s rightist daily, features this headline:
Painful Truth: Haiti’s Disaster, Good for Jews
The article is a veritable roadmap to the uses of hasbara amidst world disasters. Here’s a sampling:
With all the suffering in the face of the Haitian horror, the attitude toward Israel thanks to the emergency relief team teaches that the State is obligated to initiate hasbara and not just to respond.
Indeed. Israel’s apologists will claim that this is but a single headline and doesn’t necessarily represent the real feelings of Israelis or of the military or government that sent the relief teams. But I’m afraid that this is a truth that must be faced–or at least should be faced by those with conscience. Israel’s relief effort is a perversion of Maimonides levels of tzedakah, of which the highest is the anonymous gift. You can rightfully argue as many have here that no nation does good merely for its own sake these days. While this is generally an accurate statement, Israel’s transparent effort to divert the world’s attention from Goldstone and Gaza is almost self-evident except to her die-hard supporters.
The post I wrote about Israel’s PR bonanza in Haiti elicited an enormous outpouring of interest, anger and support due to interest from social networking sites like Reddit. The die-hard pro-Israelists were shocked that I could question Israel’s motives in bringing a field hospital to Haiti along with a full contingent of IDF press handlers, full TV video transmission equipment, and Israeli TV and print reporters.
Prof. Yoel Donchin of Hadassah medical center was also derogated when he claimed that Israeli disaster crews must stay on site for 2-3 months instead of 2 weeks to make a difference. One of my commenters took umbrage claiming that Israel’s medical team will remain for five weeks. Another of my readers relayed that Israel Radio reported this afternoon that Israel’s delegation would leave the island at week’s end. That would mean the team stayed even less than two weeks (10 days to be exact). There seem to be few remaining babies to be named “Israel,” and no more survivors to be pulled from the rubble, and no more heart-warming human interest stories for CNN and ABC News. Likely, the IDF will move on to greener hasbara pastures–like the brand-spanking new report designed to rebut Goldstone (more about that later tonight).
To add insult to injury, Israel is contemplating adopting Haitian children orphaned by the earthquake. I don’t know how you would approach adopting such a child. But one of my first considerations given I am Jewish and white and the adoptee is Christian and black, is to figure out a way to honor the child’s religious and ethnic background. Not so Israel according to Social Welfare Minister (Labor) Isaac Herzog:
Herzog said that all children adopted from Haiti would undergo the standard conversion process to Judaism.
Do we not remember what happened to many Jewish children who were saved by Christians during the Holocaust and never returned to Judaism after the war ended? One of these became the Cardinal of Paris. Is this not a sensitive issue among many of us? If we would not want Christians taking advantage of our own catastrophe to convert our children to their religion, why should Haitians not be sensitive to the same issue?
A few pointed questions: you’re going to force 8, 10 or 12 year-old boys to undergo brit milah? You’re going to bring Creole-speaking, black Christian children 5,000 miles from their home to live in a country which already faces ethnic discrimination against its Ethiopian immigrants. Why are you doing this? To flatter your vanity as a humanitarian? Wouldn’t it be better to work on improving Haiti’s ability to care for its own orphans and placing them for adoption either in that country or neighboring majority-black countries?
To me, Israel’s effort is the white man’s burden run amok.