If you are, the Israeli foreign ministry (MFA) has a junket for you: it’a a real metzieh. Israel has allocated $25-million for hasbara efforts of which $15-20 million will be dedicated to romancing the stones of the pro-Israel social networking and media world: Arianna Huffington, that means you, baby. You’re the leading Hasbara target and you ponied up your journalistic probity in return for a good, long sip at the MFA trough. If you don’t believe me look at this shameless bit of pandering to her Israeli Sugar Daddy. Arianna, mazel tov to you:
The campaign will focus on hosting figures the ministry has identified as having significant influence on public opinion. The first step in that effort was seen in ministry involvement in coordinating Arianna Huffington’s visit to Israel…
The ministry says it will work to cover the visits of many other opinion makers next year. The focus will be on people involved in lifestyle issues, culture and art, as well as leaders of specific population segments such as the gay community.
The Foreign Ministry also plans to fund activities already underway online. For example the site “I am Israel,” which features video clips and articles about the average Israeli. The project, part of an effort to change the world conception of Israelis, was initiated by individual Israelis. While the ministry is not currently involved in this site, in the future it intends to fund such projects.
I’d like to recommend a Hasbara-related neologism: Ariannabara or Hasbarianna. Frankly, I think it’s shameful for any journalist to accept funding from the MFA for such a trip and if I can get my hands on the names of those who join the dog and pony show, they’ll be up in lights here. I have no problem, in fact encourage, bloggers to visit Israel and even, if they must, taking briefings at the ministry. But to participate in such a bald-faced Hasbara project is unconscionable. And if you’re thinking of joining up, I put you on notice.
Doubtless, there are those true blue and white uber-Zionists who will be proud to join and wave the flag. They’ll boast about their participation. David Abitbol and his groupies are an example of someone who will no doubt participate in such a fashion (maybe we can call Hasbara in his case, Abitbara or Hasbabitbol). And Jeffrey Goldberg too. These people either have no shame or they’re already true believers and cannot be moved. But others may still have a shred of a conscience or integrity and be interested in preserving their jounalistic integrity. It is those who should be informed about this.
I’ll be waiting for my invitation. But it may be a long time coming. All I get instead are these Hasbarist commenters doubtless sent here by our good friends in the MFA. Could they at least throw in a T-shirt? Maybe one of those cool Operation Cast Lead IDF T-shirts? The ones about which I submitted a Huffington Post post which they refused to publish? (By the way, that was one of Uri Blau’s great stories for Haaretz.)
H/t Rebecca and Ofer N.