The Jewish Agency, led by Israeli neocon darling, Natan Sharansky, is joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IDF by getting into the social media hasbara game. They’re hired Avi Mayer as their “social media guru,” as the Jewish Agency’s own website calls him. The Jerusalem Post has also profiled his herculean efforts to promote the Israel brand in the virtual world.
Avi was a small time hood as far as Twitter was concerned. His profile conveniently omitted the fact that he was a paid hasbara shill:
Just some guy living in Israel, trying to help advance the Jewish people and repair the world. No big whoop.
But it was fairly obvious from his tweets that this was his “game.”
All that changed a few weeks ago when a UN employee, Khulood Badawi, during the most recent Israeli assault on Gaza in which 2 children and 24 others were killed, tweeted a picture of a Gaza child saying she’d been killed by Israel:
“Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by #Israel.”
Mayer and the hasbarafia began digging and discovered that the girl, featured in a Reuters photo, had died in 2006. They further alleged that she hadn’t died at Israel’s hands, but rather had fallen from a swing and died from the fall.
Then they really went to town. Mayer passed the story off to Ron Prosor, Israel’s UN ambassador, who ten days later demanded Badawi’s head, accused her of deliberate fabrication in an attempt to smear Israel. They said that her behavior typified that of the entire UN and the only way the organization could clear its name was to sack her. They’ve now enlisted the pro-Israel media advocacy group, Honest Reporting, to amplify the campaign, taking it to the streets, as it were.
This typifies a relatively recent Israeli government strategy by which they collaborate (or more accurately, connive) closely with right-wing NGOs like Im Tirzu, Honest Reporting and StandWithUs to advance Israel’s political interests. The NGOs take over where the government leaves off. They can get their hands dirty (as SWU has with the Olympia Food Coop lawsuit it just lost) in ways an Israeli official might not. The line between the government and the NGO is so thin as to be almost non-existent. What’s important about this is that if an American group like SWU actually is financed by the Israeli government, then its activities within the U.S. take on an entirely different light and it becomes an agent for a foreign government.
The Badawi controversy turns out to be quite timely for Israel, which has always detested everything to do with the UN. The Human Rights Council, which first appointed Judge Richard Goldstone to investigate Cast Lead, has announced an investigation of Israeli settlements. The current right-wing government has gotten into high dudgeon. Foreign minister Lieberman is accusing Mahmoud Abbas, who inspired the investigation with “diplomatic terrorism,” whatever that means. Israel not only refuses to cooperate with the investigative team as it did with Judge Goldstone’s panel, it has permanently severed any relationship with the world body. A strategy, by the way, which most Israelis came to realize was a dismal failure since it prevented Israel from telling its side of the Gaza story.
So now Israel needs a suitable UN scapegoat and Khulood Badawi provides an excellent specimen on which Israel can vent its fury.
Maan now reports a few little problems with the hasbara version of the Badawi’s story. It turns out that the child, Raja Abu Shaban, was killed while playing about 300 feet from an IDF airstrike aimed at Palestinian militants. It also turns out that either she fell off the swing as a result of the attack and hit her head, causing her death; or that the swing set fell on her during the missile strike and killed her. Either way, she was certainly killed at least indirectly as a result of an IDF attack. The only thing wrong with Badawi’s original tweet was her presumption that Shaban died during last month’s attacks on Gaza (which she believed, because of an error made by the individual who first posted the image she used). And Badawi didn’t even explicitly state in her tweet that the girl had died last month.
Now we see what is Avi Mayer’s game. It’s part of the hasbara war, the delusional campaign by the Israeli far-right against so-called “delegitimization.” Part of the ongoing and again imagined eternal war for the survival of the Jewish people against anti-Semites everywhere who seek our extermination. Mayer is an appendage of Natan Sharansky, who sits in his highly paid sinecure ($214,000 in 2010–more than the prime minister earns) at the Jewish Agency wasting tons of money lavished upon it by Jewish donors and the Israeli government (formerly more than currently, as the tap has closed somewhat and its former services have been privatized). In order to prove his relevance and usefulness to the current far-right government, Sharansky and his made-man, Mayer, prowl the social networks seeking out enemies who they can skewer. They found one in Ms. Badawi. But she is their sacrificial victim and I urge the UN not to offer her up on the altar of pro-Israel expediency.
A bit more on some of Mayer’s more sordid political history: when he was a University of Maryland student in 2007 and chair of the “pro-Israel” Terrapin Alliance, he hosted a nice soiree at Hillel for a senior Turkish diplomat, who proceeded to deny the Armenian genocide (“Tanc defended Turkey’s role in the killing and relocation of Armenians…”). In all fairness to Mayer, he was only doing his hasbara job, because in 2007 the Turks were on our (that is, Israel’s) side and that meant there was no genocide. After the Mavi Marmara massacre, all bets were off and suddenly Israel rediscovered the Armenian genocide. What did Mayer have to say about the diplomat’s genocide denial?
The president of Pro-Israel Terrapin Alliance, Avi Mayer, called the event “tremendously instructive.”
About as “instructive” as his Twitter smear of Khulood Badawi, I’d say.
**UPDATE: Avi Mayer has tweeted his vigorous objection to my saying that he appears to have denied the Armenian genocide by calling the Turkish diplomat’s talk “tremendously instructive.” He has also threatened to sue me for libel. I’ve offered to publish a verbatim statement by him presenting his point of view. I’ve also asked him to present any evidence he may have supporting his claim that he has always believed there was an Armenian genocide.
Given the endless accusations and squabbling going in both directions, everything must be considered misinformation until adequately confirmed.
Badawi’s tweet was clearly misinformation. Even if she now says she did not know the story was 6 years stale, it was still misinformation and Mayer or anyone else was entitled to sort it out. I don’t see how that’s grounds for attacking her job. Free speech includes the right to make a mistake, or even lie.
We’ve seen other examples of Palestinians throwing out misinformation about Israel killing Palestinian children. Last week the AP retracted a story it published about a 5-month old Mohammed Helou in Gaza City dying because Israel had cut off fuel deliveries that were required to keep the baby’s respirator going. Hamas, it turns out, took an old story, dusted it off, and re-cycled it as a recent death attributable to Israel. As long as the public’s memory is short and there is no one like Mayer to fact-check these things, a story like that could be re-cycled dozens of times.
In view of this tactic of recycling old stories, Badawi’s recycling of the 6 year old child-death story looks awfully suspicious. I don’t understand why, if Badawi is so passionate and so tuned into Palestine’s plight, she didn’t recognize the story as being 6 years old before representing it as recent.
Even if Badawi did re-cycle an old story as new, this does not excuse Mayer’s misrepresenting the death as a child accidentally falling out of a swing, if it is, in fact, a misrepresentation. That’s the point – with people on both sides of this issue so intent on punking the world, who knows what is truth, and what is spin, and what is spin by virtue of being re-cycled truth?
It gets really twisted when the spin-miesters start spinning lies about the other spin-miesters’ lies. My nose starts to bleed.
As far as the Armenian “genocide,” I note with complete agreement that it is NOT to be referred to as “the Armenian holocaust.” Until further notice the word “holocaust” has been reserved as a Jews-only term and is to be written with upper case – “The Holocaust.” The mass murders of thousands or millions of Armenians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Ugandans, Serbs, Somalis, . . . (is there an end to this list?) may not be referred to with the h-word, notwithstanding the argument that the term “The Holocaust” denigrates the victims of these other mass killings by implying that those killings are not the “real” holocaust.
Just thought you might want to read this story in Toronto’s Globe and Mail about Avi Mayer, the foaming at the mouth hasbarist and hsi recent involvement in a price tag attack in Jerusalem:
Sigh. If only the world really was as black and white as some portray it, things would be so much more simple.
Deïr Yassin says
” “I couldn’t stand the idea of those hateful things being seen by everyone for so long a time” he said and ….cover[ed] this up himself ”
Perfect metaphor of the job as a hasbarista: painting a wall full of disgusting graffiti for passers-by not to see it.
You really picked this one perfectly 😀
Richard Silverstein says
So Avi Mayer couldn’t stand seeing the evidence of Israeli hate staring him in the face & had to hide it so he wouldn’t have to be offended by seeing it too often. Has he done anything else to promote Jewish-Muslim tolerance, understanding or peace bet, Israelis & Palestinians? Of course he hasn’t.
That is some fantastic spin! Seriously, fantastic. I hadn’t seen it that way at all. What the Globe and Mail called the act of a “good Samaritan” was in fact the cynical act of a paid hasbarist, hiding evidence and furthering his employer’s craven agenda. Why I bet the Jewish Agency allowed him to expense the cost of the paint and cleaning supplies, right? That’s the same kind of spin that turns Mayer into a genocide denier because he invited a Turkish diplomat onto campus. I’m sure that Mayer fully supports everything the Turkish diplomat supports including the lack of a free press in Turkey and the the Turkish army’s policy on gays in the military. Everyone allied with Turkey, including all the members of NATO and obviously the United States support all of Turkey’s policies wholeheartedly. They, like Mayer, are clearly Armenian Holocaust deniers. Thanks for that clarification.
Richard Silverstein says
He was not a genocide denier because he invited the Turkish diplomat to address a pro Israel group. He was a genocide denier because in 2007 Israel was a genocide denier & his campus group was avowedly pro Israel AND because he called the talk by the Holocaust denier “tremendously instructive.” That’s why he likely was a Holocaust denier in 2007 despite his protestations to the contrary. BTW, I’ve dared him to produce any written proof that he affirmed the Armenian genocide before the Mavi Marmara massacre. Haven’t heard back.
I’m pro-Israel and a Zionist. So are you actually. I have never denied the Armenian Holocaust and I’m pretty sure you haven’t either. Belonging to a pro-Israel campus group prior to the Mavi Marmara does not automatically make you an Armenian Holocaust denier. I have been to events run by the Westboro Baptist Church and a Ku Klux Klan Rally. I found those spectacularly instructive and I do not support either group, to say the least. Your challenge to Mayer implies that anyone who does not have documented proof of their affirmation of the Armenian Holocaust is likely a Holocaust denier. That would include my parents, most of my acquaintances, my friend Narro and his Mom who run an awesome bar/restaurant in Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter, etc. I’m sorry Richard, I remain unconvinced.
Richard Silverstein says
You’re being too cute by half. If you want to maintain the fiction that Mayer’s comments didn’t indicate support for the views of the Holocaust-denying speaker you’re welcome. But don’t piss on our backs & try to make us believe it’s rain. We know it’s not rain. You can call it whatever you want.
As for being unconvinced–I never tried to convince you nor do I can whether you are or not.
RE: “It’s part of the hasbara war, the delusional campaign by the Israeli far-right against so-called ‘delegitimization.’ Part of the ongoing and again imagined eternal war for the survival of the Jewish people against anti-Semites everywhere who seek our extermination.” ~ R.S.
ANOTHER PART: Israel’s Defense Chief OK’s Hundreds of Israeli Deaths, By Ira Chernus, CommonDreams.org, 11/11/11
ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/11-2
ALSO SEE – Iranophobia: The Panic of the Hegemons, by Ira Chernus, Tikkun Magazine, November/December 2010
LINK – http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/iranophobia-the-panic-of-the-hegemons-3
Iguana Mom says
The “strategy of tension.”
It’s a way to keep a group together. If there aren’t enemies or an opposition, one will have to be manufactured.
And it was the primary tactic of Gladio.
There are hundreds of contemporary examples. It’s the first principle of power, at least the orthodox were doing it to save their culture.
delia ruhe says
This hasbara project has to be the stupidest idea Israel has ever come up with. First, it’s got to the point where Israelis no longer know whether they’re lying or telling the truth. Second, this habit of instrumentalizing every tragedy, from the holocaust to the death of Jewish children, in the service of political expediency has severely coarsened the image of Israel. Is it any wonder fewer and fewer people support the Israeli cause?
Another Israeli agent in the US in disguise you say? I don’t really see Israel as a foreign government anymore, Richard. I mean, how much loot do we have invested in that sucker anyway? Doesn’t that get us some ownership interest or something? Even Netanyahu said to President Obama, “I am me as you are me and we are we and we all live together” goo goo ga joob 😉
Heck, I’d venture to say our elected officials are more in synch with their standing ovations for Netanyahu than any actual legislative process. Our Presidential candidates are battling to see who can best suck up to Israel the most. If we were to admit Israel was a foreign country…why that would give the appearance that some individuals were acting treasonous. NO, NO, can’t have that…
No government can serve two masters. So, time to replace the Red, White and Blue with the appropriate National designation of the country with first priority in this land.
Bob Mann says
“Another Israeli agent in the US in disguise you say?”
Who are you talking about? This article is about Avi Meyer. He’s not in the US, he’s in Israel.
Richard Silverstein says
He was a Univ. of Maryland student in 2007. He lives in Israel now as Bob says.
I support Badawi´s right to get on her work for UN.
Iguana Mom says
He’s hair splitting and bringing attention to his antics and these types of disgusting tactics- censorship and destroying peoples careers.
If Israelis like him were actually interested in helping, they should put their energy into helping the living Armenians and Kurds overcome oppression, not the dead.
Let the historians work out history free from political interference.