27 thoughts on “The Weird, Wacky Wonderful World of Israeli Hasbara – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Dear Richard,

    Getting such a devoted slander from you is the best compliment I could ever hope for: who cares if sycophant or not, as long as you call me “youthful”… I wish my boyfriend will Google me soon – he will be so jealous…


    Yours, always,


    P.S.: I’d be thankful if you could advise me how to get a governmental sponsorship – the tax I pay for the incomes of this pirvte centre is so high, and even though I’m not so young anymore (so I’ve been inactive for young Likud already), it is still too much for me …

    1. @ Davidi Hermelin: Interesting that Davidi Hermelin, future Israeli PM-in-waiting [sic] writes English so poorly. I guess he isn’t taking his own course in Hasbara in ENglish.” BTW, Danny Danon desperately needs your help as well. His, is marginally better English than yours. Brush up your Shakespeare, fella.

      Note also, he has absolutely nothing substantive to say about the substance of my post. Not even to defend it. Nothing. He pretends to do so because the criticism is insignificant, but he really does so because this project is ridiculous & indefensible.

      But I do enjoy offering people like Hermelin the rope with which to hang themselves and their causes. He’s done so admirably.

  2. @Richard-
    What is so objectionable and pathetic about a concerted pro-Israeli hasbara effort? What, the Palestinians are not involved in their own propaganda “hasbara”? Every side in conflicts everywhere present their narratives, truths and half-truths. (Yes, there is such a thing as half-truth). Some are more organized than others. So what?
    Propaganda is a time-honored method of getting your message out there. What’s wrong with that?
    Oops– I know the answer to my question. It’s wrong because your on the other side. Therefore anything the opposing side does is either false, immoral, or pathetic. Got it.

  3. @Yehuda

    I salute the man of the “tribal perspective” and “narrative” again. I wish you a good new year and that you may be liberated from your narrative.

    You seem to be blissfully unaware that in psycho-analysis a distinction is made between narrative and historical truth. A distinction which has equal applicability in political science.

    Batyaz Weinbaum used that distinction in analysing the “narratives”of right wing Israelis:

    “Narrative criticism provides a base to argue that subjects continually reinvent histories in the service of their own contemporary psychological and political aims. … The narratives thus induced construct events placed in both personal and social history and are extremely powerful. When circulated among their authors or tellers in social reality, they establish a basis for cohering and rigidifying many into right wing positions …”

    “Narrative vs Historical Truth:
    Insights from Field Work in Right-Wing Popular Consciousness in Israel”

    in Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal (1999)

    In “narratives” there is often not a conscious attempt to cover up the truth .
    Nevertheless there remains a distinction between narrative and historical truth that you continuously ignore.

    But I think in hasbara there is very often a very conscious attempt to cover up the truth. This can, in the first place, be done by the use of weasel words and euphemisms. Compare:

    “The cumulative impact of the Israeli government upon the lives of the Palestinian Arabs was substantially the same as was the impact of apartheid upon the lives of the nonwhites of South Africa: a dual labor market operated, restrictions on place of residence and work applied, homes and villages were destroyed and almost all the decent agricultural land of the country was seized, strict “pass” or “travel permit” laws were enforced, there was no access to the political process except as collaborators with the regime, civil rights were severely restricted, and access to state welfare programs was greatly reduced for the minority. Yet Israel’s system in one crucial aspect was different from South Africa’s. Unlike the South Africans who refused to dissemble, the Israelis decided “to stand up and lie like white men” (in P.j. O’Rourke’s corrosive phrase). The appropriation of Palestinian lands and the economic, social, and often residential segregation of the indigene was never labeled as such. Always “redemption,” or “security” or similar words were employed.”

    (Donald Harman Akenson, “God’s Peoples – Covenant and Land in South Africa, Israel, and Ulster”, Cornell University Press, 1992, p.242)

    The most outrageous but by no means the least frequent cases of hasbara are deliberate and outright lies. Look at this article titled “Israel’s Lies” by Henry Siegman in the London Review of Books:


  4. A note about “historical truth”:

    “The fundamental split between the approach of the historian and that of the psychoanalyst has to do with their respective ways of conceiving temporality. For the psychoanalyst, time is blended: Present and past live together in repetition and in the reliving that is a part of the transference. For the historian, by contrast, the past is separate from the present, and even if there are causal links between the two, their order of succession remains immutable, since what endows an event with its historicity is precisely the fact that it occurred at one time that will never be repeated. Thus, seen from a psychoanalytic perspective, historical truth is not the material truth of an event, even if Freud may have believed this early on his works, but rather the truth of a history as it appears through an event.”

    International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis


    What then is the difference with the “historical truth” of the social sciences (including history). I agree that it has to do “with their respective ways of conceiving temporality” but disagree with the view that seems to be implied in this dictionary entry that “historical truth” in the social sciences (including history) is identical with the “material truth” of an event. It is this only to the extent that this “material truth” can be recovered through the “historical method” that Max Weber at one stage compared to the procedures of a court of law. One works with witnesses and documents and does the best one can to approximate “material truth”.

    This is all far removed from the usual notions of hasbara.

  5. @Arie–you are continuing the quote mining, which I am abstaining from responding to, not for lack of sources, but for reasons that I have already mentioned.
    “You seem to be blissfully unaware that in psycho-analysis a distinction is made between narrative and historical truth”
    So in the search for the elusive objective “Dad, he hit me first!” story, you have judged that the Palestinians narrative is historical truth, while Israelis only tell imagined fairy tales in order to make themselves feel better.
    Again, I am prohibited by Richard from quoting certain sources, which extensively catalog some interesting narratives the Palestinians have about themselves and the Jews. Since presumably you are well read on the topic (not just Googling for sources that support your point of view) ,perhaps you are aware of them. Or perhaps you judge those facts not to matter, in service of the greater “good” of deligitimizing the Israelis and supporting the Palestinians…again–that’s narrative.
    With regards to South Africa– you conveniently overlook that in SA the laws and system of apartheid were based entirely on race. In Israel, the so-called occupation has nothing to do with race but with national identity ( as you know nothing mentioned in your quoted opinion piece applies to Israeli Arabs or Jews of Arab origin, or other minorities) in the context of conflicting national claims and aspirations. It is completely different. Your comparison to apartheid is an imagined narrative.
    You are proving my point over and over again that this is an argument about opinion and values, not about facts.

  6. This is not a matter of choosing between narratives but between narratives and historical truth. Israeli narratives are infinitely more widespread than Palestinian ones (google on any topic having to do with Israel and you have to wade through page after page of pro-Israel “narrative” ).

    And as Israel has the upperhand and sets the scene there and shows in its practices no “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” (to quote the founding fathers of the US) it is most in need of a narrative in which that respect is pretended.

    As to the difference between Israeli and South African apartheid: to pretend that the crucial difference is that SA practices had to do with race and that that is not the case with similar malpractices by Israel is breathtakingly disingenuous. As if the Israelis are, for all intents and purposes, not dealing with the Palestinians as if they were a different (and inferior) race.

    Actually of course the Israeli practices are far worse. The Afrikaners wanted to put people of colour in reservations but they were not intent on making their life impossible, in the style of the settlers. The Jewish anti-apartheid activist Ronnie Kasrils who became a cabinet minister in the new South Africa is of the opinion that Israeli apartheid is much worse in another way. The Afrikaners didn’t use artillery, tanks and aircraft to get at the other side.

  7. If you want to continue this you will have to wait for my reaction (if any) until tomorrow. Bedtime in this part of the world.

  8. Yehuda, your attempts to convince people that morality and truth do not exist, only ‘narratives’ that can be shaped to whatever form you like, are a complete failure. Give it up. It is tiring and only succeeds in showing, again and again, that this is no more than a desperate tactic in trying to defend a morally indefensible position.

  9. It was to be expected that hasbara would stretch its tentacles to Wikipedia but yet I deeply regret that it happened. For a great many people this is their first source of information and with its encyclopaedic airs a fully trusted one. Electronic Intifada was one of the first to warn against a secret project by CAMERA to infiltrate the body of Wikipedia editors. It has since reported that the danger was exposed and removed but that is unlikely.

    Here is wha”Wikispooks” had to say on the matter:

    “Wikipedia is a wonderful idea, brilliantly implemented, but it was always bound to have weaknesses as regards hot topics. Enough biased editors would always be able to skew articles on any particular topic – and nationalist topics are the worst affected. One can find all kinds of head-to-head disputes over, say, small countries in Eastern Europe, where there is lots of news badly covered by professional journalists and hence easily distorted.
    In one area, the problem is much more serious, covering far more articles than any other, and that is the Israel-Palestinian topic. Basically, Wikipedia was holed below the waterline as soon as editors such as Jayjg became firm personal friends of Jimbo Wales and set about writing history the way they wanted it to be. Jayjg was eventually told to knock it off, but only after most articles within the topic were heavily contaminated by the activities of him and his numerous cronies, great and small. Towards the end of 2010, one can still see a few very high-quality editors left and a huge amount of the most utter dross, editors who should, in very many cases, have been identified and stopped within days of their first appearance.

    The content of this page is intended to demonstrate the bias within Wikipedia brought about, ultimately, by the selective promotion of Zionists such as Jayjg to all administrative roles.
    Some of this page is a collection of evidence of the organisation (and funding) behind this manipulation.
    Contents [hide]
    1 Worthy articles preserved by Wikispooks
    1.1 Articles deleted from Wikipedia
    1.2 Articles under threat of deletion
    1.3 Criticism articles white-washed
    2 Other Hasbara tricks
    2.1 Policies implemented to advantage Zionism
    2.2 Historical period chosen to favor Zionist narrative
    2.3 Strong preference for Zionist sources
    2.4 Pro-Zionist articles get admin protection
    2.5 Outright Hasbara articles
    2.6 Uncontrolled personal attacks
    2.7 Time-wasting arguments against all sense
    3 Obvious pro-Zionist editor bias
    3.1 Administrator bias
    4 Known attempts to organise editing
    5 Hasbara since 1977
    6 Hasbara successfully resisted
    7 External links
    8 Related Documents
    9 References”

  10. Arie – not sure when the wikispook you mention was written but it is not relevant any more.
    Nowadays wikipedian will allow almost any far left website as a source. Mondoweiss, +972 MEE, MEM etc. Ma’an is considered as reliable as NYT but Arutz 7 is completely out.

    Anti-Israelis did a great job taking over.

    1. @ Arik: That’s nonsense. Since the beginning of my blog, it has been systematically excluded as a reliable source by Wiki editors. It has been accepted in a few instances in which it would’ve been hard to exclude it because I was the first to break a very important story. In but one example, when someone wrote a story about Avera Mengistu & credited this blog the article was deleted based on a campaign of a former commenter who’d been banned after violating comment rules repeatedly. The same campaigner then wrote an article replacing the previous one. Though later events proved my reporting completely accurate and I was the first to report about Mengistu & name him, his Wiki article excluded any reference to my blog.

      So don’t tell me about Wiki becoming anti-Israeli.

  11. @Arik

    That Wikispook mentions that the page was last modified on 11th August 2015, that is barely five months ago.

    Here is the link https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Wikipedia/Hasbara

    I find it hard to believe that anti-Israelis (= anti Likud right wing Israel) have taken over. I looked at the description of the war of 1948 and thought it was heavily biased in favour of Israel. The terms Galilee and Samaria in the first bit of the text are also a give away.

    But perhaps you can provide some more information on that alleged take-over.

  12. [comment deleted: off-topic. You have been moderated. If you comment in future, only those which respect the comment rules & are directly related to the post topic will be published.]

  13. Arie – check out the work of editors such as Nishidani.
    There are more but he is the most blatant one and that wiki ‘community’ do nothing about it.

    Check the Reliable Source Noticeboard to realize how unbalanced it is regarding which sources are considered credible.

  14. Europe and the US are pampering, subsidizing and supporting Israel. Did we do that to the Soviet Union, Pakistan or Turkey? Your whining is tiresome and nonsensical Yehuda the Tribesman.

  15. @Yehuda

    If you people stopped lying so obsessively, sometimes under the guise of just offering a ”narrative”or a “perspective”, and if fewer American politicians and commentators (with that absolute Yahoo Krauthammer in the vanguard) were covering up for you, less people would feel compelled to tell the truth about you.

    The idea that only Palestinians are allowed to complain about you (as long as they don’t do it in front of their children because that would be “incitement”) fits in with your antediluvian tribal world view. Why do you think that a man like Henry Siegman would feel compelled to attack Israel’s lies? He was for long, long years Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress so he is not just any Jew. So why would he attack Israel so publicly? Here is why:

    ”I was a student and admirer of Rabbi Abraham Heschel. I read his books. We were friends. We marched together in the South during the civil rights movement. He helped me understand the prophetic passion for truth and justice as the keystone to Judaism. This is not, however, an understanding that now animates the American Jewish community. Without that understanding there is little to distinguish the call of Jewish leaders for Jewish unity and solidarity from the demands made by narrow nationalist movements that too often degenerate in xenophobia.’’


    Those who haven’t reached his moral height might nevertheless still feel compelled to attack you because they can’t stand the lies and the distortions, and mendacity that is so publicly supported by a large part of the American establishment.

    And stop acting the victim – defending the oppression of millions of people and acting the victim at the same time is most unbecoming. It is indeed, as Elisabeth says, whining. That too gets me.

  16. @Arik

    Frankly I don’t understand how you could find evidence there for a Pro-Palestinian take-over. I looked at the Notice board for Israel related topics Archive 1 and Archive 2 and both gave me the impression that if they weren’t written by an Israeli then at any case by somebody who strongly sympathizes with their case.

    And under the name Nishidani I found a very civilised and well informed discussion about the desirability, or otherwise, of using the terms Galilee and Samaria (instead of the international “neutral” usage West Bank). N. prefers West Bank and has obviously lost out because the terms Galilee and Samaria are still right there. I learned something new from Nishidani namely that Australia is an exception to the imperial renaming of places and that the surveyor Thomas Hill suggested right back in 1828 that aborigines could provide names for “every flat and every hill”. In 1884 this was apparently regulated by law.

    The British comic Spike Milligan used to get a laugh from his audience when he told them that his parents lived in Woy Woy.

    At any case if you don’t provide further evidence of that alleged take over I will stick to what Wikispooks tells me.

  17. @Yehuda

    “Yet, you excessively, obsessively (and pathologically) focus on the deeds (or misdeeds) of the Jews, while rationalizing away, denying or otherwise ignoring the various actions and injustices done elsewhere,”

    Check out: Arie Brand Papua

    If the Indonesians had the same hasbara apparatus at their command, and if they enjoyed the same protection from the American establishment, I would;d spend more time on that topic. That not being the case I turn to the lies that are most pervasive and enjoy most protection.

  18. @Arik

    I clicked on that page and still don’t know what you are on about. Yes he was accused of anti-Semitism inter alia because of a throw away remark about Purim. He has referred to a number of notable scholars, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, who shared his view.

    He also gives a list of entries here that he either started or significantly contributed to. Israeli subjects are only a very small part of that.

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