Hasbara is a Hebrew word that means ‘to explain,’ as in- to explain Israel. Five years ago I learned what this meant and it struck me as odd. Why should any country explain itself? The mere existence of Hasbara validates those who claim we shouldn’t exist. By stepping into the arena to participate in this argument, it literally gives those who oppose us a platform to discredit us further. I discovered an entire world of people in the diaspora who dedicate all their time on social media to explaining Israel on their Facebook profiles.
The Hasbara industry is also called ‘Israel advocacy.’ These are people who not only explain the Jewish state, but they are the cheerleaders. This is a genre of marketing to sell Israel as the Disneyland of the Jews.
It boosts tourism.
It boosts financial support from the diaspora to various Jewish organizations.
It celebrates Jewish culture and Judaism.
It also spends the majority of its time discussing the Israeli Palestinian conflict to death.
Hasbarites make memes. They make videos showing Tel Aviv beaches with sexy people frolicking about. They write Op Eds for right wing Zionist publications.
In short, Hasbara is a stadium filled with like-minded people who preach to the choir and rejoice over their efforts in an echo chamber.
Hasbara is also a platform for self-promotion. Many of the leading faces in this movement have figured out a way to monetize Zionism. Yes folks, that are right, they can make money from it. Some of the really cleaver Zionists have take Zionism to a level where it is branded like Nike, because after all, there are so many types of Zionism that one can capitalize on their definition and claim to be the face of their own voice.
Hasbara has given rise to an ego induced proclamation whereby it has a cult-like following. If enough followers can stroke the ego of the Hasbarist, then they get to be a part of that Zio-clique. It is much like the 8th grade, it is a cheap popularity contest, and it is a circle jerk of the same argument over and over with zero quantifiable results.
Hasbara is the social media typewriter warrior. This is code for people who live in their handheld device and fight the haters of Israel. These typewriter warriors believe wholeheartedly that they are making a difference in the world. There has never been any research by any global entity into the efficacy of this exercise.
Why am I writing this? Because I was a card carrying member of the social media Zionist community. I too, once spent every waking moment of my day doing this.
Yet after I moved to Israel, I saw with my own eyes that all that I had been indoctrinated with was false.
I began writing about the ordinary day-to-day experience here on the ground in Jerusalem. I was rather purposeful to not write my opinion in those particular posts. I literally wanted to document the most basic, fundamental exchange that occurs here in order to show what a conversation looks like between Israelis and Palestinians. I also began to capture the culture, food and most of all, art. I decided to show the world a side of Jerusalem that is not portrayed. When most people think of Jerusalem, they think of religion and the conflict. No one thinks of art when they think of Jerusalem.
I was not surprised when my posts were met with hate, disagreements and nasty messages calling me an “Arab loving bitch.” Mind you, I was literally writing a dry delivery, without commentary of a very basic exchange of dialogue or a description of the sights at a particular location. How can one say that the falafel I ate that day and the quote for quote conversation is wrong? I was careful to not draw any conclusions or tell the reader what to think or feel, which is the opposite of Hasbara.
I realized very quickly that Hasbara was out of touch, damaging to Israel and useless. Most Israelis don’t know what the hell Hasbara is. Most Israelis do not hang out on social media all day. Most Israelis are not in Zionist Facebook groups and they have never heard of the Zio superstars. In fact, the Zionist Facebook community is as small and insular as one might quantify a fragment fringe sect of Judaism.
The best part is that Hasbarites believe they are the experts on all things Israel. After moving here, I discovered I knew everything about the conflict in terms of history- dates, locations, names, etc. Yet I didn’t know the people on the ground that live in it.
The Hasbara machine has a know-it-all attitude. There is nothing new you can teach them and if you deviate from the Hasbara script as I did, you will be punished for it.
It is a black and white case for them. The only good Arabs are Arab Israeli citizens who will openly criticize the PA and Hamas, while singing the praises of Israel. The only good Arabs are those who have been ostracized by their family and their village. The only good Arabs are Zionists.
The only good Zionists are those who support one or more of the following:
Condemn everyone who is not pro two-state solution
Anyone who doesn’t advocate for a holy righteous war
Advocates for deportation to Gaza
Argues that Jordan is Palestine
Desperately wants Palestinians to live under Israeli rule (i.e.- the occupation)
I learned from the best of the best. I learned how to argue the fuck out of every single one of these points mentioned above. I could totally deflect any accusation that I was racist or dispel the myth that Jews are a bunch of Zionist elitists. I could deny any claim that the Hasbarites are anti Palestinian. In fact, the Hasbarites will tell you they are progressive and forward thinking. Yet, there is no evidence of this. I met maybe a dozen people in a five-year period who were in fact capable of thinking outside the box and lived a life that proved they could embrace otherness.
I once tried to quantify the number of these individuals in the Facebook Zionist community. It was quite difficult because you have to not count the number of duplicate profiles, fake profiles and consider that it’s all the same people in the Zionist groups. I also had to figure out who was active and inactive. According to my estimates and lack of good methodology for this project, I determined that the number of truly active, actual real profiles- meaning they use their real name and it’s a real account that is not filled with fake information- was perhaps less than 2,000 people. There are 1 billion Facebook users. Let that sink in a moment. Even if I am very wrong and it’s 10,000, it’s not making a dent. Math is scientific, math is real.
So what does the online Hasbara club do? They live in their own world where they have convinced themselves of their own self-importance. They also indulge in another time consuming activity. They gossip. They bash the hell outta each other behind one another’s backs. They create even more groups- and I mean a shit ton of these redundant groups to discuss each other. This can range to trashing how someone else does Hasbara or his or her personal life, you name it, it is the 8th grade. They justify it because they actually believe it is useful or simply a fun way to kill time. They see judging other Zionists as acceptable. The mere existence of their community gives them this comfort.
How do I know this? Like I said, I was a part of this. Fortunately I left it two years ago. I tend to get bored easily and where most humans have a seven-year learning curve, mine is three. I also am a fast learner and am divergent. I noticed these flaws in my first year, but it took about two years for me to begin the process of distancing myself.
I am what you would call a recovering Zionist. I am the anti-Hasbara of Hasbara.
The Hasbarites are splintered, they are not unified. They spend more time hating on other Jews. They focus most of their energy trying to tear down Jews who have different opinions of what Zionism is. For example, this blog I am writing will be discussed, hated, supported, ignored, cherished- you name it.
At the end of the day, I will cut the Hasbarites some slack for one reason. They actually do love Israel and they just desperately want to feel included here. They want to feel like they are connected to Israel and so this advocacy culture gives them the high they crave. It supports their desire to feel validated like they are making a difference. They cannot tolerate the idea that their memes are not saving Israel. They cannot imagine that no one in Israel gives a fuck about their endless secret, private groups of an echo chamber, filled with diaspora Zionists with duplicate and fake profiles.
What about the Hasbara organizations?
Let’s take the popular Stand With Us.
Now I want to be careful here, but I also want to be honest in my critique. This is going to be a challenge, but I will give it a shot. SWU makes videos, they are beautiful and professional. They seriously look like ads. In fact, SWU should work for the Ministry of Tourism because it looks like Jewish Disneyland. Their objective is to sell Israel to the world by demonstrating that Israel is a leader in technology, innovation, great food, sexy people, beautiful beaches and the only democracy in the Middle East. So what is wrong with this? Nothing is wrong with it. They also show personal stories of various Israelis. They show religious Jews, Settlers, Arab Israelis, Druze, men and women. It is a great tool to sell the diaspora, if used to promote Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel).
My issue with SWU is that it comes off as contrived, rehearsed, polished and perfect, like Zionism in a can.
Instead of ranting and criticizing like my former peers, I’m going to offer a few suggestions.
Let Israel be Israel. Stop creating an image of Israel. Stop using a lens to portray Israel as favorable to the world. Israel doesn’t need it. Israel doesn’t ask this of you.
Honestly, I get more out of watching someone who uploaded a video with their phone having a random moment, with no agenda. Watch the Netflix movie- Israel Cuisine. Check out Israeli breweries and look at the first whiskey distillery in Israel.
There are hundreds of coexistence organizations here. There are tons of joint Arab Israeli activities. The Palestinian Arab conflict is actually stoked by Hasbara. This is why they got so pissed off when I began to write about the fact that we actually get along pretty damn well, all things considered. Hasbara doesn’t show the world the café where we sit together. Hasbara doesn’t show the neighborhoods where we cohabitate peacefully. Hasbara doesn’t show you that this is not the exception, it is the rule. It is normal – but to show that would undermine the narrative to promote conflict.
Anytime a person who lives here in Israel shares anything positive about Palestinians, or God forbid, validates them- the Hasbarites descend upon them in furious rage. The fear they spread is toxic and quite frankly, if you don’t live here, your fear doesn’t impact us. It impacts their club within. Hasbarites get all worked up when they see us supporting each other- and I mean right wing and left wing Jews who are defending each other. They lose their shit when we use Facebook to shame them for spreading hate. They cannot stand to see us unify because then their whole movement would be useless, because well… It is.
If a right wing Jew ever shares or likes a Facebook post from a left wing Jew, the Hasbarites go nuts! OMG!!! DID YOU SEE THAT SHE LIKED HER POST!!!! Then they take a screen shot of your comment and spread it because it’s JUST SO DANGEROUS.
They tell us who live here that we are naïve and that we just don’t get it. That’s not only insulting and disrespectful but it the most ego driven position.
The conflict is an ATM for everyone. The conflict is magnified a hundred times over on social media. What I was taught on Facebook simply is not the reality here. Most Palestinians are not terrorists and they are not appeasers of terrorists either. Most Palestinians just want a decent quality of life for their families. Most of them do not hate Israelis. Most of them hate their own leadership, but cannot say it publicly because that is not acceptable in Palestinian society. The people on the ground get along, it’s our governments who keep it going. Jerusalem is a magnet of extremism on both sides and that is not an accurate representation of the rest of Israel.
On one side you have soft Anti Semitism from meddling European NGO’s. On the other side you have loud mouthed Zio bitches cheering for Israel, but stoking the fire of hate towards Zionists who ACTUALLY LIVE HERE. The Hasbarites meddle too; they give us unsolicited advice and are no more helpful than the International community. They are like the UN, only without funding.
I think the few Israelis that participate need to disengage with the Facebook Zionist community. I think Israelis who get upset and are reactionary to the Hasbarites, need to stop. You take away their audience and you take away the microphone. Let them just live in their echo chamber. Let them think they are important. Let them feed each other’s ego. Just quietly step away and quit feeding the Hasbara monster.
I have honestly never seen more hate from anywhere than the Facebook Zionist community. The way they stab each other in the back, they way they focus on every person around them is psycho. They are obsessed with anyone who is female, living in Israel and doesn’t preach the Hasbara script.
I survived it. When all was said and done, I was an Arab loving bitch who dated and slept with Arabs, I was anti- Israel, self- hating- Jew, attention whore, narcissist and a snob. (I like the snob part.)
The Hasbarites actually justify this kind of behavior; they will defend their right to treat those of us who think differently with such malice. Fortunately for me, they couldn’t do anything to me because I don’t work for anyone but myself. I’m not on anyone’s payroll. I don’t represent anything, I do not endorse anything and I am not the face of any organization.
I could literally publish and entire book where I describe a day in the Old City or a trip to Yafo and they would tell me I was wrong. Mind you, it wouldn’t render an opinion or even register feelings- yet I would be told my experience is wrong.
The Hasbarites even rate other Hasbarist. They have groups like Bad Hasbara. My new Favorite is Hasbarotica- they make sexy Hasbara memes. Yes folks, this is who is going to save all of Israel. The bottom line is they will never be able to look within and take personal inventory. They will never do any soul searching and call for the dismantling of Hasbara. They will never admit the machine is broken and in order to do it justice, it has to die. Perhaps from the ashes something could come from it that is good? Ego. It’s all egos. It’s the 8th grade. I mean ffs, I left FB for over 6 months and when I came back, I was only posting coffee. Someone sent me a message saying I’m such a fucking narcissist for doing that.
It’s always the women. The Hasbarites love to target the women. I’m not saying they don’t target men, because I’ve seen it, but it’s extra fun for them to target women. The women particularly like to target secular, American Jewish women. Jealous, petty bitches who analyze the shit out of every post so they can run into their group FB messenger which is a running thread and explain to everyone what she really meant. They live for telling others what the intent behind your words actually is. It’s cute, except for that it’s not. Because you know- this too is helping Israel.
I get to say this. I get to be the person who tells you this shit because I was one of you once upon a time. I too participated and am guilty of all I have addressed in this blog. So what’s my motive? It’s simply to share in hopes that even one of you will step down and quit assassinating characters in the name of loving Israel. It is to encourage even one of you to cease to speak hate against those who live here. It is to challenge just one of you to stop participating in the circle jerk. If just one of you gets off your phone and begins to live life here it is worth it.
Other than that, I’m just gonna keep on loving coffee, showing you the amazing art, the rich culture of every imaginable peoplehood in this land and enjoying my new life here. For all of you self-righteous haters, cheers! You can kiss my white Ashkenazi ass as I sit in Yafo looking at the Mediterranean.