Hasbara. How I loathe the term and what it has come to represent. Rather than referring to a proper, dignified, advocacy on behalf of Israel, the term “hasbara” has become something entirely different. To advocate for something, one should have an ability to understand underlying problems. Naturally, the proposed solutions of many activists are foolish since one cannot mend something if they cannot see that it is broken. Since most hasbara activists do not truly subscribe to mature Torah values, they can only exacerbate the problem. The Torah alone provides the framework for the panacea.
In many ways, contemporary hasbara (public relations) efforts for Israel in mirror the pseudo-scholarly efforts of early Jewish American historians to document Jewish life in America. Rather than engaging in proper research of the American Jewish experience, these early “filial pietists” were so riddled with insecurity that they were obsessed with showing Americans how much Jews contributed to America. As the Jewish community matured and developed confidence, it was eventually able to produce proper historians and proper historiographies based on scholarly research and analysis.
Hasbara has never matured, and the so-called “new hasbara” is more of the same, but with a better knowledge of social media, and better resources to peddle their propaganda. Hasbara is undignified and bad for the Jewish soul. There is no “new hasbara” as today’s practitioners claim. It is more of the same. And even though so much of hasbara is contradictory to Torah values, more and more religious Jews are buying into hasbara’s nonsense. Much like the more extreme liberal Jews who define their Judaism by tikkun haolam, hasbara is generally the domain of those least equipped to say anything about Jewish matters.
The hasbara machine is not monolithic. It is comprised of Jews and more than a few gentiles from across the political and ideological spectrum/ who tap away on Facebook and Twitter, expressing their ever-changing ill-informed views on Jews and Israel to a public which oftentimes lacks the ability to discern truth from fiction. The Israeli government has its own institutions of hasbara and it also works together with the more prominent non-governmental organizations whose efforts they support. Forget about the many gentiles who hate us for a moment. That is not the focus of this article. As I see it, there are three distinct groups of Jews who oppose the “hasbara machine”, but for vastly different reasons:
- The self-hating Jews of the extreme left, who side with the Arabs. These misfits think the Bnai Brith and StandWithUs are militant right-wingers. Of course, such types see everything short of JStreet as right-wing, so we are dealing with a sad but real segment of leftist Jewry. Hasbara activists and organizations are under the misconception that this camp of deviants poses the greatest threat to Israel. They are wrong. JStreet is not responsible for a failed promise to destroy Hamas, and a continued refusal to place Abbas’s squat little head on a pike. We need only look at our own government to place ultimate responsibility. Rather than see the effect of leftist self-restraint that infects “mainstream” right-wing parties in Israel, hasbarites find a straw man among the irrelevant losers of our own camp. These hasbarites should stop trying to sue Lorde and focus instead on the State of Israel and our PM. Perhaps a lawsuit for breach of contract, for a collective failure to protect Jewish lives.
- The second anti-hasbara camp is comprised of the extreme factions of the anti-Zionist religious camp. Comprised of extremist lunatics who side with Arab terrorists (the Neturei Karta) and various offshoots of more “respectable” neturei karta lite, these moral defectives align with genocidal exterminationists to propagate their agenda. Their numbers are not large, but they receive disproportionate coverage for their repugnant actions.
- The third anti-hasbara camp is comprised of what I will a larger anti/Zionist non-Zionist chareidi community whose positions are not monolithic. The latter group is the least activist, and roughly speaking relates to the attitudes of most decent, reasonable, non-Zionist religious Jews in America and Israel. They are pragmatists, but they are surely not impressed with hasbara. And they are not the enemy, misguided as I believe they may be on certain issues. They should never be confused with the first two segments of this camp.
- The fourth group of anti-hasbara types represents a much smaller group of Jews with back-bone who see weakness in the contemporary hasbara movements. This camp of anti-hasbarites is a very different breed of Jew, a tiny sub-section of Jews who truly love Jews (except for the kinds of Jews who hate Jews) and Eretz Yisroel yet cannot abide self-degradation, debasement, appeasement, and Jewish weakness of any form.
In truth, most hasbara activists on the scene today are what my friend Moshe Schwartz coined (or so he believes, patent pending) “hasbarites”. Ironically, the term is often used on social media in a manner detached from its intended meaning. It is not a term of endearment, since the term relates to the hasbara of the weakling Jew who makes a career of niceties, by playing the age-old game of respectable, weak-kneed, shtetl Jewry, shtadlanus. The term is intended to expose and refute a dangerous, ineffectual, naïve, tactics of advocacy. The type of advocacy which believes itself cool, hip, and contemporary but is just a 21st century version of a “what will the goyim think” mentality.
Hasbara suffers from a similar complex, because it is tragically a Jewish complex that transcends hasbara. A need to be loved and popular, and a willingness to embrace any argument or pander to anything to curry favor. So, what is the definition of a hasbarite? A hasbarite fights for the wrong things because of a flawed understanding of Jewish values, Jewish history, and psychology. And all too often, hasbara supports issues that are diametrical to true Torah interests. Two of the favorites of hasbara: havlaga (self-restraint) and homosexuality.
Self-Restraint: Centrist hasbara celebrate “havlaga”, and one will often hear the respectable right utter such sentiments. The more left-wing segments preach pacifism and self-restraint, traits that would make Gandhi proud but should make good Jews ill. The Torah perspective? A bullet in the head and lungs is the only response to terror and savages. Not self-restraint and a “do the least harm mentality”. On this issue, one can usually avoid the wrath of most reasonable “right-wing” hasbarites, since this is the issue they are theoretically strongest on. Yet not entirely, since they too flirt with the pursuit of “good Arabs” and they avoid the issue of Arab transfer like the plague. One often hears the propagators of “self-restraint” uttering with nauseating pride how Israel endangers her own soldiers to prevent the loss of “innocent” enemy life. We will never know how many Jews were needlessly killed by these obscene measures to shackle our soldier’s hands as they enter the most dangerous regions on earth. To what end? To protect the same Jew-hating civilians who nurse their children on Jew hatred.
From a post on Facebook by StandWithUs, one of the more prominent hasbara organizations on the scene today:
“The Israel Defense Forces is most moral army in the world. In the heat of the fighting, Israeli soldiers are always reminded that every single life matters and civilians must be protected.
Thank you IDF!”
A Jew who celebrates such madness is a Jew lacking the most fundamental aspects of Jewish values. We value decent life. In Judaism, we abhor evil.
Interfaith Relationships: The religious wing of the hasbara mafia will threaten you with lawsuits if you document the complicity of Jews who work with evangelicals in Israel, despite the latter’s documented agendas. Truth is the enemy of hasbara. Whether rightwing or leftwing, hasbara embraces evangelical support because hasbara craves gentile friends. It doesn’t matter that these friends want to destroy our Jewish souls. The ability to collect from CUFI and other organizations is a treasure chest the hasbara leprechaun cannot resist. As I noted above, even those liberal hasbara organizations which celebrate gay parades, are not averse to feeding from the evangelical trough. (Ironically hasbara advocates denigrate a writer such as Nathaniel Feingold, a truly righteous gentile, who understands these issues better than most people. They take the hand of the enemy and defame a true friend.)
Indigenous Rights: The nonsensical arbitrarily defined, ever-changing indigenous rights argument has become a false idol for many hasbarites. The history of mankind is replete with conquest and migration. Furthermore, from a Torah perspective, we Jews believe that we correctly conquered the Canaanites. Despite what some gentile and Jewish ignoramuses like to assert, this account of the Torah is true. We Jews have Divine Rights. But to oppose this new-age theory is a form of hasbara heresy and the mafia will threaten you, but not refute you. They will treat you as the enemy because you believe that only a Divine claim gives us a right to the land.
Pluralism: Yet hasbara is not content to opine on issues of warfare. Hasbara needs to show it is current, and in today’s world “gay is good”. Hasbara believes that the decaying world of western morality will by impressed by Israel’s mirrored morality. By and large they are wrong. Neither is something a Torah Jew should be proud of, since both are an affront to life. So, the hasbara machine jumps in with another avenue to praise Israel’s progressive nature.
StandWithUs FB post:
“Pride Week is almost here and we’re celebrating 40 years of gay rights in Israel! Where else in the Middle East, or world, can you say that?
Since the beginning of June, the Tel Aviv Municipality building was lit up with the LGBTQ community’s rainbow flag as Gay Pride Month kicked off.”
Hasbara needs to be universal, liberal, and gay friendly. For many segments of hasbara, progressive deviancy is an ideal, a thing to celebrate, for hasbara gay is good. So is abortion on demand. Scream to the world that Israel is gay friendly and that it has a disproportionate number of abortions. These are things the hasbara machine celebrates. How it is good to be gay in Israel? But what about Hashem and the Torah? Such sentiments will make you an enemy of the progressive hasbara mafia. You will be deemed a religious extremist. Hasbarites are so far removed from maturation that one cannot reasonably assume that they will ever evolve.
The Hasbara Mafia
There are numerous powerful “Jewish” crime families in Israel, much to the shame of our people. We have an incompetent and corrupt police system, where crimes are often ignored, or poorly investigated. A veritable stain upon our nation, and an affront to Judaism. And yet you wouldn’t know about them. And then there are hasbara mafias who make careers our of defending Israel. who would have you think that everything is perfect in Israel. You will never hear about the crime in Israel, both Jewish and gentile. If Jews truly wanted to advocate for Israel, it would have the ability to turn the mirror on itself.
Ironically, certain segments of the mafia hate me and those who think likewise more than they do a missionary like Hananyah Naftali who proselytizes Xianity to Jews via YouTube and flaunts his brazen disregard for Israel’s impotent missionary laws. Yet Naftali has sat and met with Netanyahu. Neither Naftali nor Netanyahu earns their ire. Why are we the target of such hasbarites, who respond with vitriol and threats rather than debate? The answer is simple. By calling their weakness out, we refute the image they wish to present of themselves, of strong Jewish activists who are “doing stuff” to help Israel. The notion that this may not be the case shatters their egos. My crimes?
I believe that the evangelical threat in Israel is the spiritual equivalent of the Arab desire to exterminate us. I don’t fall for the tricks of new evangelism which masks its intentions but has the same goal as any coarse street missionary. I want the Arabs and evangelicals thrown out on their heads. The sooner the better. And I am sickened that hasbara (even liberal hasbara types) will take cash and support from missionaries and have the gall to ignore the evidence.
I don’t kvetch about Lorde and the BDS movement. I am more annoyed by a government that refuses to protect Jewish lives. Hasbara will attack an idiot celebrity such as Lorde but ignore a government which refuses to defend Jews from deadly rock attacks which maim and murder Jews every other week. Maslow’s Hierarchy would place stones thrown at our heads on a more fundamental bracket than celebrity concerts.
The hasbara mafia is not one family, nor is five. If only it were so. It is a multi-headed (too numerous to count) hydra, and not all the heads like one another. Some heads are individuals who like to go solo, others work with organizations. The hasbara hydra will go after you if you aggressively oppose their pillars of progressivism.
Hasbara screams to the world that Israel is the only democracy in the middle east. Compared to what? Saudi Arabia, Jordan? Egypt? Israeli is a democracy in a relative sense, but it is hardly democratic. They banned Rabbi Meir Kahane years ago, because he was growing powerful. They silenced a democratically elected voice when they banned the Kach party. Arabs can scream terror from muezzins, harass and beat up Jews on the Temple Mount, yet Jews who shoot Arabs who throw stones at them sit in jail. There is also the occasional use of administrative detention against Jews in Israel, and the more frequent use of sadistic yassamnikim–thugs who have beaten up women on occasions. Democratic? There is no bill of rights in Israel.
The hasbara mafia ignores the illegal squatting and theft of Bedouins, and the Bedouin criminal rings which extort Jewish farmers and businesses in the Southern regions. Hasbara generally refrains from reporting when Bedouins use the silent terror of wayward camels let free to cause deadly collisions on the backroads of the south and the Judean desert. Hasbara wants to show you that Bedouins serve in the IDF, because without Bedouins they feel that Israel has no “examples” of “good Arabs”. And so they require those token good Arabs to assuage their liberal guilt.
Hasbarites give a high-pitched geshrai (Yiddish shriek) when Lorde (until she cancelled I had never heard of her) cancels her concert, and they always shep nachas when Elton John or Jethro Tull refuses to do succumb to BDS pressure. Or when a transsexual Kaitlin Jenner says something nice about Israel. Yet hasbara doesn’t shed a tear, not truly, when children are murdered on the roads of the Judean hills or Jerusalem by the moderates of Fatah. Several weeks ago a Jewish child was killed by a camel when his family car hit a Bedouin camel on the road. These accursed Bedouins let their camels roam free and such collisions are a tragic reality. Two holy Rabbis was murdered recently in the Shomron, and two Jewish soldiers were nearly lynched in Jenin. For the murdered the hasbarites rarely refer to the slaughtered with calls to avenge their blood. Because hasbara is respectable, and vengeance is a foreign concept to liberals. Even when the vengeance is a sacred noble duty. Nor will hasbara call out our weakling leadership for not burning Jenin to the grounds after the near lynching of our soldiers. Hasbara cannot attack the Israeli government even when it fails to protect Jewish lives.
When I lived in the south I used to call and report these camels to the police. An absolute joke. Is it on the road or on the side of the road? How far from the road? Which way is its head facing? Anything to avoid having to come out to the road and deal with a Bedouin problem. It isn’t a camel problem. There are no wild camels. They all have Arab owners.
For the same reason, hasbarites celebrate, hire, and utilize non-Jews to interfere and insinuate themselves into Jewish issues, and then have the chutzpah to allow these ignorant outsiders to defend and define us. What these gentiles do is import un-Jewish ideas, some of them religious, some of them the dogma of multicultural progressivism, and social justice.
The hasbara mafia requires token gentiles to defend and define us. Some with the most unscrupulous backgrounds. They ignore unrepentant messianic Jews and black pastors whose personal websites expose their open missionary efforts. Hasbara needs gentile faces. Hasbara claims to be strong and bold, yet it reflects the same shtetl nebbiness that they think they are replacing. Hasbara refrains from calling out weakling governments which fail to protect Jews.
Hasbara ignores a society of rampant poverty and ever-growing section of Jews living in the red just to survive. They ignore the low wages and exorbitant cost of living, and the insane housing crisis. According to hasbara every Israeli is earning an above average income and the economy is perfect. All diseases are cured or on the verge of being so. Hasbara worries about anti-Semitic Polish anti-Semitic legislation, yet it ignores the reality of a terror stronghold in our heartland and our hill country. Poles will remain Poles. But the Arabs are doing to us today what the Poles did to us yesterday. The Poles are nursed on antisemitism as was famously pointed out years ago by an Israeli politician. Yet how can one ignore that the armed PLO is headed by an Arab Holocaust denier who has the means and methods to murder Jews. Surely the perversion in our midst is as obscene to any sensitive person as are the expected sentiments of Polish vipers. By all means, we should crush their heads. But we dare not ignore the vipers within our own borders.
Social media is a tool. Unfortunately, most of what is disseminated is nonsense and garbage. To defend Israel, one needs to understand the issues and have self-respect. One who is afraid to call out his own government for their failure to prevent the Arab murder of Jews has nothing to say to anyone about anything of substance. Call out the hasbara mafia, and demand they fight for true Jewish issues and problems. And let them save their ire for the enemies of the Jewish people and not those select Jews who call them out on their hypocrisy.
Fellow Jews. Do you wish to defend Israel? Grow a back-bone and reject the hasbara model. You don’t need to accept everything I write as the revelation at Sinai. I ask only this: Think objectively and speak truth, whether it be popular or not. Consider what true Jewish identity is, and what a given appropriate Torah response should be to situations. Remember that the prophets of Israel were castigated and persecuted for truth. Continue their legacy of unabashed truth without fear of what goyim or weakling Jews think of you. This is true Jewish strength. Above all, understand that celebrating weak governments doesn’t make you a better Zionist. On the contrary it makes you a lemming wearing a Star of David. This is not Zionism. It is the Zionism of a Shimon Peres, a Yitzchak Rabin, and those who brought the blood of Oslo to our doors.
Hasbara is a popularity contest, more concerned with being reasonable and respectable than being right. As such, it caters not to truth but to the multitudes. It will embrace pragmaticism and respectability, because radical notions will not bring in the money. My advice to those who wish to advocate for Israel? Behave like a dignified Maccabee or become a hasbarite cliché, kvetching about the BDS movement when our own government twiddles their thumbs while Jews are butchered in Gush Etzion and the Shomron.
Call me a fool, but as I see it, a knife in the neck from Arab terrorists is surely a greater threat than celebrity boycotts.