(video after the jump)
A few years back, Jewdar gave a talk to a group of Israeli diplomats being sent to represent the Jewish State to the media at various consulates around the U.S. Any delusions we might have had that Israel operated a sophisticated PR machine died that day, the moment when I heard one of these diplomats whisper to another presenter: "What is blog?"
Fast forward to last week’s New York Times headline, "Positive Views of Israel, Brought to You by Israelis." Finally, we thought, some Israelis are getting their act together. Then, we read the piece. It seems that some Israelis have figured out that they have a bad image in the world and have decided to do something about it. Unfortunately, that something falls under two headings, dumb, and dumber.
In terms of dumb, you have Israelis traveling abroad being given pointers on how to behave. Now, we are all about courtesy, but come on, Israel, you’re a country, not a school going on a field trip. "Okay, remember, when you get off this plane, you represent this institution…" But even that’s better than Plan B.
Israel is a country which, as is evidenced by the behavior of these thuggish UC Irvine students at a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, many people seem to see as somehow embodying the worst traits of both Jewish anti-Nazi caricatures and Nazi anti-Jewish caricatures. But how does the newly formed Israeli Ministry of Information and Diaspora Affairs think this image will be combated? Apparently, by shattering "what the ministry sees as the common myths about Israels–that it is a big and primitive country, that its food consists of little more than hummus and falafel, and that Israelis as a group do not seek peace."
Really? Is that really the problem facing Israel in the media? That people think Israelis eat a lot of hummus? First of all, I have to tell you, hummus is awesome. Secondly, Israelis really do eat a whole lot of it. Third, and most important, the day that Israel is associated primarily with hummus and not genocide will be one of the greatest days in Jewish history.
Here’s a crazy notion–instead of focusing on completely irrelevant issues ("We just bombed Gaza and hit an ambulance–we better put out a commercial proving that Israelis don’t ride camels"), why not try to actually address the real myths and misconceptions people have about Israel? Granted, a convincing defense of Israel might involve admitting that some criticisms of Israel have some validity to them. But it also might involve really thinking about why Israel matters.
But hey, let’s not think about any of that–instead, let’s watch the pro-Israel Size Doesn’t Matter campagin video. It’s chock full of sub-Three’s Company sexual entendres. That’s what the kids like, right?