Over the years I have learned to smell propaganda. Being an Israeli means being under constant attack – both overt and covert. We are threatened with physical violence, terrorism, and war. We are also threatened by more sophisticated and elegant methods such as lawfare (using the court system as a weapon of war) and media manipulation, propaganda designed to wage war in the court of public opinion.
News is supposed to report facts. Opinion and feelings are in the eyes of the beholder and have their place. Propaganda is different in that it deliberately presents partial facts, rumors, half-truths, or lies as if they were news, as if they were facts, to win the war of public opinion.
Propaganda designed to delegitimize Israel and even destroy her from within is a billion-dollar business. The BDS movement to organizations like “Breaking the Silence” and the New Israel Fund are just a few examples. Foreign organizations and governments have and are meddling in Israeli internal affairs in countless ways (If you don’t know about this please read Catch the Jew by Tuvia Tenenbaum and take a look at the Terrorists in Suits report).
Now, the eyes of the world are turned to Ukraine, and yet, in this war that has nothing to do with Israel or Jews, somehow Israel, Jews, and the Holocaust, are in the limelight. Why?
Russian and Ukrainian leadership have both invoked Holocaust comparisons to elicit sympathy for their cause and to prod Israel into supporting them. That’s propaganda.
Although Israel has already sent enormous amounts of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, we are told that we aren’t doing enough to help.
Although Israel has gone to extraordinary measures to rescue Jewish Ukrainians, non-Jewish Ukrainians who fall under the category of the “Right of Return” and embraced Ukrainians with no connection to anything Jewish or Israeli we are accused of heartlessness and told that we should open our doors to all Ukrainians, with no stipulations and no limits. The Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel has deemed our immigration policy unacceptable and has sued the Israeli court system in order to force our elected government to change policy.
Israel is under attack and most people don’t even seem to notice.
You might ask, who is attacking Israel? Why? The real question is, why not? There are many individuals and institutions who are motivated to attack Israel and the war in Ukraine provides a perfect “let no crisis go to waste” opportunity.
The world is changing. It is again acceptable to openly express Jew-hate. There is a global trend towards socialism and collectivism, against individualism, free speech, and anything that reflects national pride. Israel is the last hold-out of Judeo-Christian values and independent thinking in a time when many are promoting dependency and victimhood. Many desire the destruction of Israel but it can’t be countered if people don’t even realize what is happening.
It is easy to tell you are under attack when the violence is physical. When morality propaganda is turned against you it is more difficult.
For Jews in particular, morality propaganda is like kryptonite, devastating in its effectiveness.
Suddenly, from every direction, we are told what is moral and that, to belong to the correct team, to be on “the right side of history” we must behave according to the definition proposed of what is moral. The arguments are designed to trigger emotions, not thinking, to push us into doing what feels right rather than what is in our best interest.
Morality propaganda appeals to the most basic human desires. We want to feel that we are good people. We want to belong to the right team.
Jewish empathy and the drive to make things better, to minimize suffering, is deeply ingrained in every fiber of our being. We know it is our job to be a “light unto the nations” and model what is good and right. On Passover, we are directed to “remember that once we were slaves in Egypt.” Jews have been banished from their homes so many times, over so many centuries that the displacement caused in WW2 is only a more recent horror among many. We know what it’s like to be refugees, with no home and no place to turn to. How can we not have sympathy for other refugees? Jewish empathy has driven Jews to participate in the US Civil Rights movement and in countless charities around the world, striving to make the world better for others.
Jews and especially Israelis are not cowed by violence. We know how to fight back in the legal arena. Being told that we are not kind enough, not supportive enough, that we must not allow what was done to us to be done to others knocks the air out of us.
We must be kind. We must act. We must remember. We must not allow what was done to us to be done to others. But is that what is happening?
The easiest way to determine where the truth ends and morality propaganda begins is to follow the money.
Spontaneous, grass-roots demonstrations don’t come with pre-printed, professionally designed signs. That takes organizations and funding.
Especially not branded signs.
I was unfamiliar with the logo on the signs in this image of a “spontaneous” demonstration in demanding Israel bring Ukrainian non-Jewish refugees so I looked them up. On their website it says: Zazim is an independent movement, brought together by shared values of human rights, combatting the occupation and racism, and social and environmental justice… On their who funds us page it says: We are an independent organization that does not receive any funds from governments, political parties or corporations. Further down that same page it says: The rest of our budget comes from private foundations – the New Israel Fund and affiliated donors as well as the Rockefeller Foundation
Jews and Arabs against the “occupation.” New Israel Fund. That explains a lot.
And then there is this series of very expensive billboards that suddenly appeared in the center of the country in prominent locations. Each depicts a “refugee” crying out to a specific politician “Why are you deporting me?!” In a brilliant marketing move, the different posters are directed to the leading politicians in the government, both on the right and the left. This supports the idea that this is a cry for morality rather than an agenda driven campaign.
The slogan used is: “A Jew doesn’t deport a refugee.” The wording makes it obvious that the people in question are not Jews and yet the appeal is towards the morality of Jews. The slogan comes from the Disengagement from Gaza when Jews pleaded with the government to not rip them from their homes “A Jew doesn’t deport a Jew.” The choice of this slogan is both a cynical perversion of the original message and an assumption that the useful idiots are too stupid to remember.
I really don’t like being manipulated.
The organization that is credited for this campaign is the “Forum for the Absorption of Ukrainian Refugees.” Absorption as in immigration, not providing temporary shelter.
Where did this forum suddenly appear from, overnight? They have a web page to gather leads and active social media platforms. They swiftly gathered the activist celebrities on their side and are pushing this agenda on every platform available.
Interestingly, I didn’t see any mention of who funds them. It does say that they have offices in a central location in Tel Aviv.
Again – money. Lots of it.
The genius of this morality campaign frightens me. War didn’t work. Terrorism didn’t work. Legal threats didn’t work. But morality? Oooh… The use of empathy and Jewish values to undermine the foundation of the Jewish State is diabolical.
The Israeli public is generally very logical and reasonable. When surveyed about their opinion on how to handle the non-Jewish refugee question their answers were:
25% Only those eligible under the Law of Return should be allowed in
24% Adhere to the cap the government decided on [5000 people]
24% Increase the amount the government determined [in other words, have some limit but allow more]
13% Let in everyone, with no limitations
In other words, there is a public consensus that a limitation is necessary, it’s only a question of where to draw the line.
It is a tiny minority that is making all the noise, participating, amplifying the morality campaign, and pressuring our politicians to remake policy into an image of a New Israel – a country that might have Jewish citizens but isn’t a Jewish State.
When Amnesty declared that the Jewish State should not exist, many, including friends of Israel abroad, immediately denounced this unacceptable stance. When organizations and even foreign governments declare that the Jewish State has no right to determine that immigrants should be Jewish or at least connected to Israel, few see the problem with that.
After all, we all want to be moral, don’t we?