Appropriating a Culture to Whitewash Apartheid

It’s a hard sell you know, the ol’ apartheid. It’s not easy to market a huge, illegal wall, checkpoints, soldiers everywhere, guarded colonies, segregation. Israel has managed to do it to a degree and there are thousands of visitors who go there and keep their eyes shut to the oppression of the Palestinians. Many of them have ideological blinkers and many of them have their wallets fattened and egos stroked sufficiently by the apartheid state so as to ignore its reality.

But it is becoming increasingly difficult to market apartheid Israel both for the tourism market and, more importantly,  abroad as the image of Israel internationally is very tainted – that would be the war crimes….

Because of its own crimes against the Palestinian people, the growing racism within Israeli society and the success of the BDS movement,’ brand Israel’ is taking a hammering and moves are constantly underway to rectify this.  Bringing artists to play there is a major part of this attempt to normalise apartheid and sending Israeli artists abroad to represent the brand and create “a positive image for Israel”  is the ‘export’ end of the process.

Much of the strategy to whitewash apartheid is dependent on compliant media and this is bolstered by government funded trips where journalists are wined, dined and shown around. When I say ‘shown around’ I’m lying as we can be guaranteed that these guided tours will absolutely avoid the reality of Israel and will be hasbara fests par extraordinaire, perhaps with some ‘peace groups’ thrown in for authenticity. They are certainly reaping the fruits in the Irish press where hardly a week goes by in the Sunday Independent without some eulogy to Israel’s democracy appearing.

The latest target of the Tourism Ministry is the foodie world, specifically food bloggers, who are brought on paid trips to Israel where their senses are dulled by stolen hummus and they go home and gush appropriately about what they have seen.  Indeed, “David Lebovitz, an American writer and pastry chef living in Paris whose food-centric personal website receives nearly 2 million unique visitors per month, wrote seven posts about the trip, all of which presented Israel (and its cuisine ) in a positive light.”  How’jya like them apples BDSers?

It’s hard to keep up with all the initiatives the hasbara brains trust is developing to try to market apartheid. From whitewashing to pinkwashing to musicwashing to this. When I’m feeling optimistic, I see it as desperation in the face of the strength of Palestinian resistance and international solidarity. When I’m feeling pessimistic…. well I rant on a blog…!

This food one has me floored though,it’s like The Gathering and Bord Fáilte on acid. Scatter gun…what can we sell? How can we sanitise? Where’s the latest whitewashing going to come from?

The cynicism of inviting food bloggers to a state which has put the people of Gaza on carefully calibrated rationed ‘diets’ to ensure they remain above starvation level is staggering.  While Palestinian prisoners undertake hunger strikes to fight for their most basic rights, imprisoned as many of them are without charge, food bloggers will be feasting on hasbara. While Gaza remains under illegal siege with freedom of movement extremely restricted, the message of Israel as a tourist destination for foodies, musos etc is  being pushed. These attempts to attract travellers to apartheid Israel are transparent and cynical in the extreme, let’s hope people stop falling for it.

Hey world, want a gay friendly destination? Want a gay friendly destination with good music? Want a gay friendly destination with good music and great food? Want a gay friendly destination with good music and great food where you can practise your shooting skills? We got it ALL here in apartheid Israel. It’s hasbara central.*

*Sentient beings need not apply.




One thought on “Appropriating a Culture to Whitewash Apartheid

  1. Pingback: Israel’s Cultural Hasbara Exports

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