In a campaign to improve its image abroad, the Israeli government plans to provide scholarships to hundreds of students at its seven universities in exchange for their making pro-Israel Facebook posts and tweets to foreign audiences.
The students making the posts will not reveal online that they are funded by the Israeli government, according to correspondence about the plan revealed in the Haaretz newspaper.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which will oversee the programme, confirmed its launch and wrote that its aim was to “strengthen Israeli public diplomacy and make it fit the changes in the means of information consumption”.
The government’s hand is to be invisible to the foreign audiences. Daniel Seaman, the official who has been planning the effort, wrote in a letter on 5 August to a body authorising government projects that “the idea requires not making the role of the state stand out and therefore it is necessary to adhere to great involvement of the students themselves, without political linkage or affiliation”.
According to the plan, students are to be organised into units at each university, with a chief co-ordinator who receives a full scholarship, three desk co-ordinators for language, graphics and research who receive lesser scholarships and students termed “activists” who will receive a “minimal scholarship”.
Mr Netanyahu’s aides said the main topics the units would address related to political and security issues, combating calls to boycott Israel and combating efforts to question Israel’s legitimacy. The officials said the students would stress Israeli democratic values, freedom of religion and pluralism.
But Alon Liel, the doveish former director-general of the Israeli foreign ministry, criticised the plan as “quite disgusting”. “University students should be educated to think freely. When you buy the mind of a student, he becomes a puppet of the Israeli government grant,” he said. “You can give a grant to do social work or teach but not to do propaganda on controversial issues for the government.
Wow, Zionism just gets more disturbing. The Times of Israel:
Prime Minister’s Office says would-be immigrants from former Soviet Union may be asked to prove Jewish bloodline”
A number of people from the former Soviet Union wishing to immigrate to Israel could be subjected to DNA testing to prove their Jewishness, the Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday.
The policy was reported in Maariv on Monday, one day after the Israeli paper revealed that a 19-year-old woman from the former Soviet Union was required to take the test to qualify for a Birthright Israel trip.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that many Jews from the FSU who were born out-of-wedlock can be required to bring DNA confirmation of Jewish heritage in order to be allowed to immigrate as a Jew.
By Philip Weiss at Mondoweiss
The English invented curry and paisley, right?
The dabke (or debka) is an Arab dance. I’ve seen Arabs dancing it in several countries. Zvi Gotheiner is an Israeli-born choreographer in New York. He has a dance called the “Dabke,” and the New York Times has given his dabke a lot of ink over the last year or so.
June 3, 2012 in the Times:
The dabke is a line dance of the Levant. At weddings in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, people link up arm to shoulder or hand in hand and stomp out rhythms and patterns. Israelis, so often at odds with their neighbors, also have a version. Dances are easier to share than territory.
The Times again, June 19, 2013:
The dabke is a line dance, traditionally for men only, often performed at weddings and celebrations in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories. But it is just Mr. Gotheiner’s starting point. Music makes people dance communally, and the sense of community in “Dabke” is so strong that at times we feel that we are on a kibbutz.
The Times August 1, 2013, in dance listings:
ZviDance (Saturday) Inspired by the Arab Spring, the Israeli-born, New York-based choreographer Zvi Gotheiner created “Dabke,” named for the traditional, celebratory line dance performed at Muslim weddings in the Middle East. (The title means “stomping the ground” in Arabic.) A free class in Lebanese dabke and its Israeli offshoot, debka, precedes this Lincoln Center Out of Doors performance, which is a split bill with El Gusto, the recently reunited Algerian band of Muslim and Jewish musicians.
Hasbara: First we made the desert bloom. Then we invented hummus. Then we came up with an amazing line dance. Thanks to Helen Schiff.
Please stop selling cosmetics from Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories at Nordstrom, Inc. Ahava’s products are made using stolen Palestinian natural resources in the Occupied West Bank, and are manufactured in a factory in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Don’t let the “Product of Israel” sticker fool you—when you sell Ahava you help finance the destruction of hope for a peaceful and just future for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Ahava products are labeled as of ‘Israeli origin,’ but according to international public law, the West Bank cannot be considered to be part of the State of Israel. The mud from the Dead Sea, excavated in an occupied area, and thus it exploits occupied natural resources for profit, which is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Sign the petition here.