The short video tells the story of a Jewish family put upon by foreign invaders over thousands of years
A comedic video created by Israel’s Foreign Ministry which tells the history of the Jewish people has been met with mixed reviews online. The skit, created as part of the positive PR exercise designed to change global opinion about the country’s settlement policies, features a Jewish family living in a house representing the country, repeatedly invaded and displaced by other settlers over thousands of years.
Produced in English, the video is an example of hasbara, the Hebrew term given to the state of Israel’s diplomatic policy to relay positive information about the country in an effort to bolster its international reputation. In the early years of PR exercise, hasbara events included free trips to Israel for foreign journalists, university seminars for Jewish students, and advertising, but the advent of social media saw the country’s Foreign Ministry create guidelines for a network of worldwide representatives to follow.
Videos distributed on social media channels by senior Israeli politicians are increasingly common, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently saying on Facebook that Palestinians wanted to ethnically cleanse Jewish settlers from the West Bank and that he had a greater sense of care for Palestinians than their own leaders. Last week, the country’s deputy Diplomacy Minister Michael Oren uploaded his own video in which he cautioned Israelis against the perils of “neo-paganism” and heaped praise on the Middle Eastern state’s wine production, caviar and gluten-free pasta, The Washington Post reports.
The most recent video, uploaded by the Foreign Ministry to Facebook last week, is produced to appear like an Israeli comedy show, attempting levity when retelling how Jacob and Rachel, a Jewish family, are invaded by nonsense-spouting Assyrians who arrive with a knock on their front door. From then on, a steady stream of invaders, from the Greeks and Romans through to “early Arabs” arrive, pushing the pair into their bedroom, their baby’s bedroom, their bathroom, and finally into a tent in their back yard.
As each new group arrives, bringing a new wave of destruction in their living room – European crusaders stab through the couple’s TV – all the Jewish family wants is for peace and quiet to return. That seems to be the case, when the British Empire and the League of Nations arrive, sipping tea and creating a Jewish state after 3,000 years of occupation.
But just as Jacob and Rachel start to relax, one final knock on the door brings a young Palestinian couple, eager to get a look at what’s across the threshold.
On Facebook, where the video was posted, the reaction has been largely critical, with the comedy sketch accused of glossing over some of the arguably less positive decisions made by Israel since the foundation of the state in 1948.
"What an awful, warped piece of propaganda. A complete and total erasure of Palestinians. Do you really think people are this stupid?" writes one Tel Aviv-based commenter.
"[This]is so bad on so many levels. Not just the whitewashing of Jewish identity but suggesting that the Palestinians only showed up after 1948 and then reducing their entire history and experience to a 3 second punchline for cheap laughs is just so disgracefully audacious it begs belief," writes another.