Israeli government heavily criticised for 'propaganda' video depicting Palestinians as 'invaders'
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sparked controversy after posting a satirical video on the history of the Jewish people to Facebook, which is being widely criticized on social media for being racist and historically inaccurate.
The video, titled “Welcome to the home of the Jewish people”, stars a modern Jewish couple, Jacob and Rachel, as their suburban home, named the “Land of Israel,” is invaded by a hoard of unwelcome guests ranging from Assyrians, Greeks, Arabs, Crusaders.
Eventually, the British give the couple back their house "in the name of the League of Nations".
However, as they celebrate the news, the couple are interrupted by a Palestinian couple knocking on the door, peering inside the house and waiting to be let it.
The video provoked harsh criticism in the comments section (many from Israeli citizens themselves) - dismissing the video as historically inaccurate and offensive for its use of racist stereotypes.
“Our foreign minister pushing the narrative of ignorance…” said one facebook commentator. “The truth is the Jews were a minority for most of the last thousand years in Israel, arabs lived here for a pretty long time, and geopolitics is not as simple as Liberman would like it to be.”
However, the video’s portrayal of Palestinians as illegitimate invaders, who turn up after the State of Israel was established, is perhaps the most inaccurate and egregious claim in the video.
“It’s a very crude piece of public relations or propaganda,” said Yair Wallach, professor of Israeli studies at SOAS, University of London, to Al Bawaba.
“It’s interesting that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs chose to align themselves with this version of history. If they wanted to approach general public opinion, this is not the way to do it because it’s ridiculous and easily refutable.”.
Wallach further pointed to the video’s omission of the influx of Jews into Israel in the early 20th century, which further points to the video’s historical inaccuracy.
“The whole idea of the Jewish return is not there in the video, and everyone knows the overwhelming majority of Jews in Israel came from abroad in the 20th century. So the fact that they are leaving that part of the story, which is so important for Zionism, is striking,” said Wallach.
Alongside this, the the video contradicts the well-documented facts of the “Nakba,” where up to an estimated 700,000 Palestinians living in what is now Israel were dispossessed.
This is not Israel’s first foray into ‘hasbara,’ - a form of Israeli propaganda aimed at international audiences. Last month, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was condemned by the UN after he claimed that opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank - considered occupied under international law - amounts to "ethnic cleansing".
The history of the land of Israel (and who has the right to it) is riddled with controversy and contested opinions. However, it is generally accepted that the region has been the subject to a range of empires and ethnicities over thousands of years, including Jews and Palestinians.