Web 2.0 vs. Israel

It features Milli Vanilli and Baghdad Bob, the 2003 Iraqi minister of information. It's funny, it's timely, it captures the zeitgeist, and it has a great beat to it. Too bad it's just a beautiful piece of libel. "Internet Killed Israeli PR," a parody music video set to the tune of The Buggles' 1979 "Radio Star," has been getting some recent attention on various video sharing websites. It's considered a response to Latma TV's hit video “We Con the World.” It has been featured over the past few days on the Ma'an News Agency, Israeli blogs such as Holes in the Net (in Hebrew), and the Los Angeles Times' “Babylon and Beyond” blog. And it joins other works, like Doc Jazz's “Freedom Flotilla song,” in an orchestrated, ongoing Israel-bashing campaign, now repackaged with a stylized Web 2.0 sheen.

This mashup, or audio-video montage, runs the gamut from innocent shots of Star Wars Kid and of Herzl waterskiing, through irrelevant shots of the IDF general staff from the mid-2000s, to a shot of Hitler delivering a speech, all meant to persuade the viewer: Israel is a human rights violator. Its spokespeople lie for it, and not very competently at that. We, the creators of this video, are anti-Israel internet activists, we are onto them, and our activism renders them useless. We're the cool guys; join our side.

The creators of the video sport the moniker “Minor Demographic Threat” and say they are a “multi-ethnic group predominantly of American and Israeli Jews, but also Palestinians and others.” Their name was chosen, among other reasons, as “a parody of Israel's race-based arguments against the right of return,” which, in plain English, means their end goal is the dissolution of the Jewish nation-state, in favor of a one-state Utopian solution where everyone will live miserably ever after. The fake “BDS records” label shown at the beginning of the video is a reference to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, which aspires to destroy Israel as we know it by economic pressure rather than via scrupulous video editing. (“Aspires” is the action word here: BDS movement motions so far have largely failed, even in UC Berkeley's student senate. Ouch.)

The Minor Demographic Threat describes itself as a “marauding band of anarcho-Yiddishist minstrels,” where “Yiddishist” evidently refers not to an in-depth understanding of the rabbinic civilization that Jews developed for centuries in the Pale of Settlement, but to having the inalienable right to crack circumcision jokes, compare Israel to Nazi Germany, and call Hitler a “putz.”

That the “peace activists” on board the Mavi Marmara started the fight is well documented. It's been long established that the knives used to stab Israeli soldiers were nothing of the sort Barbara Streisand probably ever wielded. The actual facts of the events of May 31 are known to any news observer that cares enough to look at evidence, and they are not the focus of the video, so there is no point in attempting to counter the non-facts of a propaganda piece. Instead, let's consider what sort of messages the video conveys, whom they were probably meant for, and what those who support Israel can learn from this work and others like it.