Monthly Archives: July 2011

Actor in Israel gov’s new anti-flotilla vid said to be Haaretz employee (Updated)

Update: A second source inside Haaretz has confirmed for me that Neistat is a Haaretz employee.

A new anti-flotilla hasbara video surfaced this week, this time depicting a young woman in a psychiatrist’s office describing her flotilla-related trauma and nightmares. The video is even more embarrassingly stupid than the pinkwashing hoax that Ali Abuminah, Ben Doherty and I exposed as a fraud promoted and possibly produced by the Israeli government. Using the female actor as a symbol for Israeli society, the video blames the flotilla for wounding the tender souls of hip Tel Avivians, turning sexy, innocent young people into paranoid trauma patients. At least, that was my reading of the otherwise incoherent video.

According to +972’s Dimi Reider, the new anti-flotilla production has government fingerprints all over it. As Reider reported, “+972 was able to confirm through a source with knowledge of the actress’ engagement that the gig was indeed described at the time as a Hasbara video commissioned by the government.”

I made some calls about the female actor in the video, Aimee Neistat. A source who works inside Haaretz told me that Neistat is a Haaretz employee who translates Hebrew content into English (occasionally staffers at the translation desk produce original journalist content and editorials). Of course, everyone at Haaretz is entitled to their opinion, but Neistat’s involvement in a government-sponsored propaganda campaign seems like an ethical breach. As appallingly bad as the video was, the fact that an apparent staffer for one of Israel’s major newspapers played a starring role is far worse.

Yonatan Shapira held in Greek port: “I don’t know if I’m detained or not”

I just spoke by phone with my friend Yonatan Shapira, an Israeli refusenik and activist who is among the crew of “The Audacity of Hope,” the American boat currently being held by the Greek government. The captain of the ship has been jailed and will be formally charged this week. Meanwhile, Yonatan and the crew are being held by the Greek authorities, though he doesn’t actually know if he’s being formally detained. I encourage readers to call the Greek Embassy in Washington at 202.939.1300 and report what you’ve learned in my comments section.

My conversation with Yonatan follows:

MB: What’s the situation?

Yonatan Shapira: We’re on the boat right now and it’s docked in this place guarded by the Greek Coast Guard. Basically they took us to this Coast Guard place and kept us in detention. And the crew was supposed to not leave the boat or this little compound. But the two British members of the crew were just told by the embassy that they could leave there — under the European Union law they could be free. So it’s just me and the American crew members and it’s not clear if we can leave. One of the guys form the crew tried to leave and they said he couldn’t. Most of the passengers chose to stay with us. The press has all left. Democracy Now tried to come back today and they were not allowed in.

MB: Why have they jailed the captain?

YS: They can use him as an example for all the future flotillas and keep him in jail for a long time, to try to intimidate them. On Monday or Tuesday there will be a court hearing and the lawyers are preparing. But it’s an obvious case of the Greeks trying to intimidate future flotillas and the current one because there are several vessels preparing to leave. The Canadians are still in port surrounded by Coast Guard vessels.

MB: Do you think there’s any chance of the flotilla disembarking for Gaza?

YS: It’s hard to believe that they will leave. It’s all a political decision and how much pressure can we apply on a government that’s under so much pressure, so hated by its own people? On the other hand, maybe we are just one fly on the back of this big cow.

MB: So are you officially a prisoner of the Greek government?

YS: I don’t know if I’m detained or not but I’m going to check a bit later and see if I can just go out. They took our names and numbers. But I believe they are going to pursue the trial of the captain and let us go.

MB: It’s kind of funny that Greece is holding Americans apparently on behalf of Israel and the US government doesn’t seem to mind.

YS: It just shows how the US and Israel is becoming like one big distorted body.

MB: Maybe if you had Rabbi Dov Lior as a crew member the Israeli government would allow Greece to release the boat. [Yonatan laughs] Seriously though, do you think this latest flotilla has achieved at least a symbolic victory?

YS: We have generated a lot of media and the battle is still long. But personally I want to sail. Then again, it’s a long sail that we’re on and maybe this is just one stop on the journey.