Binyamin Netanyahu recently paid for advertising space on Facebook:
Dear citizen: In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us, but our enemies will fail. I invite you to join my Facebook page. Happy Passover.
After this campaign, Netanyahu’s page boasted ten times as many ‘Likes’ as that of Sheli Yechimovich, the leader of the Labor Party. But her staff revealed that only 17 per cent of them were from Israelis. More than half were from Americans, and 5000 were from admirers in Indonesia.
‘Our enemies’ at the moment means Iran. Last month, the Wiesenthal Center sent a letter to donors, quoting an independent Iranian blogger, as if he had any influence on the government, and including an ‘extermination map’ of Israel, which the blogger had taken from Wikipedia. I asked Efraim Zurrof, the centre’s representative in Israel, what he thought of the letter. ‘You know how it is in America,’ he said. ‘All organisations work like that.’
At the same time, two Israeli designers, Roni Edry and Michal Tamir, set up a Facebook page called ‘Israel loves Iran’, an antiwar initiative to bring ordinary Israelis and Iranians together on the social networking site. It now has more than 60,000 ‘Likes’. An Israeli tech company set up a video chat application for Iranians and Israelis to talk to each other.
The right-wing Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, meanwhile, asked a few experts to simulate the outcome of an Israeli strike on Iran’s ‘extermination reactors’ in a war game. They thought it would be a resounding success for Israel, even without American help. Well, maybe.
Makor Rishon was definitely right about one thing though: the Israeli media will unequivocally support any strike that is carried out, at least to start with. That’s how it is with all Israeli wars. Still, the country’s leading TV satire, Eretz Nehederet (‘Wonderful Country’), has been showing a series of sketches in which two reasonable and sympathetic Iranians are worried about the dangerous lunatics in Israel who want to wipe them out. The program’s creator, Muli Segev, has spoken out against attacking Iran. The antiwar message of the sketches might be clearer, however, if the Iranians weren’t nuclear scientists.
I am one of the curators (with Joshua Simon and Ari Libsker) of Iran, a show at the Spaceship gallery in Tel Aviv. The exhibits include a wax effigy of Ehud Barak by Ari Libsker and Anna Appel calledThe Most Dangerous Person in the World, and a mockumentary about the Israeli Air Force attacking Poland by Ofry Ilani and Yotam Feldman. We had to move Guy Briller’s installation on the roof of the gallery, Nimrod Direct, so it didn’t look like a missile pointing at the US embassy over the road.
Some of the works in the exhibition are genuine documents, including a pamphlet delivered to every postbox in my apartment building. It shows a scary photo of Ahmadinejad, asks: ‘Are you securing the safety of your loved ones?’ – and offers for sale a device that claims to protect you against unconventional weapons.