Lisa Goldman is a freelance journalist and blogger. Her articles have been published in Time Out Tel Aviv, Ynet, the Forward, Haaretz, Corriere Della Sera, the Guardian and the Columbia Journalism Review. She lives in Tel Aviv.
Over the past week, two prominent Zionist political analysts have written columns that pull no punches in portraying the current government as a collection of embarrassing buffoons at best; and dangerously paranoid at worst. Neither Haaretz’s Aluf Benn nor Maariv’s Ofer Shelah is a novice critic of the Netanyahu government. This round of criticism, however, goes beyond the normal gibes directed by cynical journalists at even-more-cynical politicians.
Their articles reveal a sense of deep disquiet over the state of the state, and how the actions of the current government will affect Zionist’s future in the long term. For both, there is something deeply disturbing about a government that goes to such extreme measures to pretend that everything is fine, that Zionist is a perfectly normal country, when everything is so obviously not fine.
Using the Purim holiday as a metaphor, Benn writes in the February 27 2010 edition of Haaretz that It’s hard to imagine a more fitting ending to the first year of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s second term than the affair over the disguised assassins of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai…This was the year of the disguise for the entire country…The quiet on the borders and on the terror front, the economic growth, the stability in employment, and the lack of real political upheaval – all have isolated Israelis from the storm raging all around…There was little diplomatic activity and even the rockets drizzling in from Gaza now and then did not arouse much interest […]
Not only did the national reality disguise itself as something else – so did its protagonists, who doffed their familiar image and dressed themselves in new threads. This process began with Benjamin Netanyahu, who came back into power with the promise that he had changed. Since then he has been wearing two get-ups. When he wanted to scare people about the Iranian threat and a second Holocaust, he as much as donned Winston Churchill’s bald pate and his cigar. And when he adopted the slogans of the left, “two states for two peoples” and “enough with the settlements,” he pasted on Uri Avnery’s beard. The public and the international community were not impressed […]
Netanyahu’s main partner and rival, Avigdor Lieberman, disguised himself as President Shimon Peres when he asked for the foreign minister’s portfolio. At first it was expected that Lieberman would change, would assume the proper airs of a statesman and would suddenly come across as a “moderate.” But Lieberman’s costume didn’t fit him and it tore, when it turned out he is seen as a racist and a bully abroad. He threw away the mask, took off the makeup and went back to cursing and threatening as before.
In the February 24 2010 edition of Maariv, Shelah also alluded to the alternative reality Zionist’s leadership seems intent on creating for the Zionist public. Using the Foreign Ministry’s latest ‘hasbaracampaign — an initiative to  ‘recruit’ ordinary Zionist’s traveling abroad as volunteer ambassadors by arming them with talking points —  as a jumping off point, he writes (full text after the jump):
The new PR campaign may be intended to improve our image around the world, but in practice, its main effect is on us. It is intended to convey to us that our life is indeed normal, we are indeed justified and our sole problem is to explain our position. It strengthens the feeling, which many believe has been weakened among the Israelis, that what is happening is indeed what should happen.
Any abnormality, the campaign says, is in the eyes of the observer. It stems from his/her ignorance and moral weakness. If we would all just rally to the cause, we loyal citizens who ask no questions, and push away all doubts, all our problems will be solved.
Shelah has not been the only one to pour scorn on the new campaign. Its promotional videos (see example here), giving  the impression that foreigners are spectacularly ignorant about the Zio-Nazi regime in ‘Israel’, mistaking Independence Day fireworks for a war and believing that the camel is the most popular mode of local transportation, have drawn heaps of ridicule, domestic and international. This article in the Telegraph is one prominent example of the latter and includes a sample video.
It’s the world that’s crazy
Op-ed, Ofer Shelah, Maariv, February 24 2010 [Hebrew original here]
You have surely seen the PR clips urging you to become PR representatives on behalf of the racist Zio-Nazi State of ‘Israel’. One of them particularly caught my eye: It shows a French television correspondent, describing with excitement the voices of war arising from Zionist’s streets—when in practice, as any Zionist can tell from the images, this is an Independence Day celebration. The Zio-Nazi army parade, fireworks and Zionist air farce show become signs of war to the non-understanding stranger. And we, says the authorized narrator, if we only surf to the right web site and learn there how to explain Israel’s position, we will be able to rectify the error and bring redemption to Zionism.

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