Zombie Wars, PR Wars, and Israel

by lizard

When it comes to zombies, we apparently can’t get enough. But it’s more than that. I like this snippet from a Missoula Indy review of World War Z, by Molly Laich:

The scholarship on our fixation with zombies has been done: It’s a comment on rabid consumerism or our apocalyptic anxieties in light of a strangled world economy, or else it just satisfies our bloodlust for gore and pillaging. It’s become such a thing that it’s starting to seem as though some people really do think that a zombie invasion is possible or even likely.

The zombie invasion, as depicted by the screen adaptation of Max Brooks’ book, puts the nation-state of Israel into a an interesting role, one Jesse Benjamin expounds on for Mondoweiss in a post titled Zombie Hasbara: ‘World War Z’ and Hollywood’s Zionist Embrace. Here’s the lead-in:

I went to the Drive-In in Atlanta Friday night, to celebrate a friend’s birthday, a beautiful night under an almost full moon. We watched This is The End and Fast and Furious 6, and two of us stayed for the 2:00 am screening of World War Z. I’m not a zombie fanatic, so other than watching the Walking Dead, I had few expectations beyond the trailers that have been on TV since the Super Bowl. So I was surprised, jarred out of the movie really, when right in the middle of the narrative, Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, travels to Israel and spends more than 10 minutes in a full-on pro-Israel propaganda piece that was as corny as it was crazy.

The Times of Israel may be only slightly exaggerating when it calls this “the greatest piece of cinematic propaganda for Israel since Otto Preminger’s “Exodus.” Not only is Israel’s fanatical Wall Building proven to be justified, against the hordes of undead invaders, and not only are Jewish victimizations paraded to justify the aggrandizement of Israeli military prowess, but it’s Israel’s supposed humanism, and multicultural inclusiveness, which in the end weakens the fragile post-apocalyptic state and allows the zombies to overrun everything. Its pretty heady stuff.

It’s a very compelling review, one only Mondoweiss can pull off.

The reason even mentioning Israeli propaganda can be difficult is how quickly reactionary groups like the Anti-Defemation League respond to any attempt to humanize the “zombie” Palestinian hordes clawing at the walls of their open-air concentration camps.

Apparently, Alice Walker’s latest novel, The Cushion in the Road, qualifies as one of those troubling works of art that results in this kind of response:

“Alice Walker isn’t a thinker or a writer,” he writes. “She rode to fame during a time when critics championed ‘ethnic’ writing, no matter how bad it was. And now because of the dim-wittedness of those times, during which all voices were ‘valid’ and ‘equal’, even though it is more than apparent that art distinguishes itself by talent only…If people had just waited for real talent to emerge instead of dressing a wart hog in a ball gown and giving it a rhinestone tiara, we wouldn’t now be stuck with Alice Walker.”

And this:

“Alice Walker is your typical angry, resentful, envious and enraged black american female,” she writes, “who takes advantage of our freedoms to spew out her hate and jealousy of the success of Israel and the brilliant intellect of the jewish people.In comparaison a great majority of her kind have really never totally gave up the law of the jungle with a hidden sense of inferiority and savage, bacward reasonning no matter how much instruction and emancipation they get in the modern world.

Why the venom? From the same article:

The Jewish establishment and the ADL, in particular, have long had a pre-occupation, if not an obsession, with the notion of “Black anti-Semitism.” In 1992, it published a 50 page letter-size “ADL Research Report,” entitled “The Anti-Semitism of Black Demagogues and Extremists” which included just about everyone who had broken the unwritten taboo of speaking and writing about the role of Jews in the African slave trade.

For having the temerity to step outside of the invisible plantation in which a patronizing Jewish establishment has long consigned the black intelligentsia and political class, Walker is being subjected to a level of racist venom that one might expect from a KKK journal.

Even here in Missoula, when a billboard went up on I-90 that said this: $8 million a day to Israel just doesn’t make sense! an eventual article, facilitated by the Indy, and framed as a billboard war, shot back with this:

The Council for the National Interest, a Virginia-based nonprofit, paid for the billboard. Executive Director Phil Giraldi says the nonprofit takes issue with military aid provided by the United States to Israel and designed its campaign to start a conversation about this country’s fiscal priorities. “It’s essentially a question of Israel getting a large amount of money,” he says.

The message, however, hit a nerve. Chessin, for one, says the billboard is one-sided and superficial, as well as anti-Israel. Aiming to reclaim the battlefield of public opinion, Har Shalom mobilized and joined forces with Stand With Us, an international nonprofit based out of Los Angeles, to promote its own message.

SWU educates about Israel and, according to its website, combats “the extremism and anti-Semitism that often distorts the issues.” SWU’s Gary Ratner says his organization commonly encounters messages like the one in Missoula. “It’s called ‘BDS’boycott, divestment and sanction,” he says. “It’s an attempt to undermine American support for Israel and the joint values that we hold.”

When alerted to such efforts, SWU counters with its own themes, fueling a public relations war that’s played out on buses, billboards and in train stations across the country. Typically the skirmishes occur in progressive strongholds such as San Francisco, Portland and New York, but now it’s stretched to Missoula.

Equating any criticism of Israel with anti-semitism is a long-used tactic deployed over and over again because it works. But no PR war can totally erase what Israel has become: a dangerous, paranoid aggressor willing to do anything because of a perceived existential threat cunningly exploited for maximum gain in terrain, resources, and power.

  1. Big Johansson

    Damn. Did we in Billings make a terrible mistake?

  2. Jack Ruby

    We have a couple of those billboards in Helena right now “Stop Sending Money to the Israeil military” or something like that. I had to do a double take when I first saw it wasn’t sure it really said what I thought it did. Im not sure where they came from and who the organization is that’s paying for it but the message was more than welcome and one I was not expecting to see. Its a good start to having an actual informed societal debate on the subject

  3. Jack Ruby

    That movie was a hot mess but still mildly entertaining. As with everything you cant really compare the movie favorably to the book, but to be fair to the original author I don’t recall reading it as coming off as Israeli propaganda or equating Palestinians/arabs with zombies. They were letting them in and they arabs/Palestinians were very much humanized.

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