Gideon Levy

Winning Over Foreign Dignitaries by Getting Them Drunk on the Holocaust

This tour organized by the Israel Allies Foundation and the Samaria Regional Council provides a glimpse into the Israeli right-wing’s propaganda machine and cynical use of emotion

Vineyards in the Israeli settlement of Psagot, in 2014.

It’s happening on Sunday. Twenty-five legislators from around the world will be coming on a visit to Israel as guests of the Israel Allies Foundation (there is such a thing) and of the Samaria Regional Council, which governs Jewish settlements in the northern West Bank. (Unfortunately there is such a thing as that too).

They’re coming from such leading countries as Estonia, North Macedonia, Romania and Croatia. The delegation is to include the president-elect of Guatemala and someone whom the organizers call a foreign minister, Venezuelan shadow minister of foreign affairs Julio Borges.

The itinerary arranged for them is fascinating. It gives them a glimpse at the Israeli right-wing’s propaganda machine and the right’s cynical use of emotion, which is bereft of its final vestiges of shame. Now it’s stuffing these high-level visitors with a diet of just more kitsch, references to the Holocaust, lies and death – unrestrained by fairness, proportionality, honesty or the truth.

It’s doubtful that North Korea would have dared put together such a ludicrous and insulting program for its guests. The propaganda machines in Romania under the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and apartheid South Africa would certainly have been embarrassed to do so. But when there is funding in abundance and with the global propaganda success that the Israeli right wing has enjoyed in recent years, anything can be shamelessly plied to this delegation at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem.

They will start their day “on the country’s balcony,” in the West Bank settlement of Peduel, wouldn’t you know, where coffee and pastries will be awaiting them. From there, it’s on to the Twitoplast plant in the Barkan industrial zone in the West Bank for a meeting with the families of Jewish murder victims. We already know that they will be asking the delegation to work to prevent European Union funding to go to terrorists.

EU funding for terrorists. We also already know that the members of the delegation will be signing a petition opposing the labeling of “Jewish products.” Jewish products!

After wiping away their tears, they will move on to the Kabir Winery in the settlement of Elon Moreh, which, along with its vineyards, is on privately-owned land that was stolen from the Palestinian town of Azmuth, for an even more moving visit with Leah and Simha Goldin, whose son was killed in combat in Gaza in 2014. It would be best not to elaborate on the parents’ lobbying campaign.

But the highlight of the day is yet to come: dinner with a Holocaust survivor who will be talking about how he felt when he heard about the European Union court decision requiring the labeling of “Jewish products.” And what will this survivor feel?

Will he cry? Will his visitors cry? Will he mention how Jewish-owned stores were marked in Nazi Germany? Or maybe a number tattooed on his arm? Will any of the guests dare ask why products manufactured in West Bank settlements should not be labeled as such, or what the connection is to the Holocaust?

And where will this parliamentary catharsis take place? At the Psagot Winery of course, where absolutely everything is stolen – the vineyards, the winery and the CEO’s home. Everything is on stolen private land legally owned by Palestinians who live in the West Bank city of El Bireh, and can only dream about the site of the winery.

Just imagine: The winery’s visitor center, a guard dog in the yard, the CEO, who will be coming right from his stone house with its swimming pool, is on stolen land; the Holocaust survivor, who will talk about what he is feeling when the Europeans again mark the Jews; and the guests, who will vow “never again.” Can you imagine anything more bizarre? Let’s raise our glass of Psagot 7 Shmita Red, from north of the Judean Hills, so to speak, and everyone will talk about the Holocaust and the tartness of the wine.

After the usual public diplomacy rounds with Erdan, Gantz, Saar and Lapid, they will have a lecture from an international law expert on “Building a legal ghetto around Israel: The European Union and the tale of the occupation.” That will be balanced by a talk on the world of the Palestinian child.

At least the latter, I innocently thought, would be about the lives of Palestinian children under occupation, including children being killed, arrested and interrogated. Instead a founder of the propaganda group Palestinian Media Watch will talk about how these children are incited to hate Israel.

The delegation will return home tired but satisfied, brainwashed, stuffed and incited. And we will be left with the shame and disgrace.