Danny Seaman: The Israeli Official Whose Career Died From Foot-in-mouth Disease

The former director of the Government Press Office never let Israeli policies get in the way of provocative propaganda.

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I shall miss Danny Seaman, the former director of the Israel Government Press Office.

Seaman was suspended from his position as social media guru and deputy director-general for information at the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry last August after a series of flaming Facebook posts that insulted Muslims, Palestinians and Japanese in equal measure.

Seaman is no longer in government. I mistakenly placed him there this morning when I shared his latest wisdom – a measured response to the untimely death Wednesday in Prague of Palestinian Ambassador Jamal al-Jamal, killed when an old safe exploded in his home.

“Guess you can say that the Palestinian ‘Ambassador’ to the Czech Republic died of natural causes,” Seaman commented. Minutes after I shared it with my own Facebook followers, he removed it and, sadly, demoted me from his list of “friends.”

Seaman appears to have missed the standard hasbara memo proudly proclaiming that Israel, unlike its foes, does not rejoice in the death of its enemies. He also appears to have missed the more fundamental policy memo that Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization are no longer enemies and are, in fact, engaged in historic peace negotiations to end their decades-long dispute.

As Barak Ravid reported in August, Danny never let these issues stand in the way of his unique approach to information strategy even when he was in government.

In a series of now-notorious Facebook posts, Seaman suggested that the Palestinians' minute-long siren commemorating the 1948 Nakba was “not nearly enough time to stop and pause to think about how stupid they are,” pondered aloud whether Muslims “stop eating each other” during Ramadan and, in an aside that re-wrote the very meaning of “public diplomacy” asked of Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat “Is there a diplomatic way of saying ‘Go f*** yourself’?”

I hadn’t noticed until today (had anyone?) that the hapless, hopeless and ineffective ministry Seaman once helped direct crumbled into diplomatic dust soon after his suspension.

Its most notable achievement was to produce a ghastly video called “Free Gaza from Hamas, not the blockade” portraying Israel in the wake of the Mavi Marmara disaster as a woman rape victim in therapy (bizarre, but true).

I’m not sure what Danny’s been doing since and now I’ll never know because he cut off all contact this morning soon after I shared that deeply-felt tribute to the late Palestinian ambassador.

When Seaman was suspended from the now-defunct ministry last August, Liel Leibovitz defended him in Tablet, praising his “innovative use of social media to get official messages across in an unmediated and effective way.”

“As the official who has skillfully navigated Israel’s social media policy, Seaman clearly understands this new and ascendant medium,” wrote Leibovitz, who said they became close friends while Seaman was his army commander in the Israel Defense Forces, despite widely divergent political views.

But mastery of the form is one thing. Content is quite another.

Danny’s scattergun approach to international insult was not confined to Israel’s troublesome neighbors or traditional foes. Reflecting on the significance of the commemoration of the first atomic bomb attacks at the end of WW2, Danny told his Facebook friends: “I am sick of the Japanese, ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Peace’ groups the world over holding their annual self-righteous commemorations for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the consequence of Japanese aggression. You reap what you sow.”

You do indeed, Danny. I shall miss your entertaining comments on Facebook and Twitter and look forward to your next appearance in the public arena.

Matthew Kalman is a foreign correspondent based in Jerusalem and the author of The Murder of Yasser Arafat and Psychobibi.

Daniel (Danny) Seaman, June 2011.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Daniel Seaman's fatal tweet