Why did EC put known Israeli racist in top PR post?


August 7, 2017
Sarah Benton


Avishai Ivri, in a screenshot from a now deleted EU promotional video, has incited genocidal violence against Palestinians. Image from facebook.com | Europe.in.Israel]

Advocate of ‘Death to Arabs’ is EU’s frontman in Israeli PR campaign

By Jonathan Ofir, Mondoweiss
August 04, 2017

The European Union launched a video campaign to brand itself more positively last week (posted on the EU Israeli Embassy Facebook page) – and what could be a better choice than a pundit who advocates Palestinian genocide?

Electronic Intifada reported this yesterday, linking to the video, but just after this article was completed today (9 AM EST), the video was taken down. A screen caption is available on Electronic Intifada. [Update: Ali Abunimah reports that the EU has removed the video.]

The video, presenting the many ties between EU and Israel, including tourism, export and import, and co-operation on technology and weapons industries, is presented by Avishai Ivri.

Ivri is a known right-wing nationalist pundit. Last year he appeared in an Israeli Walla News debate, speaking first about Elor Azaria who killed an incapacitated wounded Palestinian by a shot to the head at close range:

“Badge of honour for him taking down the terrorist”, he says, “too bad he missed the camera!” (referring to the fact that the event was filmed by a Palestinian cameraman). He explains:

Let’s be honest, the Azaria story, it’s not that he slammed a bullet to the head of a terrorist – everyone does that. The story is that he was caught… he was filmed. I think that the indictment of ‘manslaughter’ should be changed to ‘fuck-up’ [fadiha in Hebrew].

The hostess laughs, the whole debate is really up-beat, and no-one seems to mind this language. A bit later, in discussing terror, Ivri says to his somewhat more ‘leftist’ opponents:

“You’re always asking [us] ‘what’s your solution? What’s your solution? Hello?? We don’t shout ‘Death to the Arabs’ because it rhymes!” [The centrists laugh, genuinely amused) – “We shout it because it’s our solution! We fucking write it with spray on the wall! How secret do you think we keep our solution?”

In Electronic Intifada’s coverage of the the EU campaign story yesterday, many of Ivri’s tweets over the years are noted. For example, in Israel’s 2012 Gaza onslaught, Ivri tweeted:

“Here’s a strategy that hasn’t been tried out yet: 1,000 Arabs killed for each one of our people killed. I think they owe us 5,000 from last week.”

A week earlier he had a more effective solution:

“Fuck it, wipe out Gaza”, he wrote.

Ivri’s EU video launched last week addresses the fears about Europe that many Israelis are assumed to have. It opens with his saying:

“The EU – you think it’s anti-Israeli, right? Let me surprise you.”

Ivri notes that EU is a huge market, and runs through the trade cooperation advantages. He mentions that 1/3 of the Israeli export reaches EU (worth about $13 billion annually). “They love the Israeli export – and we love theirs!” he says. He notes that Israel imports goods for $21 billion. He then notes the touristic value for ‘us and them.’

“You thought EU doesn’t agree with us on anything?” he asks, then describes the ‘open skies’ agreement:

“We gave them free access to our airports, and they gave us free access to theirs – they have 500 of them!”

He notes that every year 2 million tourists come to Israel and leave $2 billion in Israel. He says Europeans love the Israeli agricultural export; 80 percent of Israel’s fresh agricultural export goes to Europe, worth about 1 million Euros a year, including of course the cherry tomatoes and tahini. Then Ivri moves on to technology – high-tech – drones (which are of course battle-tested against Palestinians), moving on to irrigation, cyber-security etc.

Having cited all these advantages, Ivri concludes,

“It also doesn’t hurt for us to be identified by technological innovation, rather than by other things… So the next time you hear about the EU, remember – they are the best neighbours we’ve got!”

The EU has decided to use Ivri as its presenter. Sure, he has an upbeat style, he can talk. But what message is the EU sending Palestinians? What is it saying to Israelis by using this person? What is it saying to the world?

Could it be the EU was unaware of Ivri’s genocidal advocacies? They must have gone through a process of finding a suitable candidate to represent them, this is no small task. And after all, Ivri is not exactly secret about his views – as he says, he “fucking writes it with spray on the wall!”

So, did the EU officials not see the writing on Ivri’s wall of genocide? Or worse – did they think that a person with his views would be a popular appeal to the Israeli public?

It may be that the EU wasn’t paying attention. After all, that seems to be a rather typical feature of the EU’s Ambassador in Tel-Aviv, Lars Faaborg-Andersen [L].

In March last year, he participated in an anti-BDS conference in Jerusalem, at which Israel’s intelligence minister called for “targeted civil elimination” of Palestinian human rights defenders – making use of terminology which the Israeli military employs as a euphemism for extrajudicial executions. BDS leader Omar Barghouti was particularly addressed as a target for expulsion, and Amnesty International expressed fears for the “safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti, and other boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists, following calls alluding to threats, including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights, made by Israeli ministers.”

But Faaborg-Andersen didn’t notice much. In answer to a question from Israeli activist Ofer Neiman during a Facebook live chat, Faaborg-Andersen defended his role in the anti-BDS conference.

“I participated in that conference in order to explain the EU’s position on BDS which the EU does not support… I also explained the EU’s positions on settlements which in the EU’s view are illegal, and on the correct indication of origin on goods exported from Israeli settlements to the EU. This does not mean that I associated myself with the remarks of Israeli ministers at that conference but nor did I hear anyone threatening anyone’s life.”

So, now perhaps the EU embassy will claim that they did not hear Avishai Ivri “threatening anyone’s life.” And why make a fuss about genocide anyway.

This is why Israelis know they have nothing to fear from the EU. Like the United States, the EU gives an occasional slap on the wrist, Israelis cry ‘antisemitism,’ and everyone moves on. Nothing really happens. The trade continues, on the backs of Palestinians.

Jonathan Ofir is an Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.


EU removes video featuring Israeli genocide advocate

By MEMO
August 06, 2017

The European Union embassy in Tel Aviv has removed from its Facebook page an official EU promotional video featuring Avishai Ivri, an Israeli “comedian” who incites genocidal levels of violence against Palestinians.

This came a day after The Electronic Intifada published an exposé of Ivri’s long record of extreme anti-Palestinian racism.[“Fuck it, wipe out Gaza,” says spokesman for new EU campaign]

In posts on Twitter, Ivri has called on Israel to kill “1,000 Arabs” for every Israeli who dies in conflict-related violence and has urged that Israel “wipe out Gaza.”

He denies the existence of Palestinians as a people and has urged Israel to expel them so it can become the “sovereign” in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“We decided to stop promoting a video on EU-Israel co-operation,” the EU embassy stated on Twitter on Friday. “We want no doubts that anything we do promotes the values the EU stands for.”

The video “was meant to showcase co-operation between EU and Israel, we do not want anything to distract from this important message,” the embassy added.

1/ We decided to stop promoting a video on EU-Israel cooperation We want no doubts that anything we do promotes the values the EU stands for.

2/ Video was meant to showcase co-operation between EU and Israel, we do not want anything to distract from this important message.

 An email to The Electronic Intifada from a spokesperson at the EU embassy in Tel Aviv contained a similar message. The spokesperson added: “The personal and political views held by Mr. Ivri, some of which [are] clearly at odds with the positions and the values of the European Union, are of course his own and do not engage the EU in any way.”

Despite removing the video, the EU has failed to condemn Ivri’s genocidal incitement against Palestinians and has remained silent about how and why it hired him in the first place.

It has offered no apology and accepted no responsibility for partnering with him.

The EU’s gentle distancing of itself from Ivri stands in marked contrast to its high-profile co-operation with Israel that is supposedly aimed at cracking down on “online incitement” and criticism of Israel, which it conflates with antisemitism.

Since the exposé of Ivri, many social media users in Europe have expressed outrage that the EU hired a genocidal racist to star in an official video.

The removal of the video is a clear sign EU bureaucrats can hear their indignation. Here are some of them:

 @EUinIsrael Why are you promoting genocide in  ?

 

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