“Over the past four months, the professional team of the Ministry of Information was unable to fulfill the policy and vision outlined by the Minister, and the goal for which it was established, not even a little bit,” stated the press release coming from the Ministry of Information, justifying the dismissal of the Ministry’s CEO, Dr. Gali Sambira.
Turns out four months of concentrated efforts were a total failure, and even after the establishment of a designated Ministry of “Explanation” [Information], the state of Israel failed to “explain itself” yet again. In that exemplary release, Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan promised that she “takes the assignment bestowed upon her as a calling and her personal mission”, but don’t hold your breath, even four months from now, the State of Israel will still fail to explain itself.
It's alright, Minister Distel Atbaryan, we will not demand your resignation over the failure, you’re not the problem. Neither was Dr. Gali Sambira, who you dismissed, the problem. The problem is that there are some things that simply cannot be “explained”.
This disconnection from reality does not characterise just the Minister of Information, but rather large parts of the Israeli public. Every time one extremist minister or another says something that slightly reveals reality as it, they are immediately jumped by hordes of commentators and thinkers. “An informational terror attack” they cry, as if the problem is with words of Ben Gvir or others, and not the reality these words convey.
What the Minister of National Security said last week about his and his family’s freedom of movement mattering more than the Palestinians’, is not “an informational terror attack”, but a precise description of the reality in the [Occupied Palestinian] Territories. A reality in which there are different laws for different people.
If we needed a reminder for that, we got it a few weeks ago when Jewish rioters went out to the grounds of the Palestinian village of Burqa, burnt cars and killed 19 year old Qusai Maatan. The murder suspects were all fortunate enough to stand before a civil court, and were even visited by Knesset Members, whilst Palestinians, whose only crime was trying to defend their soil, were arrested and brought before a martial court, where MK Ahmad Tibi’s request to visit them was declined.
As long as this is the prevailing reality, as long as more and more photos are released, showing shots fired at the back of a Palestinian’s head, or a stamped Star of David (sorry, shoelaces), on another Palestinian’s face, or an outrageous verdict, like the one acquitting A.Y, the border patrol officer who killed Eyad al-Hallaq, no “organisational change” in the Ministry of Information can help anything. Because if it looks like apartheid and sounds like apartheid, then no explainer has been born who can convince the world that this is a democracy.
The State of Israel’s policy in 2023 cannot be explained. If, until now, the Occupation for some existed alongside democracy for others, with free speech and freedom of expression (at least to some residents of the state), then this, too, is no longer the case.
The number of Palestinians killed this year has already crossed 200, compared to 180 in all of 2022, which was the bloodiest year since 2004 [during the Second Intifada]. The bleeding reality of Arab society cannot be expanded upon further. And now, under the auspices of a terrified judicial system and a collapsing police, Itamar Ben Gvir and his friends succeed in their mission to violate more and more demonstrators’ [against the Judicial Overhaul] rights. Police violence grows, the infringement of demonstrators’ right to protest continues on, and all this while the government of Israel shamelessly promotes one Commission of Inquiry after another, with the sole purpose of disrupting the trial of the man leading it.
This government’s misogyny cannot be explained, either. It has no women CEOs in any ministry, and even the remaining one was dismissed. We’re lucky that among our women gatekeepers, that the government is trying to dismiss, are talented and brave women like the Supreme Court Justice, the Attorney General, and the Head of the Government Companies Authority.
“Explanation”, better known in English as “Propaganda”, is a tool used by non-democratic states and therefore cannot convince any person possessing a pair of eyes. What impacts states’ international status is reality, and not the attempts to beautify it. Israel’s image around the world improves thanks to the protesters out in the streets showcasing our state’s liberal side, but those are the very protesters that the Minister of Information despises so much.
Here's free advice to all those interviewing for the position of CEO in the Ministry of Information: don’t count on keeping the job for very long. The interview you are attending is not for the Ministry of Information’s CEO position but for the position of the next scapegoat.
That’s what it’s like when you imagine that you can explain an unexplainable reality.
Nadav Tamir is the CEO in Israel of the American pro-Israeli lobby J Street, a former diplomat in the Israeli missions in Washington and Boston, and a past political adviser to the president of the country. He is also a contributor of USA for Israeli Democracy.