Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Hasbara without Jollywood

Hasbara, Israel advocacy, is about bringing the denied facts and the truth, not to answer Pollywood with Jollywood

For all clarity: There are extremist right-wing and extremist left-wing Israeli or Jewish news outlets that manipulate the facts and, instead of bringing the news, try to create news. This is a ‘capital sin’ in journalism.

On the other side, a whole industry aims to manipulate public opinion in favor of the guerillas and against Israel/Jews. Their special work does not have Hollywood quality, but what Pollywood misses in professionalism, it makes up for in dedication. They stage old and new blood libels that move the heart, confuse the brain, and enrage the viewer from top to toe.

I just read a piece by someone pleading that we do the same because it works while bringing facts and rational arguments doesn’t work. He calls the Israel-explaining by my colleagues and me ‘mediocre.’ We should learn from the much more ‘effective pro-Palestinian Arab propagandists.’ In his words: ‘It is true that Palestinian Arab propaganda lies, distorts, and defames. Nevertheless, it works.’ I don’t think so. His mistakes are:

A. The Jewish way is not to lie. If a lying competition would give us more money, we still will not lie. G^d ordered us to be a giant but small People, a light unto the nations, not winners. The style of the Olympics, with its winners and losers, is contrary to Jewish life. Those who like competitions should compete against their own past self to improve. That way, we can all be winners, and winning makes no one a loser. Our first concern is to be moral, not a winner at the expense of others. Also, don’t play the victim card or compete about who deserves more sympathy. Just say: Targeting civilians is a war crime. That’s clear enough. He writes: “But being right is not enough.” I counter: Lying is not kosher. G^d orders us to chase honesty like nothing else. Honesty only works if you give it priority. G^d will help. The author signed off as a Monotheist. Then, put G^d in the equation.

B. Rabbi Cardozo once told me that most people can figure out who speaks the truth. A beautiful example is that, by far, most USers stand with us no matter what. That heartens me. A Dutch saying is: No matter how fast the lie, truth will overtake it. Another one is: Honesty lasts the longest.

C. If we start manipulating the public like the terrorist organizations are, it will get two conflicting stories, each made up. That way, you don’t do the public any favors. At worst, they will think that Antisemites (Hitler) and Jews (Israel) are equally right/wrong. At best, they will be confused.

D. Yes, Pollywood is more effective than our honest stories. But that has reasons that have nothing to do with them doing a better job.

1. There is Antisemitism everywhere, and people who hate Jews often sit in powerful positions. Frequently, new journalists are idealistic and write the truth, only to be ‘edited’ by their bosses who can’t stand Jews.

2. You can pack six lies in one short sentence, while each may need six paragraphs to show how it’s untrue. It is an art to say it in fewer words, but that won’t always be possible.

3. It takes time to check the facts. Lies don’t have that ‘problem.’ A recent poll showed that the Times of Israel is now the most sought-after news outlet about the war in Gaza. They very carefully check everything before they publish. Apparently, it comes across.

E. It is not true that Pollywood has much power on its own. What gives it power is that honest people are often so naïve, starting with decent politicians in their ivory towers and out-of-touch Western faith leaders.

F. He seems to have in mind the US public when he advocates playing on people’s feelings. However, in many other cultures, facts are superior to emotions. You can’t sell to the Dutch vacuum cleaners by claiming they will make them happy. They want to know if they vacuum well.

G. One of the main antisemitic accusations about Jews is that we are dishonest. Of course, as with most prejudices about most groups, it is the opposite of the truth. Learn Talmud, and you’ll see how impeccably honest the Sages are. (Honesty is our Tradition. The rest is assimilation picked up in the Diaspora.) If everyone says that your kind of people are lazy, you don’t believe it. You make sure you do your fair share, even more so. If they call you dishonest, you avoid lies even more than you would have.

H. I know a Jewish community where the leaders speak peace process in English to tourists and Jewish supremacy in Hebrew. I hate it. It’s just like Arafat and his students. I want a one-hour shower after that.


He also says other stuff (I paraphrase in italics) besides ‘let’s lie too.

1. Don’t repeat Palestinian lies to show how even-handed you are. I agree.

The Dutch Zionist organization did that for years until I stopped them.

2. Don’t equate Antisemitism and Islamophobia. I would even say: Don’t mention them in one breath because that’s Antisemitic. How so? When we talk about racism, then to say: ‘Yes, but how about sexism among Black?’ is racist. Keep the subject on Antisemitism. When a man looks down on women, that’s sexism; when a woman ridicules men, that’s resistance. Make clear we don’t hate Jew-haters – they are the haters. Stop well-meaning people who want to make the Holocaust ‘relevant’ by saying that Auschwitz shows that hating groups is wrong. Let’s first conclude that hating Jews is wrong. Talk about Muslims who are friends of Jews, love Israel; hold off on the reverse. Stick to the issue. Call out Whataboutism.

3. Keep arguments “as simple and dumb as possible.” A good teacher is not defensive or excessive but also thinks highly of the students. Especially, since the Jewish mission is to be a light unto the Nations, a good teacher.

4. Don’t say we want to defend Israel, and to liberate the Gaza population from terrorist exploitation, and finish off Chamas – it’s confusing. I don’t think so. These are all legit goals and go together very nicely.

5. Explain to Christians that [fanatic] Muslims hate them as much as Jews. I find this disgusting. I want nothing to do with Christian antipathy against Islam, to help that their supremacy vis-à-vis Jews transfers to Muslims.

6. Use slogans too. They are powerful. That’s so stupid. I prefer not to reply with slogans of our making. Try to dismantle them. ‘Stop the occupation [of Gaza and the West Bank]’? Counter: “We stopped those occupations years ago; before we regained these places, the populations were happy to belong to Egypt respectively Jordan—pseudo-democracies. What’s their problem with belonging to a Jewish democracy? These people you want free are ruled by Muslim extremist terrorists, not Jews, without freedom of the press, free speech, freedom of assembly, free elections, or equality for the law. LGBTQIA+ and feminists are in mortal danger 24/7. There’s huge poverty and unemployment despite much international aid, which the terrorists steal to buy weapons and enrich their overseas bank accounts. Free from the river to the Sea – I agree: Free from terrorists and dictators.” Yet, sometimes, I prefer kind-of-slogans. Instead of detailing what monsters the terrorists are, say what they did, without details, and add: which is a war crime/a crime against humanity/Jews-hatred.

7. Talk about how Chamas also murdered Muslims. I don’t see the point. Don’t claim that Gentiles don’t care when Jews are murdered. Tell them Chamas beheaded babies, raped people, burned down whole villages, stole TVs, murdered using chemical weapons, etc., which each are war crimes. I often add: Muslims living in democratic Israel are disgusted with Chamas.

8. Most of hasbara appears deliberately designed to preach to the choir. I love giving hasbara to Jews who don’t have the time to read all the news I do. I love giving Jews in the Diaspora the information that is hard to get from the lying international press agencies and enhance their pride. Also, I probably feel safer in Israel, so it’s easier for me to call a spade a spade.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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