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The dirty H-word: You got some ‘splainin to do.

Going on the offensive against playing defense when it comes to getting Israel’s message out

Newsflash: I curse a lot. Like, a lot a lot — even to the point where a few friends have said “ya know, ya might wanna actually tone down the F**ks and Sh*ts. It cheapens your writing.”  (asterisks not in original, natch.)

Meh. Maybe they’re right – in fact, many of you may be doing fistpumps and saying “Hell to the yeah!” and “Testify!” or even… dare I write it… “Word!” right now.

But the thing is, I think a well placed so-called dirty word can actually enhance a sentence — it adds a surprising little twist, like fishnet stockings worn with a classy LBD and Mary Janes. It’s a Victoria’s Secret pushup bra – makes you look again long enough to pay attention and get the message.

But maybe that’s just me.

That said, there is one word that I don’t like to use because I do think it cheapens the conversation.


No, seriously, are you ready?




Let’s break it down Wikipedia style:

HASBARA: Public diplomacy in Israel (Hebrew: הַסְבָּרָה‎ hasbará, “explaining”) refers to public relations efforts to disseminate information about Israel.[1][2] The term is used by the Israeli government and its supporters to describe efforts to explain government policies and promote Israel in the face of negative press, and to counter what they see as delegitimisation of Israel around the world. Hasbara means “explanation”, and is also a euphemism for propaganda.


"Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do..." (Photo credit: Wikimedia)
“Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do…” (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

Key word: “Explaining.”

Well F*ck that.

When you’re explaining you’re reacting to something. And when you’re reacting to something, you’re on the defensive. And, when you’re on the defensive, you are acknowledging blame.

Sure, Israel makes mistakes. Like. Any. Other. Sovereign. State. But our PR sucks.

Just read the newspapers:

Our cousins are shooting rockets at us waaaaaaaay too often from all directions, and yet, the world only pays attention when we hit back once.

We arrest a terrorist who masterminded the murder of an entire family? We’re blamed for breaking up his family.

That same terrorist goes on hunger strike? Doesn’t matter that we hook him up to an IV to keep him alive when he refuses to eat — we’re accused of letting him waste away.

Meanwhile, there’s a three year old girl lying in a hospital bed on life support who may never wake up. But you won’t see that trending on Twitter.

I hate to say it, but Hamas has seriously awesome PR, and we’re spending waaaaaaaaaaaay to much time reacting to their crap.

In some ways, it’s probably very simple: A lot of folks have a hard time with Jewish people being in a position of power. Including ourselves, apparently. And it seems like we’re tangled in this really twisted tug-of-war between wanting to be all balls out and badass and needing to justify our actions for the global audience.

Somehow, we have to rebrand ourselves. Nope. Strike that, our brand is already pretty freaking awesome: We just have to get the word out in a positive, meaningful way. The challenge is that while we’re all “liking” each others posts about Startup Nation on Facebook, we’re basically just patting ourselves on the back for doing a good job preaching to the choir. Sure, all the memes circulating during Operation Pillar of Defense were a great morale booster and gave us all a sense of purpose while we fought the good fight online, but let’s be real: Did we slip behind enemy lines and sabotage the anti-Israel vitriol? Maybe to some extent, but not enough.

Anti-Semitism exists. We know this. While it wasn’t en vogue to hate on the Jews after the Holocaust, it never went away. It was kind of like Lord Voldemort after his spell backfired. Still there, but living a half life.

Ah, but how the world changed. Decades passed, and like a virus, anti-Semitism mutated. And all the haters had to do to make it fashionable once again was to wrap it  in an Israeli flag and voila: Anti-Semitism got a brand new look.

And the really scary part? You no longer need a podium and a glassy-eyed mob of a hundred people to incite hatred. You’ve got the internet. Hundreds of thousands — hell, hundreds of millions — glued to their screens and so easily reached with the click of a button. Yes, Ahmadinejad’s trigger finger is dangerous, but if you give an anti-Semite an internet connection, he or she can wreak just as much havoc.

But instead of getting al medieval on anti-Semitism with some serious advocacy, we’re too busy reacting and defending.

And you know what? I don’t know what the solution is – because let’s be real: The world hasn’t given us much choice but to defend ourselves with guns blazing. But still, we’re playing into the hands of a vicious cycle, and we’ve got to find a way out of it.

Because there will be more rockets.

There will be more arrests.

There will be more hunger strikes.

And while the world reacts to this, we’re too busy reacting to the world.

We have to change the conversation – even if we don’t always agree with eachother, that’s OK. In fact, our own internal debates about the nature of our country make us special and should be highlighted. But we need a new strategy and a new word.

And we need to get on it quick.

What do you say?

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Times of Israel's New Media editor, lives in Israel with her two kids in a village next to rolling fields. Sarah likes taking pictures, climbing roofs, and talking to strangers. She is the author of the book Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered. Sarah is a work in progress.