Israeli PR Head issued warnings over racist, offensive Facebook postings

August 19, 2013 2:58 AM Celine Hagbard Israel, Israeli Politics, News Report 0
19 Aug
2:58 AM

Danny Seaman, who recently became the head of Israel’s ‘Internet Hasbara (Hebrew for Propaganda)’ branch of the government, has been issued a warning by the Netanyahu administration for a series of racist and offensive postings against Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and Japanese people on his Facebook page.As head of the Internet Hasbara program, Seaman is tasked with promoting Israel, while downplaying the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and continued human rights abuses, in an effort to sell the world a more ‘positive vision of Israel’. To that end, he has begun a program to pay college students around the world to say positive things about Israel on their social networks and campuses.

But on his own Facebook page, Seaman has engaged in numerous statements that are anything but positive. In a comment about the attempts to re-start negotiations with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, Seaman wrote, ‘Is there a diplomatic way of saying ‘Go F*** yourself’?’

At the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Seaman wrote, ‘Does the commencement of the fast of the Ramadan means that Muslims will stop eating each other during the daytime?’

And when the annual commemoration of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place, he wrote ‘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…’

It was this comment that sparked Japanese diplomats to contact the Israeli government and demand an explanation for the behavior of its Public Relations official. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of additional abusive comments posted by Seaman on his Facebook page, in addition to those mentioned here.

In response, the Israeli government stated that it issued Seaman a warning, saying, ‘Danny Seaman’s statements on Facebook are unacceptable and do not express the view of the Israeli government. The directorate instructed Seaman to immediately refrain from making such statements.’

Seaman served for over a decade as the head of Israel’s ‘Government Press Office’, which issues credentials to foreign journalists. Many journalists have complained over the years of discrimination against Arab and other international reporters, many of whom have been denied credentials if their media agency has published articles or reports critical of Israeli policy or actions.

In a 2002 interview with the Israeli magazine Kol Halr, Seaman shared his belief that Israel is presented in a bad light in media worldwide not because of the state’s actions and policies, but because of a conspiracy of Palestinian reporters who have managed to infiltrate every media agency. In response to Seaman’s statements, the Bureau Chief for the BBC stated at the time, “The thought that ..Palestinian workers decide which news will be broadcast abroad could be funny if it were not so insulting. It is even more infuriating when one bears in mind that Mr. Seaman’s office has been barring press cards from our Palestinian staff members.”

In the same interview, Seaman admitted to targeting certain journalists for removal who he claimed had engaged in reporting that was critical of Israel, naming “Suzanne Goldberg from the British Guardian, Lee Hockstader from the Washington Post, Sandro Contenta from the Toronto Star and Gillian Findlay from ABC. Seaman accuses each one of the four of inaccurate reporting, to understate things. Now, none of the four are in Israel any longer. ‘We simply boycotted them’, recounts Seaman. ‘We didn’t revoke their press cards, because this is a democratic country. But in the name of that same value I also have the right not work with them. The editorial boards got the message and replaced their people. When the Washington Post saw that a smaller newspaper, such as the Baltimore Sun, was getting exclusive material, they understood that they had a problem.’”

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Celine Hagbard

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