Rejecting Palestinian civil society’s call for a boycott of Israel (BDS), American singer Lana Del Rey has vehemently defended her decision to perform at the Meteor Festival, which is scheduled for September 6-8. Palestinians, international human rights activists and many of Del Rey’s fans condemned the singer’s insistence on playing in Israel, which she described in a series of naive and embarrassing tweets as centered around peace.
The Zionist country’s online propagandist have, however, embraced the singer’s transformation into an apologist for Israeli policies. Israeli propaganda app Act.IL, for example, instructed its followers to support Del Rey on social media by posting content de-politicizing her visit to Israel.
Good morning! Israel’s app has two new missions about @LanaDelRey!
— Behind Israel's Troll Army (@AntiBDSApp) August 21, 2018
Launched in 2017, Act.IL is a smartphone app that was designed by the Interdisciplinary Center Hezliya and the Israeli-American Council and is closely connected to Israeli military and intelligence. The app’s declared mission is to “create an online community that will act to promote a positive influence on the international public opinion towards the state of Israel via social media platforms. Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime.”
As part of Israel’s broader Hasbara efforts, the app presents social media content that users are supposed to either like or counter with pre-formulated, pro-Israeli content, which they can easily copy-paste. The app’s focus includes smearing critics of Israel, spreading the Israeli government’s policies, and, relentlessly repeating commonplace Zionist talking points. Recent online campaigns have included, for example, efforts to demonize Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi.
As Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi is released from prison, Israel’s official propaganda app has several “missions” saying she is not a hero, justifying her political imprisonment, and condemning her for “assaulting a soldier.” #AhedTamimi pic.twitter.com/4dkUygBQng
— Behind Israel's Troll Army (@AntiBDSApp) July 29, 2018
The app’s organizers also claimed responsibility for manipulating a poll in an Irish newspaper that asked whether Ireland should boycott the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Israel.
— Behind Israel's Troll Army (@AntiBDSApp) August 8, 2018
More generally, the app has been used to exert pressure on Western news outlet publishing pieces that are not completely in line with the views of Israel’s right-wing government.
— Behind Israel's Troll Army (@AntiBDSApp) July 15, 2018
These efforts have been well-documented by Michael Bueckert, who described the app as “digital militarism” that “weaponizes online activity” in an article in Jacobin. The Act.IL app can, however, do little to convince international audiences to ignore Israeli apartheid. Nor can Lana Del Rey’s concert hide Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. All these propaganda efforts do is give solace to pro-Israeli fanatics and allow them to indulge in nationalist fantasies. Other than that, they further isolate Israel and perpetuate its present state of denial, which journalist Gideon Levy defined in Haaretz as “the false, nearly magical belief that if Israel will just explain its position better and invest the appropriate resources, everything will be fine.” Levy concluded: “Israel continues to think that the world is dumb (and Israel is smart).”