The actor in an online anti-Gaza flotilla video that has been branded as a hoax said Wednesday that the video was not produced by the Israeli government or an affiliate.
Contacted in Paris by The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Tel-Avivian Omer Gershon said he was the man portraying gay rights activist “Marc” in the video, but laughed off a question about whether or not any government agency was behind the video, adding certainly not.
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When asked who did produce the video, Gershon said, “I'm not commenting on this at the moment.”
The video, titled “Who you get in bed with – human rights, gay rights,” has made the rounds across the blogosphere since it was uploaded last Thursday night.
In the clip, Gershon portrays Marc, a young gay rights activist who tells his story of contacting the Gaza Flotilla with the intent of joining their journey to Gaza, only to be told that gay activists are not welcome.
Marc says the rejection is insulting, and he decides to do more research on the flotilla members – only to learn even more about how anti-gay Hamas is. Marc’s character, who speaks with an Israeli accent, never actually says he isn’t Israeli, but the clip portrays him as a naive Western idealist who is largely unfamiliar with Hamas.
The clip was quickly debunked by bloggers, largely due to the fact that it was slick and well-produced and didn’t seem like a self-made YouTube confessional. In addition, the user who posted the video, “Marc3Pax,” had no online history.
While it is still unclear who produced the video, bloggers and anti-Israel activists were quick to allege that the video was part of some sort of “pink-washing” hasbara (public diplomacy) campaign launched, if not by the government, then by an NGO or advocacy group associated with the government with the intention of smearing flotilla supporters.
“Pink-washing” is a term used to describe hasbara efforts by Israel supporters that highlight the country’s tolerance of homosexuals in contrast to the rest of the region.
Shortly after the video was uploaded, links to it were tweeted by the Government Press Office and the Foreign Ministry, both of which later removed the tweet, with the GPO saying it had been duped.
Israeli viewers with an eagle eye can quickly tell that the video is, if
not an outright hoax, at least not what it purports to be. In an early
shot, Marc is seen walking outdoors on what is supposed to be a college
campus, while police barricades from the Tel Aviv Jaffa Municipality are
clearly visible in the background. Overhead shots reveal that Marc’s
apartment has the standard flooring of an Israeli apartment and, though
blurry, the keyboard he types on does show Hebrew letters.
In the description of the video, Marc3pax writes: “I’m not a usually a
fan of putting down people in public, but this is a story I felt I had
to share – what happened when my LGBTQ network tried to hook up with the
flotilla to Gaza.”
After that, he writes, “Let me know if you’ve had similar experiences,” followed by his e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
An e-mail sent to that address earlier this week by the Post received no response.
Gershon, 36, is a well-known figure on the Tel Aviv nightlife scene,
managing at least two nightclubs in the city. He has been featured in
the entertainment and lifestyle pages of many publication in the Israeli
media and in a number of commercial campaigns.Click here to follow Ben Hartman on twitter