Meet Hen Mazzig, Israel’s “guru” of grotesque behavior

Self-described social media guru Hen Mazzig (left) meets an Israeli military spokesperson. (Twitter)

Following Israeli propaganda requires you to suspend disbelief every so often. Just when you think its practitioners cannot get any worse, one of them sets a new record for poor taste.

Hen Mazzig describes himself as a “social media guru and advocate on behalf of his country” – Israel. For a “guru,” his recent behavior is quite grotesque.

He appears to think that there is some “public relations” value in making crude comments about how the teenage detainee Ahed Tamimi has fairer skin than an Israeli officer who flanked her during a court appearance.

The “whole story” can be told in one picture, he has tweeted: a “black Israeli policewoman holding the white Palestinian criminal.” The image offers him an excuse to “lol” – laugh out loud.

Mazzig’s comments are crass on many levels. He is simultaneously poking fun at a girl who has spent her entire life under a military occupation, branding her a “criminal” without even the pretense of a trial and making clumsy remarks about race in a futile attempt to contradict the voluminous evidence that Israel is an apartheid state.

This isn’t the first time Mazzig’s social media use has revealed troubling racial views. In 2014, amid outrage at a Times of Israel column that labeled Black protesters against US police violence “savage,” and attacked “Black culture” as “unhealthy,” Mazzig vouched for the author of the column as “an amazing guy.”

Tough questions?

As well as being a “social media guru,” Mazzig presents himself as a former “humanitarian officer” in the Israeli military.

While his bona fides have been accepted by University College London – which he will visit later this month – Mazzig seems incapable of defending them.

After being a member of Israel’s forces in the occupied West Bank, Mazzig became a representative of the Israeli-government funded lobby group StandWithUs. In that capacity, he has taken part in lecture tours given by Israeli soldiers.

According to the website of StandWithUs, such tours allow those in attendance to “ask the tough questions.”

More recently, he has been working for another lobby outfit known as CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

If his previous job did indeed require him to address “tough questions,” then he was ill-suited for that task. Last week, he started fulminating when faced with a simple query.

Taking issue with his claim to be a “humanitarian officer,” a Palestine solidarity group challenged him on Twitter about how the words “humanitarian” can be applied to the Israeli military. Mazzig responded with a non sequitur: by alleging – falsely – that the group favors discrimination against people based on their nationality. (He was referring to objections raised against his propaganda activities in British universities.)

After seeing his reply, I challenged Mazzig to answer the question he had actually been asked. He responded by suggesting that his work in the occupied West Bank had been given the approval of the United Nations and posted a character reference written for him by a UN “security adviser” in April 2011. When I pointed out that the reference did not even mention the word “humanitarian,” Mazzig blocked me from viewing his tweets.
Savita Hande, the “security adviser” who signed the reference, did not reply to a request for comment. Though the praise she offered for Mazzig’s “professionalism” was nauseating, it does not indicate that the UN views Israel’s occupation as benign.

Soon before Hande provided that reference, the Israeli military shot two teenagers during a stone-throwing incident in the West Bank village of Qattana. Both teenagers suffered from “multiple live bullet wounds,” the UN monitoring group OCHA noted.

Around the same period, the Israeli army killed two children when it shelled a residential area of Gaza City. One of them, 10-year-old Mahmoud Jalal al-Hilu, had been playing near his home when he was blown to pieces.

Are these the deaths and injuries a “humanitarian” army inflicts?

Victim of muzzling?

Pro-Israel groups in Britain are doing what they can to feed Mazzig’s delusions. A petition in support of his propaganda activities calls him a “human rights activist.”

For some time, Mazzig has promoted himself as a victim of muzzling. He has spared no effort to portray Palestine solidarity activists who protested at a previous event where he spoke in University College London as enemies of free expression.

Resorting to typical hyperbole, he likened the demonstration against him to “a scene from a horror movie.” Video evidence shows, however, that supporters of Israel subjected the Palestine solidarity activists to racist abuse during that event.

That evidence sits uneasily with Mazzig’s claims that he supports a “just cause” and that he is similar to the opponents of South African apartheid.

On his website, Mazzig states that he works as a consultant for Israel’s strategic affairs ministry.

That ministry has been employing tactics which come straight from the playbook of the white minority regime that used to rule South Africa. They include the entry ban on groups which support the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Predictably, Mazzig has applauded the entry ban.

Mazzig is not a free speech martyr. He has not drawn protests because of his nationality but because he is shilling for a racist state.

Though his supporters may call him a “humanitarian,” Mazzig is really a hack.