The city of Tel Aviv has become one of the main “products” Israel tries to sell internationally to soften its image as an apartheid state that brutally occupies millions of Palestinians.
But at home the Tel Aviv municipality is proud to trumpet the city’s contributions to the very same occupation and war crimes that its friendly image is used to obscure in international Brand Israel propaganda.
One ad sponsored by the municipality currently appears on bus shelters and boasts that the “IDF enlistment rate from Tel Aviv city schools is 91% for girls and 92% for boys.” The online version of the ad also brags that Tel Aviv is the city with the largest number of career officers in the Israeli army.
The photo at top was shot by an activist on Ibn-Gvirol street, between the City Hall and the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Sumail, which is now subsumed by Tel Aviv.
In effect, the poster expresses pride in the high participation of city youths in the brigades that blockade and shell Gaza, occupy the West Bank, hold up ambulances and pregnant women at checkpoints, stand guard as bulldozers destroy homes and confiscate land, and carry out night raids pulling Palestinian children from their beds, or just shooting them with impunity.
It can also be read as a dig at Jerusalem, which has a much higher religious population, and likely a lower enlistment rate.
The poster is part of a campaign called “Did you know?” that highlights different aspects of the city. Another ad boasts, “In Tel-Aviv-Jaffa there are approximately 50 dog parks, used by more than 20,000 dogs.”
There is, however, no poster saying that Sudanese refugees or native Palestinians are welcome in Tel Aviv. That’s just not part of the image the city is trying to project.