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Robert Kraft: The man behind America's pro-Israel propaganda

Robert Kraft, the Super Bowl, and America's pro-Israel propaganda
5 min read
27 February, 2024
Robert Kraft and other pro-Israel figures in America have ramped up efforts to embellish Israel's genocide in Gaza, using the Super Bowl as their canvas.

Amidst the spectacle of the Super Bowl, where touchdowns and halftime extravaganzas captivate audiences, this year's event saw a notable intrusion of pro-Israel propaganda that did not go unnoticed.

Sponsored by both the State of Israel and Robert Kraft, a series of advertisements sought to sway public opinion amidst the football frenzy, putting the spotlight on pro-Israel messaging in public places and events such as the Super Bowl. 

The Hasbara machine, Israel’s propaganda apparatus, has been disseminating misinformation and blatant lies since Israel's inception. This effort has continued unabated especially after October 7, with initiatives such as the Israeli Occupation Forces Instagram account posting a made-up CV for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, outlining alleged "terrorist" acts in a desperate attempt to justify the bombardment of South Lebanon.

From unsettling interruptions in children's gaming experiences to targeted YouTube content, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spared no expense in disseminating its narrative of the war on Gaza.

One such advertisement, appearing in children's games, shocked parents and children alike with its graphic footage and ominous messaging, leaving families questioning the intrusion of politics into their leisure time.

It's almost comical to witness the lengths Israel will reach to garner sympathy and justify its genocide in Gaza. It's as if they believe that bombarding children with propaganda will somehow erase the countless lives lost and the ongoing suffering inflicted by their military aggression. This desperate ploy only serves to highlight the absurdity of Israel's victimisation narrative, particularly when they are consistently the perpetrators and aggressors in the region.

Israel stresses shared cultural values in America to justify its occupation of the Palestinians [Getty Images]

Why Israel used the Super Bowl

The annual Super Bowl has morphed into a platform where the American ruling elite revels in nationalism and militarism. It's a spectacle where the sports-watching public becomes engulfed in a barrage of flag-waving "pro-Americanism," a narrative that seeks to momentarily dissipate the great problems facing the nation. However, beneath the guise of unity lies a shabby and unconvincing facade.

Amid this spectacle, the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), a nonprofit organisation created by Robert Kraft — one of the wealthiest individuals in America and owner of the New England Patriots — made its Super Bowl debut.

With a high-profile ad featuring Dr. Clarence B. Jones, the former lawyer and advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. who drafted King’s “I Have A Dream '' speech.

The campaign urged viewers to #StandUpToJewishHate and reportedly cost $7 million. Critics wasted no time in accusing the campaign of serving as a thinly veiled promotion for Israeli interests. They rightfully labelled it as pro-Israel propaganda, arguing that it played into a victim narrative while ignoring the broader context of the Palestinian cause. The involvement of a prominent figure like Dr. Clarence B. Jones during Black History Month sparked further debate, with many questioning the motives behind leveraging marginalised communities for political gain.

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FCAS is emblematic of a broader theme wherein powerful entities abuse their influence to propagate narratives that serve their interests. While claiming to combat antisemitism, organisations like FCAS, who feel the need to pay $7 million in ads, often conflate the legitimate criticism of Israel with hatred towards Jewish people. This ultimately aims to stifle and silence discussions about Palestinian rights. 

Adding another layer of controversy, Robert Kraft has been embroiled in legal issues. Facing charges of solicitation of prostitution stemming from his activities at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, Kraft's attempt to evade accountability through legal manoeuvring has raised questions.

Despite calls for accountability, Kraft's status and wealth seem to insulate him from facing meaningful consequences for his actions, emphasising the inequities in the justice system. 

What's Hasbara?

On the other hand, the ads funded by the State of Israel, specifically Israel’s National Public Diplomacy Directorate, aired before and during the football game, were strategically timed to coincide with a broader campaign.

The hashtag #BringThemHomeNow aimed to focus attention on the remaining Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Yet, the irony couldn't be more glaring as the ad campaign unfolded amidst the backdrop of an air assault on Rafah, a city in Gaza where thousands of Palestinians sought refuge.

In addition, a week before the Super Bowl, the Israeli National Public Diplomacy Directorate ran a parody-style tourism ad on the Disney-owned streaming platform Hulu, encouraging consumers to “Come Visit Beautiful Gaza”, suggesting that without Hamas, Gaza would be a go-to destination. 

“The hasbara field is a significant wartime front, where the battle is for public opinion and the standing of international leadership to allow the fighting to continue under the correct circumstances until Hamas is overthrown,” said Hasbara Committee chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin in November of 2023.

The funding allocated by the Israeli government for wartime hasbara (public diplomacy) highlights the strategic importance placed on shaping international perceptions during times of conflict.

Despite previous budgetary constraints, the Finance Ministry approved additional budgets totalling NIS 63 million for hasbara efforts in late November of 2023, indicating a concerted effort to bolster Israel's narrative globally.

This decision comes in the wake of the Foreign Ministry's suspension of all hasbara activities due to budgetary limitations, emphasising the critical role of public diplomacy in advancing Israeli interests.

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The allocation of funds reflects a multi-ministerial approach to hasbara, with the Foreign Ministry, Diaspora Affairs Ministry, and civilian organisations receiving substantial financial support. This coordinated effort underscores the government's commitment to amplifying its messaging and countering perceived threats to its image. 

In essence, the Super Bowl ads funded by Israel and Robert Kraft's FCAS campaign reveal the lengths to which powerful entities will go to shape public opinion and further their agendas. Whether it's through thinly veiled propaganda or leveraging wealth and influence to evade accountability, these actions underscore the need for critical media literacy and a deeper understanding of the dynamics at play in shaping narratives.

Sarah Amr is a Palestinian writer interested in media discourse and liberation movements. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications from the University of Sussex.