Israeli Super Bowl ad sells Gaza war narrative to American football audience

Israeli Super Bowl ad sells Gaza war narrative to American football audience
Israel's ad campaign during the Super Bowl took place as a new massacre happened in Gaza, killing 100 people.
3 min read
12 February, 2024
Israel conducted a heavy bombardment of Rafah that killed around 100 people as part of a diversion during an operation to free two hostages [Photo by Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty Images]

Israel ran a series of 30-second ads during the NFL Super Bowl on Sunday to push their narrative of the Gaza war, as Rafah was subjected to another massacre by Israeli war planes.

The ad begins by showing an NFL athlete playing with his son, then cutting to clips of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza playing with their kids before 7 October when around 250 Israelis were taken captive.

The commercial was dedicated to Israeli dads being held in Gaza, ending with the hashtag "Bring all dads back home".

It was part of an Israeli government campaign, overseen by the National Public Diplomacy Directorate, producing and promoting media for Israel's narrative on the Gaza war, which has killed over 28,000 Palestinians.

Another ad showed a packed stadium with the words: "In a roaring stadium, their silence is deafening. 136 people are still being held hostage by Hamas".

The Israeli government bought the Super Bowl ad space through Paramount's stream of the event, with the Israeli government likely paying a sum of $7 million for a 30-second space, according to pricing reported by The Wall Street Journal.

As the ad was being run, Israel conducted a rescue operation in Gaza's southern city of Rafah seeing two Israelis being released.

At the same time, Israeli bombs killed around 100 civilians, as part of a diversion for the operation, according to Israeli officials.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Director General Meinie Nicolai, described the bombardment of Rafah as an "ongoing massacre".

Israel's war on Gaza has killed 28,340 Palestinians, mostly women and children, with a further 67,984 wounded, according to figures from Gaza's health authorities.

The prime-time Super Bowl ad as Israeli warplanes committed another massacre in Rafah, a so-called safe zone, garnered outrage.

Activist group Jewish Voice for Peace called out the ad, saying: "The Israeli military is bombing Rafah, the most densely populated area in the world, while Americans watch the Super Bowl. This is intentional. This is genocide."

"We're demanding the world watching the superbowl turn their eyes to Rafah."

Abed A. Ayoub, the National Executive Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said: "The attack on Rafah began at about the same time the Stop Hate/Antisemitism ad played. This isn't coincidence. It is planned. They know most eyes in the US are glued to the game and not paying attention."

Likewise retweeting a piece in Haaretz, journalist Mehdi Hassan took the opportunity to criticise Israel's policy towards the hostages, saying: "Remember this when you watch the Super Bowl 'bring our hostages' home ad tonight: Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir & co don't actually care about the hostages.

"They're 'preparing public opinion for the need' to abandon them to their deaths. All to perpetuate this brutal war &save their jobs."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has turned down a ceasefire deal with Hamas, which would see the hostages freed.

Around 134 hostages are reportedly still in Gaza out of the roughly 250 that were taken captive by Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October.

During a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in November, 105 hostages were released in exchange for an increase in aid deliveries into the enclave and the release of Palestinian prisoners.