This Viral Israeli Ad Used Fake AI Images to Rewrite Gaza's Future
February 3, 2024 - Reading time: 2 minutes
A recent advertisement by an Israeli media company envisioning a Gaza strip without Hamas has sparked intense backlash online. The polished 30-second spot, which briefly ran on Hulu in the US, utilizes AI-generated imagery to depict Gaza as a coastal paradise dotted with high-rise hotels, amusement parks, and stunning sandy beaches.
Text overlaying the ad reads "Gaza 2025. What it could have been like without Hamas," presenting an idealized view of what Gaza could have become if not for Hamas control. First aired in late January, the ad was swiftly condemned by pro-Palestinian advocates and Middle East experts as deceptive propaganda.
Critics pointed out that in reality, Israel has imposed an extensive blockade on Gaza since 2007 when Hamas took power. They argue the advert glosses over Israel's contributions to economic and humanitarian hardships faced by Gazans over 15 years of trade and travel restrictions. Digital disinformation researcher Marc Owen Jones told Al-Jazeera, "It's this very manipulative idea that Gaza would be a paradise if it weren't for Hamas."
Rather than seriously consider an open Gaza economy not dominated by militants, detractors claim the ad simply aims to absolve Israel of responsibilities for Gaza's underdevelopment while vilifying Hamas as the sole obstacle to prosperity. Without nuance or context, they say the polished images paint an offensive "fiction" that denies Gazans freedom and dignity regardless of ruling powers. For advocates, the heated response represents growing unwillingness to tolerate rhetoric undermining Palestinian rights.
The ad campaign was produced by Snippets Media on behalf of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which did not respond to media requests for comments. This isn't Snippets' first provocative pro-Israel campaign - last March they released an ad series promoting Israeli innovations in hopes of improving the country's global image. But this latest ad seems to have backfired considerably.
As of this week, Hulu appears to have pulled the ad from their platform. But experts worry the "rewriting" of Gaza's turmoil to single out Hamas may still influence views and shift sympathy away from the Palestinian cause. While restrictive militant groups undoubtedly play a role, many argue that responsibly recognizing the complexity of factors denying Gazans' basic living standards is key to honoring their full humanity.
David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.