To disseminate falsehoods about Israel, a Palestinian app provides “virtual reality” tours full of lies about the Jewish state.
By Tsivya Fox
The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD), based in Ramallah, with the help of other anti-Israel entities like Breaking the Silence and Birzeit University, produced a free “virtual reality” app called “Palestine VR.” PIPD claims the app provides historical tours with Palestinian tour guides.
“This app is definitely ‘virtual reality,'” Avi Dobuler, an American born Israeli tour-guide, told United with Israel. “Palestine VR is a well-funded, well-done, very slick propaganda tool foisted on people who have been brainwashed about the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Presented as fact are lies and false premises.”
The app offers skewed, four- to 12-minute-long, 360-degree video tours of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (including Hebron and Bethlehem), and Gaza. It claims to be inspired by Israel’s denial of entry to anti-Israel U.S. lawmakers Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, both of whom support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
They had hoped to see areas that Palestinians seek for a future state, but were barred entry due to their promotion of anti-Israel boycotts.
At the time, President Donald Trump strongly backed Israel’s decision to block the pro-boycott activists, who have battled persistent anti-Semitism charges since entering the national spotlight.
In 2017, Israel passed a law banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country, in response to the BDS movement’s goal of hurting Israel’s economy and destroying the Jewish state.
Anti-Israel Sound Bites and Catchphrases
The Palestine VR app is laden with standard anti-Israel sound bites and catchphrases, such as “occupation” and “popular resistance.” In reality, Arab-Israelis and Palestinians have a quality of life second to none in the Middle East in comparison to the average lifestyle in Arab countries.
In one particularly twisted video on the app, Palestinian businessmen in Hebron claim they have suffered due to Israeli violence.
“It’s so absurd because the PA itself promotes Hebron as a great business hub and yet to the anti-Israel crowd they promote it as a ghost town,” Yishai Fleisher, spokesman Hebron’s Jewish community, told The Forward. “This is an example of how this virtual reality app is nothing but a Potemkin village where they show you one thing [but] the reality is totally different.”
Fleisher added that the entire purpose of the app is to set the stage to “ethnic[ally] cleanse” Israel of Jews.
Dobuler corroborated Fleischer’s sentiments.
“Anti-Semites distort and fabricate history in order to delegitimize and isolate Israel, and facilitate its destruction,” he told United with Israel.
“The app claims to portray a glimpse into the reality of life in ‘Palestine’ by using universally accepted terms, but their meaning is twisted. The name ‘Palestine’ was given by Roman emperor Hadrian to break the association between the Jews and the Land of Israel. Palestine, unbeknownst to most, means ‘invade.’ The reality is that the Jews are the native population of the Holy Land.
“The app claims that Palestinians are oppressed,” Dobuler continued. “Ninety percent of Palestinians are under Area A Arab sovereignty. If they are oppressed, they are oppressed by their own leadership – the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. If they feel oppressed, it is self-inflicted.”
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