While reading about tomorrow’s scheduled meeting between Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Mahmoud Abbas, on the New York Times website last night, we were surprised to find a black, white, and orange banner ad that read, simply, “Gaza. Hamas. Conflict. Facts!” Clicking through brought us to the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s web site, which now features a special “Gaza Facts” section to rebut allegations of war crimes made in the United Nations report released last week.

The banner ads seem to have since disappeared, but Google Ads is still promoting the link on the Times site, including on the page for a story from Saturday headlined “Lack of Progress in Mideast Defies Obama’s Hopes.” Ironic, no? Israeli Foreign Ministry officials in New York, Washington, and Tel Aviv said they weren’t aware of the ad campaign and couldn’t comment on whether it was really meant to coincide with this week’s efforts at getting peace negotiations back on track.

UPDATE: Joel Lion, the spokesman at the Israeli consulate in New York, says the ads—which are also running on the website of NPR, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post—are part of an international campaign orchestrated by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem in response to the Goldstone Report. Ads are running on news sites in France, Slovakia, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all members of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report. It is, Lion said, the first time such a coordinated effort has been attempted. “The rationale is to expose our messages to a wider public, using new media,” Lion explained.

Gaza Facts – The Israeli Perspective [Ministry of Foreign Affairs]