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Posts tagged ‘propaganda’

The BICOM guide to defending Netanyahu’s Israel

Earlier this year, I took a look at a booklet by the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) called ‘The Apartheid Smear’, authored by staffer Alan Johnson. Intended as a “vital tool” for fighting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, the publication is full of errors and omissions; for example, it doesn’t mention the illegality of Israeli settlements even once.

I am returning to BICOM and Alan Johnson, following the latter’s interventions in recent debates on BDS and antisemitism. Johnson presents himself as a leftist when arguing Israel’s corner, especially in contexts where Israeli apartheid gets short shrift (e.g. campuses). He also tends to repeat the same points again and again – so here is the BICOM guide to defending Netanyahu’s Israel. Read more

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The case for cultural boycott of Israel

The case for a boycott of Israel is straightforward, based on: the reality of Israel’s policies of colonialism and apartheid; the Palestinians’ appeal for solidarity, including the 2005 call for a global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign; and the effectiveness of BDS as a tactic.

But what about a cultural boycott? This is a problem for some people who agree with the above argument – yet it is also based on a similar, logical argument. Read more

Why Israel invented the concept of ‘settlement blocs’

“We are here to stay.” These were the words of Israel’s Science and Space Technology Minister Ophir Akunis, as he attended the ceremonial opening of a new “heritage centre” in Ariel settlement on 17 January. “I want to send the EU ministers a message from here, the city of Ariel,” the minister said. “No step or decision that you take will remove us from our land.”

Ariel, established in 1978, is one of the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with some 20,000 residents, as well as a university. The colony lies some 12 miles from the “Green Line”, and was “strategically built to wind its way along a mountain ridge surrounded by Palestinian towns and villages on all sides.” The Ariel “finger”, or bloc, includes a dozen or so separate, official settlements. Read more

Israel’s obsession with hummus is about more than stealing Palestine’s food

When Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their villages and homes in 1948, many left with little more than the clothes on their back. Food was left on the stove. Crops were left unharvested. But the land emptied of its inhabitants was soon occupied by new residents.

From 1948 to 1953, almost all new Jewish settlements were established on refugees’ property. The myth of making the desert bloom is belied by the facts: in mid-1949, two-thirds of all land sowed with grain in Israel was Palestinian land. In 1951, “abandoned” land accounted for nearly 95 per cent of all Israel’s olive groves and almost 10,000 acres of vineyards. Read more

Disingenuous and dangerous: Israel attacks BDS as ‘antisemitic’

Critics of Israel’s policies and the ongoing colonial displacement of Palestinians are familiar with the antisemitism smear. Now, faced with a growing boycott and allies increasingly frustrated with its rejectionist, ultra/right-wing policies, Israel is preparing to up the ante in its attack on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

This week, the Israeli government is convening the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism (GFCA) in Jerusalem. The fifth event of its kind, the conference is billed as “the premier biennial gathering for assessing the state of antisemitism globally, and formulating effective forms of societal and governmental response.” Read more

Boycott until Israel’s apartheid is dismantled

On Saturday February 14, a letter was published in The Guardian announcing a boycott of Israel by more than 700 British artists and cultural workers (disclaimer: I am a signatory). The signatories came from the worlds of literature, art, film, stage, and music. They all pledged “to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

The initiative immediately attracted international attention – and a predictable response from Israel’s allies. A Conservative minister described the boycott pledge as “reprehensible” and “unspeakably vile”. The vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews called the letter “totally racist”.   Read more

Pro-Israel propaganda cloaked with ‘progressive’ values at Britain’s universities

As students begin a new academic year, there are signs that pro-Israel propaganda initiatives at Britain’s universities are being given a boost. The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has established a new role within the organisation of “Israel Engagement Officer”, a post being taken up by Canadian Beca Bookman. Bookman comes with considerable experience in working with the Israeli government to undermine Palestine solidarity, and is a past recipient of a “Hasbara in Action” award from the Menachem Begin Foundation. Read more

Boycotts that aid the Palestinians

As governments and civil society groups around the world increase their efforts to target goods produced in Israel’s illegal settlements, the Israeli government and BDS critics are stepping up the propaganda counter offensive.

One of the main tactics adopted by those seeking to stem the boycott tide is to state that these measures actually harm Palestinians. Read more

Defending the indefensible

Away from the comatose ‘peace process’ and focus on Iran, a wave of anti-democratic and nationalistic legislation in Israel’s Knesset shows no sign of slowing down.

For Israel’s liberals, these are worrying times. The publisher and owner of Ha’aretz newspaper this week issued a warning about apartheid and democracy, while his colleagues have launched a special project on Israel’s “eroding freedoms” called “Black Flag Over Israel’s Democracy”.

The rhetoric of anger and fear about these “threats to democracy” reflects a definite shift in Israel. It is crucial to note that Israel has never been ‘democratic’ for Palestinians, who are excluded from their homeland entirely, live under military rule in the West Bank and Gaza or are second-class citizens in the pre-1967 borders. Read more

Behind Brand Israel: Israel’s recent propaganda efforts

“The Delegitimization Challenge” report from the influential Israeli think tank the Reut Institute has put the spotlight on efforts by Israel and the Zionist lobby to counter the growing movement for justice in Palestine, and specifically, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. The work done by Reut has rightly attracted attention, but it is only one (particularly prominent) example of a wider trend, as the Israeli government and global Zionist groups mobilize to fight the threat to the apartheid system.

It was an issue discussed when Israeli policymakers convened for the recent Herzilya Conference where there was a session called “Winning the Battle of the Narrative: Strategic Communication for Israel.” There was also an associated working paper, prepared by a team that included Ido Aharoni from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), along with senior officials from the prime minister’s office, public relations firms and two key lobby groups — The Israel Project in the US, and Bicom from the UK (”Winning the Battle of the Narrative” (PDF)). Read more