This month marked six months since the “official” conclusion to Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, “Operation Cast Lead.” From 27 December to 18 January, the might of the one of the world’s strongest militaries laid waste to a densely-packed territory of 1.4 million Palestinians without an escape route.
The parallel propaganda battle fought by Israel’s official and unofficial apologists continued after the ceasefire, in a desperate struggle to combat the repeated reports by human rights groups of breaches of international law. This article will look at some of the strategies of this campaign of disinformation, confusion, and lies — and the reality of Israel’s war crimes in the Gaza Strip. Very early on in Operation Cast Lead, the scale of Israel’s attack became apparent. In just the first six days the Israeli Air Force carried out more than 500 sorties against targets in the Gaza Strip. That amounted to an attack from the air roughly every 18 minutes — not counting hundreds of helicopter attacks, tank and navy shelling, and infantry raids. All of this on a territory similar in size to the US city of Seattle. Read more
A favourite tactic of die-hard defenders of Israel is to smear critics of the country’s policies through guilt by association, lies, and decontextualised quotations.
I have come to know this latter strategy quite well. Based on short extracts, or even a single sentence, from two out of the 100 plus articles I’ve published, I have been accused of ‘understanding anti-semitism’ and ‘defending’ Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial. Read more
They are a rare breed, but you can still find them, in positions of political power and newspaper opinion pages. Their motives are mixed, but they have one thing in common; they are optimistic about the Israeli-Palestinian Annapolis peace process. For some, their job requires them to paint a rosy picture about the international community’s ‘peace process’. For others, there is a blind naivety that perhaps this time, the speeches and announcements might actually amount to a positive change. Some of these optimists, desperate to protect Israel from critique and sanction, are compelled to suggest the ‘two sides’ are on the verge of a ‘breakthrough compromise’. Read more
In the UK, the Boycott campaign was launched by PSC six years ago. However, it has been attempts at a boycott of Israeli academic institutions that has really raised the profile of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) — and also provoked a fierce counter-movement.
Various bodies, like BICOM (Britain and Israel Communications & Research
Centre: http://www.stoptheboycott.org) and Engage (engageonline.org.uk), have
set up issue-specific websites; while the former may have deeper pockets,
Engage has proved to be more of a rallying point for the anti-boycotters. Their website includes voluminous attacks on the boycott and plenty of articles condemning what they perceive as an anti-Semitic singling-out of Israel. Read more
Howard Jacobson is one of the most high-profile Jewish authors in Britain, having written numerous critically-acclaimed and successful comic novels. He also writes a weekly column in the liberal-leaning The Independent and in recent times has used it to vociferously attack the growing boycott of Israel. His column on 1 September, “There seems to be a pecking order among the dispossessed, and Jews come last,” was a fine example of the twin track approach of the liberal Zionist, combining moral remorse with unhampered support for ethnic cleansing. Read more
The contents of school textbooks in Palestine/Israel have often been the cause of controversy, normally when a report is published purporting to reveal “shocking revelations” about the alleged indoctrination of Palestinian schoolchildren. Last week, however, it was Israeli textbooks in the spotlight, as the Ministry of Education approved a new textbook with a difference. As the BBC reported, “for the first time” the “Palestinian denunciation of the creation of Israel in 1948″ had been included. This incident afforded a perfect opportunity for seeing how the Nakba — what Palestinians called their expulsion by Zionist forces from their homes and villages in what is now Israel during 1947-48 — is viewed by “official” discourse in the West (through the filter of the mainstream media), and within Israel itself. Read more
Towards the end of April, the Associated Press filed a story reproduced by, amongst others, Ha’aretz, Guardian Unlimited, and CNN, reporting that “Israel will name a forest in northern Galilee after Coretta Scott King”, part of a wider campaign to replant “thousands of trees destroyed during last year’s war with Hezbollah”. At least 10,000 trees will be designated as a “living memorial to King’s legacy of peace and justice”, according to US Israeli ambassador Sallai Meridor. Although it was a small story that merited a few paragraphs of a news agency feed, unpacking this publicity stunt can be instructive in understanding just how successful Zionist propaganda has been in tapping into US popular culture, appropriating symbols for Israel’s benefit. Read more