7.22.2014

israel slaughters palestinians, pays for online propaganda, and north americans gobble up the bait

I've been trying to write about Israel's latest slaughter of Palestinian people ever since the hideous spectacle began, without results. I post little bits of horror and disgust on Facebook, but can't sustain anything worth posting here. Because... what is there to say?

A mighty military power unleashes deadly force against a civilian population. Some people within that population have dared to use violence to resist their own oppression. Therefore the entire population must be terrorized, hundreds murdered, thousands maimed, lives destroyed.

Another great military power and a second-tier military wannaberush to the defense of the military power, and anyone who speaks out against it is accused of bigotry. People who normally would recoil at such warmongering are silent, or, incredibly, call the slaughter defense.

It's a topsy-turvy world.

In the US, if you don't blindly support, without question, every single military action perpetrated by the government, you are accused of being unpatriotic, not "supporting the troops", even of siding with "the enemy". If you don't do the same about Israel's military actions, you are accused of being anti-Semitic.

The parallels are not surprising. What I do find astonishing is how many normally progressive American Jews fall for this bullshit. "Both sides are wrong," they whine. "Hamas used rockets." Rockets?? You see an equivalence between a hand-fired rocket and the force of the second-largest military on the planet? When black South Africans threw rocks at the riot-shielded apartheid army, did you say "both sides are wrong"?

"Israel has a right to defend itself," they say. "It cannot tolerate terrorism." I wonder, do you support retaliation for all victims of terrorism? If the Iraqi people, if the Afghan people, could somehow launch air strikes against your town, would you shrug your shoulders and say, "Well, the US started it. Iraq has a right to defend itself."?

Or are you still hiding behind accusations of anti-Semitism? You've heard anti-Semitic statements! Oh my! Keep defending the slaughter of civilians. That will help.

I don't see or hear anti-Semitism in anti-Israeli activism. But if there is anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from some pro-Palestinian people, can you rightly tell me that such words justify slaughter? Will you continue to support the murder of civilians, because someone has said words that offend you?

My friend David C, who used to blog here, tells me that online comment sections have been deluged by wildly over-the-top accusations of anti-Semitism.
What is going on is just insane. Doctors without Borders had a Facebook post that simply called for Israel to show restraint and gets flooded with angry comments accusing the organization of politicizing the tragedy. Amnesty International calls both sides to calm down on its Facebook page and again got deluged with angry comments. The reason even though it was calling out both sides? Amnesty used a photo of a Palestinian woman wailing, not an Israeli. That apparently is tantamount to anti-Semitism.
That flood of commentary is not coincidental, nor indicative of public opinion: it is organized propaganda.
Israel has announced it will pay university students to circulate pro-Israeli information on social media networks, without having to identify themselves as working for the government.

The move was publicised in a statement from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, the Associated Press reported. Students will receive scholarships to "engage international audiences online" and combat anti-Semitism and calls to boycott Israel, it was alleged.

In 2012, a Palestinian-run blog reported similar arrangements between the National Union of Israeli Students and the Israeli government. Students would be paid $2,000 to post pro-Israel messages online for five hours a week.

According to Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, the most recent proposition is being spearheaded by Danny Seaman, who was slammed by the media for writing anti-Muslim messages on Facebook.

Students will be organised into units at each university, with a chief co-ordinator who receives a full scholarship, three desk co-ordinators for language, graphics and research who receive lesser scholarships and students termed “activists” who will receive a “minimal scholarship”, the Independent reported.
See also: "Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda" (The Independent), and "Prime Minister's Office recruiting students to wage online hasbara battles; PMO and national student union to create covert units at universities to engage in diplomacy via social media; unit heads to receive full scholarships" (Haaretz). (Again, thanks to David C; I would have missed this.)

The latest war on Gaza has led me back to some old wmtc posts, and the interesting discussions that followed.

From 2013:

my journey to palestinian solidarity and the myth of the self-hating jew, part 1

my journey to palestinian solidarity and the myth of the self-hating jew, part 2

my journey to palestinian solidarity and the myth of the self-hating jew, part 3 and final

From 2010:

a simple lesson: how to tell the difference between hatred of a people and criticism of a nation's policies




* That's Canada, by the way.

16 comments:

James Redekop said...

"Britain has a right to defend itself. It cannot tolerate terrorism." -- Boston, March 5, 1770

laura k said...

"Like"

johngoldfine said...

Paying students to generate propaganda intended to mimic ordinary social media reminds me of the CIA secretly funding Encounter.

'Nothing is what it seems; everything you know is wrong' are fine premises in fiction, but if governments push disinformation in real life, the result has to be suspicion, cynicism, uncertainty, anger, fear, internal exile, and so on--all conditions governments should seek to allay, not aggravate.

laura k said...

To my mind, most fictional premises have their real-life analogs.

David Cho said...

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

Desmond Tutu

HT: commenter on Doctors without Borders FB page.

laura k said...

Dave Zirin, Four Little Boys and the Price of Play in Gaza

People in the United States may be ignorant about these overcrowded conditions, but the Israeli military commanders are certainly not. Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal quote that if the poor were starving and without bread, we should “let them eat cake,” has become Netanyahu’s “let them find shelter.” He says, “Let them evacuate” when the only truly safe place is on the other side of a checkpoint. Someone fleeing one missile strike may be heading directly into another.

Perhaps these four little boys are examples of the “telegenically dead Palestinians” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told us we should disregard. Or perhaps what Netanyahu fears is people who see nothing “telegenic” about dead children. Perhaps he knows that there are people who cannot imagine anything more human than a group of children playing on the beach, and cannot imagine anything more inhumane than taking their lives from the sky.


Judy G said...

Can someone please write out the two peace proposals; one from Palistinians and one from Israeli Government? Oh yes, we already have the one from Hamas. It asks for freedom to enter and leave the country, import things, own part of the land, etc. The one from Israel would look something like this: We promise you peace if you will do just these two things: a) give us all the land and b) go away forever. How can Palestinians negotiate with this?
I was in Palestine for only two days before it became clear to me. As I said then: Israel wants land and it wants peace. But if it can only have one, it would choose land.

David Cho said...

Nobody in this country (USA) has had the first hand experience of living under occupation by an outside power on US soil. Occupation by a foreign power has never happened here. Yet Americans (or Usians) have the audacity to lecture the Palestinians on how to behave under occupation. Is this what American Exceptionalism is about?

The United States also stands alone in the world where no living citizen has the first hand experience of seeing his/her own homeland on US soil ravaged by war. Our perceptions of war are constructed by Hollywood films and sanitized media reports. The last war on US soil has been over for 149 years. Yet from all the confederacy non-sense, you wouldn't know it.

Ironically the South has become the bastion of pro-Israel fervor. The sons and daughters of Confederates are telling the Palestinians to behave like they lost the war and roll over while Israel collects the spoils of the war. Ah the irony!

David Cho said...

I am truly disheartened to see this shit has spread over to Canada. I blogged about it 8 years ago.

johngoldfine said...

I have gone back and read those earlier threads so I'm reminded of wmtc house rules about commenting on the comments of others.

James Redekop said...

Nobody in this country (USA) has had the first hand experience of living under occupation by an outside power on US soil.

Well...

Ironically the South has become the bastion of pro-Israel fervor.

Only in the most pathological sense. They want Israel restored so it can be destroyed in the Apocalypse and bring about the Second Coming, in line with their (fairly recently developed) notions of how the End Times are supposed to go down.

laura k said...

I have gone back and read those earlier threads so I'm reminded of wmtc house rules about commenting on the comments of others.

John, there's certainly no house rule against commenting on the comments of others. I ask only that: everyone is respectful and refrain from personal attacks, and no one corrects grammar, spelling, or usage of other commenters.

Respectful discussion is always ok. Debate with me is out, but that's easily avoided, since I won't debate.

laura k said...

I am truly disheartened to see this shit has spread over to Canada. I blogged about it 8 years ago.

The old wmtc post that is linked above - "how to tell the difference between..." - was in response to bogus accusations of anti-Semitism, as the Harper govt tried (and continues to try) to shut down debate about Israel and Palestine, from any point of view but their own. They tried to ban the use of the words "Israeli apartheid".

laura k said...

Nobody in this country (USA) has had the first hand experience of living under occupation by an outside power on US soil.

Well...


Exactly. The US and Canada and all of the Americas, depending on your pespective, are occupied territories.

laura k said...

But David, thank you for your perspective about USians and war. I'm sure that one huge reason that Americans are so easily whipped into pro-war frenzy is exactly that.

David Cho said...

Right. If Saddam Hussein had even a 5% chance of landing missiles on US soil and causing mass casualties, I bet public support for the war would have been practically non-existent.

The same goes for the Israeli public. At the end of the day, they know it isn't a fair fight. They know they have the upper hand, so it is easy to fall prey to war mongering. It's easy when the Palestinians can't even bring a knife to a gun fight.