Friday, May 23, 2014
Propaganda, Palestine & the Information War (Part II)
On the 18th of May I wrote about the PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign) and some of the tactics it employs to spread propaganda against Jews and Israelis. I demonstrated three of the tactics practiced by our enemies: incitement, denial, emotive concealment of intent. The fourth and final cog in the machinery of disenfranchisement and delegitimization is diplomacy.
One of the PSC supporters reminded me of a book I had read: “Architects of annihilation: Auschwitz and the Logic of Destruction” (Gotz Aly and Susanne Heim). The authors detailed how the bureaucrats and their diplomatic minions were key enablers to the successful planning and implementation of Nazi strategy. An empire that was to be built on the bloodied cadavers of tens of millions of Untermenschen (sub-humans) needed its Diplomatic Corps to carry out its policies of disinformation, dissimulation and theft.
A woman on the Palestinian stall, tall, thin and well spoken, explained to me how she supervised PhD students at a major UK university. She told me that before her latest career role most of her professional life had been spent in the Arab world as a British diplomat. This former diplomat, now supervising the education of doctoral students, did not accept that her previous career choices might cause her to discriminate in her views on Israel, Jews, or on Judaism.
Having been partly educated through Arab universities many British students have found careers in the British Foreign Office (and not coincidentally) in journalism, with its national and international stage. Some years ago it was reported in the media that no Arab university would carry academic books written by Jews. It was admitted that those same Arab universities were reluctant to stock books authored by any one with a “Jewish sounding name.” This situation is destined to remain unchanged if only because finance usually trumps morality and Western governments have been happy to encourage an Arab antisemitic narrative either for profit or to satisfy their own historically prejudiced cultural traditions.
And endemic cultural antipathy towards minorities within the Muslim world can only encourage a blinkered educational experience which, for the Western student of Islam or the Arab world, is a choice readily embraced, under whatever guise is offered. I cannot see what benefits a society when it sends its children to be educated in a racist and fascist environment? Unless that is, the intent is for a continued policy of prejudice that is held for some debased national purpose.
Perhaps the single thread that defines the history of diplomacy is the effort nations have made (and continue to make) in order to maintain power and acquire wealth. Machiavelli viewed diplomacy as having no significance in the realm of civil society. In the pursuit of power, practical considerations rather than ‘higher’ ideological national purpose or misguided ethics were the means by which nations would enrich themselves.
The issue that supporters of Israel must confront is that the United States of America, France and Britain still fund institutions of higher learning in various Arab countries – which all adhere to the apartheid policies of the Arab regimes they serve. Diplomats from the US Department of State, from the British Foreign Office and from the Quai d’Orsai study in the Arab World in order to be eligible for progression within their careers.
The reason behind this policy was partly explained in a book by John Loftus and Mark Aarons “The Secret War against the Jews.” The book refers mainly to the post WW2 period when Jewish survivors of the Shoah were scattered across the Globe. Wherever the survivors went, Nazis, senior members of the SS and the Secret Police slipped in with them, often with the active assistance of Western intelligence agencies – CIA, MI6 and the French DGSE.
“During World War 2 the covert British wiretap program in the United States against Nazi sympathizers was extended to surveil American supporters of a Jewish State in Palestine.” (Loftus and Aarons) After the war this program was massively expanded to allow illegal British wiretaps of American Jews. A reciprocal arrangement probably exists to this day, in Britain.
“All the great nations have treated the Jews as expendable assets, obstacles to the secure supply of Arab oil.” ibid
Equally unconscionable was the fact that illegal electronic surveillance, the “you-spy-on-mine, I’ll spy-on-yours deal” was extended to other Western countries.
In the wake of what Jews experienced as historical reality Edward Snowden’s treason has exposed revelations of unprecedented global spying which for Jews in the Western World seems to be no more than a ‘normal’ act of betrayal against them. It truly is a terrible indictment of our Western system of government that Jews continue everywhere to this day, to be society’s “canaries in the mine.”
Commercial interests in the Muslim world over-ride security considerations by exploiting domestic and foreign wiretaps to appease the Arab-Muslim alliance against Israel and “the Jews” but now also against everyone else in the Western world.
How frightening is this policy, can be understood by the following short post-911 anecdote: the White House and FBI facilitated the hurried departure of 140 Saudis (including two-dozen relatives of Osama bin Laden) from the United States to Saudi Arabia. “In the days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, while the airways were still closed to all other flights, Americans couldn't fly into the country but relatives of bin Laden were able to fly out. President Bush personally facilitated the escape from America of many high ranking Saudi officials in a private jet.” (Boston Globe, 30 Sept. 2003)
Justice must be seen to be done or it becomes a sham that rots society from the inside.
In another quote from Loftus and Aarons they write that the diplomats “job is to make history and then bury it.” Only a fool considers that that war against the Jews and against Israel can be contained, that only the canary will succumb to this poison, injected over generations into the body politic by antisemitic Western governmental institutions. Or, that its impact will be restricted to Israel and its supporters.
As long as we in the West continue to appease the Islamic world – whether for access to energy or geopolitical influence, bigots such as Baroness Tonge have no reason to exercise equanimity or be proportionate in their response to an Israeli presence in the Muslim world. Instead, Israel will continue to be marginalised.
A pro-Muslim or pro-Arab anti-Zionist and antisemitic narrative may be ceaselessly debated in the backrooms of our government institutions and the classrooms of our universities but it can be explained without wasting energy on lies and half-truths.
Realpolitik declares Israel to be geographically insignificant. It is no more than 1/800th the size of the Arab world. Israel’s population of 8 million citizens compares unfavourably to some 400 million “Arabs” (including persecuted minorities). Even when we discount the factor of prejudice in nations, countries act on economic interest and not on ethics. If justification is required, building a biased consensus based on lies just makes the task easier.
“Politics is a dirty game, international diplomacy is a cesspit, national interest is paramount, and double standards are the norm. Nevertheless justice is the demand of all those seeking to claim fairness on their side”. Alan Melkman
How to claim fairness on our side? That is Israel’s (and our) greatest challenge.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
The PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign) holds an annual stall in Richmond, South London and it spreads propaganda against Jews and Israelis. I joined a group of people, Jews and Christians who have decided to take a stand against the lies disseminated by the PSC. Richmond is the former constituency of the notorious anti-Zionist Jenny Tonge.
From this event I took away four tactics that are practiced by our enemies: incitement, denial, emotive concealment of intent and the diplomacy of betrayal.
First, the truly committed antisemite does not care what they say and therefore as offensive as their narrative may be, one cannot argue with them, or even, as I did, use shock tactics to encourage them to confront their own statements. Generalized assertions that are facile, provocative and weighed down with bile are intended for vilification, not dialogue; for propaganda not reconciliation. By hammering home their message, making false connections and being selective about the truth, the Palestine Propaganda Campaign has the power to persuade even the most reasonable people that day is night and night is day.
Second, the Israeli side will always be willing to admit past wrongs and shared failure however, the Palestinian narrative is wholly based on denial. They deny the cultural and religious diversity of the geographical arena by expressly minimizing or denying any Jewish relevance to the area; they ignore many centuries of persecution throughout the Arab world by the Arabs against the indigenous Jewish population (which clearly was the contributory factor in Jewish demands for self-determination).
The Muslim Arab world has always been guilty of grossly abusing its minorities. That is proven by history. Rarely though, has this Islamic militancy, missionary zeal and an unquenchable thirst for conquest been investigated even as we place our own statecraft under the microscope of world opinion. The Arab world feels no shame but instead it accuses its victims of implementing the same policies of which it is guilty. We may label it transference of guilt but it is also a remorseless and cynical act of contempt for formerly persecuted, victim populations. It is hardly surprising that this should be the case. For over 1,300 years Islam was the master of its own aggressive and acquisitive colonial triumphs. To this day, the Arab and greater Muslim world remains in a state of mourning for the loss of Christian Spain 500 years earlier and Christian Greece almost 200 years ago. After barely 70 years Jewish Israel cannot realistically expect that being freed from its Muslim colonial aggressor will be accepted, or forgiven, any time soon.
But while a theological pathology may explain denial, a deliberate campaign of lies is harder to combat. And relearning a civil discourse (as I recently read) will only happen when the other side understands that it has something worse to lose.
Palestinian propaganda is anodyne; it is built on dissimulation and disinformation. Their leaflets often portray the Arabs as victims of Western aggression. Jews are portrayed as quintessentially foreign, which dovetails exquisitely with European antisemitic memes.
What truly disgusts me, and always will, is that the Nazis used the term “Judaisation” to describe the alleged Jewish conquest (cultural or financial) of Christian Europe. It denoted a meme by which racial and religious fear was instilled in an already xenophobic and antisemitic population. This was an essential element of racial propaganda which fascism fed to a receptive population, a population that had already been primed by centuries of religiously inspired incitement and pious hypocrisy. It should come as no surprise then, that the Palestinians and their supporters are such enthusiastic proponents of the same tactics, the same language. But it does. And tactics reflect aims. It is for this reason I am filled with despair for the Palestinian bigots and their British fascist supporters because tactics clearly demonstrate that they are not interested in either reconciliation, or peace.
The late twentieth century was unique in the colossal sense of guilt and shame felt in the Western world for the commission of slavery, for racial prejudice and its inevitably nefarious outcomes, for Western imperialism and for genocide. No other civilization has had to deal with such huge levels of guilt. While we lash ourselves in self-righteous dishonor we remain blissfully ignorant of the inhumanity that non-Western nations were (and are) capable of committing. This has been painfully demonstrated by Muslim slavers dressed in the theocratic insularity of Jihad. Once more they are reasserting their influence over the Nigerian faithful. The Islamic world has the Koran and its commentaries to justify every activity for which we in the West now feel nothing but shame and guilt. And they have 1,300 years of Islamic precedent to support their cause. We already have conspiracy theorists blaming a shadowy non-Muslim ‘Other’ for the crimes of the faith community in Nigeria.
In the USA the apologists for the gun lobby state that guns do not kill people, people kill people. In the Muslim world the mantra for every unpalatable crime for which we in the West take exception is that “the true Muslim” is blameless. And in our inverted moral universe we accept their excuses for every unimaginable crime against humanity committed by them. Instead we should be demanding parity, the same high minded ethical conduct, regardless of race, creed or color.
So when the Muslim world and its Western acolytes lecture me on the Judaisation of Jerusalem or any other part of Israel I want to scream in rage at the injustice that despoils our historical memory, at the cynical abuse of language and at the willingness with which sympathizers on a Liberal-Left fascist continuum so readily collaborate in this Muslim-Arab war against “the Jews” (even when they call us Zionists).
I began this piece by referring to four tactics practiced by our enemies: incitement, denial, emotive concealment of intent and the diplomacy of betrayal. The fourth and final cog in the machinery of disenfranchisement and delegitimization, diplomacy, I will analyse in the next piece.
Friday, May 2, 2014
In an article that was published by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth (“A Light Intifada” by Alex Fishman) on the 1st of May it was written that the Palestinian Authority government is following a new aggressive strategy of a “light Intifada”: a series of graduated steps the intent of which is to keep the pressure on Israel while for now it refrains from hard violence. To paraphrase Fishman, the PA strategy is to hold talks as if there is no “Light Intifada” and to conduct a “Light Intifada” as if there are no talks. Everything happens according to Palestinians’ terms. The reconciliation with Hamas, the delegitimization campaign against Israel, participation in various international organizations, popular resistance against Israel; these are all tactics in the new Intifada. And carrots? Abu Mazen’s statement about the Holocaust and the declaration that the unity government will act in the spirit of the PA (a two faced ‘concession’ if there ever was one) are all part of the new/old war being waged against us.
Alex Fishman concludes that Israel faces this onslaught in a confused and passive state.
Herein is Israel’s greatest challenge. When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 it was in pursuance of a proactive strategy. Israel disengaged from a hostile neighbor, building a security fence decreased the security threat that Gaza posed to its soldiers and in an increasingly antagonistic diplomatic environment Israel demonstrated a second time that strategic depth (the first was when Israel returned Sinai to Egypt) was less important than normalizing its relationship with its Arab neighbors.
How successful this strategy was may be open to debate but in the aftermath of its perceived failure Israel’s actions have been primarily reactive. And that is diplomatically damaging to Israel. If the purpose of Jewish self-determination (or independence) is to reassert a positive Jewish identity then the diplomatic battle being waged across the globe against Israel impacts not just Israel but all of its supporters.
The negotiations for a two state solution to the Israel – Palestine conflict have ground to a halt. Mutual recriminations beset the principal protagonists. Each one asserts the claim that the other is one hundred percent to blame for obstructing the path to a credible solution. Courage is a pivotal requirement for both sides and peace will not be achievable without it. But what drives the breakdown in negotiating resolution is incitement – it demonstrates a lack of imagination – it shows a failure of nerve.
Israel is an island of ordered chaos in an ocean of instability. It must make allowances for its environment if it is to survive the violent storms that batter its defenses. That can only happen if it pays close attention to its neighbors.
For instance: Eighty three per cent of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment, 98% of foreign female visitors have suffered a worse fate if, they stupidly assume a right to appear in public. In Tahrir Square, in January 2011, after the revolution that brought Morsi to power (and before his subsequent overthrow), organized rape of women became common place and this was justified through the accusation that the ‘accused’ women were Coptic Christians, or Foreigners. Egypt is the land of the pharaohs and the pyramids. It also gave the world the Muslim Brotherhood, the institution that has spread like a contagion across the globe. It is a cross between the institution of the Inquisition and the Knights Templar.
Egypt is a deeply misogynistic and racist society. In a country without Jews to blame, Christianity is given as the reason for any failures that cannot be placed on the Zionists. Churches are burned to the ground, libraries and ancient artifacts are destroyed because they are a blemish on the perfect Islamic landscape.
It could as easily be reminiscent of Israel’s experience of the Palestinians.
The Arab Aghlabid regime was the first, in history, to force Jews to wear the Star of David as a visible means of identification, over eleven-hundred years ago (in the 9th Century AD/CE). President Mahmoud Abbas was awarded his doctorate for writing a thesis that questioned the extent of the Shoah and by associating Zionism with Nazism. Mahmoud Abbas justified his bigotry with reference to the ongoing state of war between Jews and Muslims but as recently as 2013 he reaffirmed the veracity of his thesis and he sated that there was so much more he could write on the subject of collusion.
Israel’s critics may declare that it is counterproductive to obsess over the past but only a fool fails to internalise how earlier periods are viewed, from the battlements of history.
Since the election of Mahmoud Abbas to the office of President on January 15, 2005 corruption has been the only true growth industry in the PA, restricted only by the uncritical largess of donor nations. Palestinian society has been fed an unrestricted diet of incitement against Israel’s Jewish population while the PA only ever promotes its maximalist demands. Mr. Abbas tells the world that his country will be Judenrein (Clean of Jews). At the end of July 2013 he reiterated this point (according to Reuters) in a briefing he gave to (mostly) Egyptian journalists.
Such tactics are not intended to encourage trust or good faith negotiations. Fatah honored its jailed leader, Marwan Barghouti because “he had killed 61 Zionists”. Quite simply a Zionist is any person of any faith who believes that Jews have a right to self-determination. If an emphasis is placed on the man as murderer rather than any other quality he may possess then there is a difference between the General (who may have killed many more people) and the guerrilla leader who washes his hands in the blood of his victims. Glorifying killers sends out a message. A military leader can sue for peace but a killer, recognising the value of violence only, knows only how to celebrate the murders he or she has committed for the cause. It is not a word game but a philosophical construct, a state of mind.
Sticks and stones may break your bones but with words begin the slaughter. It has always been so.
By demonising Israelis and portraying them as killers, thieves and liars, Abbas is using the language of the Koran and utilising religious dogma to entrench a mindset of war among his people. But equally he supports a creed that explains the inherent superiority of the Arab nation over “the other” which creates an expectation that the faithful will inevitably triumph over their enemy. No room exists for compromise or co-existence.
“Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” Baruch Spinoza, (Theological-Political treatise 1670)
In the past, wars were usually fought between States of equal strength. Most contemporary conflicts are between asymmetric forces with the weaker side using non-state players (terrorists/freedom fighters) to rebalance the diplomatic and military equation. If, to paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, war is diplomacy by other means, then the reverse can also apply (as Alex Fishman demonstrated).
If that is the case it follows that Israel is to blame for the poor state of negotiations. And the reason is that in the war of words it has allowed itself to appear passive; it has permitted the Palestinian negotiators to define the debate. Many commentators remind us that nations make peace with their enemies. And this argument has once more been brought into focus with the reported reconciliation between HAMAS and the Palestinian Authority. But in order for warring nations to negotiate towards peace two things must happen. First, both sides must make compromises. Second, the dominant player must impose their will on the negotiations. Israel has not done this. It has failed to view a propaganda war as equal to a hot war.
Israel was not founded in sin. Its birth was a triumph of the downtrodden against an Arab enemy that was taught to honour violence, to seek out conquest and to belittle the aspirations of the minority within its borders (unless as an expedient, sharing power furthers the aims of the Arab ruler). But we never hear this in any debate with our opponents.
In contrast to Pan-Arab nationalism, Turkish neo-Ottomanism and Iranian theocratic imperialism Zionism demands equality as a birthright for all the states inhabitants.
In an article that appeared in Ynet on the 1st of May Bibi Netanyahu announced his intention to enshrine, by formal legislation, the status of the State of Israel as a nation-state of the Jewish people. As a cultural cornerstone of the state it makes it clear to Israel’s neighbours that any successful negotiation between Israel and Palestine will be dependent on maintaining the centrality of a Jewish national character within the State of Israel. “A new Basic Law declaring Israel a Jewish state would largely be symbolic, an Israeli official said. "It is a declaration to show that this is part of our national ethos."”
There should be no conflict between Jewish and democratic values. Treating the stranger amongst us as equal to us is a key plank of Jewish religious (and Jewish secular) dogma, even if, within the heat of building the nation, there are far too many people who appear to have forgotten this crucial biblical injunction.
Zionism created a Utopian vision which was later expressed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence and which in turn forms the inspiration for Israel’s Basic (constitutional) laws. It is worthwhile to repeat part of that founding Declaration:
“The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture…”
In Israel, equality exists in law. Like elsewhere within the non-Muslim world it remains an aspiration that must guide its legislators towards the ethical development of the state.
Margaret Nevinson, wife of the British artist Richard Nevinson, writing in 1926 about the aftershocks from World War One stated the everywhere there is “callousness produced by the long spectacle of pain and suffering.” If it exists here too, perhaps it is because we can no longer see an end to our conflict with our enemy. If only to be in a position to make concessions, Israel has to negotiate from strength, not weakness. Because the nations of the world have learned to ignore the history of the conflict, Israel, when confronted with a war of ideas appears to be weak and therefore, guilty as charged. In order to win the peace every opportunity must be made for Israel’s truths to be repeated. It must demonstrate that the Arab world and as part of the Arab World, the Palestinian Authority has no interest in real peace, no interest in conflict resolution, and no interest in religious reconciliation. Only then will we make progress towards resolution.
For those who think that the war is lost, "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)