Tag Archives: hasbara

How mainstream media gets Palestine wrong

Mariam Barghouti

Mariam Barghouti – credit Al Jazeera

Thanks to Mariam Barghouti, a Palestinian American writer based in Ramallah, for lifting the veil from the mainstream media’s reporting on Palestine. Her piece in Al Jazeera (Dec. 30, 2017) is a must read for anyone who cares to understand the context behind the “news” and how the mainstream media can get so much, so wrong!

I like to think that I’ve become a more critical consumer of the news media since living in Gaza (2012-2013). I admit I was certainly fooled for many years, or perhaps just a lazy news consumer who had no reason to question the “accepted” narrative.

When the New York Times deletes reference to “occupied Gaza” as it did here, and NBC pulls its veteran reporter from Gaza after he witnessed and reported the killing of four Palestinian kids on the beach, it’s clear to any thinking adult that the mainstream media is massaging the narrative. The questions we should be asking ourselves are why? for what purpose? for who?  The following answers are my own formulations; I’d like to hear from more experienced media analysts.

WHY?  Why is the mainstream media invested in perpetuating the colonial narrative in the Israel – Palestine story rather than standing back and providing a deeper, richer context?

Some believe in the conspiracy theory, that the Jews control the media and so the narrative of the Middle East is naturally designed to suit their interests. Hogwash!  I’ve heard this old canard repeated by nuts and also by people who should know better. While there may be some Zionists in high positions who are able to exert editorial control, the notion that Jews control the mainstream media is a broken record and should be resoundingly rejected once and for all.  Read this piece from 1996 in FAIR to understand how this conspiracy theory got started.

I tend to think that the mainstream media is simply stuck in its own cocoon of ignorance. Too many generations of western journalists have grown up inside the colonial narrative which says that Israel is fighting for its very existence surrounded by hostile neighbors. If that skewed notion forms the bedrock of their understanding of current events, then we shouldn’t be surprised with the mainstream media’s version of events.

Maybe western journalists need to be acculturated into narratives other than their own. I’m not suggesting that they adopt wholesale the narrative propounded by the Palestinians; that would be just as unprofessional as the dilemma they face today. But they must be made aware of narratives that challenge the dominant narrative.

What purpose?  For what purpose does the dominant colonial narrative about Israel – Palestine seem to stick despite abundant contradictory evidence?

Here’s where I tend to believe in a conspiracy theory. Israel has been the U.S. protectorate since before David Ben-Gurion, the head of the World Zionist Organization, declared the independence of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. The U.S. was the first country to recognize Israel minutes later. The state of Israel has benefitted from U.S. largesse both in terms of money and protection from international condemnation at the United Nations.

The state of Israel has also benefitted from the U.S. government’s refusal to investigate or hold it accountable for its misdeeds. If Americans only knew how tight the U.S. government and the government of Israel really are, we might question those in power. As it currently stands, there’s very little questioning and a great deal of genuflecting when Israeli leaders call Washington.iStock 20492165 MD - American and Israeli flags

For who?  Certainly, the fallacious facade of the U.S. as a neutral mediator for peace in the Middle East has been stripped away once and for all. Perhaps then-Secretary John Kerry was the last to believe he could carry such a mantle in 2013. Many of us knew years earlier which side the U.S. was beholden to.

The mainstream media’s dominant narrative serves one side, and one side only. It’s time for professional journalists and their editors to come to that realization. When Israel’s hasbara permeates our news diet so thoroughly and without question, we all suffer, and the media’s credibility suffers just as much as when Donald Trump yells “fake news”.

Please read Mariam Barghouti’s piece in Al Jazeera (Dec. 30, 2017). The lives of Israelis and Palestinians depend on more informed Americans.

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Filed under Israel, Media, People, Politics, Uncategorized, US Policy, Video

Truly Tiresome Trolls

This week the Zionist trolls launched a concerted attack on my Facebook page. How do I know?

Trolls = unknown names with no profiles posting obnoxious Hasbara.

Concerted attack = multiple posts, one after another, over a period of several hours.

The solution!

This is a social media world, and I’m a social media gal. Defending against tiresome trolls is as simple as cleaning up ugly graffiti. The faster you remove it, the sooner they will lose interest and move on.

  1. Don’t engage with trolls <<<trolls want your attention, don’t give it to them>>>
  2. Report trolls to Facebook <<<click on upper right corner of the message and dropdown box gives you the option to report.>>>
  3. Block trolls <<<You might be able to block when you report, or you click on the troll’s FB page and then click on the 3 dots to the right of the troll’s name. The dropdown box gives you the option to report and block>>>

Israel pays students to tweet pro-Israeli propaganda. The government even offers Hasbara fellowships. LOL For the very serious Zionist troll, there’s even a Hasbara Handbook available.

This short (8 minute) video provides a very good primer on Israel’s hasbara project and how it has influenced the mainstream media in the United States. I highly recommend it.

No one should be surprised if Palestinians try to emulate Israel’s propaganda success, but I hope they don’t stoop to paying students to troll Facebook and Twitter.

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The dominant narrative = hasbara

  1. Hasbara is a form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past.

If you are a Jew, especially an Israeli Jew, the narrative you’re likely reading about the Palestinians is similar to this one.

If you’re an American, you’re likely seeing the news about Palestinians filtered through the same lens.

This dominant narrative makes these points (among others):

1) Palestinians are educated in the glory of terrorism from a young age, and children are encouraged to become martyrs.

2) Palestinians relish and rejoice when their acts of terror (ie. suicide bombers) kill many Israelis.

3) The National government of Palestine (Palestinian Authority), Hamas, and every other Arab organization calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

4) Islamist terrorists are honored with street names and other public places.

5) The “Moderate” Abu Mazen honors mass murderers and arch Islamist terrorists.

These points are supported with video clips to prove their accuracy. Anyone steeped in this narrative from an early age onward will no doubt be convinced of its veracity.

Those who prepare this hasbara are very good at their job — packaging the narrative so one side is clearly good and righteous, while the other is bad and evil.

My friend shared this hasbara with me today. I read it and watched each video clip. Please take time and read it for yourself.  Here.

If you believe the world is really THAT simple, I have a swamp in southern New Mexico for sale.

Lora blogging

Lora blogging

Now, if I wanted to prepare a counterpoint, a Palestinian narrative that included propaganda to support the Palestinian resistance, I could.

Here are the points I might make:

1) The Zionists have a plan to exterminate the Palestinians which they have been executing with great proficiency, and with the help of many Western nations, since 1948 to the present day. The Likud Charter calls for the destruction of Palestine.

2) The Zionists teach their children that Palestinians are inferior, innately stupid, lazy and not good for much of anything.

3) The Zionists don’t believe in the Rule of Law — there are innumerable examples of Israel’s violations of international law.

4) The Israeli occupation forces kill Palestinian children, women and the elderly indiscriminately, relishing in their marksmanship. And Americans who are trying to help the Palestinians are fair game. Israel has killed a number of Americans.

5) Israeli settlers carry guns, teach their children to shoot Arabs, burn their olive trees, and carry out Price Tag attacks against Palestinians.

I could provide a video-clip to support each of these points (ask me if you want video clips) but I’ll post just one —- these Israeli soldiers talking about their action in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead (December 2008- January 2009).

The factually accurate narrative which is missing from Israel’s hasbara and the mainstream media’s reporting … must include the OCCUPATION. If the news you’re reading or listening to fails to talk about the Israeli occupation of Palestine, then you aren’t learning about the context that explains why Palestinians are resisting against the occupation and the occupier. You’re not hearing about the 99-year hudna (truce) that Hamas, Fatah and other Arab countries have offered Israel. You’re not appreciating the long and peaceful history that Jews, Christians and Muslims shared prior to the occupation and the Nakba.

There is another narrative, a more honest narrative, that doesn’t paint one side right, the other wrong —- one side virtuous and the other side terrorist.

Israelis and Palestinians need the world to understand this honest narrative, for both their sakes.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Media, Occupation, Settlers, Video

New York Times succumbs to Israeli hasbara

New York Times

My letter to the New York Times Public Editor.    public@nytimes.com

Margaret Sullivan is the fifth public editor appointed by The New York Times. The public editor works outside of the reporting and editing structure of the newspaper and receives and answers questions or comments from readers and the public, principally about news and other coverage in The Times.  Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

Dear Ms. Sullivan:

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that the New York Times has succumbed to Israeli hasbara (propaganda).

The New York Times published a story on Mar.4 about an American deported from the Cairo Airport. The writer mentioned the American’s goal of traveling to the occupied Gaza Strip. (U.S. Activist Says Egyptian Police Assaulted Her, by David D. Kirkpatrick). But you won’t find the original story online.

On Mar.7, the NYT issued a correction, telling readers that the Gaza Strip is not occupied. Read my blog post to see the correction.  You won’t find the correction online either because on Mar. 9, the NYT removed the “correction notice” and now you’ll only see the “massaged version” on the NYT website without any mention of occupied Gaza.

Israel hasbara (propaganda) is trying furiously to remove the term “occupation” from our discourse about Palestine. Looks like the New York Times has succumbed to this hasbara.

Shame on New York Times

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Israel’s hasbara in the New Mexico Legislature

Our citizen-legislators will be meeting again in Santa Fe for a short 30-day session beginning next Tuesday. They are called “citizen” legislators because they don’t make a living as full-time lawmakers (like those in California for example) and so they are either retired, dependent on a spouse for support, or working a job that allows them the flexibility to serve in the New Mexico Legislature.

New Mexico Legislature

New Mexico Legislature

These citizen-legislators should be commended for the work they do for very little pay and lots of headaches. Instead, one legislator from Alamogordo is asking her colleagues to commend the state of Israel. I kid you not.  Her resolution is reprinted here.

Representative Yvette Herrell (R) didn’t come up with this idea on her own. Nearly identical resolutions have been introduced in Mississippi, North Dakota, Iowa, Texas plus Oklahoma, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, and Utah.

My hunch is that these resolutions are AIPAC’s (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) PR strategy to build support for Israel among Americans in order to keep members of Congress in tow. AIPAC’s influence in Congress is legendary. Check out this 2006 piece in The Nation if you’re not familiar with the Israel Lobby.

So why is Representative Herrell’s HR1 problematic (to put it kindly)?

Let me count the ways:

1) State legislators should not be opining on foreign policy matters. The Middle East is a hotbed of contested claims and accusations, much of it originating from the creation of Israel in 1948 and the occupation of the Palestinians since 1967. The community of nations stands united (with the exception of the U.S., Canada and Australia) in condemning Israel’s flagrant violation of international laws pertaining to its brutal occupation. HR1 conveniently cherry-picks this history to avoid the harsh, cold reality that Israel is an occupying force on lands that international law recognizes as belonging to the indigenous population. Would it be appropriate for state Legislators to discuss and debate a resolution supporting the rights of Palestinians?  I think not. Neither should they be spending time on HR1.

2) State legislators should be focused on the needs of New Mexicans. In a short 30-day session, our lawmakers will be scrambling to pass a budget that addresses our critical needs.  Think jobs, education, renewable energy ….. but not platitudes commending foreign nations. Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino hits the nail on the head in this piece.

My very first job after finishing law school was serving as an analyst for the New Mexico House Judiciary Committee. I know the hectic pace, the long hours, and how hasty decision-making occurs when the clock ticks down to the close of the session. Distractions from the business at hand hurts all New Mexicans. HR1 is one humongous, gigantic distraction.

3) State legislators need an education on the Middle East.  All Americans need a good wake-up call about how our tax dollars are being used in the Middle East. Should we be supporting Israel’s military to the tune of $3+ billion each year? Are we fostering a peaceful resolution to the conflict or subsidizing a brutal military occupation? Although resolutions have some educational value, HR1 is filled with misleading and inaccurate information designed to sway public opinion (also known as hasbara in Israel), not to educate. Maybe an educational event about Israel and Palestine could be organized AFTER the legislative session concludes.

If you want to know what really goes on at the Roundhouse (New Mexico’s Legislature) pick up a copy of Senator Dede Feldman’s new book “Inside the New Mexico Senate: Boots, Suits and Citizens.” Dede will be talking about her book at BookWorks in Albuquerque on Feb. 4th at 7 pm.

And take 5 minutes to shoot an email to a New Mexico State Legislator about what you think about HR1 – A RESOLUTION COMMENDING THE STATE OF ISRAEL FOR ITS CORDIAL AND MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED STATES AND WITH THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO.   Names and contact information are available here.

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New Mexico Legislator wants to commend Israel

New Mexico State Representative Yvette Herrell plans to introduce a resolution in the NM House of Representatives when the State Legislature convenes on January 21, 2014. The resolution is reprinted in its entirety below. My comments will follow in a later post.

Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Otero County)

Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Otero County)

A RESOLUTION COMMENDING THE STATE OF ISRAEL FOR ITS CORDIAL AND MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED STATES AND WITH THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO

Introduced in the New Mexico Legislature by

Representative Yvette Herrell

WHEREAS, Israel has been granted her lands under and through the oldest recorded deed, as recorded in the Old Testament, a tome of scripture held sacred by Jews and Christians alike, as presenting the acts and words of God; and

WHEREAS, the claim and presence of Jewish people in Israel has remained constant throughout the past four thousand years of history; and

WHEREAS, the legal basis of establishment of the modern state of Israel was a binding resolution under international law, which was unanimously adopted by the League of Nations in 1922 and subsequently affirmed by both houses of the United States congress; and

WHEREAS, this resolution affirmed the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in the historical region of the land of Israel, including in the areas of Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem; and

WHEREAS, Article 80 of the United Nations Charter recognized the continued validity of the rights granted to states and peoples which already existed under international instruments, and therefore, the 1922 League of Nations resolution remains valid, and the six hundred and fifty thousand Jews currently residing in the areas of Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem reside there legitimately; and

WHEREAS, Israel declared its independence and self-governance on May 14, 1948, with the goal of re-establishing its Gog-given and legally recognized lands as a homeland for the Jewish people; and

WHEREAS, the United States being the first country to recognize Israel as an independent nation and as Israel’s principal ally, has enjoyed a close and mutually beneficial relationship with Israel and her people; and

WHEREAS, Israel is the greatest friend and ally of the United States in the Middle East and the values of our town nations are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate one from the other; and

WHEREAS, there are those in the Middle East who have continually sought to destroy Israel, from the time of its inception as a state, and those same enemies of Israel also hate, and seek to destroy, the United States; and

WHEREAS, the state of New Mexico and Israel have enjoyed cordial and mutually beneficial relations since 1948, a friendship that continues to strengthen with each passing year;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the members of the house of representatives commend Israel for its cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States and with the state of New Mexico; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the house of representatives supports Israel in its legal, historical, moral and God-given right self-governance and self-defense upon the entirety of its own lands, recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others, and that peace can be afforded the region only through a whole and united Israel; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be transmitted to the office of the governor and the secretary of cultural affairs.

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The 25 Rules for Effective Communication

The Global Language Dictionary prepared by The Israel Project is a detailed manual to assist pro-Israel advocates who are communicating with Americans. “The goal is to win new hearts and minds for Israel without losing the support Israel already has.”  See here and here.

The drafters tested what works and what doesn’t on  a sample of Americans.

The Israel Project report concedes that justifying the settlements to ordinary Americans is a tough sell.

“Nothing is tougher to articulate effectively to neutral Americans than a message in favour of the settlements. Let me be clear about this conclusion. Plenty of Israeli and American Jewish leaders have tried, but American and European audiences rejected almost everything we tested. There is no magic language to unify public support,” it says.

If you want to be a pro-Israel advocate, you’ll want to check out this dictionary.  You’ll probably be more effective if you remember these simple rules.

Chapter 1: The 25 Rules for Effective Communication

1. Persuadables won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show Empathy for BOTH sides!

The first step to winning trust and friends for Israel is showing that you care about peace for BOTH Israelis and Palestinians and, in particular, a better future for every child.

2. Explain your principles.

All too often both Arab and Israeli spokespeople go right into
an attack against the other, and virtually no one on either side explains the principles behind their actions. Americans respond much better to facts, actions, and results when they know why—not just how.

3. Clearly differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas.

The most effective way to build support for Israel is to talk about “working toward a lasting peace” that “respects the rights of everyone in the region.” Notice there is no explicit mention of either Israel or the Palestinians. To much of the Left, both sides are equally at fault, and because the Israelis are more powerful, sophisticated and Western, it is they who should
compromise first.

4. There is NEVER, EVER, any justification for the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children. NEVER.

This rule is particularly ironic (or tragically sad) because it’s obviously focused on the slaughter of Israeli women and children, when the statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate that more innocent Palestinian women and children are slaughtered (eg. Operation Cast Lead).

5. Don’t pretend that Israel is without mistakes or fault.

6. Be careful of your tone.

7. Stop. Stop. Stop.

The more you talk about the militaristic tone and jihadist goals of Iran-backed terrorists – by using their own words — the more empathy you will create for Israel.

8. Remind people — again and again — that Israel wants peace.

9. Americans want a team to cheer for. Let the public know GOOD things about Israel.

10. Draw direct parallels between Israel and America—including the need to defend against terrorism.

From history to culture to values, the more you focus on the
similarities between Israel and America, the more likely you are to win the support of those who are neutral.

11. Don’t talk about religion.

12. No matter what you are asked, bridge to a productive pro-Israel message.

13. Talk about the future, not the past.

14. Hope.

Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel)

Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel)

15. Use rhetorical questions.

16. Go where the people are.

17. KISS and tell and tell again and again.

18. Avoid “analysis paralysis” and be “pro-active”.

19. It’s not just what you’re against — it’s what you’re FOR that matters.

20. Start your message, press release, sound bite or debate segment with your best, positive message.

Start with positive themes like peace, mutual respect, empathy for the plight of Palestinians and their children, and the like.

21. Concede a point.

Look for opportunities in every TV debate or interview to concede a point to the interviewer or debate partner. It doesn’t have to be a major point. The point isn’t to undermine some essential plank of Israel’s foreign policy platform. But the
simple words “you make a good point” do wonders among an audience.

22. Never, never, NEVER speak in declarative statements. Never.

Americans and Europeans think in shades of gray – especially when it comes to conflict in the Middle East. They believe both sides are to blame, both sides are responsible for making
sacrifices for peace, and both sides do have a positive story to tell. So every time you say “every,” totally,” “always,” “never,” or the like, the reaction is immediate and negative. Soften the tone just a little bit and you’ll keep them tuned in.

23. Acknowledge the  complexities of the situation and attempt to simplify and clarify.

24. Don’t try to stack your credibility against the media’s.

25. Also, don’t try to stack your credibility up against the global community’s.

26. Mutuality is a key concept.

We close with one more plea to humanize, empathize, and
stress the equal needs for a better life for two equal peoples. The world sees Israel and the Palestinians on completely different plains – and this is why they allow/ignore Palestinian crimes against Israel. It’s David vs. Goliath – only this time the Palestinians are seen as David. Using the “mutual” context puts both parties on the same level – and that is important in communicating the Israeli position. Here are the phrases to use:
— “Mutual respect” is even better than “tolerance.”
— “Living together, side by side, in peace”
— “Israelis and Palestinians both have a RIGHT to…” The more
you stress that both sides have equal rights, the better.
— “Cooperation, Collaboration, and Compromise.” All three words work to describe the relationship that Europe and America want Israelis and Palestinians to have. We recommend you use all three because the sound repetition drives the point home with three times the effectiveness.

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