Debunking Hasbara

Israeli spin (= propaganda = bullshit) is known as hasbara. Coordinated by Israel’s National Information Directorate, hasbara is aimed at creating an unrealistically wholesome image of Israel so the average person accepts the Zionist state’s aggressions against its neighbours and land thefts without question. In this ongoing post, I’m going to collect thoughts and links which demonstrate Israel’s pernicious perversions of reality.

From the Guardian article “Special spin body gets media on message, says Israel“:

The directorate acts across ministries and decides key messages on a daily basis. Of its core messages for the media, there has been the advice that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements with Israel; that Israel’s objective is the defence of its population; and that Hamas is a terror organisation targeting Israeli civilians. “In general, we think we are succeeding in getting the message across,” said Vatikai.

The three slogans above are distortions and outright lies which have been exposed previously on this blog.

Uri Avnery also explains these Israeli fabrications:

As a matter of fact, the cease-fire did not collapse, because there was no real cease-fire to start with. The main requirement for any cease-fire in the Gaza Strip must be the opening of the border crossings. There can be no life in Gaza without a steady flow of supplies. But the crossings were not opened, except for a few hours now and again. The blockade on land, on sea and in the air against a million and a half human beings is an act of war, as much as any dropping of bombs or launching of rockets. It paralyzes life in the Gaza Strip: eliminating most sources of employment, pushing hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation, stopping most hospitals from functioning, disrupting the supply of electricity and water.

Those who decided to close the crossings – under whatever pretext – knew that there is no real cease-fire under these conditions.

That is the main thing. Then there came the small provocations which were designed to get Hamas to react. After several months, in which hardly any Qassam rockets were launched, an army unit was sent into the Strip “in order to destroy a tunnel that came close to the border fence”. From a purely military point of view, it would have made more sense to lay an ambush on our side of the fence. But the aim was to find a pretext for the termination of the cease-fire, in a way that made it plausible to put the blame on the Palestinians. And indeed, after several such small actions, in which Hamas fighters were killed, Hamas retaliated with a massive launch of rockets, and – lo and behold – the cease-fire was at an end. Everybody blamed Hamas.

* * *

WHAT WAS THE AIM? Tzipi Livni announced it openly: to liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza. The Qassams served only as a pretext.

Liquidate Hamas rule? That sounds like a chapter out of “The March of Folly”. After all, it is no secret that it was the Israeli government which set up Hamas to start with. When I once asked a former Shin-Bet chief, Yaakov Peri, about it, he answered enigmatically: “We did not create it, but we did not hinder its creation.”

For years, the occupation authorities favored the Islamic movement in the occupied territories. All other political activities were rigorously suppressed, but their activities in the mosques were permitted. The calculation was simple and naive: at the time, the PLO was considered the main enemy, Yasser Arafat was the current Satan. The Islamic movement was preaching against the PLO and Arafat, and was therefore viewed as an ally.

With the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987, the Islamic movement officially renamed itself Hamas (Arabic initials of “Islamic Resistance Movement”) and joined the fight. Even then, the Shin-Bet took no action against them for almost a year, while Fatah members were executed or imprisoned in large numbers. Only after a year, were Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his colleagues also arrested.

Since then the wheel has turned. Hamas has now become the current Satan, and the PLO is considered by many in Israel almost as a branch of the Zionist organization. The logical conclusion for an Israeli government seeking peace would have been to make wide-ranging concessions to the Fatah leadership: ending of the occupation, signing of a peace treaty, foundation of the State of Palestine, withdrawal to the 1967 borders, a reasonable solution of the refugee problem, release of all Palestinian prisoners. That would have arrested the rise of Hamas for sure.

But logic has little influence on politics. Nothing of this sort happened. On the contrary, after the murder of Arafat, Ariel Sharon declared that Mahmoud Abbas, who took his place, was a “plucked chicken”. Abbas was not allowed the slightest political achievement. The negotiations, under American auspices, became a joke. The most authentic Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, was sent to prison for life. Instead of a massive prisoner release, there were petty and insulting “gestures”.

Abbas was systematically humiliated, Fatah looked like an empty shell and Hamas won a resounding victory in the Palestinian election – the most democratic election ever held in the Arab world. Israel boycotted the elected government. In the ensuing internal struggle, Hamas assumed direct control over the Gaza Strip.

And now, after all this, the government of Israel decided to “liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza” – with blood, fire and columns of smoke.

To further the deception and ensure the majority of the world is fed with sanitised rubbish, Israel has banned foreign journalists from entering Gaza since the beginning of its bombing attacks and during the 2 months following Israel’s breaching of the cease fire in early November.

One of the challenges of Israel’s media offensive has been to counter the disturbing images of Gaza in the conflict. “In the war of the pictures we lose, so you need to correct, explain or balance it in other ways,” said Aviv Shir-On, foreign ministry deputy director-general for public affairs.

After a successful court case by the Foreign Press Association, Israel will now deign to let in 8 journalists

Israel says it will allow eight people from foreign media organisations into Gaza each time it opens the Erez crossing into the tiny territory, despite an Israeli supreme court ruling on Wednesday that up to 12 people should be allowed to enter.

It will be very interesting to see from which news agencies the vetted journalists come.

Ian Welsh at Firedoglake translates the Israel friendly tripe fed to the world by Associated Press.

The hasbara war on Wikipedia

More on the hasbara infiltration of Wikipedia

And some more

Hasbara 2.0 (beware of bugs) – hasbara at Times Square and on Youtube.

The Hasbara Buster – an erudite blog addressing many Zionist myths.

David Shasha in his book review Crushing the Wheels of Hasbara says:

The Israeli propaganda machine has become a ubiquitous presence in the American Jewish community and any attempt to generate and promote alternative sources of information carries the crushing burden of threatening that merciless beast, a beast which can do great damage to its critics.

Techniques of hasbara

* Smearing/defaming critics of Israel, aka, attacking the messenger. This is even the terminology found in the Hasbara Handbook
* Selective discussion of issues
* Framing of issues, and setting the terminology used in discussing Israel
* Harassing media about its coverage, aka, flak
* Challenging the portrayal of an alternative narrative, and attempting to keep the zionist narrative as the dominant one.

The hasbara manual describes seven propaganda techniques:

1. Name calling: through the careful use of words, then name calling technique links a person or an idea to a negative symbol.
2. Glittering generality: Simply put, glittering generality is name calling in reverse. Instead of trying to attach negative meanings to ideas or people, glittering generalities use positive phrases, which the audience are attached to, in order to lend positive image to things. Words such as “freedom”, “civilization”,…
3. Transfer: Transfer involves taking some of the prestige and authority of one concept and applying it to another. For example, a speaker might decide to speak in front of a United Nations flag, in an attempt to gain legitimacy for himself or his idea.
4. Testimonial: Testimonial means enlisting the support of somebody admired or famous to endorse and ideal or campaign.
5. Plain folks: The plain folks technique attempts to convince the listener that the speaker is a ‘regular guy’, who is trust-worthy because the are like ‘you or me’.
6. Fear: See fear.
7. Bandwagon: See bandwagon.

More debunking of the myth that Hamas breached the ceasefire with some solid linkage.

Often those who criticise the policies of Israel are labelled by trolls as anti-semites.

2 Replies to “Debunking Hasbara”

  1. Hasbara comment to this thread has been redacted. The author should note that there is NO justification for murder, either of Palestinians or Israelis.

    If Israelis wish to stop resistance against them, they need to insist their government abides by UN resolutions – in other words, cease the occupation, give Palestinians back their land according to Res 242 and make reparations to Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed in the Nakbah.

    Then there will be a chance for the violence to end.

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