Why Israel Lies


Chris Hedges

All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories—required under the rules of American journalism—although we know they are untrue.

I saw small boys baited and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis. The soldiers swore at the boys in Arabic over the loudspeakers of their armored jeep. The boys, about 10 years old, then threw stones at an Israeli vehicle and the soldiers opened fire, killing some, wounding others. I was present more than once as Israeli troops drew out and then shot Palestinian children in this way. Such incidents, in the Israeli lexicon, become children caught in crossfire. I was in Gaza when F-16 attack jets dropped 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs on overcrowded hovels in Gaza City. I saw the corpses of the victims, including children. This became a surgical strike on a bomb-making factory. I have watched Israel demolish homes and entire apartment blocks to create wide buffer zones between the Palestinians and the Israeli troops that ring Gaza. I have interviewed the destitute and homeless families, some camped out in crude shelters erected in the rubble. The destruction becomes the demolition of the homes of terrorists. I have stood in the remains of schools—Israel struck two United Nations schools this past week, causing at least 10 fatalities at one in Rafah on Sunday and at least 19 at one in the Jebaliya refugee camp Wednesday—as well as medical clinics and mosques. I have heard Israel claim that errant rockets or mortar fire from the Palestinians caused these and other deaths, or that the bombed spots were being used as arms depots or launching sites. I, along with every other reporter I know who has worked in Gaza, have never seen any evidence that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields.”

There is a perverted logic to Israel’s repeated use of the Big Lie—Große Lüge—the lie favored by tyrants from Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin to Saddam Hussein. The Big Lie feeds the two reactions Israel seeks to elicit—racism among its supporters and terror among its victims.

By painting a picture of an army that never attacks civilians, that indeed goes out of its way to protect them, the Big Lie says Israelis are civilized and humane, and their Palestinian opponents are inhuman monsters. The Big Lie serves the idea that the slaughter in Gaza is a clash of civilizations, a war between democracy, decency and honor on one side and Islamic barbarism on the other. And in the uncommon cases when news of atrocities penetrates to the wider public, Israel blames the destruction and casualties on Hamas.

George Orwell in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” called this form of propaganda doublethink. Doublethink uses “logic against logic” and “repudiate[s] morality while laying claim to it.” The Big Lie does not allow for the nuances and contradictions that can plague conscience. It is a state-orchestrated response to the dilemma of cognitive dissonance. The Big Lie permits no gray zones. The world is black and white, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous. The Big Lie allows believers to take comfort—a comfort they are desperately seeking—in their own moral superiority at the very moment they have abrogated all morality.

The Big Lie, as the father of American public relations, Edward Bernays, wrote, is limited only by the propagandist’s capacity to fathom and harness the undercurrents of individual and mass psychology. And since most supporters of Israel do not have a desire to know the truth, a truth that would force them to examine their own racism and self-delusions about Zionist and Western moral superiority, like packs of famished dogs they lap up the lies fed to them by the Israeli government. The Big Lie always finds fertile soil in what Bernays called the “logic-proof compartment of dogmatic adherence.” All effective propaganda, Bernays wrote, targets and builds upon these irrational “psychological habits.”

This is the world Franz Kafka envisioned, a world where the irrational becomes rational. It is one where, as Gustave Le Bon noted in “The Crowd: A Study of the Public Mind,” those who supply the masses with the illusions they crave become their master, and “whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” This irrationality explains why the reaction of Israeli supporters to those who have the courage to speak the truth—Uri Avnery, Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, Jonathan Cook, Norman Finkelstein, Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Ilan Pappé, Henry Siegman and Philip Weiss—is so rabid. That so many of these voices are Jewish, and therefore have more credibility than non-Jews who are among Israel’s cheerleaders, only ratchets up the level of hate.

But the Big Lie is also consciously designed to send a chilling message to Gaza’s Palestinians, who have lost large numbers of their dwellings, clinics, mosques, and power, water and sewage facilities, along with schools and hospitals, who have suffered some 1,650 deaths since this assault began—most of the victims women and children—and who have seen 400,000 people displaced from their homes. The Big Lie makes it clear to the Palestinians that Israel will continue to wage a campaign of state terror and will never admit its atrocities or its intentions. The vast disparity between what Israel says and what Israel does tells the Palestinians that there is no hope. Israel will do and say whatever it wants. International law, like the truth, will always be irrelevant. There will never, the Palestinians understand from the Big Lie, be an acknowledgement of reality by the Israeli leadership.

The Israel Defense Forces website is replete with this black propaganda. “Hamas exploits the IDF’s sensitivity towards protecting civilian structures, particularly holy sites, by hiding command centers, weapons caches and tunnel entrances in mosques,” the IDF site reads. “In Hamas’ world, hospitals are command centers, ambulances are transport vehicles, and medics are human shields,” the site insists.

“… [Israeli] officers are tasked with an enormous responsibility: to protect Palestinian civilians on the ground, no matter how difficult that may be,” the site assures its viewers. And the IDF site provides this quote from a drone operator identified as Lt. Or. “I have personally seen rockets fired at Israel from hospitals and schools, but we couldn’t strike back because of civilians nearby. In one instance, we acquired a target but we saw that there were children in the area. We waited around, and when they didn’t leave we were forced to abort a strike on an important target.”

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, in a Big Lie of his own, said last month at a conference of Christians United for Israel that the Israeli army should be given the “Nobel Peace Prize …  a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint.”

The Big Lie destroys any possibility of history and therefore any hope for a dialogue between antagonistic parties that can be grounded in truth and reality. While, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, the ancient and modern sophists sought to win an argument at the expense of the truth, those who wield the Big Lie “want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality.” The old sophists, she said, “destroyed the dignity of human thought.” Those who resort to the Big Lie “destroy the dignity of human action.” The result, Arendt warned, is that “history itself is destroyed, and its comprehensibility.” And when facts no longer matter, when there is no shared history grounded in the truth, when people foolishly believe their own lies, there can be no useful exchange of information. The Big Lie, used like a bludgeon by Israel, as perhaps it is designed to be, ultimately reduces all problems in the world to the brutish language of violence. And when oppressed people are addressed only through violence they will answer only through violence.

Advertisements

No Comment


Infants, children killed in Rafah stored in a commercial freezer until a ceasefire so that they can be buried

Infants, children killed in Rafah stored in a commercial freezer until a ceasefire so that they can be buried

Netanyahu demands ‘never second guess me again’ on Hamas


…and during an election year with a sycophantic Congress bent on further embarrassing the President of the United States and in need of deep pockets to fund campaigns to make people believe the unbelievable Netanyahu thinks he has the green light to humiliate the President of the only super power in the world….and he probably does. But he should know, it wasn’t Hamas that broke the ceasefire despite Netanyahu’s protestations.

Ali Abunimah makes two noteworthy claims…not startling when you think of the players involved in these scenarios. The Israelis broke the ceasefire with a raid in southern Gaza and realizing one of their soldiers was captured saturated the area where that soldier was supposedly captured with bombs in an attempt to kill him and prevent him from being a prisoner of war.

In a military communiqué published on its website on Friday, Qassam stated:

After its blatant aggression and violation of the ceasefire, the enemy [Israel] began to spread the lie that the resistance violated the truce. We confirm that over the past twenty days no Zionist soldier had any presence in the eastern area of Rafah. After the announcement that a ceasefire agreement had been reached, the enemy began to move in that area and at precisely 2am made an incursion 2.5 kms east of Rafah. This leaves no room for doubt about the enemy’s intention to violate the truce and infringe on our territory and our defenseless people. Faced with this Zionist advance, at precisely 7am our fighters engaged with the invading forces and caused a large number of deaths and injuries in their ranks.

 

In a statement early on Saturday morning, Qassam explained how it had understood the ceasefire:

We notified the mediators that took part in arranging the humanitarian ceasefire that we agree to a ceasefire with regard to the sites that we target in Zionist cities and towns, but from an operational standpoint we cannot cease firing toward forces that have entered the [Gaza] Strip and are operating and moving constantly. This means that it is possible for any invading force to encounter one of our units and this could lead to clashes……..

So according to Qassam, the operation against the Israeli soldiers was defensive in nature and occurred an hour before the 8:00 am start of the ceasefire.

……

The “Hannibal Directive” captured the Israeli imagination in the mid-1980s, when ongoing incursions and occupation in Lebanon, following the 1982 invasion, confronted the Israeli army with opportunities to experience capture.

Popular understanding of this directive is phrased as “a dead soldier is better than a kidnapped [sic] one” – which was taken to mean that it would be better to kill a captured prisoner of war than have him remain alive.

The political cost to Israeli leaders from a live captured soldier could be seen during the five years Gilad Shalit’s family campaigned for Israel to secure his release and the high price many Israelis felt had to be paid: an exchange for more than one thousand Palestinian prisoners.

Evolving from an order never committed to paper, the directive is ascribed to military leaders Yossi Peled, Gabi Ashkenazi and Yaakov Amidror in 1986……

There was much discussion on Twitter about this being the reason for the shelling of Rafah on Friday morning, including in reports from Ynet’s military reporter Attila Somfalvi, that the words “Hannibal! Hannibal!” were shouted over military communication systems…..

Ouriel Daskal stated outright: “what I deduce from what’s happening in Rafah is that there’s an implementation of the Hannibal Directive. Let’s hope not.”

Moreover, blogger Richard Silverstein reported a few days ago that another soldier was killed in Gaza under the directive.

Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman confirmed in a radio interview, with respect to an earlier incident, that in Gaza the procedure “was tested in practice and apparently the soldiers acted in accordance with that directive.”

 

 

Bob Schieffer is a member of the Israeli hasbara


 

American journalists are now spokespersons for the Israeli government.

The evil of Zionism


conflateNow that Gaza is being totally decimated one can see the evil of Zionism.  There is no equivalence between Hamas rockets and Israeli destruction of the Gaza strip.  We’ve seen the two are not even similar; but what has happened is Israel has used the illusion of the destructive nature of Hamas’ rockets to wage war on Palestinians, openly declaring it to all the world.  What they don’t say is “war” in Zionism’s world view  means , genocide is completely acceptable and a moral imperative.

Such talk of extermination, elimination was preceded by the complete and utter demonization of Palestinians by Israeli politicians and her supporters.  bloodiedAyelet Shaked a member of the Israeli parliament  in public remarks refers to Palestinians as “snakes” whose mothers should be killed their homes demolished and destroyed and Palestinian blood on the hands of Jews . It’s clear such a directive is being dutifully carried out by the IDF.

Israeli supporters have carried the baton of Zionist racism and Palestinian genocide to the pages of western media. The Wall Street Journal unabashedly published an editorial which conflates Palestinian civilians with Hamas thereby making it possible to kill them all. An Israeli “academic” called for the wholesale rape of Palestinian women as a way of deterring suicide  and presumably rocket attacks by Hamas against Israel, this despite the fact rape is a war crime. The Times of Israel published an op-ed piece that suggest the ‘goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide’……further expounding on the theme that mass murder is acceptable on the world stage.  The fact that such a hideous and reprehensible idea finds its way into the public discourse shows how much has been done to demonize Palestinian Arab Muslims to make their murder palatable. Were the object of such vilification Jews there would be world wide denouncement and a declaration of war, yet more and more the idea that Palestinians can be ravaged and murdered against all conventions of international civility except where zionism is concerned is finding traction among all segments of society here and abroad.  Frankly it’s ok for Israel to descend into this abyss; they can’t help it…it’s embedded in their ideology of race, superiority and power but to see it supported by the world’s exceptional democracy  is a travesty.

No Comment


Israel Provoked This War


…as if you didn’t already know that?!?!?! This is par for the course type of behavior for one of the most ruthless governments known to civilized man.  It doesn’t belong among semitic peoples of the Middle East; rather it belongs among its colder hearted brethren of the European hinterlands who love war, destruction and genocide.  It has taken its playbook from Nazi Germany in the way it has systematically destroyed Palestinian hopes and aspirations for self-determination and to live in peace with its neighbors.  If it were any other country in the Middle East, America would have invaded Israel right now for its crimes against humanity conducted against the Palestinians. Saddam Hussein was guilty of far fewer atrocities and he was hung to the glee of the neocons of the Bush administration. Henry Siegman has written the brilliant, thought provoking piece below

There seems to be near-universal agreement in the United States with President Barack Obama’s observation that Israel, like every other country, has the right and obligation to defend its citizens from threats directed at them from beyond its borders.

But this anodyne statement does not begin to address the political and moral issues raised by Israel’s bombings and land invasion of Gaza: who violated the cease-fire agreement that was in place since November 2012 and whether Israel’s civilian population could have been protected by nonviolent means that would not have placed Gaza’s civilian population at risk. As of this writing, the number killed by the Israel Defense Forces has surpassed 600, the overwhelming majority of whom are noncombatants.

Israel’s assault on Gaza, as pointed out by analyst Nathan Thrall in the New York Times, was not triggered by Hamas’ rockets directed at Israel but by Israel’s determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy.

 The notion that it was Israel, not Hamas, that violated a cease-fire agreement will undoubtedly offend a wide swath of Israel supporters. To point out that it is not the first time Israel has done so will offend them even more deeply. But it was Shmuel Zakai, a retired brigadier general and former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, and not “leftist” critics, who said about the Israel Gaza war of 2009 that during the six-month period of a truce then in place, Israel made a central error “by failing to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians in the [Gaza] Strip. … You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they are in and expect Hamas just to sit around and do nothing.”

This is true of the latest cease-fire as well. According to Thrall, Hamas is now seeking through violence what it should have obtained through a peaceful handover of responsibilities. “Israel is pursuing a return to the status quo ante, when Gaza had electricity for barely eight hours a day, water was undrinkable, sewage was dumped in the sea, fuel shortages caused sanitation plants to shut down and waste sometimes floated in the streets.” It is not only Hamas supporters, but many Gazans, perhaps a majority, who believe it is worth paying a heavy price to change a disastrous status quo.

The answer to the second question — whether a less lethal course was not available to protect Israel’s civilian population — is (unintentionally?) implicit in the formulation of President Barack Obama’s defense of Israel’s actions: namely, the right and obligation of all governments to protect their civilian populations from assaults from across their borders.

But where, exactly, are Israel’s borders?

It is precisely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to identify those borders that placed Israel’s population at risk. And the reason he has refused to do that is because he did not want the world to know that he had no intention of honoring the pledge he made in 2009 to reach a two-state agreement with the Palestinians. The Road Map for Middle East peace that was signed by Israel, the PLO and the United States explicitly ruled out any unilateral alterations in the pre-1967 armistice lines that served as a border between the parties. This provision was consistently and blatantly violated by successive Israeli governments with their illegal settlement project. And Netanyahu refused to recognize that border as the starting point for territorial negotiations in the terms of reference proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry.

But on July 12, as noted in The Times of Israel by its editor, David Horovitz, Netanyahu made clear that he has no interest in a genuine two-state solution. As Horovitz puts it, “the uncertainties were swept aside … And nobody will ever be able to claim in the future that [Netanyahu] didn’t tell us what he really thinks. He made it explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank.” The IDF, Netanyahu said, would remain permanently in the West Bank. During the Kerry-sponsored negotiations, he rejected out of hand the American proposal that U.S. and international forces be stationed on the Israeli-Palestinian border, which he insisted would remain permanently under the IDF’s control. Various enclaves will comprise a new Palestinian entity, which Palestinians will be free to call a state. But sovereignty, the one element that defines self-determination and statehood, will never be allowed by Israel, he said.

Why will he not allow it? Why did he undermine Kerry’s round of peace talks? Why is he inciting against the Palestinian unity government? Why does he continue to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, and why did he use the tragic kidnapping and killing of three Israelis as a pretext to destroy what institutional political (as opposed to military) presence of Hamas remained in the West Bank?

 He’s doing all of these things because, as suggested by Yitzhak Laor in Haaretz, he and his government are engaged in a frenzied effort to eliminate Palestinians as a political entity. Israel’s government is “intent on inheriting it all” by turning the Palestinian people into “a fragmented, marginalized people,” Laor writes. It is what the Israeli scholar Baruch Kimmerling described as “politicide” in a book by that name he wrote in 2006.

So exactly who is putting Israel’s population at risk? And what is Obama prepared to do about it?

I’m sure the president’s political advisers are telling him that a congressional election year is not the time to take on the Israel lobby. They are wrong, not only because it is always election time in the United States, but because successive polls have established that American Jews vote constantly and overwhelmingly Democratic for a wide variety of domestic and international reasons, but support for Netanyahu’s policies is not one of them.

And if the president wishes to convince Israelis and Palestinians that Israeli-Palestinian peace is a cause worth taking risks for, should he not be willing to take some domestic political risks as well?