Hasbara Tool Versus Yousef Munayyer [][][][] Winner: Yousef Munayyer

Gaza City. 14 women and children, plus, killed Sunday Nov 18 2012. Photo by AFP/ Reuters

Debate: From Short-Term Ceasefire to Long-Term Peace, How to Resolve the Israel-Gaza Crisis? – Democracy Now!

hasbara: ** Public diplomacy in Israel (also hasbara) (Hebrew: הַסְבָּרָה‎ hasbará, “explaining”) refers to public relations efforts to disseminate information about Israel. The term is used by the Israeli government and its supporters to describe efforts to explain government policies and promote Israel in the face of negative press, and to counter what they see as delegitimisation of Israel around the world. Hasbara means “explanation”, and is also a euphemism for propaganda. ** from Wikipedia

Explanations are great, from the corporatocracy’s standpoint, when they are one-way and theirs. (When circumstances force the corporatocracy’s spokespersons to debate represenatatives of the 99%, in public – It’s hard to ignore the very popular Democracy Now show! – elites can either hope their player will win or knock the table over if the game goes ‘badly’. Watch the DN segment linked to in this post. When Yousef’s facts are damning and inconvenient, James Colbert, the hasbara tool, simply dismisses them in a disparaging tone.) The media, owned and controlled by the resource-rich Right, controls people (including members of my family) by pushing it’s ‘information’ at them. That information is propaganda, when necessary, and it’s (sometimes) information (facts), when how we might respond to it is not perceived by elites as a threat to their system and their power and privilege.

People sit in front of their television sets, or radios, namely media mostly lost to the Right, and turn those televisons and radios on and passively ‘learn’ about what’s going on in their world. Then, lacking humility, they become experts with whom it’s impossible to have a two-way, open conversation. They KNOW what’s going on. When you tell them about the atrocities committed by the Israeli military (Israeli Defense Forces or IDF) against trapped civilians and Hamas fighters, all crammed together in the world’s biggest open air prison, they frown and angrily shake their heads like you just told them to go f%$@ themselves. Afterall, It’s not what they’ve been told. So that’s that. If they haven’t been told something and if what they have been told is the opposite of what you’re telling them, then you’re out to lunch. Or (my mother to me) you’re possessed.

“One isolating himself is seeking his own selfish longing. Against all practical wisdom he will act.” – Proverbs 18:1 (Proverbs chapter 18)

When you get your knowledge of life and the world and your religion from corporate owned media, darkness is the outcome. Elites consider such darkness a positive outcome, for the last thing those exploiters need is for the people to be fully informed and, rather than divided and distracted, united, strong and focussed. Corporate owned media has an agenda. Guess what? It’s a corporate agenda. Duh! Unfortunately, Corporations, like their bosses and like those bosses’ political allies, are psychopathic. And those CEOs, top officers and politicians are in great darkness despite their smarts in other ways.

Here’s an idea: Lift a little finger and learn something. No, I’m not suggesting that you do what you already do, which is to sit passively in front of your television set and get preached at by organizations and their spokespersons who, by the way, don’t even take the position that they have to tell you the truth. Lift your little finger and get the Left’s view of whatever news you’re listening to. Consult the alternative (not corporate owned) media. There’s little of it on tv and radio but lots of it online and in magazines and books. (And it isn’t perfect, which Charlotte Silver makes clear below. But having more, qualitatively, information as opposed to less information can only make you more knowledgeable, if not happy.) Let me guess. You don’t know what alternative media is. Foxx, CNN and CBC aren’t about to educate you on that subject, let me assure you.

“As a psychopathic creature, the corporation can neither recognize nor act upon moral reasons to refrain from harming others. Nothing in its legal makeup limits what it can do to others in pursuit of its selfish ends, and it is compelled to cause harm when the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs. Only pragmatic concern for its own interests and the laws of the land constrain the corporation’s predatory instincts, and often that is not enough to stop it from destroying lives, damaging communities, and endangering the planet as a whole.” -page 60 of “The Corporation – The Pathological Pursuit Of Profit And Power.”

You can also watch the documentary online here.

“The claim that American media is the result of market competition won by a handful of multinational corporations is one of the Big Lies that media firms desperately propagate. Like a lot of their programming, it’s a load of crap. Our media system is the direct result of government action – laws and regulatory polices – that established not just the playing field but the winners of the game,” notes John Nichols and Rober W. McChesney in “Our Media, Not Theirs – The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media.” What’s not stated, but obvious, is that the authors are here talking about captured governments. The reason that they don’t explicitly say so, is because they are themselves compromised. They later argue that it’s through conventional politics, and political parties, that we can fix things. Governments come from political parties and their members. But today, Most politicians understand that they are simply choosing a criminal career when they get into politics, even if they don’t admit it. Modern day capitalism, neoliberal capitalism, is organized, sophisticated crime that utilizes the state. When the state and the capitalist class run the show, cutting out the people (while lying about that), That is fascism. And fascism isn’t the solution to the problem of fascism. Still, the authors’ book is useful and mostly right about the specific problems of corporate-owned media. The authors continue:

“No one should be surprised that the only form of media criticism that gets ample play in the commercial news media is criticism of corporate media for deferring – on rare occasions – to the pluralist values that most Americans embrace. Thus, we hear a lot about how the media has a left-wing or liberal political bias…

“The truth, of course, is that there is no liberal bias in the media. World-class scholars, such as Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, have made substantial arguments about the media’s structural bias toward the corporate and political status quo. Analysts with Fairness And Accuracy in Reporting, and scholars at dozens of journalism schools, have confirmed this critique in study after study…

“The bottom line: The corporate media are more than willing to entertain the idea that their main problem is that they are too critical of big business, the military, and people in power, and too sympathetic to the dispossessed. It reconfirms their self-image as some sort of feisty Fourth Estate. They are unwilling to even broach the idea that they sit atop a system that was set up in a corrupt manner and that works to advance the interests of corporate America and limit democracy.” -pages 27, 30, 31 (Fairness And Accuracy In Reporting)

Or you (to whom it applies) can stay plugged into the matrix, as the planet that it exists on goes straight to hell because the highly ‘educated’ and clever people who control the world can’t quit their global warming capitalist activities (which Democracy Now talks about in the same segment linked to above), which they needed to quit long ago actually in order for us to not go over a cliff. (God may rescue the liveable earth, and some of us, but that’s beside the point.) Stay plugged in and even attack those who try to have a two-way discussion with you about the imperialists and the planet killers. That’s really clever. Do anything except think about things. And whatever you do, Don’t admit that you were wrong.

An excerpt from the top of post linked-to Democracy Now segment follows:

*******************************************
AMY GOODMAN: And James Colbert, what do you see as the reason for the latest Israeli assault on Gaza? What was the cause of this?

JAMES COLBERT: The most recent cause I have already discussed, the ratcheting up of violence perpetuated by Hamas against Israel. It had not gone away. If you look at the number of rocket and mortar attacks, it has been ongoing for the last several years. Since, in fact, the last operation the Israelis used to try and suppress that. What Israel is simply trying to do is deter Hamas from launching any more rockets and mortars into Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s have Yousef Munayyer respond, from the Palestine Center. What do you see as the timeline of what has taken place there? Then respond to the broader issue.

YOUSEF MUNAYYER: I certainly disagree with the timeline. If you only want to look at the actions of Palestinians, then you will only notice the time line that is convenient for your narrative. But, if you look at all of the facts, you see there is persistent violations of Gaza’s territory, there are persistent violations of Palestinian human rights inside Gaza through the firing on fisherman through the firing of people inside Gaza from the outside, through periodic bombardment through air strikes.

This began on the eighth of November when the IDF, the Israeli military, acknowledges it crossed into Gaza and during clashes there killed a 12-year-old boy. This is when the responses began. The responses were fairly limited and the situation began to die down. For a 24 hour period there was a lot of quiet where we thought this was going to end. And it was when — at the end of that 24 hour period – when the Hamas leader Ahmed al Jabari was working on a long-term cease fire with the Israelis that they decided to assassinate him.

The other point that I want to respond to is the question about Palestinians denying the Israeli state’s right to exist. If you look up the Universal Declaration of State Rights, you’ll find that one does not exist. There’s a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And the legitimacy of states is based on the extent to which they respect the human rights of people within their borders. The question here is not, Does Israel have a right to exist? The question here is, Is the way in which Israel exists, as a colonizer as an occupier and as an apartheid state, right? And I think that Palestinians and many people throughout the world are 100% within their rights to say, no, this is not right. And that’s what’s going on here, and has been going on for 64 years.

The genesis of this, sir, is not with the creation of Hamas, which was in 1987. It goes back much, much farther than that to the depopulation of Palestine in 1948. So, I think if we want to start our calendars and dates that are convenient for us, we’re going to have a problem here. We have to look back at what the entire context is here, and that begins with Zionist colonization of Palestine.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: James Colbert, can you respond to what Yousef Munayyer has said?

JAMES COLBERT: Absolutely not. What Yousef Munayyer is saying — using slogans and terms such as apartheid, depopulation — it takes this — this is not a debate. This is simply sloganeering. These terms have no basis in a reality. On one hand I hear claims of genocide, of an attack on the civilian population, and yet what we see after hundreds of Israeli air strikes, all of which, nearly all of which are videoed and put online — you see the secondary explosions — how can Israel drop so much tonnage of precision weaponry over and over and over for days, destroying Hamas rocket arsenals and yet the reports from Gaza is, 130 plus people have been killed? Unprecedented in warfare.

AMY GOODMAN: I don’t understand. I’m not unsure I understand. Are you saying that is a lot or a little? I think I’m missing your point here.

JAMES COLBERT: I think it’s unbelievably little. I think it shows that the Israeli people are target —

AMY GOODMAN: 139 people and hundreds wounded?

JAMES COLBERT: When you’re talking about the amount of tonnage of precision weaponry dropped on Hamas arsenals, which are intentionally put in civilian structures, basements of hospitals and apartments buildings…

AMY GOODMAN: But, James Colbert, you’re talking about 139 people killed, many children, and over 1000 people wounded. This is not a large number of people?
***************************************

Some articles I’ve collected for reading up on the latest Israeli attack on the Gazans who they are responsible for. Gaza isn’t a foreign state, afterall. It’s attached to Israel, which occupies it and is stealing it bit by bit (imperialism, which is what corporatocracy states do, at least when they can), which is partly why it is driving the Palestinians into the sea. The other part of the reason is that it’s leaders are literally led by the Devil. As Jesus said to others like Netanyahu, long ago, “You are from your father the Devil and you wish to act in accordance with the desires of you father.” –John 8:44

I will offer selected excerpts for some of the entries below. Finally, I had ZNet articles among my collection, but ZNet’s site (www.zcommunications.org) was unreacheable tonight for some reason and so I could not include any of those articles in my roundup.

* “As Israel and Hamas open the ‘gates of hell’ in Gaza, all the journalistic cliches of war are here again” by Robert Fisk

Washington supports Israel’s “right to defend itself” then claims a spurious neutrality – as if Israel’s bombs on Gaza didn’t come from the United States as assuredly as the Fajr-5 rockets come from Iran.

Meanwhile, the pitiful William Hague holds Hamas “principally responsible” for the latest war. But there is no such evidence that this is true. According to The Atlantic Monthly, the Israeli killing of a “mentally unfit” Palestinian who strayed towards the border may have been the start of the latest war. Others suspect the killing of a small Palestinian boy may have been the provocation. But he was shot dead by the Israelis when an armed Palestinian group tried to cross the frontier and was confronted by Israeli tanks. In which case Palestinian gunmen – albeit not Hamas – may have kicked-off the whole shooting-match.

But is there nothing to stop this nonsense, this garbage war? Hundreds of rockets fall on Israel. True. Thousands of acres of land are stolen from Arabs by Israel –for Jews and Jews only – on the West Bank. There isn’t even enough land left there now for a Palestinian state.

Delete the last two sentences, please. There are only good guys and bad guys in this outrageous conflict in which the Israelis claim to be the good guys to the applause of Western countries (who then wonder why a lot of Muslims don’t like Westerners very much).

The problem, oddly, is that Israel’s actions in the West Bank and its siege of Gaza are bringing closer the very event which Israeli trumpets it fears every day: that Israel faces destruction. – Robert Fisk

* “How Israel shattered Gaza truce leading to escalating death and tragedy: a timeline” by Ali Abunimah

* “In Gaza, It’s The Occupation Stupid” by Amy Goodman

Since 2000, according to an article from the British medical journal The Lancet, the Israeli military has killed more than 6,000 Palestinians. They are harassed at checkpoints, imprisoned arbitrarily, denied clean water and sanitation, and suffer from systemic malnutrition, all part of the illegal siege and blockade. World-renowned linguist and author Noam Chomsky recently visited Gaza, describing it as the world’s largest open-air prison.

Amidst reports of an imminent ceasefire, I spoke with Dr. Mona El-Farra in Gaza. She is the health chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip, which, as part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is protected under the Geneva Conventions. “Airplanes are still in the sky, drones are in the sky, and we can h ear intermittent shelling. People are tense, hoping for a cease-fire, but people don’t want a cease-fire at any cost. We want guarantees from Israel that this will not happen again.”

I asked her what it is like to endure an air raid: “Every other minute, directly in my area, the airplanes are there, and they hit within 100 meters of my building. You can overhear from the other areas, because it is very noisy, F-16s bombing with large explosions. The whole building shakes, and some of my windows have been shattered.” Dr. El-Farra and her 20-year-old daughter hide under their table. She gets only a few minutes sleep at a time. “With every air raid, you can see the fire from my window, the fire and the smoke.”

She also braves the open streets to attend to her responsibilities with the Red Crescent Society. They have set up phone banks to provide psychological counseling to Gazans who are dealing with death and injury, who are living under the stress of continuous air bombardment and the threat of imminent ground invasion. “We have terrified children in Gaza, children who do not have enough water, do not have enough food, no medicine … with all that, children have no safe place. There is no place safe in Gaza. I don’t know what will happen next if this madness continues. In the last week, it has been like hell for us. It is ugly, it is horrible.” – Amy Goodman

* “Israel Escalates Gaza Attack With Assassination” by Phyllis Bennis

* “Obama’s kill list policy compels US support for Israeli attacks on Gaza” by Glenn Greenwald

* “Likening Palestinians to Blades of Grass” by Elizabeth Murray

In early 2010, one of Washington DC’s most prestigious think tanks was holding a seminar on the Middle East which included a discussion of Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 assault on Gaza which killed about 1,300 Palestinians. When the death toll was mentioned, one expert on the panel smiled enigmatically and intoned: “It’s unfortunate, but every once in a while you have to mow the lawn.”

The remark, which likened killing hundreds of men, women and children – many of them noncombatants – with trimming the grass, was greeted with a light tittering around the room, which was filled with some of Washington’s most elite, highly educated and well-paid Middle East experts. Not a single one objected to the panelist’s black humor. – Elizabeth Murray

* “Stop pretending the US is an uninvolved, helpless party in the Israeli assault on Gaza” by Glenn Greenwald

* “How Israel Is Winning the Hashtag War in Gaza” by Meher Ahmad

* “Music and tears as rockets fall” by Thomas Hedges

Protesters in Washington, D.C., stood outside the White House on Thursday night to condemn U.S. backing of the recent Israeli airstrikes that have killed 19 Palestinians. A pro-Israeli group from George Washington University was on the other side of a barricade to show its support for the assault on Gaza…

The GWU [George Washington University] students defended Israel’s actions.

“Israel dropped leaflets before the attacks,” said Rich Dweck, “letting people know: ‘We’re going to bomb you, please leave.’

“The problem is that we’re dealing with people [Hamas] who don’t value human life.”

Another student interrupted the interview as he silenced the pro-Israel demonstrators.

“We may feel a little bit impotent because our brothers and sisters are thousands of miles away,” he said, wearing an Israeli flag as a cape and sitting on top of someone else’s shoulders, “but with Hashem we are connected above. We are completely unified. … Hashem is the No. 1 protector of Israel!” Cheers and singing followed.

Gabriel Felder, organizer of the pro-Israel rally and a student at GWU, said that the event was about “showing solidarity with the United States government and the State Department,” which he said don’t get enough support.

The students insist that the only impediment to peace is the Palestinian agenda. When Israel reacts violently, they say, it is always for self-preservation…

Akkad, a critic of the occupation, is frustrated with these arguments. They pretend, he said, that the conflict is between two free and independent nations.

“There is a distinction in dynamics,” he pointed out. “Israel is the occupier. Hamas is an organization that came out of resistance to the occupation. Hamas is a couple of decades old. Palestine has been occupied for over six decades. Hamas is a response to that and Israel continues to feed off of that.

“When Israel claims self-defense,” Akkad continued, “it doesn’t tell you that it is also occupying these people, that it has checkpoints between Palestinian villages, that it builds illegal settlements on Palestinian land. It doesn’t tell you any of that information.”

Akkad said he understands the motives behind Hamas rocket fire, especially after the killing of the 13-year-old boy.

“Do I think rocket fire is the smartest form of resistance to the occupation?” Akkad asked. “Probably not, but I won’t say that Palestinians don’t have the right to violently resist their oppressor. It’s basic international law.”

Akkad suspects that the attacks on Gazans are, in the end, driven by Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid for re-election.

* “Obama Fiddling While Gaza Burns” by Robert Dreyfuss

* “Day 5: Israel ‘Significantly Expands’ War on Gaza; Civilian Death Toll Climbs” by Common Dreams staff

* “The latest Gaza catastrophe” by Richard Falk

* “Western media can’t get Palestine right” by Charlotte Silver

Since Israel’s brutal 21-day assault on Gaza in the winter of ’08-’09 (dubbed by Israeli politicians as Operation Cast Lead) that led to over 1,400 Palestinian deaths – of which 930 were civilians including many women and children – followed by its deadly raid on a civilian Turkish ship headed to Gaza in June 2010 that resulted in nine casualties and dozens injured, many Palestinians as well as their advocates in the West have spoken of a significant “sea change” in the western media’s once hegemonic support for Israel. However, since this latest military operation began – already claiming more than 30 lives and injuring hundreds – evidence of any changing tide has been scant.

The New York Times and the BBC have always been reliable mouthpieces for Israel’s line of justification for bombarding Palestinians, and they have not failed the Zionist state in this instance. However, their so-called liberal counterparts have scarcely hit a different tone. Consider two of the loudest cheerleaders for the DNC and Barak Obama’s reelection: MSNBC and Mother Jones magazine…

When it comes to looking behind the scenes of Israeli military assaults on Gaza (or Lebanon), there is always a general hoping for a promotion, a politician looking for votes, and an arms dealer making profits, but the rationale that enables that triumvirate to enact the lethal policies we are seeing play out in Gaza right now is the same one that allows the Israeli government to calculate how many calories each Palestinian in the Gaza Strip needs to survive, and to then intentionally allow fewer trucks and supplies in to meet that need.

And it’s the same rationale that motivates the Israeli occupation authorities to prevent construction in Area C of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, to encourage widespread drug addiction in Area B, and to make near-daily incursions into Area A to arrest political leaders, activists and journalists.

It’s the rationale of a coloniser, who wants land but not the people on it.

When the media starts speaking about this, then we’ll know there’s been a sea change. – Charlotte Silver

* “Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All” by Chris Hedges

Gaza is a window on our coming dystopia. The growing divide between the world’s elite and its miserable masses of humanity is maintained through spiraling violence. Many impoverished regions of the world, which have fallen off the economic cliff, are beginning to resemble Gaza, where 1.6 million Palestinians live in the planet’s largest internment camp. These sacrifice zones, filled with seas of pitifully poor people trapped in squalid slums or mud-walled villages, are increasingly hemmed in by electronic fences, monitored by surveillance cameras and drones and surrounded by border guards or military units that shoot to kill. These nightmarish dystopias extend from sub-Saharan Africa to Pakistan to China. They are places where targeted assassinations are carried out, where brutal military assaults are pressed against peoples left defenseless, without an army, navy or air force. All attempts at resistance, however ineffective, are met with the indiscriminate slaughter that characterizes modern industrial warfare.

In the new global landscape, as in Israel’s occupied territories and the United States’ own imperial projects in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, massacres of thousands of defenseless innocents are labeled wars. Resistance is called a provocation, terrorism or a crime against humanity. The rule of law, as well as respect for the most basic civil liberties and the right of self-determination, is a public relations fiction used to placate the consciences of those who live in the zones of privilege. Prisoners are routinely tortured and “disappeared.” The severance of food and medical supplies is an accepted tactic of control. Lies permeate the airwaves. Religious, racial and ethnic groups are demonized. Missiles rain down on concrete hovels, mechanized units fire on unarmed villagers, gunboats pound refugee camps with heavy shells, and the dead, including children, line the corridors of hospitals that lack electricity and medicine. – Chris Hedges

* “Bodies For Ballots” by Yousef Munayyer

* “Day 6: Outrage, Protests Show Gaza Solidarity in Middle East” by Common Dreams staff

* “When Israel says it doesn’t target journalists, it is lying” by Nora Barrows-Friedman

* “Day 7: Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Drives Hope for Ceasefire” by Common Dreams staff

* “Palestinian Civilians Bear the Brunt of Unrelenting Bombings in U.S.-Backed Attack on Gaza” by Democracy Now

* “Obama Weaves Web of Deceit on Gaza War” by Ira Chernus

* “Congress’s Shameful Support For Israeli Bombing” by Matthew Rothschild

* “So Sad For The People Of Gaza” by Judy Rebick

So today I feel sad that we are back to choosing sides in a lopsided so-called war. As you have heard many other places, this is not a war. This is a terror attack by one of the most powerful military forces in the world against an almost defenseless peoples.

Perhaps you can understand the situation better by hearing from some of the people I interviewed while I was there in 2002.  It was the time of suicide bombings. The terrible fear of suicide bombings was the excuse Israel gave then for its blockade of Gaza and checkpoints — soon to be a wall between Israel and the West bank. The suicide bombings declined by 2005. The most stunning interview was with the cousin of a suicide bomber.  “We need alternatives,” he said, “but until then we have to fight back.”

The other was the story of friends in Ramallah who try to protect their children from the terror around them so they won’t hate. I called it Ramallah Revelations.

We went to Gaza too. I visited with Palestinian feminists there who said they were as afraid of the growing strength of Hamas as they were of Israel. Hamas is growing, they told me, because they provide basic social services, which the Israeli blockade had made very difficult.

Even then, entering Gaza was like entering a penatentiary.  I can’t even imagine how much worse it is now. – Judy Rebick

* “The Rocket’s Red Glare In Israel” by Jesse Rosenfeld

* “The Problem With Hamas” by Robert Dreyfuss

Hamas, the reactionary organization that controls Gaza, is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is an organization deeply rooted in right-wing political Islam, and there’s little to admire about the organization. Unlike the PLO and Fatah, which evolved from counterproductive terrorism, such as hijacking planes and ships and blowing up things, Hamas has resisted the inevitable, namely, offering to recognize Israel in exchange for official status as representative of the Palestinians.

That, of course, doesn’t mean that Israel should bomb Gaza, killing scores of civilians. Nor does it mean that a drone-like campaign of assassinations aimed at Hamas’s leaders is a good policy. In fact, since the beginning of the formal conflict between Israel and the Palestinians around 1965, Israel has repeatedly murdered Palestinian leaders, counterproductively. The recent airstrike that killed Hamas’s military leader is the latest in a long line of murders that has served only to radicalize the Palestinian population.

And maybe that’s the point.

Israel’s far right, and much of the center, too, has long acted as if moderate Palestinians were the enemy, not radicals. To the extent that Israel says it can’t negotiate with the Palestinians, killing their moderate and pro-peace leaders makes it a self-fulfilling policy. – Robert Dreyfuss

* “Mohamed Morsi In The Middle” by Sharif Abdel Kouddous

* “The US-Israeli Attack on Gaza” by Michel Chossudovsky

* “Gaza ceasefire goes into effect” Al Jazeera

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