Tag Archives: Palestine

Privatised psi-ops

A recurring theme of this column has been Israeli propaganda. More specifically, I have looked at some of the ways in which Israeli government entities, and Israeli corporations like to over-value and exaggerate their impact on the world and their effectiveness against their enemies.

In a way, one can understand why they do this. And there is nothing unique about it. All states and most combatants in wars engage in psychological operations against their enemies.

During the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, it seemed that every time the US and its allies engaged in a bombing we’d hear about a “top leader” in al-Qaida or other armed groups being offed. This even reached the stage where some armed enemies of the US have been declared dead more than once – a phenomenon the excellent American journalist Jeremy Scahill has written about many times. Clearly propaganda and exageration was at work in some of these cases.

Israeli psi-ops have taken some rather unique and disturbing forms, however.

Continue reading over at MEMO.

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A new phase in Israel’s ‘lawfare’ strategy

For the last decade, a central plank of Israel’s strategy to combat its global critics has been something it terms “lawfare” – using courts around the world to attack, defame, silence and intimidate its enemies.

Since Israel is addicted to real life war, it’s no surprise to find that even its diplomats and ambassadors are seemingly unable to think and act in terms other than purely military ones (most of them are former soldiers after all). Take its response to the BDS campaign – the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel until it respects Palestinian human rights.

A reporter for liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, on a recent visit to the Israeli embassy in London, noted a map that was “like the war room of a brigade on the Lebanese border.” This map showed the “front” (another military term) which consists of “the main campuses, the deployment of pro-Israel activists and the location of the ‘enemy forces.’”

Amongst such “enemy forces” are those well-known dastardly anti-Semitic hate-mongers: peaceful campaigners, academic critical of Israel (many of them Jewish) and university students.

Just this week the new Israeli ambassador Mark Regev visited the SOAS campus, in a low-key meeting with university director Valerie Amos. This prompted noisy protests by students, who objected to Regev’s presence on campus and to top-management’s coddling of this high-profile apologist for Israeli war crimes.

Read more over at MEMO.

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The Palestinian Authority’s looming succession crisis

The octogenarian leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will not be around forever.

Elected as president of the PA back in 2005, the democratic mandate of Mahmoud Abbas expired years ago. Armed putschist forces loyal to Abbas took over the West Bank back in 2007, several months after democratic elections to the PA’s legislative body did not go Abbas’s way.

The “Palestinian Authority” is a thorough misnomer: it has no real authority, and its ultimate loyalty is to Israel, not to the Palestinian people. Indeed, the entire raison d’être of the PA since its inception has been to act as a violent buffer between the Israeli occupation and popular Palestinian anger and resistance.

It is in fact a subcontractor for the occupation.

The PA, of course, does have some perfectly legitimate civilian functions, such as education and health. But these are dwarfed by its massive budget for “security” and policing, including of the feared mukabarat, or secret police. Some 31 per cent of the PA’s total budget is spent in this way. This far outstrips spending on health, education or agriculture. In proportionate terms, this is much more than the UK (10 per cent), India (16 per cent), Israel (20 per cent) and even the USA (23 per cent).

Read more over at MEMO.

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Hilary Clinton poses imminent danger to Palestine

Out of all this week’s speeches of presidential candidates to AIPAC, the powerful Israel lobby group, Hilary Clinton’s was in my book the most convincingly pro-Israel.

But she has had to work hard to achieve this status. The Israel lobby is becoming increasingly right wing. AIPAC is widely perceived to have now become the American wing of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. More and more, it pushes even Israel down an ever-increasingly fanatical right-wing path.

So when Clinton makes the usual liberal platitudes about “two states for two peoples”, there is a perception by many in these circles that she may deviate from the path of Israel-right-or-wrong. Kahanist fanatics like the Jewish Defence League in particular hate Hilary Clinton (in this respect, sexism and anti-black racism play a part, since Clinton is perceived to be pro-black, and Kahanist activists like former Jewish Defence League bomber Victor Vancier are extremely racist against African-Americans).

Read the rest over at MEMO.

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The Trump show reaches Israel

The carnival of reaction that is the preposterously over long US presidential election period rolls on and on. The Republican candidates seem to be doing their best to outdo each other to find out who can will the most terrible people around.

Religious fanaticism and the legacy of the Tea Party movement have united to bring some very dangerous extremism to the fore. His rallies have become rabble-rousing hate-fests focused on scapegoating sections of those society already most marginalised and discriminated against. Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from the US is the most infamous example.

While there’s no doubt that fear mongering and race-baiting have played an important part in gathering Trump’s bases of support, an important long article by Matt Taibbi in Rolling StoneFebruary noted that those racist themes “comprise a very small part of his usual presentation. His speeches increasingly are strikingly populist in their content.”

Read more over at MEMO.

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America’s annual festival of pandering to Israel

What a disgusting show. The annual policy conference of AIPAC, the most influential pro-Israel lobby group in the Unites States, has just been held. Most of the main candidates in this year’s US presidential election lined up to make speeches, each trying to outdo the others in their ever more fulsome praise of Israel. Watching them speak was an exercise in filtering out lie after lie, after which there was pretty much nothing left to mull over.

Perhaps predictably, Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, made most of the headlines. Trump had made previous speeches about Israel that were considered (by the supporters of Israel-right-or-wrong) to be insufficiently enthusiastic about the prospect of an increase in Israeli war crimes. With a racist “America First” attitude, Trump seems to have an isolationist streak, and had seemed to want to be neutral.

The consensus after Trump’s speech on Monday, though, seems to be that he has turned it around. “He faced a tough test of his mettle but passed it with flying colours,” gushed Chemi Shalev of Haaretz, Israel’s leading liberal newspaper. His column on the subject came out all conflicted between perplexed and impressed.

Read more over at MEMO.

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Are you now or have you ever been an anti-Zionist?

Last month the American reporter Eli Clifton revealed a secret “Anti-Israel” enemies list maintained by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The ADL was founded 103 years ago as a civil rights organisation to defend Jews in America from then-rampant anti-Semitism. However, long ago, it all but abandoned this mission.

Instead, its main function today is to act as one of the main lobby groups for the continuation of Israeli war crimes and apartheid in the Unites States. It even works hand in glove with both American and Israeli spy and police agencies.

Any genuine civil rights group would be aiming to hold such agencies to account, not cosying up to them.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

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Victories come thick and fast, despite ‘war’ on BDS

It seems like no sooner did the British government issue its new regulations aimed at “banning” boycotts of Israel than the move backfired. “BDS,” the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement,protesters declared in response, “is here to stay.” There was immediate talk of defying any ban, with civil disobedience if necessary. That may not be needed: while the full facts are still being debated, according to lawyers who spoke to anti-poverty charity War on Want, “there is nothing new in the new procurement guidance aside from some overblown rhetoric clearly intended to scare campaigners.”

The “BDS ban” in fact is no real ban at all. It has essentially restated existing legislation, campaigners say. This is likely to be tested in courts, however. Although Israeli campaigns of “lawfare” (tying campaigners up using spurious litigation in courts around the world) have often proven fruitless, even disastrous in the past, it seems Israel’s supporters have not given up the strategy.

Such litigation can be costly for BDS activists, who are almost all volunteers and have little in the way of serious funding to defend against such cases. Local councils do have more serious resources to defend their democratic mandates. But with ever increasingly budget cuts, thanks to Conservative austerity, they may prove unwilling to fight back against such cases: they’d often rather avoid them altogether if the popular pressure is not enough.

Read more over at MEMO.

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Mossad touts cyberwar against BDS

At a cyberwar forum in Tel Aviv in January, it came out that Israel has allocated almost $26 million in this year’s budget to fight the ever-growing movement to boycott, divest from and sanctions Israel – BDS for short.

An Associated Press report on the event quoted one high Israeli official as saying that she wanted “to create a community of fighters” against BDS in the online world.

That little snippet of cyber-sabre-rattling came from Sima Vaknin-Gil, the director general of Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs (the former chief military censor of the press in Israel). The head of this ministry is Gilad Erdan, last year crowned the “BDS minister” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Read more over at MEMO.

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The crackdown on Israeli dissidents

It is not sensible to have any hope that the Israeli public will ever support ending the occupation, let alone support equal rights for Arabs, or return of Palestinians refugees. All the polling data says as much.

During the 2014 Israeli war against the civilian population of Gaza more than 90 percent of Israeli Jews supported the war. That assault claimed the lives of more than 2,200 Palestinians, including over 500 children.

In 2012, one infamous poll showed that most Israelis support the systemic structural racism of the state, and in fact want it to go further.

Almost half of Israeli Jews wanted Palestinian citizens of Israel (who in reality are already not equal citizens in law and in practice) to be stripped of their citizenship. Some 58 percent supported use of the term “apartheid” applied to Israel – and not disapprovingly. More than 40 percent wanted to see separate housing and classes for Jews and Arabs.

Read more over at MEMO.

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Why an Israeli newspaper wanted to ‘flatten’ a city of millions

Earlier this month Haaretz, Israel’s influential liberal daily, published a blood-curdling article. It openly argued for war crimes on a massive scale against the civilian population of a neighbouring Arab state.

“Should Israel Flatten Beirut to Destroy Hezbollah’s Missiles?” the article’s headline mused. It was written by Amitai Etzioni, a professor of international relations at George Washington University. He was also a member of the Palmach, a unit in one pre-state Zionist terrorist group, a forerunner of the Israeli military. He participated in the Nakba (or Catastrophe), Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing of some 750,000 Palestinians.

After criticism by the journalist Belén Fernández, Etzioni later got Haaretz to edit the online version of the story, so that it now has a slightly less aggressive headline (but not before copies of the original were made).

Read more over at MEMO.

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Tory moves to curb Israel boycotts will fail

Last week the government made an announcement intended to intimidate supporters of Palestinian rights. It was trailed in the media as a “ban” on boycotts of Israel, which The Independent claimed would now become a “criminal” offence for public bodies. The Palestine Solidarity Campaignsaid this amounted to “a gross attack on our democratic freedoms and the independence of public bodies from government interference.”

There is no doubt that the new measure is probably the biggest attack by the Tory government yet on the movement for Palestinian human rights. In the last 11 years, a key tactic of that movement has been boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS.

But the devil was in the detail, as so often.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

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