When the hundred kilogram bombs tear through the densely populated residential properties front of Gaza, leaving a trail of mauled bodies, hollow memories and destruction in their wake;, the information dissemination machinations of Israel have already zeroed in on the littered corpses by then. Conveniently, a narrative is conjured up to label the dead as a so called ‘civilian shield’ of Hamas, much to the humiliation of the deceased soul memory whose identity was rooted in the concept of resistance against an unjust occupier. Only if the dead could have spoken, eight out of ten would have declared that the exclusivity of non compliance with Israel actions doesn’t lie only with Hamas – every Palestinian is a freedom fighter.
Sadly, Israeli hasbara doesn’t concur with the aforementioned perspective.
The Hebrew word meaning Explanation, Hasbara Programs formulated by the Israel Project aims to inculcate the PR techniques in those who are furthering Israel’s narrative in the media. Used to validate Israel lies by way of deception, the champions of Hasbara armed with the ready arsenal of select events historically attuned to depict the righteousness of Israel apartheid regime overwhelm the sane voices on print and electronic media.
Forgotten are those women looking distraught and teary eyed at the remains of what was once a house and is now nothing more than rubble; forgotten are those men carrying the dead bodies of their kids in the same hands that would have wanted to hold them as they learned to walk; forgotten are those little babies with angelic faces lying lifeless on hospital beds, forgotten are those teenage dreams that are put into graves; forgotten are those gory scenes of body parts scattered all around; forgotten are those whimpers one can hear even through still images; forgotten is that smell of death that assaults the senses even if one is not physically present there. All this disappears somewhere… like those lives and those families and those homes… because the clamour of Hasbara works perfectly to make heroes out of villains.
A sneak peek into the Global Language Directory offers us a glimpse into the propaganda designs of Government of Israel. Written by Mr. Frank Luntz, a frequenter of Fox News political talk shows having ties with the neo-con hawks of Congress, this ‘not for distribution or publication’ guide initially leaked by The Newsweek exhorts the readers to create a more favorable image of Israel particularly amongst the American audience. The contents of this study text are divided into 18 topics and ranges from the glossary of words that work in favor of Israel to the ways to discuss about Palestinian self government to an insight into how to support Jewish settlers (read illegal) amongst other chapters.
The first chapter titled ’25 Rules for Effective Communication’ of this propaganda guide reeking of moral uppity of Israel instructs the readers to ‘empathise’ with the Palestinians to allay the suspicions of those who are confused about Israel role in Palestinian crisis. A credibility building measure, which Luntz considers it to be, the guide explains that it will be a disappointment for those willing to lend ear to Israel viewpoint if the pro occupation people proclaim that Israel is justly bombing the unarmed children, men and women of Palestine.
As the emphasis has been made to woo the western public, the directory acknowledges that ‘among American and European audiences – sophisticated, educated, opinionated, non-Jewish audiences – Israelis are often seen as the occupiers and aggressors’. To win the countenance of such informed public, the Hasbara learners are advised not to use a parental or condescending tone as it ‘will turn Americans and Europeans off’. In a paragraph preceded by a sub heading ‘No matter what you are asked, bridge to a productive pro Israel message’, the writer advises that those championing Israel cause need not answer the questions directly.
Israel’s development of a standardised proselytism system to attune the hearts and minds of those who sympathise with the oppressed Palestinians is the classic depiction of a crying bully. The unjust aggrandizement that calls for the elimination of those it has forcibly evicted and displaced from their lands is rooted in Israel’s strategic culture. The development of advisory manuals for Israeli diplomats, creation of political lobbies like AIPAC, campus groups like Zionist Organization of America and Hillel, a media watchdog group Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) are some of the famous groups amongst a pro Israel coalition that seeks to skew the international foreign policy in favour of Israel. The hypocritical gestures of compassion extended by Mark Regev, Israeli spokesman or Benjamin Netanyahu shouldn’t be difficult to comprehend now i.e. sympathise first and blame next.
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