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What is the US trying to achieve in Afghanistan, and will it really make the US safer?
Filed under: imperialism, neo liberalism & neo capitalism, SHOCK DOCTRIN, USA, VIDEO & PICTS | Tagged: Afganistan, americanism, capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, obama, occupation, propaganda, Taliban, us, USA, war, WAR ON TERRORISM | Leave a comment »
I don’t know why I am at all surprised that the American Right – including the Republican Party – has decided that scapegoating Muslims is the ticket to success. After all, it’s nothing new.
I remember right after 9/11 when the columnist Charles Krauthammer, now one of the most vocal anti-Muslim demagogues, almost literally flipped out in my Chevy Chase, Maryland synagogue when the rabbi said something about the importance of not associating the terrorist attacks with Muslims in general.
It was on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, but that did not stop Krauthammer from bellowing out his disagreement with the rabbi. Krauthammer’s point: Israel and America are at war with Muslims and that war must be won.
It was shocking, not only because Krauthammer’s outburst was so utterly out of place but also because the man was actually chastising the rabbi for not spouting hate against all Muslims – on the Day of Atonement.
The following year, the visiting rabbi from Israel gave a sermon about the intifada that was then raging in Israel and the West Bank.
A sermon with a twist
The sermon was a nutty affair that tearfully made the transition from intifada to Holocaust and back again.
I remember thinking, “this guy is actually blaming the Palestinians for the suffering of his parents during the Holocaust.” I thought I had missed something because it was so ridiculous.
Then came the sermon’s ending which was unforgettable. The rabbi concluded with the words from Ecclesiastes.
“To everything there is a season. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap … A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”
He then looked up and said: “Now is the time to hate.”
At first, I thought I had not heard him correctly. He could not be calling on the congregation to hate. There were dozens of children in the room. It wasn’t possible.
But it was. To their credit, many of the congregants I spoke with as we left the sanctuary were appalled. Even the right-wingers were uncomfortable with endorsing hate as a virtue.
Yet, the rabbi was unrepentant. I emailed him to complain and he told me that he said what he believed. Nice.
One could ask what the Middle East has to do with the vicious outbreak of Islamophobia (actually Islamo-hatred) that has seemingly seized segments of this country.
US Islamophobia’s origins
The answer is everything. Although the hate is directed at Arab-Americans (which makes it worse) it is justified by invoking 9/11, an attack by Muslims from the Middle East.
This hate is buttressed by the hatred of Muslims and Arabs that has been routinely uttered (or shouted from the rooftops) in the name of defending Israel for decades
Just watch what goes on in congress, where liberals from New York, Florida, California and elsewhere never miss an opportunityto explain that no matter what Israel does, it is right, and no matter what Muslims do, they are wrong.
Can anyone possibly argue that such insidious rhetoric has no impact on public opinion?
At the very least, it gives anti-Arab and/or anti-Muslim bias a legitimacy that other forms of hate no longer have. Bigots who hate African-Americans or Jews, for instance, feel that they must claim that they don’t. That is not the case with Muslims who can be despised with impunity.
And here the liberals are worse than the conservatives because liberals exempt Muslims and Arabs (and now Turks) from the humanitarian instincts that inform their views of all other groups.
Conservatives combine their Arab-bashing with a general xenophobia, as is evidenced by their views on immigration.
Liberals, on the other hand, single out Muslims for contempt.
They do it actively – i.e., by defending every single Israeli action against Arabs with vehement enthusiasm. And they do it passively, by refusing to evince an iota of sympathy for Muslims who suffer and die at the hands of Israelis – like the 432 Palestinian children killed in the 2008 Gaza war.
Liberals join conservatives in rushing to the floor of the House of Representatives and Senate to defend the Israelis against any accusation (remember how they robotically attacked the Goldstone report on Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, not caring at about the horrors Goldstone described).
And then they read their AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee lobby)talking points, enumerating all the terrible things Arabs have done while Israel has, Gandhi-like, consistently offered the hand of friendship. It would be laughable if the effect of all this was not so ugly.
Why wouldn’t all this hatred affect the perception of Arab-Americans too? Hate invariably overflows its containers, just like hatred of Israel sometimes crosses over into pure old-fashioned anti-Semitism.
Bottom line: it’s a witches’ brew that is being stirred up, and it is one that will no doubt produce violence. But the witches are not all on the right. Just as many liberals are stirring the pot to please some of their donors.
I’m not saying you should not blame Fox News’ Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for all this hate. But don’t forget to blame your favorite liberal and progressive politicians. With a few (very few) exceptions, they are just as bad.
MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
Filed under: A MUST READ, imperialism, neo liberalism & neo capitalism, Racism/hate, reflections, Resistance, USA, VIDEO & PICTS, zionism | Tagged: 9/11, americanism, anti-muslim, hate, imperialism, Iran, islam, israeli banality, mosque, Muslims, propaganda, racism, USA, war, Yom Kippur, zionism | Leave a comment »
Ilan Mizrahi has spent 16 years photographing and filming right wing Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron. His film, Israel: Rise of the Right, looks at the followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, an American-born rabbi and politician who proposed the mass expulsion of Arabs from Israel before he was assassinated in 1990.
Filed under: A MUST READ, gaza, ISRAEL, ISRAELI-APARTHEID POLICY, occupation, palestine, proIsrael thinktanks, Racism/hate, settlers, shoah, VIDEO & PICTS, zionism | Tagged: annexation, apartheid, appropriation, colonalism, extrem right, gaza, Hamás, hate, hatred, Hebron, IDF, illegal, imperialism, ISRAEL, Israel: Rise of the Right, israeli apartheid, israeli banality, ISRAHELL, jerusalem, mass expulsion, Meir Kahane, militarism, propaganda, right-wing, shoah, war, west bank, zionism | Leave a comment »
Israel’s latest conscripts in the fight to improve the country’s image have been unveiled: ordinary Israeli citizens. Armed only with a government-issued hasbara pamphlet and a winning smile, they will be sent to wage war with their detractors, in an effort to present Israel as a benign, democratic utopia whose only achilles heel is poor public relations.
Into the breach has stepped a phalanx of Israeli spin doctors, who have devised a campaign in which they want all Israelis to participate when travelling overseas by “telling about the beautiful Israel you know”. To that end, three television commercials are currently being aired which mock the foreign media for its portrayal of the country. In one, a French newsreader is shown confusing Independence Day fireworks and flypasts with military action on Israel’s streets. “Fed up with how we’re portrayed abroad?” asks the advert. “You can change the picture.”
The ministry for public diplomacy goes to great lengths instructing Israelis how to conduct themselves when engaged in PR on behalf of the state: first listen, then speak; maintain eye contact; use relaxed body language and tone; don’t preach; ask questions; answer points raised; stick to two or three messages you want to convey; and maintain a sense of humour. If such rules are followed, the campaign literature suggests, there is a strong chance of winning over even the staunchest adversary.
Hasbara is seen as a vital weapon in Israel’s arsenal, both by government officials and ordinary Israelis. According to a poll, 85% of Israeli citizens want to help promote the country’s image abroad, and in itself there is nothing wrong with taking such a patriotic stance. However, as has been seen time and again with Israel’s attempts at hasbara, more often than not the campaigns are based more on witch-hunts and whitewashes than honest debate over the most thorny issues surrounding the state.
Despite the sarcastic adverts broadcast by the public diplomacy ministry, what causes such consternation abroad is not whether Israelis use camels as their primary form of transport, or whether the average Israeli home is connected to gas supplies. Rather, Israel’s flagrant and repeated violations of international law in its dealings with the Palestinians are key to most critics’ complaints – but, of course, this would prove a far harder nut for the spin doctors to crack.
Instead, those who stand up to Israeli aggression in Gaza and the West Bank are belittled by the likes of Shimon Peres, who recently quipped:
“There are millions of Indians who love us, a billion Chinese who love us, and millions of evangelicals, who love us. We have a problem with Sweden, but we’re working on it.”
Peres and the officials behind the latest PR drive are one side of the hasbara coin, trying to make light of Israel’s image problem and implying that winning over their opponents is only a matter of patient, good-natured explanation. The other, darker side of Israeli hasbara is the relentless pursuit of anyone deemed a danger to the state, whether domestic dissidents or external critics. The recent savaging of Naomi Chazan and the New Israel Fund, as well as the gunning down of the Goldstone report, showed the true face behind the hasbara mask, in which politicians and press alike utilised the most vicious tactics available to ostensibly “improve Israel’s image in the eyes of the world”.
Huge amounts of public and private money is spent in such a fashion, funding quasi-governmental thinktanks and watchdog organisations dedicated to the McCarthyite hounding of media companies, diplomats or human rights groups labelled inimical to Israel. The same organisations are adept at dangling carrots as well as waving sticks, courting incoming reporters and statesmen with anything from dinner parties to helicopter rides in order to show a “more positive public face of Israel … [to help] protect Israel, reduce antisemitism and increase pride in Israel”.
But the facts that emerge from Gaza and the West Bank make it more and more difficult for the hasbaraniks to paper over the cracks, regardless of how many smiles they flash or glasses of wine they hand out. Even Israel’s own leaders warn of a system of apartheid emerging if a settlement with the Palestinians is not hammered out soon, and for all that the spin doctors try to blow out the smoke, the underlying fire continues to burn.
It is no surprise that Israel’s leaders want to improve the country’s image without having to take concrete measures in the form of concessions to the Palestinians. Likewise, it is not unusual that the same politicians seek to blame others for “misunderstanding” the situation rather than admitting that their own policies are highly questionable and unethical. However, to rope ordinary Israelis in by repeatedly telling them that anti-Israel sentiment abroad is irrational and baseless is both a futile and dishonest path to tread.
Israel’s image problem will only disappear when the core crimes committed in the name of the state cease, and the Palestinians are dealt with equitably. The Israeli public should demand their government spend all its energy on such fundamental affairs of state rather than worry about how many foreigners know that Maccabi Tel Aviv won the Euroleague in 1977. Hasbara is no substitute for adherence to justice and basic human rights.
Also read Israel to use ‘ordinary’ people for PR
After trying almost everything possible in its efforts to improve Israel’s image internationally, the government will embark on a new strategy Wednesday by training ordinary Israelis to represent the country abroad.
Filed under: A MUST READ, ISRAEL, ISRAELI-APARTHEID POLICY, occupation, palestine, proIsrael thinktanks, Racism/hate, settlers, shoah, zionism | Tagged: annexation, apartheid, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, gaza, HASBARA, hate, hatred, IDF, illegal, image problem, imperialism, ISRAEL, israel´s image, israeli banality, ISRAHELL, jerusalem, militarism, murder, occupation, palestine, propaganda, propaganda tools, settlers, shoah, Tsva Hasbara LeYisrael, war, west bank, worst brand in the world, zionism | Leave a comment »
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Nobel peace prize citation for Barack Obama
Barack Obama presides over a UN security council meeting on nuclear weapons.
Barack Obama at a UN security council meeting on nuclear weapons: the Nobel peace prize committee singled out his work on disarmament for praise. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
“The Norwegian Nobel committee has decided that the Nobel peace prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.
Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.
For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The committee endorses Obama’s appeal that ‘Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges’.”
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