Before delegates to the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church meet in Minneapolis, July 3-10, they must ask themselves:
Will we be duped by Israel’s Anti-BDS Hasbara Warriors or do we listen to our Presbyterian Commissioners who have studied, prayed about, and witnessed the gross injustice of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people?
A posting that appeared on this blog in February, 2010, examines the Hebrew term, Hasbara, as it is used by Yuli Edelstein, the Israeli government official who directs the Israeli Public Diplomacy Forces (IMPD).
Edelstein explains that the IMPD calls its outreach to the non-Israeli public, Tzva Hasbara LeYisrael, which he says is a play on the Hebrew name of the IDF (Israel Defense Force) and the concept of “hasbara” or public information.
Israel is in the difficult position of explaining to the outside world that it must continue its military occupation of the Palestinian people because it is the only way it can assure the secure existence of the modern state of Israel.
To build that case, Israel must rely on its Hasbara campaign and claim that such recent an outrageous act of violence as the attack on the Turkish relief ship, the Mavi Marmara, was provoked by the passenger themselves.
The evidence was against Israel, which is why they had to improvise a duplicitous scenario.
Even the New York Times, one of Israel’s best friends in the whole wide world, had to admit that the first reports from the Israeli navy commandos were “bogus”.
Israel now promises its own full and honest examination of what happened on the Mavi Marmara, when nine Turkish passengers were killed by Israeli commandos.
Israel has even promised a transparency to the commission by inviting two outside neutral “observers” to guarantee the openness of the process.
The London Times identified the two “neutrals” as Lord William David Trimble and Ken Watkin:
Lord William David Trimble, the former first minister of Northern Ireland who was named as one of two international observers on the Israeli commission of inquiry into the raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, started a Friends of Israel Initiative on the day of the deadly incident, the Times reported on Tuesday.
Lord Trimble, 65, the former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, will observe the proceedings along with former Canadian judge advocate general Ken Watkin.
What should be especially disturbing to American citizens is the frantic and increasingly desperate effort by members of Congress who are trying to match the militancy of the current Israeli right-wing government, a militancy demonstrated by an Israeli official statement to CNN on the raid by declaring Israel would never apologize for its military attack.
Writing on Mondoweiss, Joel Kovel describes the sad scene of five New York members of the US Congress speaking to a rowdy crowd of no more than 25 people in Times Square, arguing a position that is increasingly hard to defend.
The Times Square “rally” by the fearsome five: Rangel, Maloney, Engel, Nadler and Quinn, made for grim watching, but had its farcical side as well.
Watching them on Youtube reminded me of some of the lonelier moments I, and I’m sure, most of us have had on the political hustings in odd spots speaking to tiny and indifferent audiences–except this was in the middle of Times Square and the speakers were the Manhattan Bigs.
Yet there didn’t seem to be more than 25 people present and they were mostly dull-eyed and apathetic except for a few comrades hooting and casting heavy aspersions on the veracity of the speakers. Rangel in particular looked uncomfortable; and I suppose he was mainly there out of fear for his tuchus given the recent downturn in political fortunes.
It’s plain that these people are deeply worried, in the immediate moment, about the prospect of having members of the Flotilla showing up in the US and taking apart Israel’s fakery, and more basically, because events are slipping away from them at a precipitous pace.
Kovel identifies a term which is gaining currency in the Hasbara arsenal, “existential,” a term bandied about loosely when Israel and its defense are involved.
It is a term we should heed. Your hard-core Zionist–and there are many along with the opportunists in Congress who toe the AIPAC line–really do think in life and death terms about the Jewish State.
When this is combined with deeply inquisitorial instincts, as in the case of Senator Schumer and Representative Brad Sherman, among others, it’s a certainty that the repressive apparatus is going to be mobilized, domestically as well as against those who live elsewhere.
Note Koval’s reference to the mobilization, here and abroad, of the “repressive” apparatus available to the government of the US and Israel.
Will Presbyterian delegates meeting in their General Assembly meeting in July feel comfortable voting to support the current government of Israel which has yet to apologize for, or at least repudiate, a video currently circulating on the internet among Hasbara American sites that claims to shows the unloading of cargo from the Turkish flotilla at Ashdod, Israel?
Or will they at least listen to Jonathan Turley, an American legal scholar, who often appears on MSNBC talk shows, who says the Israeli video is a “fraud”. It does show weapons unloaded and it does show they are hidden behind sacks of flour.
But, Turley says, the video is from 2009, and is unrelated to the Mavi Marmara.
The attack on the Mavi Marmara was a disaster for Israel in many ways, but its clumsy attempt to make the raid appear what it was not, is a double disaster for Israel’s anti-BDS Hasbara Warriors.
Who you gonna believe, the IDF, or Haneen Zoabi, an elected member of the Israeli Knesset, who was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara? (Shown above with supporters at a rally for her in a Globe and Mail photograph, and in this video taken when she attempted to report to the Knesset after the raid.)
Ms. Zoabi is a member of the Arab Israeli political party, Abnaa el-Balad (Sons and Daughters of the Homeland), which has four members in the Knesset.
Patrick Martin, writing for Canada’s Globe and Mailfrom Nazerath:
Two weeks ago, she was virtually unknown. But after travelling aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, on which nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the boat, Hanin Zoabi, a 41-year-old, first-term Knesset member, has become the most hated person in Israel.
As an Arab Israeli, she also has found herself at the centre of a new political force with which Israel will have to contend.
Accused of treason for supporting the Free-Gaza movement, forbidden by the courts to leave the country for 45 days, Ms. Zoabi was attacked, physically, when she spoke in the Knesset last week to explain her decision to join the flotilla of ships hoping to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
She said she viewed her action on behalf of 1.5 million “prisoners” in Gaza as a kind of “mitzvah,” a Hebrew term for a religious good deed. The reference only made her Jewish assailants angrier.
Ms. Zoabi has been labelled an enemy, and a supporter of terrorists. Yet the unmarried, Western-dressed Muslim woman hails from one of Israel’s high-profile Arab families, one that has counted a high court judge, a mayor of Nazareth, a long-serving Knesset member and a deputy cabinet minister among its members.
It will be against this background that the 219th Presbyterian church General Assembly will be asked to vote yes or no on a report from its Middle East Study Committee that urges:
[T]he US to halt aid to Israel until the Israeli government ends the expansion of settlements in Palestinian territories, ceases its occupation of Gaza, and relocates “Israel’s separation barrier” to spots outside of Palestinian territories.
The delegates will be asked to vote with the Palestinians who live under a harsh military occupation, or with the Anti-BDS Hasbara Warriors who now seek to extend the reach of the IDF across the Atlantic into the meeting halls of the 219th Presbyterian Church General Assembly
Will Presbyterians vote for the Hasbara line, or will they vote for the people suffering and dying under occupation.
The choice is yours, you women and men of the Calvinist tradition. Which side are you on?