by James M. Wall
On May 24, 2000, I wrote a column for The Christian Century magazine reflecting on yet another “peace agreement” between Palestine and Israel. I wrote that to the U.S. government, then led by President Bill Clinton, the impending agreement “will appear fair and just, at long last bringing security to Israel and a truncated state to the Palestinians”.
I began the May 24, 2000, column this way:
“Family members gather in a Liverpool hotel ballroom to learn the fate of loved ones who were traveling on the Titanic. Everyone is frantically seeking information on survivors. Suddenly an old polar bear walks into the room. He looks sad, and there is a tear in his eye as he asks, ‘Have you got any news of the iceberg? My family were on it, you see. Have you got any news of the iceberg? They mean the whole world to me.’
It hadn’t occurred to the grieving relatives that a polar bear’s family might have been on the iceberg that collided with the Titanic. It is, you see, a matter of perspective.
The story about that polar bear, which comes from an old British comedy record I own, came back to me as I brooded over the imminent peace agreement between Israel and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.”
In these waning days of the final month of 2015, I returned to this column because 15 years later, it is depressingly clear that a “fair and just” agreement is even further away from reality than it was in 2000.
Simply put, Israel has no interest in a “peace agreement”. Why should it? The United States government is content with this corner of its world-wide permanent war.
The “polar bear’s perspective” remains largely unknown to the citizens of the United States. A recent report from Israel’s Foreign Ministry explains why. The report has to do with Yahoo and You Tube.
The current Israeli government, ever alert to the slightest hint that its “security” might be endangered, is currently whining that its occupying army and Israeli citizens confront Palestinian children enraged by videos they see on social media.
These videos depict the Israeli army shooting Palestinian civilians. The Israeli Foreign Ministry wants them banned from social media. Does the FM really believe that children growing up as virtual prisoners under occupation by a foreign army, need videos to enrage them?
They already know the daily and nightly dangers they personally encounter. They don’t need videos.
They already know that when clashes began in November, 2014, over a perceived threat to destroy Jerusalem’s Haram Al Sharif followed by the rebuilding of The Temple Mount, it was clear to anyone who knew the history that such a “threat” was as remote as a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.
Ruins of the Temple Mount may or may not lie buried layers of history below the Haram Al Sharif, the Muslim holy site, described this way on a Muslim site:
“At the heart of Jerusalem is the Noble Sanctuary, Al-Haram al-Sharif, enclosing over 35 acres of fountains, gardens, buildings and domes. At its southernmost end is Al-Aqsa Mosque and at its center the celebrated Dome of the Rock. The entire area is regarded as a mosque and comprises nearly one sixth of the walled city of Jerusalem.”
Does Israel want to take over and rebuild that area? You bet it does. Can it do so? Not anytime soon. Meanwhile it is a good issue with which to launch the quelling of another “uprising”.
Which is why Israel’s government rushed to fan the flames of conflict, a “false flag” move. As Israel had hoped, clashes broke out between Israel’s fully armed police and military occupation forces, and frustrated occupied Palestinian civilians.
Enter the latest chapter of this false flag move: blaming social media for stirring the emotions of Palestine’s children.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely traveled to Silicon Valley, California, to meet with Israeli Consul General to the Pacific Northwest Region, Andy David (pictured above).
Following this meeting, Hotovely’s media advisor issued this announcement:
“As part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ campaign against online incitement, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and with Juniper [cq] Downes, Director of Public Policy at Google at the company’s Silicon Valley offices.
Deputy Minister Hotovely was briefed on the companies’ system for identifying video clips which incite to violence.
In the meetings, Hotovely raised the problem of incitement which goads small children to go out and stab innocents: “The daily stabbings in Israel are a result of young boys and girls who are indoctrinated from an early age in the Palestinian education system and through social media. We are engaged daily in confronting incitement to violence, a task which can benefit greatly from the cooperation of those companies that are involved in social media.”
Richard Silverstein had this skeptical reaction to this amazing announcement:
“Bibi Netanyahu has been blaming U.S. internet companies like Facebook for the current Palestinian uprising. I’ve taken to calling it the “Facebook Intifada.” Now there’s a new Silicon Valley target.
Today, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, who’s devoutly wished to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple (thereby destroying the Haram al Sharif), announced (in Hebrew), (English here) that she’d met with YouTube’s CEO and Google’s director of public policy at its Silicon Valley campus.
During this meeting, according to a Maariv article, Hotovely schooled the executives about the ways in which pro-Palestine propaganda infects the internet and incites impressionable young Palestinian children to knife innocent victims.
What struck me about the article was the conclusion, in which Hotovely says that Google agreed to create a formal mechanism enabling formal coöperation between the foreign ministry and the company regarding the issue of incitement as played out in YouTube’s video content. In other words, she implied that Google would collaborate with Israel on identifying and removing videos that “incited” violence against Israel.”
Alternet added an editor’s correction to its story on the Israeli government release:
Google released a statement in response to the Government of Israel’s claim of a censorship agreement:
“Following media reports about a meeting last week between Google / YouTube executives and the Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, we wanted to clarify that this meeting was one of many that we have with policymakers from different countries to explain our policies on controversial content, flagging and removals. The Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs has corrected its original announcement which, in error, suggested there had been an agreement with Google to establish ‘a mechanism to monitor online materials.’”
Silverstein analyzes the version of the story which first broke in an Israeli publication, Maariv. He reports:
“At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that Google would strengthen bilateral relations with the Foreign Ministry and build a collaborative work apparatus [in which both parties would] partner to prevent the distribution of this inciting material on the internet.” . . .
“Comparing the official account to the one Maariv published shows the reporter was a faithful stenographer, regurgitating information as she was trained to do. While her entire report recapitulates the press release almost word for word, the last sentence in the Maariv story isn’t in the release at all. Arutz 7 an Israeli outlet, also includes this italicized sentence [“it was agreed that Google would strengthen bilateral relations with the Foreign Ministry and build a collaborative work apparatus [in which both parties would] partner to prevent the distribution of this inciting material on the internet.”] as did Algemeiner (a U.S. media outlet), which tells me one thing.
“The MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] tried to pull a fast one: for the English-speaking audience they released a sanitized version which was probably closer to what actually happened in the meeting. But for the Israeli, Hebrew-speaking audience they released a statement saying that YouTube essentially capitulated to Israeli pressure and would commence censoring videos viewed as unflattering to Israel.”
“We must not permit this Israeli government to blame anyone but itself for the hatred and violence which it spawns among Palestinians. Google doesn’t cause murder. Israel does.”
Silverstein writes with full awareness of both the Israeli and Palestinian narratives. As an American Jewish blogger who understands Hebrew, he has the advantage of reading both versions, English and Hebrew., of releases from Israeli sources.
He speaks for those of us who must continue to demand an answer to the polar bear’s question:
“Have you got any news from the iceberg?”
Photo above courtesy Israel Foreign Ministry