On one of my earliest reporting trips to Israel/Palestine in the early 1980s, I was assaulted by an Israeli government official wielding a wicked instrument called hasbara, Hebrew for propaganda.
I had latched on to a group of tourists who were being lectured to by an Israeli government official. I asked the official a question about the West Bank.
He whirled around to face me, his face contorted in a condescending smile.
“I know nothing about any West Bank”, he answered. “We have a Bank Leumi branch near here, but no West Bank”.
We both knew he was lying when he threw that verbal bomb at me, a weapon that Israel uses constantly to preserve a false narrative.
To sustain its invading colonial project, Israel constructed its own narrative history, utilizing a steady outpouring of hasbara (propaganda).
Hasbara tolerates no attack on Israel’s false narrative. My encounter in the 1980s was with an official who did not want “West Bank” to enter the minds of the tourists he was busy brain-washing.
This official was a soldier in the hasbara army. My question revealed that I was an enemy combatant who must be silenced.
This narrative has infected the world, most especially in the United States, where all centers of power adhere to the false narrative. Those who fail to embrace the narrative are branded with that ultimate mark of shame, “anti-Semitism”.
BDS was created to combat the occupation the false narrative sustains. BDS is a non-violent tactic of boycotts, divestments and sanctions against corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation.
It was created by secular and religious groups who knew in time it could work to end the occupation just as a similar campaign brought down South Africa’s apartheid system.
BDS was not intended to eliminate Israel (a favorite Israeli false claim) but to call the world’s attention to the oppressiveness of the occupation.
Is BDS working? To use a Sarah Palin assertion, “you betcha”.
To measure its effectiveness, we need only take note that Israel has launched a massive effort to squelch BDS.
The latest Israeli government response came in July when Israel formally turned to other nations to shore up their war against BDS.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (pictured above) warned a group of foreign diplomats, according to a report in The Times of Israel, that BDS “is a danger not only to Israel but to the entire free world”, a not-so-subtle linkage to terrorism.
“BDS should not be seen as a threat only to Israel — it is a threat to the international community, to your own countries, and to all who value human rights and freedom.”
Minister Erdan is a member of Israel’s high-level security cabinet. He is also minister for strategic affairs and public diplomacy (hasbara) and is responsible for the government’s efforts to fight the BDS movement.
Speaking to the diplomats, Erdan accused BDS proponents of taking “advantage of the freedom of expression to intimidate opponents and silence debate”.
That method of attack is designed to enlist other nations onto Israel’s “side” because if BDS works to “eliminate Israel” (a false claim), “similar methods will soon be used against other targets as well.”
“What starts with Israel will not end with Israel. Just as tactics perfected by Palestinian terrorists, such as airplane hijackings — and I don’t need to say more today — quickly spread to terror organizations around the world, BDS tactics will quickly spread to other groups.”
If that sounds familiar, it is because Minister Erdan is a master con man using classic con man tactics. He is the Middle East personification of Professor Harold Hill, from Meredith Wilson’s Music Man, conning the River City, Iowa, locals into believing danger lies ahead.
Harold Hill: Mothers of River City, heed that warning before it’s too late! Watch for the telltale signs of corruption! The minute your son leaves the house, does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee? Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime-novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang?
Ladies and gentlemen, either you are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community!
Minister Erdan would have the world believe there is a looming danger they are not seeing. BDS is described as a giant pool table in our communities, determined to destroy all that we hold dear.
Nations that yield again and again to Israel’s false narrative have stood by since 1947, looking the other way as Israel marches across Palestinian land, eliminating or constraining an entire indigenous population.
Turning the spotlight on Israel and away from River City, Iowa, we must see that Israel’s hasbara is a classic con man tactic, deceiving the world by disguising their Palestinian occupation as essential to “security” for Israel, the occupiers.
In its creation of a false narrative, Israel follows the example of its sponsor and empirical mentor, the United States. In a performance in Australia, Pete Seeger, below, sings Tom Paxton’s children’s song, “What Did You Learn In School Today”. Click arrow to play.