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.
As Bob Dylan sang, a hard rain’s a-gonna fall… Yes, siree, a hard rain. In an interview, Dylan was asked about what he meant. He said “In the last verse, when I say, ‘the pellets of poison are flooding the waters,’ that means all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers.” Let Justice roll down like waters in a mighty stream…
Brother Jim really caught my attention on this one. He quoted my favorite musical, “Music Man,” which celebrated a small city not far from where I was born, a city where they “stand touching noses a day at a time and never see eye to eye”!
Jim and I could cite other visits to Israel where we encountered that “wicked instrument” hasbara.
But, like other lies and prevarications, the more they are used, the more people begin to doubt the whole narrative. More than a few Israelis recognized lies and damned lies when they hear them from other Israelis. Our problem, of course, is to keep them from blocking justice by confusing and influencing U.S. policy-makers. No doubt hasbara will increase as BDS continues to catch on.
Our challenge is to be steadfast in its presence. To tell the story “like it is” with all the flair and zeal of Meredith Wilson. Lets get out our trombones, friends!
Just this week I wrote a letter to my congressman regarding Israel and Palestine. He had responded with hasbara, which I’m sure he learned from Ms Clinton. Also, this week I learned that Google had totally erased Palestine from their map of the region. I listened and watched Joan Baez as she celebrated her 75th birthday. Preceding one song she said we need to “hold hands as we plunge into the Abyss.” That’s what I learned in school today…and it ain’t pretty!
Thanks for the reminder from Peter the Greater! 🙂
Thanks for a great article, Jim. Yes, the Zionist Hasbara spinners in the US and Israel continue to expand on their “Original Lie” about the creation of Israel and NAKBA denial.
One of the most repressive Zionist tools was to severely silence any talk, or whisper about the Palestinian narrative, particularly the NAKBA (Catastrophe). This was a Zionist condition that successive US administrations have religiously upheld, ever since the “peace talks” began in Oslo. This meant that the Israeli side can falsely “justify” their occupation of Palestine, by talking daily about every aspect and angle of the “Jewish Holocaust”, while denying the right of Palestinians to talk about the “Palestinian Holocaust”. It was falsely labeled as, “incitement”.
The wicked spinners knew full well that, in no time, people will forget that there ever was a Palestine. As a matter of fact, this is one of the spins Israelis have been using for a long while. They figured that they will gradually change the paradigms of people living in the West, in particular, and start thinking of Palestine as only the “West Bank and Gaza”. Notice that Arab East Jerusalem is rarely mentioned.
Another method the Zionist media terrorists use is to rarely use maps for illustrations, even as they cover current events. Or, if they do show maps, then they tend to zoom-in on the local event, but leaving out portions that could raise some sharp questions. Imagine if mainstream Americans regularly saw the maps of Israeli colonial settlements overtaking the West Bank, Jerusalem, or Golan Heights.
It is vital for Palestinians to, simultaneously, negotiate for the pre-June, 1967, borders, as they also remind the world about the huge compromise they have already made.
Going to a wedding in the West Bank soon, so excuse me for changing
my name, Jim, at least temporarily. Too many friends and relatives
who have simply exercised their First Amendment rights in the USA
are incarcerated and shipped back usually the next day from Tel Aviv.
Imagine how exhausting and devastating that ordeal can be to endure.
It is so hard to believe this occupation has lasted over 49 years. I was
14 years old when the Israelis bombed the house I lived in, the house
my Dad rented next door and 3 commercial retail properties my family owned.
Plus 2 water wells with pumps. We did nothing to the Israelis. My Dad simply
returned to live in his homeland after he retired in 1960 while in the USA. Never imagined this occupation could last this long after UN resolutions 242 and 338.
Well, it feels good to know that BDS is more effective and more free than the impotent
I think BDS will eventually succeed but not in our lifetimes.
People like my friend, Awad, who has worked on the cause so relentlessly
every day for umpteen years, will most probably not see our day of
independence. Sheldon Adelson and his wealthy crony friends have
come up with $20 million each recently to silence the BDS movement.
I know they will never succeed but unfortunately they will slow our
path towards liberation. While Awad, most Palestinains and I probably
won’t see a Palestinian State in our life time, I hope our efforts
will not be in vain and our children or at least our grandchildren
will one day raise the Palestinian flag on every inch of the West Bank
E. Jerusalem and Gaza without exception. And thank you Jim for
another superb article.
Please keep my name sealed for now. Would like to successfully
attend a relative’s wedding. They usually interrogate me for 4 hours
upon arrival in Tel Aviv and demand access to me e-mail and text
accounts. Once I flew EL AL Airlines and they demanded my security
codes to the alarms of my retail stores. We were on USA soil still
allowing some air port officials to intervene and overrule the Mossad
allowing me on the plane without releasing my alarm codes. That was the
last time I flew on EL AL. Ironically, when you get off an EL
AL plane there is no interrogation for anyone including
Palestinians in Tel Aviv. The ridiculous interrogation is done before you
Sorry this e-mail is a bit long. But if you are an activist and think
there is a high probability Israel will deport you upon arrival,
go with El AL, because you will never get on the plane if they have you
pegged for deportation upon arrival. Thus you can avoid
the round trip, the expense of the ticket, and at least one day
incarceration. Hope this is a helpful tip.
Only negative aspect of this scenario is your are supporting an
Israeli Airline, govt owned I think, assuming you slip through the
cracks of Mossad which is allowed to sadly operation on sovereign
US soil. This may go against BDS recommendations.