This is the final article of the series of 3 published by Politicsweb. As mentioned, in due course there is more which needs to be said which widens the debate but I think this completes the initial task of setting out a different perspective to the one assiduously promoted by the popular press in particular in this country. (PS. Some of you will enjoy reading the comment, and my reply, from the ever poisonous Terry Crawford-Brown in Politicsweb. It is deeply revealing…and what does it say about Tutu?)
I’ll start this third and concluding article in this series with a brief review in point form:
- Israel is the target of an Arab-Muslim-Western Left axis.
- The main front in this war is the anti-Israel demonisation project which also serves to divert attention from the Islamist threat and dysfunctional societies of the Middle East and North Africa.
- The propaganda theatre is integrated with all other strategies – military, economic, diplomatic to weaken, isolate and demoralise Israel (the BDS strategy) as a prelude to its destruction.
- Finally, this project depends on fellow travellers in the media and academia who propagate the “approved narrative”.
The first principle of “Total Propaganda” is that it is flexible, all-pervasive and relentless. Thus Israel is accused of every crime under the sun as the opportunity arises. Since nothing must disturb the “approved narrative”, discordant facts and evidence must be excluded from public view. In what follows we are going to touch on (since that is what space permits) some of what is systematically filtered out of the media narrative.
We all accept that there are many “moderate Muslims” who wish to practice their religion in accordance with modern democratic practices and in peace with other religions and peoples. But it is equally true that radicalised Jihadist forms of Islam hold enormous sway in many parts of the Muslim world, including especially the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia. Besides this totalitarian religious movement, most Arab countries are characterised by backward, corrupt and oppressive political systems serving narrow power elites.
These societies finally erupted in the firestorm of revolt and violence called the Arab Spring by a Western media desperate for good news from the region. But in the last three years, at least 90 000 deaths have resulted, mainly in Syria with substantial contributions from Libya, Egypt and the Yemen. This number, enormous as it is, is dwarfed by the 11 million – and rising – Muslim deaths since 1948, less than 0.5% due to Israeli-Arab conflicts and 90% due to intra- Muslim conflict.
There is no indication that, in the near future at least, the “Arab Spring” uprisings will result in democratic and tolerant regimes. Islamist or similar theo-fascist factions are dominant in Egypt and are significant threats in Syria, the Yemen, Tunisia and of course across broad swathes on North Africa at least.
Horrific mortality figures are only part of the story. In international survey after international survey Arab-Muslim states range from poor to disastrous on human development indices and political freedoms. Honour killings, stonings and murder of homosexuals are still rife in the Islamist regions of the Muslim world. Such information does occasionally penetrate into our media, but they carefully refrain from connecting the dots so as not to ruffle the “Approved Narrative”. Nevertheless, it is entities such as these which dominate the UN and which are the primary drivers of the war against Israel.
But the best-kept secret of all is the flood of virulent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian and Arab-Muslim societies. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, in a recent New York Times article said “As a child growing up in a Muslim family, I constantly heard my mother, other relatives and neighbors wish for the death of Jews, who were considered our darkest enemy. Our religious tutors and the preachers in our mosques set aside extra time to pray for the destruction of Jews.”
She is referring to the unmentionable in South African media. Who in South Africa is aware of the recent flurry of international reports (only after a Forbes reporter dragged it into the light of day) on the 2010 remarks by President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt to the effect that “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews,” … (Egyptian children) must feed on hatred…The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshiping him”. Morsi went on in a TV interview to remark “…these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”
In South Africa such language is termed “hate speech” and is curtailed, but it is the staple diet amongst Israel’s neighbours. It is not confined to the margins and whispers in dark corners. It is part of the mainstream discourse on TV programmes, in mosques and even as part of childhood indoctrination. Here is just one example from “Muslim Woman Magazine” and broadcast by Iqraa, the popular Saudi-owned satellite channel.
Presenter: “Do you like Jews?”
“Why don’t you like them?”
“Jews are apes and pigs.”
“Who said this?”
“Where did he say this?”
“In the Koran.”
Not to belabour the point, is it any surprise that polls in Arab-Muslim societies show that anti-Jewish prejudice to run at over 90% of the population. In the words of Michael Totten, an experienced reporter on Arab-Muslim affairs: “The first time I went to Egypt, also in 2005, I met the same kinds of people I met in Lebanon. Cosmopolitan, liberal-minded individuals who were like Arab versions of me. …But my experience in Lebanon prompted me to ask a question of my liberal Egyptian friends that seems not to have occurred to some of the other journalists and Western internationalists who
have been there. I asked these Egyptian liberals, “how many Egyptians agree with you about
politics?” The answer stopped me cold: five percent at the most.”
My focus in this series has been on the systematic misrepresentation of Israel in the Middle East by a deeply compromised media and liberal elite. In such a climate of denial, the propaganda campaign of BDS activists finds ready purchase, especially amongst a population conditioned by their own history and narrative.
I have not dealt with the complex and real iproblem of finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Firstly, it is inseparable from the wider context outlined in these 3 articles and it it is probably true that most Israelis don’t believe they have a viable peace partner for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, many still do hope that diplomatic initiatives can bridge what seems insurmountable differences and agendas between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. I personally have no firm opinion on such matters, nor as a South African citizen should I have.
Politics there largely centres on a multitude of domestic issues and on what is the most appropriate response to the intractable foreign policy dilemmas which Israelis face daily. But Israel, with all her human flaws, is one of the truly remarkable, and indeed heroic, achievements of national reconstruction of modern times – perhaps of all time. It has enormous resources of political commonsense and creativity and has much to offer South Africa were we but willing.
For those who wish to engage more deeply with these issues my blog, Solar Plexus, will attempt to provide a forum for a variety of views, debate and relevant information. Hopefully realism will succeed where wishful thinking and denialism has failed.