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Agitprop and its repercussions

Suraya Dadoo, with the complicity of The Star, a Johannesburg newspaper, recently published the findings of the Russell Tribunal hastily convened in Brussels in the wake of Protective Edge. Unfortunately I cannot bring you the article but it is entitled “Never again for Gaza” published in The Star, 6 Oct 2014. If you can get it off the Internet the full article can (and should) be viewed.

I have submitted the response below without much hope that it will be published. It is difficult to reply to the crude agitprop propagated by activists like Dadoo without gross reductionism. The longterm outcome of such polarised political debate is to lower the political intelligence within our community – low enough already. Nor do we need the ethnic polarisation that goes along with it.

For those interested in why an apparently intelligent species like ourselves, seem to lose all claims to rationality when it comes to politics, the answer lies not only in the “flaws” of human nature but the dynamics of conflict and partisan communication. It is not difficult to see how the chances of hopeful resolution which may be apparent at the start of potential conflict get closed down progressively as the conflict evolves into intractability. This is very much the subject matter of history – the repetitive story of mankind’s disastrous inability to change direction until some level of catastrophe has been reached.

There must be a theoretical literature on this subject. I will have to look into it since unless one nips such processes in the bud early on, maybe there is a threshold at which a zero-sum outcome is inevitable, or is there always hope? Or just a question of time?

But here is my letter (NOTE FACTUAL CORRECTION TO PREVIOUS VERSION underlined):

In her foray into crude agitprop (“Never again for Gaza”, The Star, 6 Oct) Suraya Dadoo remarks, “Israel’s lobby groups will dismiss the witnesses and findings of the Russell Tribunal with contempt…” and term it a “kangaroo court”.

The Russell Tribunal is indeed a “kangaroo court” and is so regarded by any halfway decent judicial system. It is, by design and implementation, simply a forum for propaganda using the name of a famous philosopher. I will not dignify its status by responding to the accusations leveled in that travesty of justice but it is worth noting that Mads Gilbert, one of the witnesses at the Tribunal, is a co-author of a notorious letter published by the respected medical journal, The Lancet, accusing Israel of “war crimes”.

The responsible editor of The Lancet, Professor Richard Horton, subsequently apologised publicly and further stated “I was personally horrified at the offensive video that was forwarded by two of the authors of that letter (Paola Manduca and Swee Ang). The world view expressed in that video is abhorrent and must be condemned, and I condemn it”. Gilbert, along with all the participants in the Tribunal and, of course, Dadoo herself, is a career anti-Israel activist engaged in branding Israel as a pariah state.

Dadoo-type propaganda and Woollies*-boycott theatre are on the increase to divert public attention from the death and destruction being sown across the Middle East, North, and even sub-Saharan, Africa by Islamist movements, of which Hamas is just one of many branches.  The fruit of that tree will continue to poison the Muslim world until it finds a more productive way to engage with the modern world.

But few countries or leaders of consequence take notice any longer of crude anti-Israel propaganda in the face of the overwhelming contrary evidence and the steady stream of atrocities committed by Dadoo’s clients. For the Palestinians themselves the future is not hopeful until they put their own development and progress above their desire to destroy “the Zionist entity”. Regrettably, Dadoo’s contribution will only further retard any move towards political sanity in the foreseeable future.

Mike Berger

  • Woolworths – a retail chain store.

One response to “Agitprop and its repercussions

  1. Willie Paterson October 8, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Good intelligent response, Mike.


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