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Fanning the Flames of Dissent: The Ruling Class Is Having Trouble with Its Israel-Palestine Narrative

By Jason Hirthler | American Herald Tribune | December 15, 2018

Recently, the White House hosted two Hanukkah celebrations attended by the president, first lady, and vice president. One can imagine the general bonhomie as the Trumps rubbed elbows with fellow billionaire Sheldon Adelson and other luminaries of the ‘special relationship’. Trump was cheered for his provocative move of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something many observers call a sea change in U.S. foreign policy. Of course, almost every recent president has publicly stated that Jerusalem is Israel’s proper capital. Trump was simply the first president to actually follow through on the implications of that position.

In its coverage of the events, Trump was assailed by the Times of Israel for telling American Jews that Israel was “your country”, as if they were not American citizens. The paper noted that if Barack Obama had made such a rhetorical misstep, he would’ve been savaged by conservative media. As it was, Trump’s language was generally passed over in silence in the mainstream press. Despite that, the president and his coterie of Zionist comrades are likely becoming an ever more isolated pack of wolves on the American scene, their inflexible ideology and its brutal manifestations alienating them from popular opinion in the U.S.

The Scourge of Self-Deception

In his excellent book The Folly of Fools, evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers expounded his theory of deceit and self-deception among humans, including his concept of false historical narratives. A false historical narrative is essentially when a nation or tribe or people collectively believe a false version of their history. Trivers’ particular example? Israel. The author unpacks the country’s long-standing denial of Palestinian agency in its zealous Zionist pursuit of Greater Israel as a form of collective self-delusion. One that has had considerable influence in the United States where AIPAC wields outsized influence on Capitol Hill.

One wonders if false historical narratives are more likely to befall colonial settler nations. After all, the United States itself is beholden to any number of false historical narratives: the belief that America promotes and defends freedom around the world; the belief that it won World War Two; the lack of acknowledgement of the Native American genocide in its historical narrative; and that it has served as an impartial mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This latter belief has been lately exploded by several excellent books, among them Rashid Khalidi’s Brokers of Deceit. Thanks in large part to such works, the rise of social media, and the militancy and visibility of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the general tenor of debate in the United States, at least, has changed. This is deeply troubling for Tel Aviv and Washington, which have long depended on a tightly controlled, top-down narrative to control opinion on Palestinian issues, a storyline dutifully disseminated by sycophantic corporate media. But a false narrative cannot survive or thrive amid a digital space of unbridled debate, much of it agitated unmediated wrangling with a tendency to devolve into ad hominem attacks, but also plenty of powerful non-mainstream journalism bringing fresh perspectives to the topic.

Damming the Flood

Only heavy-handed censorship can hope to stem the tide of dissident voices from chopping the legs out from beneath the mainstream fairy tale of Israeli rectitude and Arab savagery. And that is, of course, precisely what is happening in the social space.

Facebook has purged some 400 pro-Palestinian voices from its platform for violating “community standards,” an ironic phrase given that real community standards would necessarily have to be created by the community, rather than its ‘owner’, presently being advised by the neoliberal, neocon Atlantic Council. Facebook labeled the banned commentary as “hate speech”, a term unsupported by the Supreme Court but happily flung about by the Israeli lobby–alongside the stalwart ‘anti-Semitism’–in efforts to shutter dissent. Twitter, too, has fallen in line with the pro-Israel position of both the government and its mainstream media lapdogs. It has shuttered attempts to out IDF commando unit soldiers who raided Gaza last month. The censorship aligns with Israeli military censors in Tel Aviv.

CNN wasted no time firing Marc Lamont Hill after a fairly normal speech at the United Nations during its commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Board members at Temple University, where he teaches, rumbled about punitive measures. The treatment of Hill falls in line with a long history of attacks on African-Americans who disagree with American foreign policy, from Paul Robeson during the McCarthy era, the many victims of the FBI’s COINTELPRO effort to destroy black solidarity movements. Even Andrew Young, serving as Jimmy Carter’s UN Ambassador, was forced to resign when he took the bold step of actually talking to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). An alliance of oppressed peoples across national borders is a true existential nightmare for imperialists, explaining in part why so many African-American leftists have been swift and energetically besieged by establishment agencies.

A Leaky Vessel

But it may be too little too late. Holes are being ripped in the Zionist false narrative, and it is leaking hard truths like a sieve. At last, Americans are beginning to recognize the cruelty of the Israeli occupation. For years the international community has angrily brandished UN resolutions against the occupation, about the right of return, and others declaring Zionism as a form of racism. To little avail. Some sixty resolutions have been widely ignored in the west. With this occupation more than any other conflict in the geopolitical arena, it is as if international law does not exist.

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt punctured a gaping hole in the side of stealthy Zionist influence with their landmark work The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. But the social media response to the brutal Israeli siege of Gaza in 2014 was likely the watershed moment. Progressives like Max Blumenthal assiduously documented the assault, while the glib Obama administration’s willingness to sell arms to Israel in the midst of its crushing attack struck many Americans as almost unconscionably blasé. So too the international response to the recently passed Basic Law, in which Israel is confirmed as a Jewish-ethnic state, with all mention of democracy stripped from the language. In one recent step by a major company, Airbnb recused itself from doing business in occupied territories, a move lauded by Palestinian supporters and naturally deplored by Zionists.

The perceptual gap between the views of the American populace and the Israeli citizenry appears to be widening. A recent polling result in Israel uncovered widespread racism targeting Arabs and Palestinians. Israelis were uncomfortable in large numbers to a variety of hypothetical interactions with Palestinians: if their children made friends with Palestinian children, if their neighbors were Palestinian, if people near them spoke in Arabic, and so on. Likewise, many said they’d be unlikely to rent to Palestinians and felt Israelis deserved job placement consideration over Arabs. As a comparison with a comparable European poll showed, Israeli discomfort with Arabs was more widespread than European discomfort with Jews, undermining the MSM discussion of rising anti-Semitism, a phenomenon that Foreign Policy argued was not tied to rising criticism of Israel.

A University of Maryland poll of Americans showed growing support for a one-state solution, as more observers have come to believe that rampant Israeli settlement-building in occupied territory have made a two-state solution completely unrealistic apart from some construction that posited a Palestinian state composed of tiny isolated cantons vigilantly policed by the IDF on the least arable land available (the rest having been annexed by entitled settlers).

A one-state solution is an anathema to Zionists. Israel has long harbored a fear of one day being outnumbered by Arabs in its own ‘homeland’. One hears the occasional trumpeting of a demographic ‘time bomb’ (and sometimes arguments that give lie to the concept). Israelis have cited the ‘security situation’ as an incentive to reproduce. In any event, settlements continue apace. It is instructive to note that inside Israel, there is vigorous debate on this issue: not about the validity of settlements, but the pace at which they are constructed.

Americans also increasingly support sanctions on Israel for its continued settlement activity. This undoubtedly partly owing to the aforementioned thaw in the commentary, particularly of the non-professional variety, but also perhaps has to do with the fact that Washington has leveled sanctions against so many perceived foes in recent years: Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, China, Syria, Iran, and on and on. Why, the public must wonder, is Israel left out of this seemingly indiscriminate use of economic leverage?

Zionists have mounted vigorous resistance to BDS, and have persuaded Congress to put forward the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would criminalize any kind of voluntary boycotting of Israel and its settlements. This last argument reflects the threadbare smear that pro-Israeli hawks like Alan Dershowitz and other informally appointed paladins of the cause have long used to defend criticism of Israel: that any criticism of Israel or Zionism is a de facto attack on Jews and therefore anti-Semitic. This attempt to conflate Israel with all Jewry is not unlike the facile use of the “hate speech” to encompass all varieties of criticism.

The Race to Narrative Hegemony

Yet dire reports surface almost daily, as Israel clamors to bar and ban and liquidate resistance. Among the recent stories that must have Israeli PR groups a furor: the expelling of Human Rights Watch officials from the country, the shooting of unarmed protestors during the ‘Great March of Return’ border protests, remorseless extrajudicial killings, the expansion of “admissions committees” to restrict Palestinian access to housing, the rationing of electricity and medicines to desperate Gazans, the forcible exile of Bedouins from historic villages. The list is interminable.

Perhaps for these reasons rather in spite of them, some 38 percent of Americans, including 37 percent of Jewish Americans polled, think Israel has too much influence in the American political system. Democrats in particular are increasingly favorable to actually neutral policies toward Israelis and Palestinians, not least because of Obama’s chilly relationship with Tel Aviv, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s undermining of the former president’s JCPOA with Iran.

It is critical to note the yawning abyss between the corporate state and corporate media positions on Israeli-Palestinian issues and those of the American public. While the MSM continues its pro-Israel stance, the ideological ground beneath it is shifting like sand, as Americans have engaged in online debates that have in some cases broadened their perspectives and in others deepened their partisanship. It is forever ironic that efforts to suppress a particular viewpoint tend to exacerbate it. As the mainstream become ever more strident in their response to heterodox opinions, the objections only grow louder. As one might expect, the historical narrative around Israel is now freighted with heretical objections, its propositions subject to relentless dissection in the digital sphere.

It is no surprise then, that Trump’s friends at those White House Hanukkah parties have grown shrill and heavy-handed in their attempts to shout down a rising chorus of resistance to the party line. The question is, can they push Washington and America’s social media giants hard enough to foreclose the numberless avenues of dissent fast enough to salvage what’s left of a tawdry argument for apartheid.

December 16, 2018 - Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Control of the narrative has many aspects. In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, a column by John Diaz proclaims in “The year of reporting dangerously” how journalists have demonstrated such, in the middle east, in China in the Philippines. No mention of journalists murdered by the Israeli military. No mention of a law criminalizing a video or publishing a video of Israeli soldiers’ criminal actions.
    No mention of anything as to how Israel lie, censors, shape a narrative, either by state-sponsored efforts or by self-appointed advocates. The latter, often secretly funded by or connected to the Israeli government.

    How easy to point to the danger and thus courage of journalists by this author and yet make no reference to the danger and death and imprisonment of journalists in Palestine or Israel, let alone those who voice criticism of Israel. And how co-incidental that the newspaper is published in San Francisco, the place of a residency of defamation emanating to curtail criticism of Israel on college campuses and else where in America.

    The columnist will not join those who risk “…reporting dangerously.”

    Comment by michael | December 16, 2018 | Reply

  2. Fanning the Flames of Dissent: The Ruling Class Is Having Trouble with Its Israel-Palestine Narrative

    Recently, the White House hosted two Hanukkah celebrations attended by the president, first lady, and vice president.

    Wait, who is the vice-president again?

    Israel rectum-lickers seem to be prevalent. Especially in the U.S.

    I see you.

    Comment by tsisageya | December 16, 2018 | Reply

  3. The term ‘the ruling class’ is especially egregious.

    Comment by tsisageya | December 16, 2018 | Reply

  4. THE RULING CLASS: Hereby SPEAK!

    Hahahahaha. Just kidding. We see you liars.

    Comment by tsisageya | December 16, 2018 | Reply

  5. The ruling class is having trouble with its narrative. Good. May the ruling class go to hell.

    Comment by tsisageya | December 16, 2018 | Reply

  6. I mean, if someone would actually just call out ISRAEL/USA as being war criminals, and the LAW would bring JUSTICE, I might be able to stop thinking about it. But they don’t, so I can’t.

    Comment by tsisageya | December 16, 2018 | Reply

    • Is it only the shekels then? Frankly, I’m sick of it. Either way, it all falls on the men. Everyone wants to blame Eve, but Adam is always responsible. Don’t argue. It’s tiresome.

      Underdog is better than you men.

      Comment by tsisageya | December 16, 2018 | Reply

  7. If Israel lost US support it would be forced by circumstances into actual friendship with at least some of its neighbours. What a strange world that would be. I can’t imagine it happening any time soon though.

    Comment by patricknelson750 | December 17, 2018 | Reply


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