Paying people to create faux ‘grass roots’ support for Israeli policies


The increasing support for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement has caused great concern with the Israeli government and they have resorted to something called ‘hasbara’, where people receive training in propaganda on how to derail discussions that they think are critical of Israeli policies. Jonathan Cook explains what hasbara involves and why it will not work.

In the latest offensive, the education ministry has launched a compulsory hasbara course for Israeli students travelling abroad. All youth delegations are now required to learn how to justify to outsiders Israel’s policies in the occupied territories. According to officials, the students must challenge those who “seek to delegitimize Israel”.

The hasbara industry’s chief flaw, as Israeli political scientist Neve Gordon observes, is its assumption that “the merchandise is fine, and only the packaging needs to be replaced”.

But rapid developments in information technology mean Israel has less control over its image than ever before.

First it was 24-hour rolling news, then the internet. Now cheap smartphones make every Palestinian a potential documentary-maker, ensuring that moments of cruelty and oppression are captured and available for anyone who cares to look.

Palestinians post online videos of their everyday abuse: from demolition of homes to stone-throwers being shot with live ammunition; from settlers burning crops to children being dragged by soldiers from their beds in the middle of the night.

With the Palestinians’ case substantiated by evidence, rather than Israel’s, the evangelists of hasbara have only one recourse: to blame the messenger.

Critics of Israel, it is implied, are either inveterate dupes or unabashed anti-semites. Either they have been deceived by the Israel-haters, or they are haters themselves.

As the hasbara industry moves into overdrive, such slurs are becoming all too common – including against those Israel most urgently needs to cultivate as allies.

In desperation, the Israeli government is actually recruiting and paying people to scour social media and respond whenever they see criticisms of Israel and post pro-Israel comments in order to give the impression of there being grass roots support. Jonathan Blakely explains in detail the steps that what he calls ‘hasbara trolls’ are advised to follow and how they know when to spring into action.

Hasbara trolls use internet alerts to warn them when hot keywords are mentioned. Keywords such as Israel, Jewish, Judaism etc. When those words are mentioned they are alerted and they go to investigate who is talking about what.

Some of these people are paid $2,000 to do five hours per week of this work from the “comfort of their home”. Commenter StevoR, the stalwart and verbose defender of Israeli oppression of Palestinian, should apply for this gig, though in his case I would strongly advise him to insist that his contract specify that he be paid by the word, not a flat fee, since he could easily make a bundle. Other benefits include giving free luxury trips to Israel to those attending the Academy Awards ceremony, though the Academy has dissociated itself from this offer.

But all these propaganda efforts don’t seem to be working. The Israeli government recently convened a secret conference on what do about this and Republican pollster Frank Luntz gave them the bad news that even most young American Jews did not view Israel as either a democracy or civilized.

The conference heard from Frank Luntz, the prominent US Republican pollster, that Israel’s propaganda messaging was failing even among American Jewish students.

According to Luntz’s findings, only 42 percent of Jewish students believe that Israel wants peace, just 39 percent view Israel as a “civilized and Western country” and a mere 31 percent consider Israel to be a democracy.

As many as one fifth of Jewish students believe the US should support the Palestinian side and a similar proportion sees Israel as racist.

One of the conference participants told NRG that Israel’s tourism ministry “came out very badly.”

The participant characterized Israel’s marketing in these terms: “ ‘we have girls in bikinis, we have beaches, we have beer and bars – come to us,’ and this does not work.”

Indeed, Israel’s tourism industry went into freefall as a result of Israel’s summer 2014 attack on Gaza that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children, and has still not recovered.

As Israel’s treatment of Palestinians worsens, with increased annexation of land, even such friendly leaders like Britain’s David Cameron have been forced to condemn the illegal expansion of settlements as “genuinely shocking”.

The Prime Minister said that though he was a strong supporter of Israel, he had been taken aback by what had seen first hands on visits to the occupied territories in Jerusalem.

“I am well-known as being a strong friend of Israel but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what has happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem – occupied East Jerusalem – it is genuinely shocking,” he told MPs in the House of Commons.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government is drafting legislation that will enable the parliament to oust elected members, a move aimed at getting rid of those few members who raise concerns about Palestinians.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is drafting legislation that ought to resolve in observers’ minds the question of whether Israel is the democracy it proudly claims to be. The bill empowers a three-quarters majority of the parliament to oust a sitting MP.

It breathes new life into the phrase “tyranny of the majority”. But in this case, the majority will be Jewish MPs oppressing their Palestinian colleagues.

Netanyahu has presented the bill as a necessary response to the recent actions of three MPs from the Balad faction of the Joint List, a coalition of parties representing the often-overlooked fifth of Israel’s population who are Palestinian citizens.

All the propaganda efforts in the world cannot hide the brutal reality of the way Israel treats Palestinians, including having one of their soldiers caught on tape murdering a wounded Palestinian on the ground in cold blood after medical personnel stood by and did nothing. (You can see the video in the last link but I haven’t watched it because such things sicken me.)

One passage from the Jonathan Cook article above is worth noting because anyone who criticizes Israel will be familiar with them: “Critics of Israel, it is implied, are either inveterate dupes or unabashed anti-semites. Either they have been deceived by the Israel-haters, or they are haters themselves.”

Despite all this effort at propaganda, there are increasing signs that it is not working and that such charges have become ineffective due to excessive overuse.

Comments

  1. Andrew G. says

    The bill empowers a three-quarters majority of the parliament to oust a sitting MP.

    Whereas the US Congress only needs a two-thirds majority to do that.

    (Clearly the problem here in the Israeli case is that the power is being created to serve a specific political end.)

  2. says

    [P]eople receive training in propaganda on how to derail discussions that they think are critical of Israeli policies. Jonathan Cook explains what hasbara involves and why it will not work.

    Ideas are more convincing than bullets, but only if people are alive to speak such ideas. The use of violence against critics (“civil elimination” as they call it) is being encouraged.

    Even if “civil elimination” isn’t a veiled threat to assassinate and imprison people without trial (*), “banning” is a criminal way to silence dissent and free speech. It’s yet another abhorrent tactic long employed by the South African apartheid regime that Israel copies.

    http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/watch-israel-govt-calls-civil-elimination-left-wing-activists-and-roseanne-barr

    (* This has been done repeatedly in Israel, e.g. Palestinian prisoners, Mordechai Vanunu.)

  3. Holms says

    Their propaganda efforts are pretty similar to that of the American right: keep the same horrible policies, just make ads with attractive young people smiling and saying nice things. No wonder they are such good friends.

  4. Silentbob says

    Commenter StevoR, the stalwart and verbose defender of Israeli oppression of Palestinian, should apply for this gig…

    Heh. Maybe he already did. StevoR has linked us to a video on “Palestinian Lies” (the second link in that comment) that credits something called the “Hasbara Channel“.

  5. StevoR says

    @ ^ Silentbob : Hah, I wish! I’d be a lot richer than I am now! Of course some people – me being one of them -think that telling the truth even when it isn’t popular is an intrinsically worthwhile thing in itself.

    Of course, its rather ironic that in a piece where among other things you accuse the pro-Israel side of shooting the messenger you go on to shoot the messenger. Metaphorically, of course in both cases. A bit hypocritical isn’t it?

    Commenter StevoR, the stalwart and verbose defender of Israeli oppression of Palestinian,

    Stalwart? Well thanks.

    Verbose? Well, mea culpa at times.

    Defender of what though? No, I don’t defend oppression of anyone. I do however defend the right of Israelis to live happily in peace and specifically be free from terrorism and military attack from the Arab & Persian sides – plus that the Israelis also have a legitimate case and arguments and facts in their favour when it comes to this whole Arab-Israeli conflict issue.

    Legitimate arguments and facts which remain exactly that no matter who says them, btw.

    What is said and argued matters a whole lot more than who is doing so and evidence.and logic rather than any personal animosities should be the determining factor in any rational discussions, right?

    Oh & if this “Hasbara” thing is a real and significant phenomena then how is it, I wonder, that I and my side of this topic is so incredibly under-represented on these threads? Why am I now pretty much the only person here who actively argues the Israel side of the issue and why haven’t a large number of these Hasbara spreading folks turned up and argued the case when Israel is being bashed as it so often is here?

    Gee, its almost more like its actually the pro-Arab side who is being funded to spout talking points perhaps with all that Saudi oil money ..

  6. StevoR says

    Incidentally, interesting if at times depressing documentary here :

    http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/638305347878

    Netanyahu at war

    FRONTLINE traces the stormy history of the United States-Israeli relationship through the eyes of Obama and Netanyahu, two men with fundamentally different views of the world. For Netanyahu, Obama’s vision of the Middle East threatened Israel’s existence. Told through riveting footage and interviews with political insiders in Jerusalem and Washington. (Part 1 of 2) (From the US) (Documentary) (Class. tba)

    EXPIRES TODAY. (9.50 pm Aussie central time.) Part I of II – hope it works here outside Oz.

    Is well worth watching.

    So close. Sometimes to things becoming so much better, occasionally to them being so much worse.

    WARNING : Some confronting images of violence and gory aftermaths.

    Part II of it here :

    http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/643564100000/netanyahu-at-war

    If only Obama had visited Netanyahu on that early trip and behaved a bit better with him.

    Linked before here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2016/03/26/the-difference-between-clinton-and-sanders-on-israel-and-aipac/#comment-4333532

    But just in case folks missed it there and might find it interesting.

    Incidentally I do think what Netanyahu did leading up to Rabin’s assassination was appalling and very wrong.

    I’d also recommend reading Leah Rabin’s autobiography.

  7. Blood Knight in Sour Armor says

    It’s pretty simple StevoR: members of the atheist+ or freethinking tribe(s) don’t tend to be supporters of apartheid.

  8. Holms says

    Oh & if this “Hasbara” thing is a real and significant phenomena then how is it, I wonder, that I and my side of this topic is so incredibly under-represented on these threads? Why am I now pretty much the only person here who actively argues the Israel side of the issue and why haven’t a large number of these Hasbara spreading folks turned up and argued the case when Israel is being bashed as it so often is here?

    I would say that it is because your arguments in defense of Israeli war crimes are actually transparent, leading to a heavy dearth of rational thinkers on your side of the argument. And then of course you tip your hand as usual:

    Gee, its almost more like its actually the pro-Arab side who is being funded to spout talking points perhaps with all that Saudi oil money ..

    The standard StevoR lie: anyone criticising Israel is automatically deemed to be pro-Arab. There is no nuance in StevoR’s world, there is only Team Good (who are always the good guys in history – yes, he has literally said that) and Team Evil (who are always in the wrong); there can be no middle ground.

  9. StevoR says

    @ ^ Holms : I’ve never said there’s no middle ground and I think there is in fact middle ground. I do have a more nuanced view than you think or are willing to give credit to. I’ve often noted that Israel isn’t perfect.

    By definition teams Good and Evil will be,well, good and evil respectively.

    I have in the past correctly observed that the Jewish people generally are almost always on the right – more ethical, more scientifically and intellectually advanced – side of history. There are probably a few exceptions but I’d say there were few and far between. If you dispute this then, you’d be factually in error.

    I would say that it is because your arguments in defense of Israeli war crimes are actually transparent, leading to a heavy dearth of rational thinkers on your side of the argument.

    You are wrong here as usual because :

    A. I do NOT argue for war crimes. I argue for Israel’s right to exist and live in peace and security.
    B Actually the rational thinkers are on my side in this argument.
    C. My point was about all these supposed Hasbara propagandists out there not “rational thinkers”anyhow.

    @7. Blood Knight in Sour Armor : “members of the atheist+ or freethinking tribe(s) don’t tend to be supporters of apartheid.”

    Nor am I. I don’t support ‘apartheid’ at all – and nor does Israel and the slander that Israel somehow practices “apartheid” (a specific and specifically racially based unjust social system) is offensive and utterly wrong. For the reasons shown here :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_HiV1OD8vc

    Among other places.

    Yes, Israel in’t perfect and may do some things some of us dislike but that does NOT make these things anywhere near the equivalent of “Apartheid.”

    Again, if you think this is wrong then you need to show why with actual logic and evidence and reason not just yet more Israel-bashing.

  10. Holms says

    I have in the past correctly observed that the Jewish people generally are almost always on the right – more ethical, more scientifically and intellectually advanced – side of history. There are probably a few exceptions but I’d say there were few and far between. If you dispute this then, you’d be factually in error.

    You are currently ‘factually in error’ regarding your own words; you have literally stated, in the recent past, that the jews are always the good side in history.

    A. I do NOT argue for war crimes. I argue for Israel’s right to exist and live in peace and security.

    You have frequently argued in defense of Israel’s actions, including its war crimes. This means it is literally true that you are a war crimes apologist for Israel.

    Note well that I too agree with Israel’s right to exist, and have never disputed this, not that that will stop you lying about my (and everyone else’s) position on the matter. The nuance that escapes you time and time again is that actions and policies are open for criticism.

    B Actually the rational thinkers are on my side in this argument.

    Wrong.

    C. My point was about all these supposed Hasbara propagandists out there not “rational thinkers”anyhow.

    Excuse me, supposed Hasbara propagandists? It is a matter of factual record that this approach exists. The OP links to a conference discussing it, and for fuck sake, as Silentbob notes, you have even made use of their materials!

    @7. Blood Knight in Sour Armor : “members of the atheist+ or freethinking tribe(s) don’t tend to be supporters of apartheid.”

    Nor am I. I don’t support ‘apartheid’ at all – and nor does Israel and the slander that Israel somehow practices “apartheid” (a specific and specifically racially based unjust social system) is offensive and utterly wrong. For the reasons shown here :

    That video is quite blatantly lies.

    – At the 0:57 mark, there is a dictionary definition of apartheid. The narrower definition refers specifically to the South African system of government, but note the second definition: “Any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.” See that? Extremely applicable to Israel, where for example Palestinians have a separate road system, complete with checkpoints and gates.

    – He follows this graphic by listing some of the conditions South Africa placed on its black citizens, and then states “not one, not one, of those restrictions applies to the many Arabs living in Israel.” But this is a lie, because one of the restrictions he listed was “blacks … were forced to reside in certain locations” and even cursory knowledge of Israel is enough to know that the Arabs are heavily curtailed in location. The Gaza Strip being the prime example.

    Having demonstrated two blatant lies already, I can’t be fucked checking the rest: it was falsified in the first minute thirty. Israel doesn’t have all the elements that South Africa had, but it sure as shit has enough similarities to warrant the label ‘apartheid-like.’

  11. StevoR says

    @ ^ Holms : “Israel doesn’t have all the elements that South Africa had, but it sure as shit has enough similarities to warrant the label ‘apartheid-like.”

    Nope, it really doesn’t – and “apartheid” like is NOT the same as actual apartheid. Words,meanings and all.

    he 0:57 mark, there is a dictionary definition of apartheid. The narrower definition refers specifically to the South African system of government, but note the second definition: “Any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.” See that? Extremely applicable to Israel, where for example Palestinians have a separate road system, complete with checkpoints and gates.

    Because groups like Hamas keep trying to murder Jewish people simply for being Jewish people. You keep ignoring the terrorism factor here.

    Excuse me, supposed Hasbara propagandists?

    Yes – because as I pointed out (echoes Fermi& famous eponymous paradox) then where are they? Not here that’s for sure! (No, I ain’t one of them. Oh & whoop-de-doo there’s an youtube channel, wow, that’s like totes convincing proof of some Kon-spi-ra-cee by de Jooz!!!!1ty. FSM forbid de Jooz!!! or worse da Yisraelizzz get a chance to express themselves and put their case across on the net eh?

    That video is quite blatantly lies.

    Says someone who admits he hasn’t watched it all and is heavily biased against Israel.

    You have frequently argued in defense of Israel’s actions, including its war crimes. This means it is literally true that you are a war crimes apologist for Israel.

    Er.. excluding them actually.

    You are currently ‘factually in error’ regarding your own words; you have literally stated, in the recent past, that the jews are always the good side in history.

    When haven’t they been?

  12. says

    I don’t defend oppression

    Oh, bullshit. Please don’t make me waste my time reading your various divellations to cite specific details.

    A simple response would be that you support Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ and by ‘itself’ you mean ‘its conquered territories’ which – in other words – means you support Israel’s retaliation against attempts to rein in its conquest: i.e., oppression.

  13. StevoR says

    Divellations? Huh? Not one to talk when it comes to typos I admit but dafuck is that supposed to mean?

    Conquered territories? Like Judea and Samaria which have been historically and culturally connected to the Jewish people who are indeed indigenous to that land since and during about three thousand years or so?

    Oh & no, I don’t support oppression or worse genocide which is what the Arab side is hoping and aiming and still trying for. You?

  14. says

    I have a friend who’s working as one of the hasabra trolls; she’s taking the money and putting it toward her writing degree, while writing a book about her experiences. It ought to be pretty interesting.

  15. StevoR says

    @ Marcus Ranum : Just how many times do the Arabs and Palestinians have to turn down peace offers before you take their no as final?

    Just how much hate for the Israelis and Jewish people and their existence as human beings are you okay with?

    What part of “they are trying to kill all Israelis” do you not grasp?

    @11. Holms : Did you notice that literal road map you linked labelled “Palestine’ covers all of Israel? Not Gaza and Judea and Samaria – all Israel. What does that suggest to you?

  16. says

    Divellations? Huh? Not one to talk when it comes to typos I admit but dafuck is that supposed to mean?

    I dropped the ‘r’ – that should have read ‘drivellations’

    Good job proof-reading my postings, now that we know you’re capable of it, maybe you can use those skills on your own.

  17. says

    Just how many times do the Arabs and Palestinians have to turn down peace offers before you take their no as final?

    If I steal your car, how many times do I have to offer you $50 for it before you’re going to be satisfied?

  18. StevoR says

    @ 15. Marcus Ranum : Tell her to come on over and put her views across here. That should be good for a laugh or so shouldn’t it?

    Pity knows I do with some company and support here!

  19. says

    What part of “they are trying to kill all Israelis” do you not grasp?

    I understand it perfectly well. They are trying to expel an occupier.
    The people who came over and bought property could have and probably would have been welcome contributors to the regional economy, but they had to go all nationalist crazy shooty bang bang and start driving their neighbors out of their homes in order to make themselves a homeland. You support that. We understand.

    Stop saying you don’t support oppression.

  20. StevoR says

    If you steal my car then you are a thief. (Israel, btw, did not engage in theft. capturing land in war of self defense – not same thing.))

    If you engage in terrorism you are a terrorist.

    If you keep rejecting peace offers because you would rather keep trying to massacre a whole group of people you unreasonably dislike then you are a genocidal loser who has blown your opportunity to live in peace and lost your chance for what you wanted because you turned that down.

  21. Johnny Vector says

    Someone needs to write a post that combines criticism of Israeli policy with nuclear power as a solution to global warming. Then StevoR and EnlightenmentLiberal can just hang out here shouting at each other for eternity, leaving all the other threads free for intelligent discussion of anything else.

  22. says

    Pity knows I do with some company and support here!

    She doesn’t believe any of it, she’s just taking their money and preparing to do an expose on the whole filthy operation. It could get her a job in journalism, and it’s paying her well in the meantime.

    Actually, if you want to – tell your boss I might be interested and I write pretty well and can hold up my end in an argument. $2k/week and I’d be your best ever supporter.

  23. StevoR says

    @20. Marcus Ranum : “I understand it perfectly well. They are trying to expel an occupier.”

    Except you really don’t. And the Israelis aren’t. Do golearn some history form both sides and without Israel-bashing bias please.

    all nationalist crazy shooty bang bang and start driving their neighbors out of their homes in order to make themselves a homeland.

    Which I guess explains why the Jewish state accepted (additional) partition in 1947 and keeps trying to swap land for peace even after the repeated failures of that strategy to succeed. Oh wait.

    Stop saying you don’t support oppression.

    I don’t support oppression. Nor do I support genocide or terrorism or hate. Nor do I support and I will always fight Israel-bashing like yours.

  24. says

    Like Judea and Samaria which have been historically and culturally connected to the Jewish people who are indeed indigenous to that land since and during about three thousand years or so?

    We’ve been over that. Judea and Samaria were Assyrian land long before jews even existed. Indeed, the people the newly-formed tribe of jews took it from, back then, were called “Philistines” which you might nowadays pronounce “Palestine”

  25. StevoR says

    @24. Marcus Ranum : Sorry but no. Israel aren’t the terrorists here that would be Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

    Do you accept that much or do you still confuse terrorism targeting innocent people with counter-terrorism targeting actual terrorists?

  26. says

    SteveOr, israel troll writes:
    Israel, btw, did not engage in theft. capturing land in war of self defense

    If I steal your car and you try to take it back, and I beat your ass, that is not “self defense” nor does that make your car any more mine. If just makes you more criminal.

    Israel’s actions justified as “self defense” are retaliation for failed attempts by the established states and former residents of the area now called ‘Israel’ to violently eject invaders.

    You keep pointing to convenient times that justify Israel’s actions, which is convenient for you but transparently dishonest. You try to imply that because jews claim ancestral land going back thousands of years that a bunch of European immigrants therefore have some right to go back and displace people who had been living there for hundreds (if not thousands) of years themselves? And you point to the lands which were conquered in the second wave of conquest as if that somehow justifies the first.

    To go back to the car analogy, here are the facts of the case:
    1) I take your car, because my family has always had an affinity for Lexus’ going way back
    2) You complain
    3) I kick your ass
    4) You try to kick my ass
    4.5) I offer you $50 for your car
    5) I kick your ass even harder
    5.5) My generous offer of $50 still stands!
    6) I take your house, too. Because you tried to kick my ass because I took your car.
    7) You complain to the police
    8) I kick your ass for complaining to the police
    9) I offer you $50 for your car, I am very generous!
    10) I kill your entire fucking family
    11) $50 take it or leave it!

  27. StevoR says

    @26. Marcus Ranum : The Assyrians were a vanished civilisation that existed (& perished) long before Islam & were based well to the north of modern Israel. Ditto Philistines (by-word for ignorance these days!) albeit they lived in what’s now Gaza. The modern “Palestinians” – who once not so long ago (1960’s or thereabouts) happily called themselves merely Arabs and South Syrians and whose most famous leader was an Egyptian born in Cairo – run Gaza now. Ain’t they done well with it – not!

    Jewish people loved in Israel (Judea, Samaria, Israel ,Hasmonean kingdom and Davidic kingdom before that) and still do. Because it is their country which they have strong historical and cultural and physical ties to and have made bloom by their sweat and tears and blood and effort.

    The Jewish priority (scientifically speaking – i.e. they have the oldest and literally first claim) far exceeds the much later post-Christian Dark Age Muslim, Ottoman descendant & Arab one. There may well be a genetic connection between Arab and Jewish Israelis but there’s certainly a big cultural and political divide.

    What part of this exactly do you argue with?

  28. StevoR says

    @28. Marcus Ranum : Ridiculosuly faulty analogy is ridicuously faulty.

    Aussie remains Aussie and not a troll but is pro-Israel because facts and evidence and reason and stuff like that.

    Actual historical self defense remains just that despite subjective airquotes by Israel bashers. Bet the Arabs wish they’d taken the deal on offer back in 1947 and many times after. Their loss and their choice.

  29. StevoR says

    @23. Marcus Ranum : Almost tempted but my boss actually has enough workers for now and since I live in Oz and work a as a groundskeeper and bushcare volunteer (unpaid) I doubt you’ll be able to do much.

    Still if you want to come over here, I’ll happily show you which plants are weeds which need removing to preserve the best biodiversity and which are good Aussie natives with plenty of Indigenous (specifically Kaurna & Peramangk) usages and so much more & teach you a bit of botany as well as Levantine (& other) history and astronomy if you’d like! 😉

    We can always use more weeders and I do support immigrants.

  30. says

    The Assyrians were a vanished civilisation that existed (& perished)

    The same could be said about the original israelites, for the same reasons.
    There are some Europeans – largely Germans, Austrians, Poles, Russians, who call themselves jews, but they bear about as much connection to Palestine as I bear to Norway – less, since my Norwegian ancestry is only 5 generations back. Do you think I have a right to return to Norway and re-conquer my ancestor’s farm?

  31. says

    As I’ve mentioned in other threads on other blogs on FTB, I think it’s dangerous to claim there is some kind of genetic ancestral jewishness because basically doing so vindicates the bizzare racial theories of the nazis.

    Most people whose families spent time in Europe, east of, Vienna probably have more mongol in them than they have anything else.

    The idea of “ancestral lands” is ridiculousness bordering on racist ridiculousness.

  32. says

    I wasn’t going to say any more on this until I saw the number of comments. Thirteen out of thirty four by the bloodthirsty advocate for genocide. It makes one wonder if it’s done for pay as Mano suggests, or an undiagnosed case of obsessive compulsive disorder. And his posts are still not worth reading, I only counted the headers.

  33. Robert,+not+Bob says

    The idea that modern, mostly European Jews are somehow the proper heirs of the ancient Israelites and therefore deserve the land is rubbish. Judaism changes over time too: the Muslim and Christian Palestinians are just as much the religious heirs as modern Jews (not that that should count). And the Palestinians are almost certainly more closely related to the ancient Canaanites that the Hebrews actually were. Not to mention that the claim rests on putative genocidal mass murder that really ought to invalidate any claims on moral grounds!

    And though their empire fell long ago, there are indeed still Assyrians. They’re a mostly Christian minority in Iraq.

  34. Holms says

    Nope, it really doesn’t – and “apartheid” like is NOT the same as actual apartheid. Words,meanings and all.

    Which is why I used words to convey my meaning: that Israel is not identical to the original South African apartheid, but rather it is an example of the broader meaning of the word. An entire paragraph of words (and meanings!), using the definition your own source used.

    Because groups like Hamas keep trying to murder Jewish people simply for being Jewish people. You keep ignoring the terrorism factor here.

    You quoted my paragraph making the case that Israel fits the broader definition of apartheid. Instead of offering a counter argument, your response amounted to ‘yeah but only because the other guys deserve it.’ That is, you opted to provide an excuse for apartheid, rather than rebut the argument that Israel is an example of apartheid.

    In trying to defend Israel, you only damage their defense.

    Yes – because as I pointed out (echoes Fermi& famous eponymous paradox) then where are they? Not here that’s for sure!

    1. The OP quotes articles claiming that the Israeli government is engaged in a propaganda effort called hasbara.
    2. The Israeli government not only uses this term, but was responsible for coining it in the first place.
    3. Hasbara exists. It is a matter of historical record. Don’t bother trying to dispute this you goddamn fool.
    4. For fucks sake, you have even used their materials!

    “That video is quite blatantly lies.”
    Says someone who admits he hasn’t watched it all and is heavily biased against Israel.

    The video was falsified twice in the first minute thirty.

    Er.. excluding them [war crimes] actually.

    Nope, you explicitly defended them during Protective Edge.

    When haven’t they been [on the good side of history]?

    Every time they have committed a war crime, so, quite a few times since its founding.

    You are too stupid to bother with.

  35. lanir says

    @StevoR: Are you actually trying to be convince anyone to believe you? You are not really engaging anyone on this topic, you’re just calling for people who already agree with you to stand up and agree with you. This is not a tactic of persuasion, it’s preaching to the choir. It looks like people who do not agree with you fast enough are called liars or fools for believing liars. This may help win authoritarian-minded people to your side if they don’t have a strong opinion yet or have a beef with someone who does, but it’s not likely to generate a positive reaction to your message with anyone else.

    There is one thing I’d honestly like to hear from you about. On several occasions you mention that there actually are things that you aren’t entirely happy with about Israel or the actions of it’s people. Yet these things don’t seem to have any impact on your position, as you show at the end of your comment at #12. Events of the past few years have surely provided something along these lines you can discuss, you’ve even mentioned some peripherally. What I’m curious about is what squares these things away for you? What lets you take this thing you don’t agree with, decide it doesn’t really matter and then espouse extremist pro-Israeli views? That is what I am curious to learn about.

    To be fair, I have to admit I don’t think you’ll convince me you’re right. I’m simply indulging in some intellectual curiosity designed to help me understand someone I disagree with. It’s for perspective. And partly because if I were to fill in the blanks myself based on what I understand of your views, I don’t particularly like where it ends up. In short, it looks like classic bigotry and racism. The violence of (presumptive “All of”) Those People is horrible but the violence of (presumptive “Some of”) These People is okay. Because Those People are violent too… but of course that’s never mentioned in the reverse case. Claims of an ancient right to land Those People have lived on for generations, dehumanizing whole groups based on isolated worst examples, random fact-free claims of the inherent superiority of These People… It all fits rather standard racist rhetoric.

    I mention this because I’d like to assume I’m wrong about this and that you’ll have some other reasons than these. That you’ll be able to provide a bit more nuance to the discussion. And frankly this will help you as well because leading with this sort of discussion would have been much more persuasive than commentary that can be mistaken for bland, depressingly common racism.

  36. says

    SteveOr@#30:
    Ridiculosuly faulty analogy is ridicuously faulty

    Insufficient “argument” is not an argument. What’s wrong with my analogy, other than we’re talking about much more serious things than cars and asskickings?

  37. Silentbob says

    @ 39 Marcus Ranum

    I thought it was pretty accurate. The only thing I’d adjust is that the first time it’s $50, the next time $25, after that $10, then maybe $5, would you settle for $2.50, how about $1, I’ll tell you what, we’ll call it a penny (as an upper limit, subject to future negotiations). Interested? Sign here on the dotted line. (Bet you wish you’d taken the $50, eh?)

  38. sonofrojblake says

    how is it, I wonder, that I and my side of this topic is so incredibly under-represented on these threads?

    Current world population: 7.125 billion.
    Current world population of Jews: 14.2 million.
    Jews as a proportion of world population: 0.2%.
    Having even one person on these threads who supports Israeli policies is a massive statistical OVER-representation.

  39. Silentbob says

    @ 6 StevoR

    I have to say, I’m surprised you shared that SBS documentary. I watched both parts over the last couple of nights. It doesn’t exactly portray Netanyahu in a positive a light (and makes a welcome change from your usual YouTube Israeli propaganda videos).

    … I do think what Netanyahu did leading up to Rabin’s assassination was appalling and very wrong.

    You mean more or less inciting it? Because Rabin was serious about seeking peace? Yes. It was. But judging by that doco “appalling and very wrong” is just Netanyahu’s basic modus operandi.

  40. StevoR says

    Most of you probably think I’m a bad person maybe?

    But I’m really not. Even if I disagree with you on this and perhaps a couple of other things.

    That doesn’t make me so. Am not who many of you pre-judge me to be.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yQk5HQtQ4Q

    And if I don’t argue for Israel’s survival and right to defend itself and have its people live in peace on their land here then who will?

    Also I use evidence and truth. I listen to same too.

  41. sonofrojblake says

    Am not who many of you pre-judge me to be

    Nobody pre-judges you to be anything. This is a poor attempt at casting yourself as the victim, when in fact you are being judged entirely on your behaviour and expressed opinions (ironically, precisely the tactic Israel so often uses, bleating anti-Semitism when people complain of the bulldozing of Palestinian homes). That’s not prejudice, it’s just… judice.

    If your complaint is that you are not, in fact, the person many of us JUDGE you to be, then the only thing I can offer is that EITHER
    1. you are expressing yourself extremely badly and misrepresenting yourself as an apologist for the indefensible, OR
    2. that you’re expressing yourself perfectly but just don’t like how we judge you for it.

    I point you to the words of the late great Bill Hicks:
    “I don’t mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that’s how it comes out”

    if I don’t argue for Israel’s […]right to […] have its people live in peace on their land[…]who will?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

  42. Dunc says

    Most of you probably think I’m a bad person maybe?

    But I’m really not.

    Dude, Hitler didn’t think he was a bad person. Do you really expect your own self-assessment to carry any weight with anybody?

    Also I use evidence and truth. I listen to same too.

    All available evidence indicates that none of these assertions are true. You cherry-pick and distort evidence, and you ignore counter-arguments and inconvenient facts. You endlessly repeat racist absurdities. You constantly engage in the most obscenely obvious sort of situational morality, whereby any action, no matter how atrocious, can be ignored if it’s committed by people you’ve decided are “good guys”, whilst the smallest crime committed by anybody even vaguely linked to anybody you’ve decided is a “bad guy” becomes further proof of their perfidy, and that of anybody else you decide to lump in with them on whatever half-assed ethno-religious basis you fancy.

    You are a terrible person, and you’re not even clever about it.

    Oh, and we’re not “pre-judging” you. The evidence is in, and has been carefully weighed. I’ve been reading your comments since the early days of ScienceBlogs and the Bad Astronomer, and you’ve always been a terrible person. The precise flavour of terrible has slowly changed over the years, but the basic problem remains the same. You think you’re a clever, sceptical person who carefully weighs the evidence to come to your position, but in reality, you’re a credulous moron with the moral development of a toddler. You were a credulous moron when you were an anti-Semitic climate change denier, and you’re still a credulous moron now that you’re a Zionist Islamophobe.

    When you find that everybody else constantly disagrees with you, it may be time to consider the possibility that it’s because you’re wrong.

  43. StevoR says

    Also y’know, I don’t hate Palestinians or Arabs or Persians / Iranians or Muslims (Sufi, Alawaite, Sunni or whatever else) either.

    I do loathe their ideology and the fifty year old. millennia dead brutal murderous child rapist war criminal warlord they idolise and adore. But not them. They can’t help being born into or brain washed into believing the tales of ancient hate they follow.

    Palestinians I pity. I pity and feel angry at and frustrated by They fucked up. So badly. Yup. Even worse than me multi-fold. Not all their fault but still what they did or their leaders did for them on their behalf.

    If only they’d chosen more wisely and done better.

    But no. By their own choice. Not mine. So many times.

    But yeah, its wrong to point this fundamental truth and all the facts on Israel’s side out here because .. well, you tell me ..?

  44. says

    If only the Palestinians didn’t fuck up by living on that land for centuries, building homes and family and history. If only they’d chosen more wisely and not lived on that land, or at least if they did, they shouldn’t have built homes and family and history. But no. By their own choice, they lived on that land for centuries.

  45. Holms says

    StevoR, you prove yourself to be a dishonest piece of shit every time you say garbage like:

    And if I don’t argue for Israel’s survival and right to defend itself and have its people live in peace on their land here then who will?

    After years of telling you that we are criticising Israeli policy but not their right to exist, the fact that you still imply (and sometimes openly state) otherwise can only be an intentional lie. Or abysmal stupidity I suppose.

    And the idea that you use ‘evidence and logic,’ along with the claim that you listen to the same, is laughable.

  46. Silentbob says

    I want to know what the link to U2 playing Van Dieman’s Land (@43) had to do with anything. :-/

    (He’s just drunk again I suppose.)

  47. lanir says

    @StevoR: I don’t think you’re a bad person. I was interested to note that I agree with you on some other threads. Just never on this topic.

    You seem to see yourself as someone filling a needed role as a verbal defender of Israel. Okay. The idea that someone could promote thought or even persuade others to a different opinion is not a bad one. There’s a reason modern legal systems have the idea of both sides having an advocate. But this is not what you are doing.

    Your comments are over the top. Your evidence is nonexistent because you make vast, sweeping defenses and vast, sweeping accusations. No evidence supports either tactic. You make false dichotomies of absolute pure good and absolute pure evil and pretend this accurately represents the real world. If your aim was to get more people to think like you do then you have overshot by quite a bit. I thought that if anything would alter your approach, pointing this out would have the best shot of doing it. I was hoping to see arguments I might disagree with but that would at least be interesting and thought provoking. That doesn’t seem to have worked.

    Perhaps you thought the questions I raised weren’t worth responding to. Or perhaps your goal isn’t the one you’d like to present to people. I don’t know. As has been pointed out repeatedly, the over use of the “anti-semitic” label as you and others have done has removed any real meaning from it. Like the boy who cried wolf, you say it over and over again to conjure phantasms and dark faerie tales apparently confident you’ll never really see one. I just hope you’re right about that if nothing else.

    Not tracking this thread after this post, maybe you’ll say something more interesting the next time this comes up.

  48. StevoR says

    @50. Silentbob : Correctly – and nothing wrong with that!

    Also a bloody good song. I didn’t mean to post it here – tend to listen to some music on youtube as I type away and why not – but if you enjoyed it, good & if ya didn’t well, that’s up to you..

    It would be great if we could edit comments here as I keep saying and yes, I know there’s preview and i do use that (okay sometimes ) and sometimes I also type comments into word and cut’n’paste but not always. Mea culpa.

  49. StevoR says

    @51. lanir : “Perhaps you thought the questions I raised weren’t worth responding to. “

    I have not yet seen your comments. Unfortunately I’ve been very busy in past few days with work and volunteering and life generally. I won’t promise to answer your questions here because, well, I haven’t seen them, thread’s getting days stale and yes, its still a very busy time for me right now but I will promise that I will read them and think about them – and thanks.

    For personal reasons of my own – notably some of the erroneous pro-Arabist crap I’ve said about Israel in my past incarnations – I do feel a strong moral obligation to defend Israel now.

  50. StevoR says

    @37. Holms : Which is why I used words to convey my meaning: that Israel is not identical to the original South African apartheid, but rather it is an example of the broader meaning of the word.

    Except apartheid does not have a”broader” meaning but only a specific and narrow one.

    Its like applying say Acacia pycnanatha to mean all Acacias from Africa and Australia and everywhere else combined when these are different trees.

  51. StevoR says

    @ ^ :

    1. The OP quotes articles claiming that the Israeli government is engaged in a propaganda effort called hasbara.

    The Hebrew term as, I understand it, means simply “explanation” – something that may well have been “lost in non-translation” as the great Isaac Asimov once noted. In Other Words, they are providing an explanation as they see it. You think this is unfair why exactly?

    I think “propaganda” like art and beauty and so much more is in the eyes of the beholder and subjective.

    Your “explanations” are what I consider “propaganada” and vice versa. We all have our personal biases and preferences and mile~ages and megaparsec~ages too naturally! No way round that really but awareness and striving against them which is always hard.

    So please, y’all, look at the facts and evidence and try to hear both sides of the story which, I don’t believe you’ve (or a lot of others) have really sincerely ever done please.

  52. John Morales says

    StevoR:

    So please, y’all, look at the facts and evidence and try to hear both sides of the story which, I don’t believe you’ve (or a lot of others) have really sincerely ever done please.

    There are stories, and there are facts. And it is the facts that refute your story.

    Fact is, Israel occupies foreign territories, but no foreign powers occupy Israeli territories.

    You frequently adduce Wikipiedia as a factual source, so:

    The following is a list of United Nations resolutions that concern both Israel and Palestine and bordering states such as Lebanon. As of 2013, Israel had been condemned in 45 resolutions by United Nations Human Rights Council since its creation in 2006—the Council had resolved almost more resolutions condemning Israel than on the rest of the world combined. The 45 resolutions comprised almost half (45.9%) of all country-specific resolutions passed by the Council, not counting those under Agenda Item 10 (countries requiring technical assistance)
    […]
    The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a number of resolutions saying that the strategic relationship with the United States encourages Israel to pursue aggressive and expansionist policies and practices.[3] The 9th Emergency Session of the General Assembly was convened at the request of the Security Council when the United States blocked efforts to adopt sanctions against Israel.

    Reality contradicts your story.

  53. John Morales says

    StevoR:

    Except apartheid does not have a”broader” meaning but only a specific and narrow one.

    Funny how you didn’t earlier dispute my contention that Israel ghettoises the inhabitants of its occupied territories.

    On the specific claim you made, Wikipedia refutes it with this disambiguation page.

    (Were you a mensch, you would not thus dispute reality)

  54. John Morales says

    Finally, StevoR, you should not keep using Israel as a metonym for the Jewish people. The one is a State, the other an ethnic, cultural and religious category.

  55. Holms says

    Except apartheid does not have a”broader” meaning but only a specific and narrow one.

    Open any dictionary at all, and you will see multiple entries for ‘apartheid’:
    http://www.dictionary.com/browse/apartheid?s=t
    1. (in the Republic of South Africa) a rigid former policy of segregating and economically and politically oppressing the nonwhite population.
    2. any system or practice that separates people according to color, ethnicity, caste, etc.

    Oh look at that, a narrow definition describing the prior South African government, and a broad definition in which the historical example is generalised. And as pointed out in my eariler replies, your own source displays this broad definition! Which I pointed out to you in post 11! Which you then quoted and replied to in your post 12! Sadly though, your reply made it clear that you didn’t bother checking for yourself, you only replied so that you could put your bias on display by blowing off the point being made.

    …So please, y’all, look at the facts and evidence and try to hear both sides of the story which, I don’t believe you’ve (or a lot of others) have really sincerely ever done please.

    Extremely rich, given the above paragraph in which I point out an example of you ignoring even your own source. You hear what you want to hear – the stuff that matches your current beliefs – and the rest is thrown away.

  56. John Morales says

    Holms, alas, I think StevoR doesn’t think he’s ignoring those pesky facts, he thinks he’s accounting for them as unfortunate but necessary epiphenomena of the righteous struggle for the Jewish people (aka Israel) merely to survive the pure malevolence of Islam in general and Arabs in particular.

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