Posts Tagged ‘Hasbara Deconstruction Site’

News has come out, which normal people with eyes have seen anyway, that some IDF soldiers have admitted that killing civilians was routine and they knew it. Haaretz has started a series of the accounts, but I urge you to visit Richard Silverstein’s blog, where he translates the bits the English Edition didn’t really want others to see, the worst parts, obviously… and they are revolting.

Yet, for the moment, I’m not going to address this issue. I’ll wait until the MFA lie factory comes out with their excuses. In the meantime, I present another side to the fun and games that is life as an Israel soldier, and that is, the company unit t-shirts that they wear for bonding reasons. If anyone has any doubts about the Morals of this Moral Army, read this article from Haaretz written by Uri Blau. No Virgins No Terror Attacks shows the utter banality of evil.

‘No virgins, no terror attacks’
The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit’s insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. Elsewhere on the premises, the sketches are turned into plates used for imprinting the ordered items, mainly T-shirts and baseball caps, but also hoodies, fleece jackets and pants. A young Arab man from Jaffa supervises the workers who imprint the words and pictures, and afterward hands over the finished product.

Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques – these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription “Better use Durex,” next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter’s T-shirt from the Givati Brigade’s Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, “1 shot, 2 kills.” A “graduation” shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, “No matter how it begins, we’ll put an end to it.”

There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, “Bet you got raped!” A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies – such as “confirming the kill” (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim’s head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.

In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit’s commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, “We won’t chill ’til we confirm the kill” were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn’t exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.

The slogan “Let every Arab mother know that her son’s fate is in my hands!” had previously been banned for use on another infantry unit’s shirt. A Givati soldier said this week, however, that at the end of last year, his platoon printed up dozens of shirts, fleece jackets and pants bearing this slogan.

“It has a drawing depicting a soldier as the Angel of Death, next to a gun and an Arab town,” he explains. “The text was very powerful. The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab, and the soldier felt so bad that he told the girl at the counter to bring them to him.”

Does the design go to the commanders for approval?

The Givati soldier: “Usually the shirts undergo a selection process by some officer, but in this case, they were approved at the level of platoon sergeant. We ordered shirts for 30 soldiers and they were really into it, and everyone wanted several items and paid NIS 200 on average.”

What do you think of the slogan that was printed?

“I didn’t like it so much, but most of the soldiers wanted it.”

Many controversial shirts have been ordered by graduates of snipers courses, which bring together soldiers from various units. In 2006, soldiers from the “Carmon Team” course for elite-unit marksmen printed a shirt with a drawing of a knife-wielding Palestinian in the crosshairs of a gun sight, and the slogan, “You’ve got to run fast, run fast, run fast, before it’s all over.” Below is a drawing of Arab women weeping over a grave and the words: “And afterward they cry, and afterward they cry.” [The inscriptions are riffs on a popular song.] Another sniper’s shirt also features an Arab man in the crosshairs, and the announcement, “Everything is with the best of intentions.”

G., a soldier in an elite unit who has done a snipers course, explained that, “it’s a type of bonding process, and also it’s well known that anyone who is a sniper is messed up in the head. Our shirts have a lot of double entendres, for example: ‘Bad people with good aims.’ Every group that finishes a course puts out stuff like that.”

When are these shirts worn?

G. “These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out. Sometimes people will ask you what it’s about.”

Of the shirt depicting a bull’s-eye on a pregnant woman, he said: “There are people who think it’s not right, and I think so as well, but it doesn’t really mean anything. I mean it’s not like someone is gonna go and shoot a pregnant woman.”

What is the idea behind the shirt from July 2007, which has an image of a child with the slogan “Smaller – harder!”?

“It’s a kid, so you’ve got a little more of a problem, morally, and also the target is smaller.”

Do your superiors approve the shirts before printing?

“Yes, although one time they rejected some shirt that was too extreme. I don’t remember what was on it.”

These shirts also seem pretty extreme. Why draw crosshairs over a child – do you shoot kids?

‘We came, we saw’

“As a sniper, you get a lot of extreme situations. You suddenly see a small boy who picks up a weapon and it’s up to you to decide whether to shoot. These shirts are half-facetious, bordering on the truth, and they reflect the extreme situations you might encounter. The one who-honest-to-God sees the target with his own eyes – that’s the sniper.”

Have you encountered a situation like that?

“Fortunately, not involving a kid, but involving a woman – yes. There was someone who wasn’t holding a weapon, but she was near a prohibited area and could have posed a threat.”

What did you do?

“I didn’t take it” (i.e., shoot).

You don’t regret that, I imagine.

“No. Whomever I had to shoot, I shot.”

A shirt printed up just this week for soldiers of the Lavi battalion, who spent three years in the West Bank, reads: “We came, we saw, we destroyed!” – alongside images of weapons, an angry soldier and a Palestinian village with a ruined mosque in the center.

A shirt printed after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for Battalion 890 of the Paratroops depicts a King Kong-like soldier in a city under attack. The slogan is unambiguous: “If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!”

Y., a soldier/yeshiva student, designed the shirt. “You take whoever [in the unit] knows how to draw and then you give it to the commanders before printing,” he explained.

What is the soldier holding in his hand?

Y. “A mosque. Before I drew the shirt I had some misgivings, because I wanted it to be like King Kong, but not too monstrous. The one holding the mosque – I wanted him to have a more normal-looking face, so it wouldn’t look like an anti-Semitic cartoon. Some of the people who saw it told me, ‘Is that what you’ve got to show for the IDF? That it destroys homes?’ I can understand people who look at this from outside and see it that way, but I was in Gaza and they kept emphasizing that the object of the operation was to wreak destruction on the infrastructure, so that the price the Palestinians and the leadership pay will make them realize that it isn’t worth it for them to go on shooting. So that’s the idea of ‘we’re coming to destroy’ in the drawing.”

According to Y., most of these shirts are worn strictly in an army context, not in civilian life. “And within the army people look at it differently,” he added. “I don’t think I would walk down the street in this shirt, because it would draw fire. Even at my yeshiva I don’t think people would like it.”

Y. also came up with a design for the shirt his unit printed at the end of basic training. It shows a clenched fist shattering the symbol of the Paratroops Corps.

Where does the fist come from?

“It’s reminiscent of [Rabbi Meir] Kahane’s symbol. I borrowed it from an emblem for something in Russia, but basically it’s supposed to look like Kahane’s symbol, the one from ‘Kahane Was Right’ – it’s a sort of joke. Our company commander is kind of gung-ho.”

Was the shirt printed?

“Yes. It was a company shirt. We printed about 100 like that.”

This past January, the “Night Predators” demolitions platoon from Golani’s Battalion 13 ordered a T-shirt showing a Golani devil detonating a charge that destroys a mosque. An inscription above it says, “Only God forgives.”

One of the soldiers in the platoon downplays it: “It doesn’t mean much, it’s just a T-shirt from our platoon. It’s not a big deal. A friend of mine drew a picture and we made it into a shirt.”

What’s the idea behind “Only God forgives”?

The soldier: “It’s just a saying.”

No one had a problem with the fact that a mosque gets blown up in the picture?

“I don’t see what you’re getting at. I don’t like the way you’re going with this. Don’t take this somewhere you’re not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs.”

After Operation Cast Lead, soldiers from that battalion printed a T-shirt depicting a vulture sexually penetrating Hamas’ prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by a particularly graphic slogan. S., a soldier in the platoon that ordered the shirt, said the idea came from a similar shirt, printed after the Second Lebanon War, that featured Hassan Nasrallah instead of Haniyeh.

“They don’t okay things like that at the company level. It’s a shirt we put out just for the platoon,” S. explained.

What’s the problem with this shirt?

S.: “It bothers some people to see these things, from a religious standpoint …”

How did people who saw it respond?

“We don’t have that many Orthodox people in the platoon, so it wasn’t a problem. It’s just something the guys want to put out. It’s more for wearing around the house, and not within the companies, because it bothers people. The Orthodox mainly. The officers tell us it’s best not to wear shirts like this on the base.”

The sketches printed in recent years at the Adiv factory, one of the largest of its kind in the country, are arranged in drawers according to the names of the units placing the orders: Paratroops, Golani, air force, sharpshooters and so on. Each drawer contains hundreds of drawings, filed by year. Many of the prints are cartoons and slogans relating to life in the unit, or inside jokes that outsiders wouldn’t get (and might not care to, either), but a handful reflect particular aggressiveness, violence and vulgarity.

Print-shop manager Haim Yisrael, who has worked there since the early 1980s, said Adiv prints around 1,000 different patterns each month, with soldiers accounting for about half. Yisrael recalled that when he started out, there were hardly any orders from the army.

“The first ones to do it were from the Nahal brigade,” he said. “Later on other infantry units started printing up shirts, and nowadays any course with 15 participants prints up shirts.”

From time to time, officers complain. “Sometimes the soldiers do things that are inside jokes that only they get, and sometimes they do something foolish that they take to an extreme,” Yisrael explained. “There have been a few times when commanding officers called and said, ‘How can you print things like that for soldiers?’ For example, with shirts that trashed the Arabs too much. I told them it’s a private company, and I’m not interested in the content. I can print whatever I like. We’re neutral. There have always been some more extreme and some less so. It’s just that now more people are making shirts.”

Race to be unique

Evyatar Ben-Tzedef, a research associate at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism and former editor of the IDF publication Maarachot, said the phenomenon of custom-made T-shirts is a product of “the infantry’s insane race to be unique. I, for example, had only one shirt that I received after the Yom Kippur War. It said on it, ‘The School for Officers,’ and that was it. What happened since then is a product of the decision to assign every unit an emblem and a beret. After all, there used to be very few berets: black, red or green. This changed in the 1990s. [The shirts] developed because of the fact that for bonding purposes, each unit created something that was unique to it.

“These days the content on shirts is sometimes deplorable,” Ben-Tzedef explained. “It stems from the fact that profanity is very acceptable and normative in Israel, and that there is a lack of respect for human beings and their environment, which includes racism aimed in every direction.”

Yossi Kaufman, who moderates the army and defense forum on the Web site Fresh, served in the Armored Corps from 1996 to 1999. “I also drew shirts, and I remember the first one,” he said. “It had a small emblem on the front and some inside joke, like, ‘When we die, we’ll go to heaven, because we’ve already been through hell.'”

Kaufman has also been exposed to T-shirts of the sort described here. “I know there are shirts like these,” he says. “I’ve heard and also seen a little. These are not shirts that soldiers can wear in civilian life, because they would get stoned, nor at a battalion get-together, because the battalion commander would be pissed off. They wear them on very rare occasions. There’s all sorts of black humor stuff, mainly from snipers, such as, ‘Don’t bother running because you’ll die tired’ – with a drawing of a Palestinian boy, not a terrorist. There’s a Golani or Givati shirt of a soldier raping a girl, and underneath it says, ‘No virgins, no terror attacks.’ I laughed, but it was pretty awful. When I was asked once to draw things like that, I said it wasn’t appropriate.”

The IDF Spokesman’s Office comments on the phenomenon: “Military regulations do not apply to civilian clothing, including shirts produced at the end of basic training and various courses. The designs are printed at the soldiers’ private initiative, and on civilian shirts. The examples raised by Haaretz are not in keeping with the values of the IDF spirit, not representative of IDF life, and are in poor taste. Humor of this kind deserves every condemnation and excoriation. The IDF intends to take action for the immediate eradication of this phenomenon. To this end, it is emphasizing to commanding officers that it is appropriate, among other things, to take discretionary and disciplinary measures against those involved in acts of this sort.”

Shlomo Tzipori, a lieutenant colonel in the reserves and a lawyer specializing in martial law, said the army does bring soldiers up on charges for offenses that occur outside the base and during their free time. According to Tzipori, slogans that constitute an “insult to the army or to those in uniform” are grounds for court-martial, on charges of “shameful conduct” or “disciplinary infraction,” which are general clauses in judicial martial law.

Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of “Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military,” said that the phenomenon is “part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome – the calm that never arrived – led to a further shift rightward.

“This tendency is most strikingly evident among soldiers who encounter various situations in the territories on a daily basis. There is less meticulousness than in the past, and increasing callousness. There is a perception that the Palestinian is not a person, a human being entitled to basic rights, and therefore anything may be done to him.”

Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?

Sasson-Levy: “No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the ‘Screw Haniyeh’ shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs.”

Col. (res.) Ron Levy began his military service in the Sayeret Matkal elite commando force before the Six-Day War. He was the IDF’s chief psychologist, and headed the army’s mental health department in the 1980s.

Levy: “I’m familiar with things of this sort going back 40, 50 years, and each time they take a different form. Psychologically speaking, this is one of the ways in which soldiers project their anger, frustration and violence. It is a certain expression of things, which I call ‘below the belt.'”

Do you think this a good way to vent anger?

Levy: “It’s safe. But there are also things here that deviate from the norm, and you could say that whoever is creating these things has reached some level of normality. He gives expression to the fact that what is considered abnormal today might no longer be so tomorrow.”

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Sick and starving animals soften Israeli hearts: There never is a limit to the absurd. In a period when Israelis approve of killing and starving human beings, they find enough compassion so that they can get animal feed into the Gaza Zoo. I found this piece in Israel 21C (the site that brags about the high tech of Israel) and was dumbstruck reading it. I will add a few comments within in Blue
Israeli animal charity sends aid to Gaza zoo
By Abigail Klein-Leichman   
Truckloads of food and medicine for lions, horses, donkeys, and other ill and hungry animals were among the relief supplies flowing into the Gaza Strip from Israel following the recent three-week war.

It was no easy feat getting help to the inhabitants of the Gaza Zoo and to other wild and domesticated creatures in an area hostile to the Jewish state.

Oh Gee, I wonder why it would be hostile to the Jewish State, especially now.

But Eti Altman, co-founder and spokeswoman of Israel’s largest animal-welfare organization, Let the Animals Live (LAL), is tenacious in her mission to alleviate suffering.

You will note the name of the organisation, which sounds so noble. I suppose the name of the organisation that represents Israel and the policy the absolute majority supports of bombing the living daylights out of Gaza as Let the People Die (LPD). I suppose alleviating suffering is important only for animals.

Since its beginnings in 1986, LAL has sheltered and found homes for 35,000 dogs and cats, neutered 50,000 strays, and provided veterinary care to thousands of abused horses, donkeys, crocodiles, dolphins, camels, and members of other species.

LAL’s lobbying efforts have resulted in Israeli legislation banning practices such as exportation of dogs and cats to the Philippines for food; “entertaining” dog fights and matches between men and crocodiles; baboon breeding for experiments; university laboratory experiments on monkeys; and the exploitation of wild animals by circus owners. It is also working to stop the importation of live animals for slaughter.

Again, it seems odd that since vegetarianism is not part of the canonical Jewish diet, it stands to reason that animals that are slaughtered first have to be alive. This might be another name for protectionism, but I was also under the impression that the strict dietary laws for observant Jews would seek to bring the animals in alive, so that the butcher could apply the correct steps to the slaughter. Oh well… this one will just remain a mystery to me.

Altman’s assistant general manager, Ilan Lusky, explains to ISRAEL21c that the organization first learned that lions in the Gaza Zoo were in distress at the end of 2007. Their food supply was limited because of blockades in the wake of attacks on Israeli border towns.

Now, how could they imagine that the king of the jungle would have its share of meat if there was nothing coming in even for humans? And, not to neglect, they have to insist in the propaganda that the blockade was caused by Palestinians… sure… sure.

Altman made phone call after phone call to Hamas government officials, determined to take the lions to a foster home in Israel. The offer was consistently refused.

Well, check that out! They were sure they could waltz right out of there with the animals in the zoo, and they expect us to believe they were calling Hamas officials to arrange it! That’s a mighty tall story!

Animals living in terrible conditions

But as the dawning of 2009 brought with it retaliatory Israeli raids on Gaza, Altman renewed her efforts to assist the zoo.

Double dose of propaganda: the war is called “retaliatory raids” and the dear activist is very worried about the occupants of the zoo, so compassionate are Israeli hearts…. Hamas would prefer, it is thus implied from the previous paragraph, to let the poor beasts die.

“We found out that the situation there was terrible,” says Lusky. “Many animals died in the bombings, and the remaining animals were living in poor conditions. We said, ‘Let’s put politics aside and take care of the animals.’ We were not giving up.”

This segment is so absurd, it really doesn’t deserve a comment. It speaks for itself.

Altman worked around refusals of direct aid by establishing contacts with government officials and Palestinian and international animal-relief groups such as Veterinary World Service. The Israeli Ministry of Defense granted permission for the entry of 30 truckloads of oats, hay, and veterinary supplies into Gaza. LAL volunteers brought in the goods over a period of weeks and transferred them to local Arabs for delivery. The last two trucks were dispatched on Tuesday.

An official “thank you” was neither forthcoming nor anticipated.

Are you laughing too?

“We’re not waiting for medals or prizes,” says Lusky. “Officially, they don’t want our help. But we did get thanked by our international partner groups, and we know from our Palestinian contacts that the donations went to the right places.”

It seems they feel bad about not getting thanked for the oats. But… the question begs, since when do lions eat oats?

LAL also launched a campaign to bring relief to pets affected on both sides of the conflict. Many pets were abandoned when their owners fled, or went hungry because they were unable to earn a living while under siege.

Again, the extent of the enormous human drama is not even hinted at… people fleeing, starving, unemployed and desperate under a seige worse than what would have been done in the middle ages. It’s the pets, folks, the pets have to be allowed to live, they don’t vote Hamas.

Pets deserted in bombed cities

During the war, Altman went to hard-hit southern Israeli cities with veterinarians and other volunteers to help local animal-welfare groups rescue homeless animals and distribute donated food. This initiative has extended beyond the ceasefire.

“There is an unbelievable situation with deserted pets in bombed cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon,” says Lusky. “These cities are trying to take of their people, and there is no money for the animals. Because of budgetary constraints, animals are at the bottom of the list.”

You read a sentence, “bombed cities”, you think of Gaza City, Khan Younis, Rafah… not to the LAL folks.

LAL’s shelter in Ramla houses 200 dogs and 70 cats, some of them war refugees. Lusky coordinates volunteers at the shelter, and welcomes help from tourists.

If LAL can raise enough money, it will set up free veterinary clinics in war-ravaged areas. In cooperation with Israeli pet supermarket Pet Point, it is offering emergency care packages for purchase through letlive.org.il.

And if donors are found to foot the bill of $170-$350 per truckload, LAL hopes to continue sending aid to the Gaza Zoo and to domestic animals in Gaza.

In fact, although offers to find new homes for Gazan animals in Israel still are being rebuffed, Altman dares to hope that a continuing relationship can ease hostilities.

And why should they give up their animals? To make a propaganda tool even bigger than the one of the lorryloads of oats? Wouldn’t access to food and supplies be the best solution for humans and animals? This is not something that the LAL people would consider, surely.

“In light of this humanitarian effort, I have no doubt we can save many of the animals in the place,” says Altman. “I am hoping that through the animals we will be able to draw the two sides closer together.”

For information on donating or volunteering, call Ilan Lusky, +972-3-624-1776, ext 5.

http://www.israel21c.org/bin/en.jsp?enDispWho=Articles%5El2462&enPage=BlankPage&enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=object&enVersion=0&enZone=Democracy&

A couple of days ago I wrote an article called Humiliating the USA an Israeli Hobby. As the title suggests, it was about the bizarre, inverted power relations between the mighty USA and the tiny State of Israel.

The article hinged on a recent boast by Prime Minister Olmert that he ordered the US President to abstain on Resolution 1860 in the UN Security Council.

I presume that report was accurate. The source was AFP. Major news agencies such as AFP are typically considered ‘reliable’ sources. Even so, we can never assume that any source is 100% reliable. Journalists can make mistakes. Their sources can be mistaken, or lie deliberately.

In the article, I made a brief reference to an older instance of the same type of bragging by an Israeli PM. Back in late 2001, Ariel Sharon was quoted as saying: “don’t worry about American pressure, we the Jewish people control America” in a conversation with then cabinet member Shimon Peres.

I reported this outrageous Sharon quotation story for two reasons: (1) I believed it was true, and (2) it was relevant to the story as a whole.

But is it really true? Two days ago, I thought so. Now I’m not so sure.

The main reason I’d believed the quotation to be accurate is because it was repeated on a number of websites that in other instances I’ve found to be useful and credible sources of information. In my article, I gave a link to Media Monitors. I could have chosen Mid-East Realities or the Washington Reports on Middle East Affairs. The latter, in particular, has a lot of invaluable material, especially of a historical nature.

I recall reading years ago that the veracity of this quotation is contested – and probably checked out CAMERA’s rebuttal at that time. But I hadn’t found the denial particularly persuasive. CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) is, after all, 100% biased towards Israel. Its own reputation for integrity is very poor.

But now, pushed to look deeper into the origins of this story (prompted by the editor of the Beyond the Fringe website who has a refreshing appetite for accuracy), I’ve learnt more about the original report on which the other reports were based. The story seems to have come from only one source: the Islamic Association For Palestine (IAP). It’s a source that’s clearly biased to the Palestinian cause. That’s not to say it was lying about the story – or in error. But I can’t be sure.

CAMERA claims the Hebrew language radio channel Kol Yisrael – which IAP claimed ran the report of Sharon’s remarks on air – denies that it ever happened. IAP itself is no longer operating; at least, it’s website is down. Not surprising really. In 2006, the pro-Zionist website FrontPageMag.com gloated:

Terrorism expert Steven Emerson characterized IAP as Hamas’ “primary voice in the United States.” The former chief of the FBI’s counter-terrorism department, Oliver Revell, called IAP “a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants.”

In December 2004, a federal judge in Chicago ruled that IAP (along with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, or HLF), was liable for a $156 million lawsuit for having aided and abetted Hamas in the West Bank killing of a 17-year-old American citizen named David Boim. IAP thereafter had its assets frozen by the U.S. government and was shut down on grounds that it was funding terrorism.

Hmmm. That’s one way to knock out ideological enemies, I guess. Of course, if Palestinian minors were ever valued on a similar basis, the US national debt would double overnight.

All in all, I now feel it’s not possible to use the Sharon quotation with confidence that’s it’s accurate. There are too many unknowns. At least, that’s my current view. I reserve the right to change it again if new information becomes available.

This is not an unusual case. It’s quite typical of the difficulties of working through conflicting narratives of the conflict over Palestine, trying to make sense out of apparent confusion.

I find the following distinctions are useful:

1. Information (accurate and truthful)

2. Misinformation (inaccurate, although promulgated with truthful intent)

3. Disinformation (inaccurate and promulgated with dishonest intent)

It’s common to encounter all three of these in discussions about Palestine and Zionism. Working out which is which is too time consuming for most people, even if they had sufficient interest.

Of course, ‘most people’ believe (or hope) that they don’t need to do their own analysis. They trust the mass media to do it for them. That’s a big problem. The western mass media’s longstanding Zionist bias is shocking.

Another recent case of pro-Palestinian misinformation – or possibly disinformation – was a video that flashed around the web in early January. I saw it first on another website and reposted in A Surgical Strike: The Palestinian View on January 2nd.

Almost immediately, a local Zionist posted a comment complaining that I was using fake material. This is what he wrote:

“What no acknowledgment Syd that this video has now been removed from all other credible sites on the web, including pro-palestinian, because it is a fraud which shows the explosion of Hamas rockets at an Hamas rally in 2005” Update: THIS VIDEO IS MISLEADINGI was deceived by the video I grabbed and uploaded from here. The video was not taken on January 1st 2009. It was not taken in a civilian market, and it was not the result of an IDF air strike.

This video is from September 23rd 2005, and was taken in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. A Hamas pick-up truck carrying Qassam rockets detonated by mistake during a Hamas rally, leaving at least 15 killed and dozens more injured.

In recent days there has been some debate about the video in question by wiser heads than mine. The consensus seems to be that the footage was indeed not from the current conflict in Gaza. Score One to the Zionists.

However, I was only concerned in my post to present an indication of the utter horror on the ground from a Palestinian perspective – to contrast it with an Israeli-style high-tech, sanitized and unemotional perspective on killing fellow human beings. It was fairly easy to find another, valid current video from the conflict as a replacement. That’s what I did. I didn’t post the annoying Zionist comment at the time. This is my blog and I am not here to do favours to Zionist apologists. They don’t get a bad run for their anti-human views in the mass media. I intend to help to redress the imbalance.

Nevertheless, honesty matters. It matters a lot. In the end, honesty is crucial to those who want a healed world based on truth and reconciliation. Hence this article.

It’s worth noting that, at the time this video was first posted, Israel was blocking all mass media’s access to Gaza. Reports of the horror inside the crowded strip of land were necessarily scant and below professional standards. That’s what un-embedded journalism from a real war zone is like.

As for Ariel Sharon and his notorious brag, who knows whether he said it or not? Even if it’s possible to get an accurate transcript of the initial radio report (I doubt that), the story itself could have been based on a false or exaggerated report.

The comments allegedly made by Ariel Sharon were allegedly directed at Shimon Peres. Perhaps they’re the only ones who know for sure what was said?

Sharon is not talking these days. President ‘Sir’ Peres can talk (and some!), but has a track record of lying on crucial issues that’s at least half a century long. The ‘facts’ of that particular matter may never be clear.

There’s something else to bear in mind. Even if Sharon’s ‘We control America’ quotation is disinformation (that is, a deliberate lie), we can’t necessarily conclude Palestinians are authors of the deceit. It’s a possibility of course, but it’s also possible that Zionists seed these false quotations, rather like the Martin Luther King fake quotation that I reported on previously.

Why would they do that? Why might some of the Zionist strategists think it’s a good idea to have quotations circulating widely on the web that make Sharon sound even more obnoxious than he actually was?

I can think of a few reasons. First, they will assume that most people will never see the quotes, which would be generally avoided by the mass media (even if accurate). Those who do see the quotations fall into a few camps. There’ll be those who think it’s fine that Israel does control America. Others will be shocked – but scared to say anything about it. In their case, the quotation may help freeze them up with just a little more fear.

Then there are folk like me, who are very pissed off indeed with the Zionists and what they’ve been up to. We’re so angry, in fact, that we blog about these subjects regularly. Quotes like Sharon’s ‘We control America’ are tempting to use if they seem credible.

IF these quotations turn out to be false, it gives the Zionists a ‘gotcha’ moment.

On a bulletin board or forum, a discussion about the horrors of Israeli strikes on Gaza can easily degenerate into a squabble over the accuracy of a single quotation. The very concern that many people have (and rightly so!) for accuracy and truth, can be used to distract us from the really significant facts of the moment.

A Truth & Reconciliation Commission was established in post-Apartheid South Africa to help its people face up to a sordid past and establish a truthful basis for peaceful co-existence.

The equivalent in post-Apartheid Palestine will face a challenge of considerably greater complexity.

http://sydwalker.info/blog/2009/01/18/smoke-mirrors-and-the-fog-of-endless-war/

thanks to Niki for highlighting this! http://nikiraapana.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-01-23T12%3A43%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=7