Sunday, September 28, 2008

From Pallywood to the Hollycaust

The Reuters picture above was at the center of a scandal during the war Israel unleashed on Lebanon in 2006, killing 1,191 civilians to avenge a border incident in which exactly zero civilians were killed. The photo was digitally edited, and smoke was added to it to increase the dramatic effect of the Israeli bombing of Beirut. As can be seen, the image would appear tu suggest that, as a result of the Israeli bombs, several buildings in the Lebanese capital burned.

And burn they did, since the picture is the original, not the doctored, one (to compare both, see here; I personally find the undoctored one more impressive). That is, the original photo, on its own, already conveyed a high level of destruction, and the edited image doesn't actually add much dramatism to the scene, which may be indicative of the photo editor's incompetence, but may also indicate the magnitude of the destruction perpetrated by Israel (which was so extensive it was difficult to "enhance").

That notwithstanding, the picture has been widely circulated by the Zionists, who try to establish that if this photo was doctored (even when the "value added" of the edition was irrelevant), all the Israel-inculpating graphic material coming from the Middle East is suspect.

In fact, this is part of a strategy of "denouncing" what they call Pallywood, a name taken from a video by Richard Landes (see it here), which exposes Palestinian journalists and other sources who doctored graphic material, faked war actions that didn't take place, simulated death or injury, etc.

The first thing that strikes one on watching Pallywood is how unimpressive the dramatizations are. Chaotic scenes are shown with people who pretend to have been hit by bullets, persons dragged away from the scene like they were severely injured, etc.; but nothing abnormal in a state of war. The distortion lies in the fact that the actions shown didn't happen, not in any particularly atrocious Israeli behavior being shown. No indictment of the Israeli war conduct could be made based on scenes from Pallywood. This contrasts strongly with the CERTIFIED scenes of Israeli atrocities, like shooting a handcuffed and blindfolded prisoner (video), using a 13-year-old boy as a human shield (photo), punching a student at a checkpoint (video), blowing up the door of a house injuring a woman and leaving her to die while the soldiers tear apart the house's rooms (video), or, in the case of the settlers, brutally clubbing elderly Palestinians, wearing masks that are distrubingly reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan (story and video).

That said, it's undoubtedly wrong for pictures and videos to be doctored, and we agree with Hasbara that such journalistic behavior is unacceptable.

But we don't agree at all with the conclusion they reach: that if the Palestinians lied in the scenes of Pallywood, then they may have lied in all other videos indicting the Israelis. Drawing general conclusions from a careful selection of facts is a well-known rhetorical trick that does not confer any validity on those conclusions.

Unfortunately, Zionists are not alone in using that trick. They are in the dishonorable company of Holocaust deniers, who have pointed to inconsistencies and lies regarding that genocide, and therefore "conclude" that there was no Holocaust.

For instance, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of the bulwarks of Holocaust memory preservation, was adding smoke to photographs well before Reuters entered the business.

We can check out that reprehensible behavior using Wayback Machine, an archive that keeps webpages for further use by researchers, even if the page is taken down. Let's see what happened with a SWC page whose history is here. As can be seen, the page was up for the first time in 1999, and was taken down in 2006.

If we access the 18 Nov 1999 version, we see this image:

With the dramatic caption:

As these prisoners were being processed for slave labor, many of their friends and families were being gassed and burned in the ovens in the crematoria. The smoke can be seen in the background.

The smoke is really heart-wrenching. Too bad that, unlike that in Beirut, it was not enhanced: it didn't even exist.

The fraud was noticed by the Holocaust deniers, who in this page denounced the SWC with great sarcasm.

Having been exposed, the Wiesenthal Center replaced the photo with the actual one, as can be seen in the 4 Dec 2000 version:

With the caption:

As these prisoners were being processed for slave labor, many of their friends and families were being gassed and burned in the ovens in the crematoria.

No reference to the former smoke.

In contrast with Reuters, who apologized for their mistake, never did the SWC acknowledge to have doctored the picture, in what we could well term the Hollycaust: edition techniques aimed at making the Holocaust look more spectacular. Of course, the world press did not accord the least importance to this fraud, thus betraying its double standards, since the Beirut doctored photos got an immense and universal coverage (and Zionists don't exercise any control whatsoever over the media!).

But it may be said this picture is anecdotal evidence. There are other examples, however.

All of you know that the Nazis made soap from Jews. For instance, we read in an emotive story about two elderly Holocaust survivors:

Freda was also in Auschwitz, and she spotted David through a wire fence. The women had more food than the men and Freda smuggled soup and bread underneath a wire fence to nourish her starving husband.

"That lasted only a few days," Freda said. "Then David disappeared. I didn't know about him and he didn't know about me."

David was shipped out to another work camp where he was forced to make soap from Jewish bodies.

Well: David lied (although, arguably, unaware of it). Never did the Nazis make soap from the Jews. In 1991 Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer concluded beyond reasonable doubt that it was an unfounded myth. In his eloquent words:

One has to fight wrong perceptions of the Holocaust, even if large numbers of survivors accept them as true. It is not as though the Nazis were not capable of this atrocity [i.e. making soap from Jewish bodies] -- they certainly were -- but they, factually, did not do it.

Holocaust deniers hold on to this to claim that, if the most-often repeated Holocaust anecdote is false, then doubt may be cast on the whole Holocaust concept.

Zionists copycat that technique, and claim that if the actions shown in Pallywood are false, then there's no oppression of the Palestinians, or apartheid in Palestine.

It is true that, as they say in French politics, extremes touch.

Monday, September 22, 2008

MEMRI woes

Those of us who, in our extreme antisemitism, read AntiWar and Counterpunch on a daily basis are used to their periodical "pledge weeks," in which readers are urged to contribute money, lest both sites have to close up shop and neocons are finally free to take over the Earth. But guess who, across the aisle, is also asking for their audience's charity? That's right: MEMRI. When I learned about it, I said to myself, "Hey, why not donate? I give my full support to free speech, and providing high quality translations of carefully selected items from the Muslim countries' media to make them appear as barbarians is, after all, free speech."

And it looks like they're in sore need of the money. The Middle East Media Research Institute has, in fact, issued an urgent appeal in the following terms:

As a reader of MEMRI, you are familiar with our continued efforts over the past decade to 'Bridge the Language Gap Between the Middle East and the West.' This undertaking is no longer possible.

At this critical point,we urge you to Help MEMRI continue its operations [Donate online at (URL for donations)]

  • Over the past decade, MEMRI has accumulated the largest open archives of translations and analysis from Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, and Urdu primary sources. These archives include tens of thousands of pages of reports and over 15,000 minutes of translated TV clips from Arab and Iranian TV channels.
  • MEMRI releases, on average, over 10 major reports every week, and updates its nine websites and blogs with new information on a daily basis.

The Institute goes on to detail the importance of its selfless efforts:


  • The U.S. Armed Forces - Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.
  • Federal departments and agencies such as the The White House, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Transportation, and others.
  • State and local authorities in all 50 states, on homeland security issues.
  • Over 500 academic institutions throughout the world. This includes every state in the U.S. as well as 172 countries worldwide.
  • And the public at large.

While the Israel advocacy community can be technically considered part of "the public at large," it's puzzling that they got no specific mention. One can't imagine more avid users of MEMRI than Zionist bloggers and other Hasbara peddlers, yet for some reason they were not given the beneficiary status they deserved.

Also, it's surprising that all the government agencies that are supposed to be benefitting from MEMRI are American. Israeli agencies are completely missing from the list. This is strange, since it seems that Israelis comprise a large part of MEMRI's readership. In fact, on its languages page, where non-English speakers are redirected to the MEMRI site translated into their own language, short explanations of what MEMRI is are given in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, German, and Spanish -- but not in Hebrew (i.e. Hebrew readers are supposed to be familiar with MEMRI, unlike the others). Also, the Hebrew version has an Israeli domain (, while none of the other versions has a national domain.

That aside, before donating I decided to check out some of MEMRI's reasons why I should let go of my cash. MEMRI claims to 'Bridge the Language Gap Between the Middle East and the West'. As far as I know, Israel is a country in the Middle East, and Hebrew is spoken there, but for some reason MEMRI doesn't provide translations from Hebrew. For instance, when Israel abducted Omar Barghouti, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported:

במצור הראשוני על הבית השתתפו חיילי גדוד מחטיבת שריון ומחלקת חיילים מגדוד החי"ר דוכיפת
חיילי דוכיפת נדחסו לאמבולנס ממוגן כדי להגיע במהירות האפשרית לבית שבו הסתתר ברגותי ולסגור אותו מכל עבריו
על המבצע פיקד מג"ד השריון

Which means:

The initial siege of the house involved soldiers from a battalion of an armored brigade, and soldiers from the Dukhifat infantry battalion. The Dukhifat soldiers were squeezed into a protected ambulance in order to arrive as quickly as possible at the house where Barghouti was hiding, and to seal it off. The head of the armoured battalion commanded the operation.

Since this paragraph did not show up on Haaretz's online English version, its translation would have been very important for us language-impaired Westerners, because we would have learned that the Israelis do exactly what they accuse the Palestinians of, i.e. using ambulances for military purposes.

But for some reason MEMRI did not see it necessary to bridge this particular language gap.

Another reason to help out MEMRI can be found in its mission statement, according to which the Institute was founded

in February 1998 to inform the debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East[;] MEMRI is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501 (c)3 organization.

It's good to see people informing debates, but is that MEMRI's actual goal? Well... not entirely. Back when it was founded, MEMRI's statement read somewhat different:

In its research, the institute puts emphasizes [sic] the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel.

This crucial phrase is now missing. (By the way, why would they claim to champion other causes when they mean Israel? Intellectual dishonesty? Self-hate? I will call it by its true name: antisemitism.)

So that after looking if they really bridged linguistic gaps, and finding that they did so only selectively; and after checking out if they were sincere about their goals, and finding that they weren't, I decided not to donate to MEMRI. I give my full support to free speech, not to liars.


Hat tips to practically everyone on the web, but particularly to:

Lawrence of Cyberia, for reporting on the Haaretz story and providing the translation;

Arab Media Watch, for unearthing MEMRI's original mission statement;

Wayback Machine, for preserving old web pages with the skeletons some people would like to hide in their virtual closets;

and, hold your breath,

Little Green Footballs for making me aware of MEMRI's drive to make handsome profits from scared American Jews.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Who walked away from what

"Barak offered the Palestinians 97 percent of the West Bank, and Arafat walked away from the negotiations." How many times have you read this? For supplementary dramatic effect, it is often added "... without even bothering to make a counterproposal." The formula is indefatigably repeated with minor variations. Sometimes it's 93 percent, or 94, 95 or 98 percent (curiously, 96 percent is never mentioned), but the basic idea is that a generous offer was made and the Palestinians seized yet another opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Did they? First off let us take a look at the claim that they made no proposal of their own. This does not seem to be true. In an interview, Israeli negotiator Shlomo Ben Ami had this to say:

[A]t Camp david I did chance to see some sort of Palestinian map. It was a map that reflected a concession of less than 2 percent on their part in return for a territorial swap in a 1:1 ratio. But the territories they wanted from us were not in the Halutza dunes, they wanted them next to the West Bank. I remember that according to their map, Kochav Yair, for example, was supposed to be included in the territory of the Palestinian state; they demanded sovereignty over Kochav Yair.

No matter how deep in his statement he tries to bury the word "map," the concrete fact is that this man did get to see one -- detailed enough to grasp which towns would be in the Palestinian state and which ones wouldn't. Only, he didn't like the proposal.

Of course, one may say that a negotiation is a negotiation, and you've always got to make concessions. But this particular negotiation was a land-for-peace one: this may be construed as all of the land for all of the peace, not some of the land for all of the peace. The Israelis telling the Palestinians "we'll give you most of your land but we'll retain this or that territory that used to be yours" is like the Palestinians telling the Israelis "we'll stop suicide bombings, but from time to time we'll throw a rocket or two on Sderot." Renouncing 2 pct of your own territory in exchange for a full commitment to peace looks to me a good enough concession.

But even if you disagree with that, is it true that Barak offered upwards of 90 pct of the West Bank to the Palestinians?

The maps would suggest otherwise. Here's what was offered at Camp David (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE):

Green is Palestinian, pink is Israeli, pink with horizontal lines is an Israeli-controlled security zone. Does green look like 93-98 percent to you? Nor does it to me. If I were a mathematician I would be able to make calculations and find out exactly what portion of the map would correspond to the Palestinian State.

But without getting into that detail, anyone who sees this map immediately realizes it's an unacceptable vision of a Palestinian state. It's not contiguous, to begin with: a wide corridor of Israeli settlements, running from west to east, cuts off the northern part from the southern section. Also, there are two settlement wedges that cut deep into Palestinian territory reaching the settlements of Shilo and Ofra, the latter of which was built on private Palestinian land by Israel's own admission. So that in practice, the northern section itself would be divided into three cantons with only partial contiguity.

How much of a land grab does this amount to? While Israel never gave official figures, after the negotiations failed Ehud Barak wrote an article in the New York Times in which he outlined what was needed for Israel's security. Wrote Ehud:

What Israel ought to do now is take steps to ensure the long-term viability of its Jewish majority. That requires a strategy of disengagement from the Palestinians -- even unilaterally if necessary -- and a gradual process of establishing secure, defensible borders, demarcated so as to encompass more than 80 percent of the Jewish settlers in several settlement blocs over about 15 percent of Judea and Samaria, and to ensure a wide security zone in the Jordan Valley.

Now annexing settlement blocs containing about 80 percent of the 180,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank was official Israeli policy all along during Camp David. This article clarifies, at last, the amount of land involved: 15 percent of Judea and Samaria, not 3 to 7 percent. Add to that the "wide security zone," and at the very least 20 percent of the West Bank would remain under Israeli control.

Small wonder the Palestinians walked away. The gulf between their offer of a 2 percent land concession and the Isreali demand of 20 percent was just too deep to be resolved in that negotiation.

However, the negotiations continued, and in December 2000-January 2001 Barak made a second offer in Taba. Here's the map (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE):

Now this looks like a 93-97 percent proposal. The settlement blocs are limited. There's territorial contiguity. The security zone in the Jordan Valley is gone. Why, then, did Arafat walk away from the Taba negotiation?

The answer is that he didn't. It was the Israelis who suspended the negotiations. On February 8, 2001, Barak's media advisor made a statement that:

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak clarified this evening that the ideas which were brought up in the course of the recent negotiations conducted with the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, including those raised at the Camp David Summit and by President Clinton towards the end of his term in office, are not binding on the new government to be formed in Israel.

Thus, there was an offer rejected by the Palestinians, but it was not of 93-97 percent of the West Bank; and there was a 93-97 percent offer, but it was not rejected by the Palestinians. This can be summarized in the following table:

Negotiation siteWhat was offeredWho walked away
Camp David80-85 pctthe Palestinians
Taba93-97 pctIsrael

By freely mixing the events that happened in Taba (i.e. Barak's 93-97 pct offer) with those that took place in Camp David (i.e. Arafat walking away from the negotiation), the Zionists manage to tell yet another half-truth that amounts to a full lie.

Friday, September 19, 2008

On the ambiguity of the English language

As a native speaker of Spanish, I find certain subtle distinctions missing in English. Take, for instance, the verb to know; it may mean "to know a fact" or "to know someone." Spanish differentiates between both meanings, the words used being saber and conocer, respectively. Similarly, the verb to ask may mean "to ask a question" (Spanish: preguntar) or "to ask for something" (Spanish: pedir), and the verb to cry may mean "to cry out loud" (Spanish: gritar) or "to cry with tears" (Spanish: llorar). The native speaker of English may not even understand the need for separate words to cover the different meanings, but to someone who comes from another language the absence of these distinctions is startling.

In this post, I would like to discuss yet another English word that has separate and not necessarily related meanings: antisemite.

Before I continue I must say I don't dispute I'm an antisemite under the current definition of the word. Of all the peoples in the world, I want to deny the Jews, and only the Jews, the right to self-determination in their ancestral land. To that effect, I have singled out Israel for demonization (again: under the current definition of this word), and I have never written a single word about the plight of the Tibetans in China.

Of course, I could argue (wicked people always argue things) that I would deny other peoples self-determination under similar circumstances. I would oppose, for instance, the Gypsies returning to the place in Northern India they're supposed to come from and creating a country after displacing 700,000 Sikhs (or whatever). To give a real, not hypothetical, example, I opposed the Afrikaners' right to self-determination in South Africa after they grabbed the best lands for themselves and dumped the blacks into the bantustans of Venda, Ciskei, Transkei and Bophuthatswana. But these are moot points. Apartheid South Africa doesn't exist anymore, no member of the British nobility has ever promised the Gypsies a national homeland and the Brits have ceased to control India in any event. So that in practice my only problem is with the Jews' self-determination (as is currently exercised) and I'm an antisemite under the definition of several international bodies. There's no disputing that.

However, the word antisemite had an earlier meaning which continues to be in use. Many people, especially the younger generations, will be surprised to learn about it, but it's actually still being used. An antisemite used to be someone who hated the Jews as a whole. Those people would oppose having a Jewish neighbor, or their children marrying Jews. They would try to avoid working with Jews, they would never lend them money (allthough they might take loans from them), and they would support different forms of social and economic discrimination against Jews. Under the proper circumstances (war, invasions, crises, etc.), they would torch synagogues, loot Jewish property and actually kill Jews, or help those who undertook the killings.

These paleo-antisemites (let's neologize a bit) have by no means ceased to exist. Curiously, many of them don't oppose Jewish self-determination in Israel. In fact, I know quite a few Argentinian antisemites who would be very happy to see all Jews emigrating to Israel after having their citizenship revoked and their property confiscated.

Well, and here's my proposal: English needs separate words to describe these two different groups of people. It might be antisemite and contrasemite, for instance. Or antisemite and antihebrew. Or (gasp!) antisemite and anti-Zionist. With regard to the latter proposal, I don't oppose the word antisemite being used to describe me, and anti-Zionist to describe someone who beats a Jew because he's a Jew. (That is, I don't want to deprive anyone of the pleasure of calling me an antisemite; I don't mean to deny the Jewish people this right as well.)

But one thing is certain: the same word can't be used to describe both us, the ones who want to deny the Jews, and only the Jews, the right to self-determination, and them, the ones who only want to burn down synagogues, stab Jews and drive them out of their countries. It's simply not fair to them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Who celebrated on 9/11?

Of course, all those Palestinians in the street did. And no, it wasn't a doctored video, nor were they images from an event that had happened years before. On the day of the destruction of the Twin Towers, the Palestinians (some Palestinians, anyway) celebrated and handed out candy and there's no disputing that (well, actually I'm not sure about the candy, but candy handout allegations are a staple of reports on Palestinians celebrating atrocities).

But apart from them, did anyone else celebrate?

Well, I can think of quite a few people. In my country, Argentina, many people reacted with feelings that ranged from approval to outright exultation upon seeing the towers fall. I was perplexed to watch the newscasts that afternoon and learn about the "deep grief" of the Argentinian people at the news, and their solidarity with the Americans. My foot. But then I remembered that Argentina is a civilized country where the truth is conditioned by political correctness. That's why there was no candy handout, and not a word on the newscasts about the Argentinians' true opinions about the attack -- opinions anyone who listened to conversations in bars could have reported.

But more to the point, there were Israelis who were very happy that the World Trade Center had been attacked.

Although it may sound like one more conspiracy theory to claim that five Israelis were seen filming the burning towers and celebrating, in this particular case it looks like it really happened. Two of the Israelis were suspected of being spies. One of them, Sivan Kurzberg, was photographed by his colleagues smiling with the towers in flames in the background and holding a lit lighter in his hand, as is customary in pop music concerts when a performance is particularly enjoyed.

Of course they were private individuals; no one's claiming that they were sent by the Israeli government to record the incident. But the question remains, how could any Israeli be happy that Israel's foremost ally was attacked? What explanation could there be?

Enter Binyamin Netanyahu, former PM of Israel and a firm candidate in the upcoming elections. On 12 Sep 2001, he had this to say on page A22 of the New York Times:

Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied, “It’s very good.”

Living, like me, in the hypocritical civilized world, Netanyahu immediately understood the potentially catastrophic consequences of his Freudian slip in terms of PR. So that the NYT story goes on to inform us:

Then he edited himself: "Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy." He predicted that the attack would "strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we've experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror."

He elaborated on the idea a bit more unabashedly in April 2008, when talking not to the Western press, but to Israeli students, before whom PC is not so conditioning:

The Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on Wednesday reported that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan university that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks had been beneficial for Israel.

"We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq," Ma'ariv quoted the former prime minister as saying. He reportedly added that these events "swung American public opinion in our favor."

So that we have a few irrelevant Palestinians in the street celebrating 9/11, and a very relevant Israeli politician also celebrating 9/11, but you've always heard about the former in the US media, and never about the latter (except in the chaotic first week, in which Netanyahu's words slipped into the NYT's print edition). After dismissing the antisemitic theory that the Zionists have any control of any kind over what the press reports, I'm left wondering what the reason could be for the unequal treatment of equally jubilant reactions to the fall of the Twin Towers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Celebrating one's own terrorists

A few weeks ago the Arab terrorist Sami Kuntar was released by Israel in exchange for the remains of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, two Israeli soldiers kidnapped and killed by Hizbullah. There has been much rage in Israel about the hero's welcome that Kuntar (who killed a 4-year-old girl by crushing her skull with his rifle's butt) received in Lebanon (although it must be noted that in Lebanon it is denied that he murdered the girl).

And all would be OK if it were not for the accompanying assertion that while the Arabs honor their terrorists, Israel doesn't. "Where are the official honors for Baruch Goldstein?," the reasoning goes.

In the first place we must observe that Israel is a country with an army. When you're a people without planes or tanks, it's quite hard to make a murder look like collateral damage. When you've got an army it's much easier. To put it crudely, any Israeli pilot, or soldier on a tank, can intentionally kill civilians and then claim he was targetting something else. It's his word against the Palestinians', and it is quite possible --I'm not saying certain, but possible-- that some of the soldiers who get military honors in Israel (who knows, maybe even Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser) are actually cold-blooded murderers.

But of course the point can be made that, in any event, Israeli soldiers are not honored in the knowledge that they willingly killed someone innocent.

However, before the creation of the State, certain Jews were involved in serious terroristic activity, willingly killing civilians. The Palestine Post archives can help us in finding a few examples. There, you can access scanned versions of all issues of what now is the Jerusalem Post.

For instance, on 19 Feb 1948 we find on the first page:

The bomb at the marketplace on the weekly market day was later claimed by the Irgun, a Jewish terrorist group.

On 1 Apr 1948, also on the first page, we can read:

As can be seen, the Stern gang, another Jewish terrorist group, was responsible for the mining of this train.

On 14 Dec 1947, among many stories of attacks against Arab civilians reported on the first page, we read:

This attack on a crowded lane between a movie theater and a café was perpetrated by the Irgun (in the article called IZL, Irgun Zvai Leumi).

But of course, we know that both the Irgun and the Stern gang were repudiated by the Israeli society, weren't they?


In 1980, the State of Israel honored the terrorists that killed 40 Arabs on a train and 6 Arabs in a marketplace and another 6 Arabs in the street (among countless other atrocities) by awarding them State ribbons. Here's the Lehi (Stern gang) ribbon:

And here is the Irgun ribbon:

So that Israel honors its own terrorists, just like the Palestinians do; it only hopes people won't notice. But in the Internet world, with all that scanned evidence scattered all over the web, relying on the people's bad memory may not be so good an idea.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What is Hasbara?

The word Hasbara means "explanation" in Hebrew. In actual English usage, it refers to the efforts by the Israeli government, pro-Israel pundits and a considerable bunch of useful idiots (mostly bloggers) to justify Israel's behavior and slander the Palestinians, the Arabs in general, and, if necessary, the 1.3 billion followers of the Muslim faith.

Hasbara employs the usual techniques of all propaganda efforts: half-truths, decontextualized quotes, false claims made in the cynical hope that the readers won't bother to check them out, invalid analogies, and so on and so forth. One of its procedures is to tell a lie enough times that people will begin to believe it's true. Just like Goebbels did. Oh, I'm mentioning a Nazi in some vague connection with Israel; I'm an antisemite. By the way, the default method of Hasbara is calling all critics of Israel antisemites.

When one has been observing the Hasbara gang for some time, one (me!) realizes that they restrict themselves to performing a limited set of tricks over and over again, and it becomes easy to defeat them. I have exposed those tricks repeated times on Hasbara blogs. In some cases I was eventually blocked from participating; in other cases I was met with more than my share of ad-hominem attacks; in one case (this) I was politely treated as a human being with a different opinion.

One day I found I had gathered quite an impressive file of counter-Hasbara arguments, and I decided to start my own blog, which I did in my mother tonge, Spanish. Here's the English version, which will consist mostly (but not exclusively) of translated versions of the original Spanish-language articles from my other blog.