Repressing Support For Palestine’s Basic Human Rights: A Brief Examination of The Long Reach of Israel’s Invasive Propaganda Lobby
By TheAngryindian – 06.30.2011
‘Be nice to the whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity’.
- Desmond Tutu
Listeners of Aboriginal Press News Service Public Radio (APNSPR) may have learned by now that certain blog posts of specific podcast shows, as well as our Feedburner-maintained RSS feeds, have been ‘cancelled out’ by Google’s censorship people without any explanation. We have received no notice from the team at Blogspot, (as we usually have during service interruptions and other problems) as to why this was done. Visitors to http://aboriginalpressradio.blogspot.com/ will be presented with a blank post column and limited access to archived posts which includes listings of our previously published programmes. So far, our other web portals have not been subjected to this level of censorship and we have no idea how long this situation will last.
As I write this, American citizens participating in the current peace mission to bring pacifist humanitarian aid to the people of The Gaza via another international convoy of ships from several countries is being threatened by the Israeli security state and told in no uncertain terms that they cannot expect any assistance from their governments in the event of an international crisis. It was well-known that we were seeking to connect with international representatives participating in the action to forward us audio reports via Skype from the peace flotilla and we now believe that our ‘cancelling’ was enacted to prevent these communications from happening.
Why is a podcast like APNSPR facing such censorship? We wondered about this ourselves since our focus is primarily geared towards deconstructing issues concerning Indigenous/First Nations human and territorial-rights; anti-African institutional racism in the US; anti-misogyny and genocide prevention/education. We work very hard to provide accurate news and opinion information to the Indigenous communities of the Fourth World not served by the mainstream corporate-owned media. We also stress issues that are important to the African Diaspora, labour and other peoples and communities that suffer marginalisation and social separatism due to political, social religious and economic injustice. We do not limit ourselves by political partisanship or arbitrary concepts such as ‘race’ or ‘religion’ and we address all forms of injustice whenever and wherever they occur as a matter of Indigenist principle. The APNS and ANG has always argued in favour of non-violent, intelligent personal protest efforts. Meaning, that we demand the right to be who we are culturally right where we stand, because we know that in this way we prove the power of Indigenous intellectualism and human compassion over xenophobia and the latent social marginalisations of Europocentric colonialism.
In other words, we are decent Indigenous and African folks working earnestly for a world free of human exploitation, economic destitution and social aggression. Despite this, we have noticed a distinct and concerted effort over the years on the part of ‘someone’ to marginalise certain APNS and ANG articles, podcasts and other news items that are independent, investigative and objectively critical of the State of Israel in regards to its internal and external colonial policies towards the Indigenous Arab population of Palestine. It has been made very clear to us here at APNS that someone has pressured Google to prevent our humbly produced, totally unfunded, commercial-free, Creative Commons licensed podcast from being heard. Without jumping to conclusions and after soberly reviewing the regular news items, editorial posts and APNS talk-radio podcast entries that have been removed from view, it is abundantly clear that each post or podcast to one degree or another pointed out or discussed Israel’s brutal mistreatment of that region’s Arab population and their non-violent Israeli and international supporters. We have long suspected that the Hasbara propaganda machine was interested in stymying our reporting efforts, and for now, they have succeeded. So much for respect in the US for democracy, free-speech and human dignity at home and abroad.
Our efforts as Indigenous and African activists centre around creating authentic systems of intelligent and frank dialogue concerning Indigenous genocide, institutional racism, Europocentric colonialism and how these ‘isms’ relate to modern society and the state of the global community. As experienced human-rights/Indigenous/Afrocentric activists we do not expect to be readily welcomed as ‘friends’ by those committed to maintaining these social barriers. But I must admit that for the first time in my personal blogging career I am left quite speechless by the callousness and reach of the Zionist lobby and its undue influence on the mainstream and alternative news reportage we receive about the desperate plight of the Palestinian people. Further, I am also extremely dismayed, confused and disenchanted with Team Google for capitulating to such unfair silencing, without notice, cause or discussion, because we have decided as an independent information resource to address the operative social and political dynamics behind western colonialism in modern Palestine.
‘Those who invest in South Africa should not think they are doing us a favor; they are here for what they get out of our cheap and abundant labor, and they should know that they are buttressing one of the most vicious systems’.
- Desmond Tutu
It should go without saying that such machinations occurring within a country that vociferously and arrogantly promotes itself as the world’s leading model of western democracy and free speech is a paradox. It is fundamentally contradictory and instantly distasteful to anyone possessing a basic comprehension of the US constitution, fair play or simple common sense. But there is much more to it than that. If free speech concerning an ever-worsening international human-rights issue can be stemmed by a major communications firm in the United States of America, it is clear that the very concept of free-speech is at risk all over the world. And I contend that this should be seen as a serious problem by any citizen in any democracy concerned with the marginalisation of legitimate, peaceful dissent as guaranteed under The US Constitution, recognised international law and the largely ignored charter of the United Nations.
This is the ‘New Normal’. And despite everything you have ever been told by the well-paid talking heads of the establishment and popular news media, the right-wing and those who opportunistically lean to the conservative side of the road in times of acute selfishness and class strife have rarely faced serious suppression or credible balanced opposition to their views. Conservatives in the west are generally accorded the right to express their often baseless, racist, or bullishly partisan viewpoints as solid Gospel fact without having to face strenuous popular skepticism. Far-right non-sequiturs and clearly revisionist dishonesty passed off as real history not only goes unchallenged by mainstream journalists, it is almost praised, if not outright promoted, by the ‘serious’ minds of the establishment press. If you are at all surprised by the undue attention Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann have received from the powerhouse news services in the US, you shouldn’t be. It is a retrograde return to the same old, unfounded prejudices that have dogged the soft white underbelly of US society since its founding on the backs and bones of Indigenous and African human cannon fodder. When the right-wing in the US says they intend to ‘Take it back’, they mean what they say. They are actively planning to return the United States to what it was before pesky ideas like Civil Rights, suffrage and US government Indian treaties were conceived of to address blatant ethnic and gender discrimination, working-class repression and unfair government abuses of power.
‘When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land’.
- Desmond Tutu
I do not hesitate here to suggest that the rapid rise of the corporate-funded Tea Party and the current historically-challenged GOP leadership field clearly validates this argument. In the plutocracy that has become the United States, the corporate-owned media is expectedly reflective of both its direct fiscal ownership as well as its overt and covert political affiliations to the corridors of political power. In an era of government and legal decisions that expressly favour big corporations and the US landed gentry, we would be fools to think that our news and information media services are not biased towards the ‘special interests’ and managerial sectors that own the material wealth of the country, if not the world, lock, stock and barrel.
According to this train of thought, the right of the general public ‘to know the facts’, especially in cases of injustice and exploitation of the defenceless sectors of society, can be dismissed as inconsequential. This doctrine of selective recognition for domestic socio-political abuses can be traced back to the beginnings of the country’s history as a colonial settler state constructed upon the genocide of Indigenous peoples and African involuntary servitude. As a society we have unfortunately grown accustomed to the reactionary and frequently misinformed swill and blather of the American version of the ‘Good German’ ideology witnessed in Germany after the war. Every literate citizen in the United States is intimately aware of the true, and not very flattering, account of how Europeans came to dominate the entirety of the Americas and by extension the rest of the planet. In ignoring these realities we are allowing the revisionist version of American history to stand as the accepted record of what did not actually happen. In permitting White society to absolve itself of its responsibility for disregarding their negative history only serves to mask what they are doing today as necessary and ‘inevitable’ and ‘good’ for America and the world.
According to this nationalist narrative as expressed by the US media machine: ‘The United States never does anything wrong. And if we do, it was for a very, very good reason’. Remembering ‘Iran-Contra’ would be instructive at this juncture as would the Senator Frank Church Committee Hearings during the 1970’s. The essential distortive principle behind this self-serving verbiage is simple and strait-forward if we are paying attention. The United States is, by fiat, ‘good, honest and pure’. The ‘We’ in this of course refers to the Europocentric character of the US mainstream culturally as well as physically. White people from America are the ‘magnificent good guys’, and if we display a hypocritical and apathetic contempt for universal principles of ethical conduct at home and abroad, be not concerned. We are only doing it to ‘preserve the peace for your protection and your benefit’.
Such is ‘American Exceptionalism’, the wilful omission of US social and political ills in favour of an illusory mythology of non-White, Anglo-Saxon supremacist bliss. The fact this is all a major and conscious contradiction is never articulated except in terms of pop-entertainment culture which shrewdly exploits America’s history of discrimination in ‘underground’ arts and culture. This is precisely what gives the capitalist culture of the art world its counter-cultural credibility and further, does much to make the US appear more ‘open’ and tolerant than it really is. And Americans, regardless of background or economic station and despite all protests to the contrary, are not immune from wanting to believe in their own national and cultural mythologies. Even if they don’t make any logical, of historical sense.
‘When a pile of cups is tottering on the edge of the table and you warn that they will crash to the ground, in South Africa you are blamed when that happens.’
- Desmond Tutu
It is a matter of the historical record that mainstream media outlets have traditionally made a very good job of applying selective unspoken marginalisation when it comes to popular dissent. This is seen in how some stories are reported and how others are ignored in terms of even-handed representation or discourse on social, religious and political issues. It is not uncommon for the general public to find mainstream news reports that either soft-peck or entirely ignore the fact that they have accorded a sympathetic ear to clearly discriminatory practises and violations of people’s civil and human rights in the United States and elsewhere the US has influence. The mainstream media, if one were to press the issue, is unquestionably partisan towards conservative and neo-Confederate sentiments and causes. In short, I, and other literate people with a moral centre, understand the inherent biases of the First World media paradigm. It is capitalist, it is xenophobic with a unabashed preference for Europocentric perspectives and it is wholly supportive of White nationalism anywhere it exists, in any form, around the world.
This is why I write for the APNS (Aboriginal Press News Service) and work alongside other Indigenous/First Nations blog-journalists in the ANG (Aboriginal News Group). It was clear to all of us that unless Indigenous people with access to independent media outlets placed a focus on our issues, no one else would. But as regular readers around the world already know, our work encompasses a wide range of issues generally centred around human and civil rights issues but is broadly inclusive of other subjects and causes that might seem, at first glance, utterly unrelated to Aboriginal survival or sovereignty/liberation issues.
The answer to this is quite elementary and understood by all educated and thoughtful persons in the international community. The current structure of world power as we understand it today is a direct result of centuries of European expansionism and Euro-settler physical colonialism in Africa, Asia, Arabia and especially in the Americas. Even in the predominately non-European nations struggling to compete with the First World, the systems of bias, marginalisation and exploitation we regularly discuss can be traced right back to external European pressure to ‘modernise’ or capitulate to ‘standards’ that do not represent but contradict the natural flow of social and political development of Native or Aboriginal peoples.
But this alone does not fully explain my personal positions or opinions on particular issues. As a conscious human being who considers himself a citizen of the world, I recognise that the abuses I point out in my work do not just effect Indigenous peoples but all people everywhere.
The numerous societies that defend their practises of institutional discrimination, bias and suppression of free speech share one common denominator – they all do so to protect their systems of exploitation of the weakest sectors of the society and/or the victimised populations of foreign imperialist projects. In this sense, all socio-political discrimination in one way or another is directly related to the elite and moneyed elements of a society working to maintain the base inequality of the status quo. And despite what may be said and passionately argued by the mainstream press or those opposed to my position on this controversy, the situation in Palestine is a human rights issue that involves the ethnic cleansing of an Indigenous people that has been violently uprooted by an invasive European population that bases its entire claim to the territories in question upon a 2000-year old religious fable. In my humble opinion, this does not qualify as a legitimate argument for a country. Nor does it provide any logical justification for the genocide that has been taking place there to make the State of Israel possible.
Saying this out loud in the western world is regarded as a major sin. Further, objective discourse is almost impossible thanks to an aggressive propaganda model (Hasbara) that unfairly reduces and reinterprets legitimate criticism of the Zionist state’s political realities into blanket accusations of discrimination towards the country’s stated ethnic character. Israel’s supporters argue that the major opposition to the state is Judeophobic at heart and is not out of concern for Arab Palestinian rights. To a degree this is very true, as only a fool or a republican World War Two Nazi re-enactor would suggest that the long-simmering prejudices against the world’s Jews have been completely eradicated. Only instead of pointing to the ultra-conservative Christian and Islamic elements that really do harbour religious and ethnic/racialist antagonism towards Jews, the Zionist lobby focuses its propaganda efforts on jamming progressive channels of free speech as they relate to Palestinian, and ultimately everyone else’s basic human rights around the world.
It is deemed highly improper to question the right of Israel as a political entity in any way shape or form. It is however permissible and encouraged to suggest, without credible evidence or argument, that Indigenous Palestinians do not deserve their basic human rights. How are conscientious citizens in the democratic west supposed to articulate much less accept such a blatant ethical double-standard? With extreme difficulty. This is why I sincerely believe that comparisons to fascist Germany and Apartheid-era South Africa are to be honest, overused in this respect. In spite of their accuracy, morally and historically, at this point in time such comparisons amount to little more than semantic bromide and do the Hasbara lobby a really big favour. And it isn’t hard to understand why when you take the time to investigate the psychological dynamics of Euro-settler colonialist propaganda.
‘I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights’.
- Desmond Tutu
Israel receives substantial media cover when such imagery is employed because it helps them pro-actively avoid the hard questions surrounding Palestinian human dignity and survival by raising their own negative experiences in Europe before and after the rise of the German Nazi Party. In correctly reminding us of how institutional western anti-Jewish bias eventually led to the European Holocaust, the discussion is deftly swayed away from objective investigation of Israel’s current actions towards identifying Israel as a victim simply defending itself from a similar fate at the hands of the Palestinian Muslims. This is the same reason why debates concerning Indigenous Palestinian territorial claims and the ‘Right of Return to Palestine’ proper always devolve into emotional arguments proclaiming ‘Israel’s God-given right to exist’. How can one possibly argue against the will of a Supreme Being? You can’t, hence the effectiveness of the meme. It is a bit like asking how one can go about locating unicorns in Shangri-La aboard a flying carpet. It simply isn’t logical.
Nor is the undue negative pressure journalists and human-rights activists are facing for speaking out honestly about the injustices of the Israeli state. It is by now an established and universally accepted fact that journalists and social analysts, (including bloggers) who present an objective examination of Israel’s political policies often face a certain amount of overt and rather vicious discrimination. In fact, the Israeli government is reportedly bracing itself for a media rush of support for the Palestinians as they formally demand recognition from the international community in September of this year. So far as I am aware, the Israeli propaganda lobby has released at least one software programme to ‘assist’ lay supporters of the State of Israel in locating dissenters, (the Megaphone Desktop Tool) and a ‘Hasbara Handbook’ in eBook form to coach their loyalists in how to ‘defend’ Israel’s questionable policies against intelligent (and fair) criticism.
Democracy, as MIT Professor Noam Chomsky has often painfully pointed out, is a real threat to the extant Europocentric capitalist social order. In an age of instant media gratification, ‘reality television’ and false-flag propaganda the question remains unanswered: how much longer will American citizens stand by while their basic rights to democracy and political/social dissent are being whittled away in favour of the rich and the hopelessly bigoted? This question is just as relevant today as it was when the US Constitution was initially drafted and its framers consciously ignored provisions that would have answered the questions surrounding Indigenous Nations, African slaves and the role of women and religion in the new settler society. As a conscious Afro-Indian I am under no illusions concerning the US Constitution and its contradictions in regards to those of my heritage. I know full well that the document as it was written was never intended to protect my civil or human rights. In fact, the most learned minds of the day actually questioned whether or not Native Americans and Africans were authentic human beings. And until the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments following the American Civil War, no White man anywhere in the continental United States was legally obliged to respect the human rights of any African, (or Indigenous) American.
The idea of universal citizenship rights in the US is a falsehood as evidenced by the protracted series of Civil Rights Acts that were enacted beginning in 1866. In a reasonable society there is no such thing as ‘second-class citizenship’. If Africans were indeed ‘freed’ by the government after the Civil War, then citizenship should not have necessitated numerous ‘amendments’ to the legal definition of what makes someone an ‘American’. The first Civil Rights Act of 1866 was eventually forgotten and followed by a series of other amendments which came to a final halt a century later in 1964. Yet another Civil Rights Act was passed which only proved that White racism and institutional bias was just as active in the 1960’s as it was in the 1860’s. All the while European society pretended, as it still does today, that their brand of institutional racial exclusion does not exist. The State of Israel shares a similar history of settler colonialism and institutional ethnic bias and like the US, it refuses to admit to its own ugly shades of racism. Indigenous Arabs, Christian Palestinians as well as Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews living in Palestine suffer from the very same colonialist invisibility Africans and First Nations peoples endure in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Our social and political disenfranchisement goes unnoticed, under-reported and belligerently denied by the very people responsible for our grief.
The entire civilised world understands that what is happening in Palestine is an ongoing humanitarian crisis and brutal territorial ethnic-conflict the international political community could stop if it really wanted to. We also know that the mainstream news media tries its very best to ignore the suffering of the victims in favour of the boasts of the oppressors. And we believe that this crisis can be solved by the international community peacefully, once we are ready to accept that our perspectives on this issue is shaped by how our news media presents information. Without access to unbiased and objective news information we cannot assume that we truly understand the world we live in and who we have to share it with. When the establishment communication media can silence dissenting perspectives, no recognised ethnic group or social minority is safe from being ‘removed ’ in full view of the world’s video cameras. People of consciousness around the world must demand their right to speak their minds on issues of consequence at home and abroad in order to address these injustices.
But first, we must stop lying to ourselves about where the real power in mass media truly lies. Simply ask yourself who owns the country. Their ability to suppress marginal perspectives that challenge the status quo is not to be underestimated, but that does not mean we should not continue to speak out for ourselves and those who cannot speak for themselves, who do not have access to cybercafes and who do not reside in countries that profess a sentimental respect for ‘free speech’. Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it best when he said:
‘For goodness sake, will they hear, will white people hear what we are trying to say? Please, all we are asking you to do is to recognise that we are humans, too.’
We are all human beings. And no one, especially in the United States, should be censored for mentioning that.