Israel and its US lobbyare operating in full-court press mode to counteract the growing international repugnance toward them and the growing efforts of international civil society to impose BDS sanctions upon Israeli companies, agricultural and commercial products, academics, and cultural products in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance. Like South Africa, reform is unlikely without raising the price of their policies to the Israeli public as a whole. If our government refuses to protect human rights and the rule of law, then it is left to international civil society to do so.
Christian churches and university campuses are especially targeted by defenders of Israel. Flagrant propaganda including Islamophobic and pro-Israel DVDs such as "Obsession" and "Israel 101" are being widely distributed. Handbooks such as Hasbara and Israel 101 are guidebooks about "how to talk about Israel" - language to use and avoid, points to make, evasive and deflective rejoinders to common criticisms, and strategies such as avoiding debate, avoiding facts, and evoking positive feelings about Israel.
These encourage "dialogue" and "compassionate listening to both sides" as a framing that suggests false pictures of parity, balance, symmetry, equivalence, or normalcy in the Israeli/Palestinian relationship. These are explicitly identified in the handbooks as methods of propaganda.
Over several years of dealing with these defensive maneuvers, we have heard all the "lines" and devised effective responses. Some will find our list useful. Most importantly, we counter their basic strategies by maintaining a laser-like focus on what they struggle to avoid: historical facts, international law and human rights standards, common morality and rational debate. The emotional sympathies that flow from these entirely favor the Palestinians.
We like to engage in formal or spontaneous debates with audiences - including email and letters-to-the-editor exchanges - since the readers or listeners are exposed to the relative merits of the arguments whether or not the opponent concedes defeat. Opponents usually withdraw in frustration, but occasionally have the integrity to concede the validity of our facts and positions.
Propaganda in Cyberspace Israeli citizens have been relentlessly propagandized from an early age, embedded in their cultural mythology and institutions and transmitted through their school books. The use of the educational system for propagandizing young Israelis from an early age in flagrant racism against Palestinians has been comprehensively documented by Israeli professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan, daughter of a prominent IDF general whose own daughter was killed by a suicide bomber. The newest battlefield is cyberspace. Israel is hiring propagandists to pose as honest bloggers injecting widely read and influential international fora with Hasbara tactical misinformation, distracting, shifting the subject to Israeli accomplishments, raising irrelevant comparisons with Arab states, using Orwellian language that conceals and reverses realities, scapegoating, rationalizing, shifting responsibility for the Palestinian suffering to Arab states, projecting blame, declaring Israel's value to the U.S., conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, appealing to Holocaust sympathies, denying the Nakba, evading the occupation, etc., etc. It is important for all of us armed with real information to counter these tactics on the major blogs (e.g., BBC programs, Huffington Post, NPR programs), providing URLs for other readers to fact-check.
We have designed this website to provide succinct, useful information to communicate effectively about many facets of this issue to defeat opponents, empower supporters of Palestine and human rights in general, persuade the inadequately informed, and launch in-depth explorations among those motivated to explore more deeply toward the goal of ever more responsible citizenship.
In refreshing contrast to the several Israel lobby organizations ranging from AIPAC in unconditional lock-step support of Israel and its money supply from US taxpayers to the "soft" or "progressive" Zionist lobby groups such as J Street that hate the occupation which they view as destroying the international status of Israel but cannot relinquish the dream of a "Jewish state" with a Jewish majority, several prominent Jewish organizations have taken a strong stand against the Zionist ethnocentric worldview and its racist agenda. Jewish Voice for Peace has evolved a progressively liberated posture from Zionism, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return has attracted a prominent membership, and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network arose in 2009 linking Zionism to capitalist imperialism which they oppose. This latter organization asserts its base in the traditional Jewish commitment to social justice and recognizes that these values cannot be accommodated to Zionism in any form. Their "Points of Unity" correspond closely with ours and are listed below.
Points of Unity
While we all come from diverse organizing and activist experiences, and have diverse relationships to our Jewish histories and identities, we share the following points of unity:
* Solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian self-determination, including full political, economic, cultural, social and land rights for all those living in the historic Palestine, and the right of return for its refugees;
* Rejection of the Israeli apartheid state, premised on Jewish supremacy and Zionist ideology, and support for all struggles for legal and economic equality against it;
* Support for the building of just societies in historic Palestine, the larger region, and the other places in which we live;
* A commitment to the values of democratic self-determination, social justice and solidarity, gender equality and cultural rights, and to assert the same values in our own organizing and political practice;
* Commitment to the call from Palestine for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel;
* Challenging the current use of Islamophobia as a strategy for defending and justifying an imperialist US-European agenda;
* Challenging white racism, including its manifestations as Ashkenazi racism against Mizrahi Jews;
* Challenging the privileging of Jewish voices in conversations and negotiations about Palestine;
* Rejection of the ways in which the Zionist movement and Western governments exploit the Nazi holocaust to justify the historic and current actions of the State of Israel; and
* Rejection of alliances with anti-Jewish racists, white supremacist and Nazi holocaust deniers in our Palestinian solidarity work.
Demand Freedom, Justice and Equality in the Holy Land