Bombastic, bullying and preposterous— Netanyahu epitomizes the toxic hasbarat

Candian Arab News
October 25, 2009

As we saw last time, the well-orchestrated campaign to “rebrand” Israel at the Toronto International Film Festival backfired. Not only did it attract the sort of negative publicity Israel’s propaganda (hasbara) department specifically sought to avoid, but the Israeli government’s role in it was publicly admitted.

I brought up this example to illustrate the growing desperation and ineptitude of Israel’s propagandists. With nothing honest or credible to say in support of Israel, these “hasbarats” regurgitate tedious non-cognitive boilerplate that does more to discredit Israel than prop it up. As I will now show, this self-destructive imperative also applies to “negative hasbarats,” those who attack anyone who:

• comes to the aid of Palestinians;
• puts their country’s national interest ahead of Israel’s;
• demands that the UN hold Israel accountable to international law; or
• questions zionist dogmata about the Holocaust.*

*Holocaust® is a registered trademark of Hasbara International and its enforcement arm Kosher Nostra Inc. Any plain-language use of this term by any person or organization to describe the mass killing of people other than European Jews, or to challenge the official zionist version of World War II, will be punished by any and all extralegal means.

Who better to epitomize the anti-intellectual toxicity of negative hasbara than Israel’s own prime “hasbaratchik,” Benjamin Netanyahu, whose recent UN speech must rank as the most ludicrous, hectoring screed ever inflicted on the General Assembly.

His verbal convulsions must be understood as a panic attack caused by the world’s condemnation of Israel for its war crimes in Gaza, broad international support for the UN-commissioned Goldstone Report on said crimes, and the UN’s refusal to endorse Israel’s incitement against Iran. (At least Abba Eban knew how to lie with style.)

Netanyahu showed scrupulous disregard for historical accuracy, the intelligence of his audience, and his own credibility, that anyone listening must have thought him mentally unbalanced. Ultimately, his obscurantist hasbara did more to damn Israel than defend it.

Israel’s army of hasbarats gets its disinformation orders from hasbarat-in-chief Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu the hasbarat

Netanyahu repudiates Jewish ‘settlements’
Netanyahu struck the requisite condescending tone by reciting standard historical fallacies to remind the UN of its complicity in the creation of Israel:

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.
[And then near the end:]
In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples – a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it. We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state.

Can you spot Netanyahu’s admission that modern Israel is illegitimate?

Start with the fiction that Jews are an “ancient people.” (Israeli Professor Shlomo Sand showed that the idea of a Jewish people is a manufactured ideology.)

Move past the hoax that the UN established Israel. (The “Partition Plan” that hived a Jewish state off Arab Palestine was not only illegal under international law, but was not ratified in the Security Council. Since the Partition Plan was never ratified, it was never enacted; since it was never enacted, Israel’s establishment does not exist.)

Then you come to the admission: “We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state.” By linking present Israeli demands (“We ask”) with a 1947 status quo, (“finally…refused to do for 62 years”), Netanyahu admits the illegitimacy of all Jewish colonies since that time!

Let’s say that Palestinians had agreed to the state of Israel 62 years ago. According to Netanyahu, there’d be peace today. His use of the present perfect tense “do what they have refused to do” together with the adverb “finally” tells Palestinians that Israel has always been willing to make peace based on the original 1947 borders, illegal though they were. (See map #2 below and note that Jerusalem is wholly within Palestine.)

Disappearing Palestine
Now look at the 1999 map and see how much land Israel has stolen, not counting recent theft and the effect of the apartheid wall. Netanyahu cannot assert a continuity between 1947 and the present unless he is prepared to revert to the old borders and renounce creeping colonization, It seems we have had basis for a peace agreement all along.

Netanyahu admits Israel committed war crimes
A major part of Netanyahu’s speech was taken up browbeating the UN for not rejecting out of hand the final report of The Goldstone Commission, which the UN itself established to investigate war crimes committed during “Operation Cast Lead.”

Judge Richard Goldstone who headed the commission, is not only a life-long zionist and supporter of Israel, but also an honourable jurist, much to Israel’s horror. As Goldstone told the New York Times:

“In Gaza, hundreds of civilians died. They died from disproportionate attacks on legitimate military targets and from attacks on hospitals and other civilian structures. Repeatedly, the Israel Defense Forces failed to adequately distinguish between combatants and civilians, as the laws of war strictly require…
“Pursuing justice in this case is essential because no state or armed group should be above the law… As a service to the hundreds of civilians who needlessly died and for the equal application of international justice, the perpetrators of serious violations must be held to account.” [my emphases]

Netanyahu didn’t even feign acceptance of the report or show due respect for the unimpeachable (i.e. zionist) credentials of its author, who admitted deliberately understating the magnitude of Israeli atrocities.

The seemingly oblivious Netanyahu began his attack on the report with a bizarre spiel about how Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza was a magnanimous peace gesture rather than an overdue legal obligation to redress a theft. Then he launched into hasbara about Hamas rockets being the cause of the attack.

The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us —my people, my country—of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense. What a travesty! Israel justly defended itself against terror.

He’s right about a travesty. In addition to Goldstone’s description of war crimes—what Netanyahu calls “just defence—Israel dropped white phosphorus on civilians; sniped civilians carrying white flags; used Palestinians as human shields; and forced people into homes so they could be bombed en masse. These are all war crimes by definition, so “yes” the UN has a moral duty to accuse Israel of war crimes. In fact, Israel’s massacre of Gaza violated several Nuremberg Principles, which are the result of Nazi war atrocities.

Moreover, these violations were premeditated, a fact that precludes any claim of justifiability for any putative rocket attacks. Remember Goldstone’s condemnation of disproportionate force? Here’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from February: “We’ve said that if there is rocket fire against the south of the country, there will be a severe and disproportionate Israeli response to the fire on the citizens of Israel and its security forces.” (This self-arrogated right of mass murder was also invoked in Israel’s attacks on Lebanon.)

What rocket fire could Olmert possibly mean, though, since his own government admitted that the Hamas rockets had nothing to do with Israel’s decision to attack?:

“Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the [ministry of defence] sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.”

As he harangues the UN about not accepting The Goldstone Report, he seems not to care that his own words of condemnation are perfectly suited to Israel. (highlighted)

This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments…
Delegates of the United Nations,
Will you accept this farce? Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.
If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity.

There is even more sustained self-parody in Netanyahu’s Holocaust® histrionics and defamation of Iran, but these will have to keep for another time.

Netanyahu declares war on civilization
With Israel’s colony on the Potomac prepared to sabotage the report, the UN’s darkest days may in fact soon be upon us. Israel’s strategy for opposing The Goldstone Report consists of ignoring its contents, misrepresenting it, shouting it down, and forcing the UN to change the laws of war to legalize genocide.

Hear no evil!

As Netanyahu said soon after his speech:

Our struggle is to delegitimize the continuing attempt to delegitimize the state of Israel.
Here we see the hasbara tactic of obscuring Israeli criminality by flogging the myth of Israel as a perpetual victim.

The most important sphere we need to work in is the sphere of public opinion in the democratic world.
Netanyahu admits that Israel’s attack on the report is irrational. Facts will be met, not with arguments, but malicious propaganda. Netanyahu declares war on the UN and everything Western democracy is supposed to represent, and expects the world to be an accessory. Never has the General Assembly had a better reason to expel Israel, and the source of that reason is Netanyahu, himself.

Well, there you have it:

• Israel admits that its attack on Gaza was premeditated, not defensive;
• The Goldstone Commission, with which Israel refused to co-operate, found conclusive proof that Israel committed war crimes;
• Netanyahu resorts to full denial, even to the extent of making himself look like an imbecile; and
• The more coercive and irrational he becomes, the more he confirms Israel’s obvious criminality.

Such is the effect of hasbara.

History records that Hitler pulled Germany out of the League of Nations before he proceeded to make a mockery of the international political order. Too bad Israel’s fascist leadership is not as honest.

For an excellent point-by-point critique of Netanyahu’s rant please see The Comic Genius of Netanyahu by By Stuart Littlewood.