January 24, 2011

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You’re talking bollox, Mr Regev
A short primer on Israeli propaganda for media dummies*

By Stuart Littlewood


June 8, 2010

What were Israel’s excuses for hijacking the Free Gaza ships in international waters and imprisoning their passengers after gunning down nine of them and wounding several more?

  • There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and
  • Israel already allows sufficient humanitarian aid into Gaza so the flotilla was "an armada of hate and violence", said Israel’s deputy foreign minister.

But according to John Ging, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) director of operations in Gaza, "It’s a struggle to survive [with] the infrastructure and water and sanitation in a state of collapse and all that goes with that... People are at their wits’ end to understand when all of this will come to an end."

  • If the Free Gaza ships delivered the humanitarian cargo to the Israeli port of Ashdod, Israel would ensure it was delivered to Gaza after checking it for arms.

That’s very unlikely. The report "Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses" by a group of 16 European non-governmental organizations, published in December 2009, showed that the Israelis allow only a feeble trickle and what is permitted changes from day to day.

  • Israel could not allow the ships into Gaza without searching them for arms that might be of use to Hamas.

There are peaceful alternatives for checking cargoes. Besides, it’s time Israel implemented The Agreement on Movement and Access it signed in November 2005, under which it promised to allow its crossings into Gaza to "operate continuously" so that people and goods could move freely.

The agreement also provides for

  • the reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank
  • bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza
  • the building of a new seaport in Gaza
  • reopening of the airport in Gaza

There would then be no need for ships bringing humanitarian aid.

The European Council on 8 December 2009 stated: "The EU again reiterates its calls for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza. In this context, the council calls for the full implementation of The Agreement on Movement and Access."

Israel has ignored countless verbal appeals. The EU is in position to twist its arm because it has granted Israel privileged access to European markets under the EU-Israel Association Agreement and the plug can be pulled. These trading advantages are conditional on Israel showing respect for human rights and democratic principles. Compliance is an essential element, not an option.

  • Israel’s interference with the mercy ships was an act of self-defence against the threat posed by Hamas firing rockets and mortars out of Gaza.

This isn’t about rockets. A ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, was negotiated with Hamas in June 2008. Hamas honoured the agreement, firing no rockets and restraining other resistance groups. Israel broke the ceasefire on 4 November by suddenly making a military incursion into Gaza and killing seven members of Hamas. Operation Cast Lead followed, supposedly to stop the rockets. The deaths of over 1,400 people and the maiming of thousands more were unnecessary. All Israel needed to do was observe the ceasefire. It chose not to.

And whatever Israel may say, the blockade inflicts "collective punishment" on the people of Gaza, which is a violation of international law and Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

  • Hamas wants to destroy Israel.

Not true. Hamas has said it will accept Israel within its internationally-recognized 1967 borders, which is the same position the United Nations has adopted.

  • Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu now says "dozens of thugs" from what he called "an extremist, terrorism-supporting" organization were on-board the flotilla.

No evidence has been produced so far.

  • Israel is a vibrant democracy.

Actually, Israel is a racist ethnocracy, which discriminates in countless vile ways against its Arab minority.

As usual, Israel's chief propagandist, Mark Regev, was on hand to give the tragedy the benefit of his spin.

  • "We did everything we could to avoid violence... They [the aid workers] chose the path of confrontation… Our boarding party was attacked with live fire…"

No such weapons were found.

  • "Violence was initiated by these activists..."

No, violence was initiated by armed troops storming the peace ships in the dead of night.

  • "We didn't attack them, they attacked us... We tried to do, in accordance with international law, a peaceful intervention as they were entering a blockaded area..."

International law does not permit armed intervention in international waters, and the blockaded area has no legal basis.

  • "There are no shortages in Gaza..."

That is not what the UN and countless NGOs and charities say.

Meanwhile, in London, Israel’s ambassador, Ron Prosor, was saying:

  • "The people on board the ships behaved appallingly… they really did everything in order to provoke and confront…"

What is confrontational about sailing lawfully and peacefully on a humanitarian mission?

  • "We disengaged completely out of Gaza…"

No, Israel remains in occupation of Gaza's airspace and coastal waters and in control of all entrances and exits except on the Egyptian border. It has Gaza bottled up.

As always, newspaper and television editors, reporters and presenters were happy to retell the Israeli version of events, the distortion and the plain lies, along with the exaggerated language such as "extremists" and "militants" to describe aid workers, without bothering to examine or question the material in any way.

More pearls of wisdom from Regev

Mark Regev, the Israeli prime minister’s spokesman, is a rich source of propaganda nonsense, for example…

  • "It’s not just Israel who refuses to speak to Hamas. It’s the whole international community… Most of the democratic world refuses to have a relationship with Hamas because Hamas has refused to meet the most minimal benchmarks of international behaviour."

Isn’t that a little cheeky, Mr Regev, coming from a regime widely condemned for war crimes, piracy and mega-lawlessness?

  • "It was the former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, that put four benchmarks on the table. And he said, speaking for the international community…That if Hamas reforms itself… If Hamas recognizes my country’s right to live in freedom… If Hamas renounces terrorism against innocent civilians… If Hamas supports international agreements that are being signed and agreed to concerning the peace process… then the door is open. But unfortunately – tragically – Hamas has failed to meet even one of those four benchmarks. And that’s why today Hamas is isolated internationally. Even the United Nations refuses to speak to Hamas.

Which of those benchmarks has Israel met, Mr Regev?

If you’re getting the impression that Israel is going all-out to demonize Hamas you’d be right, as we’ll see later.

  • "Iran’spPresident openly talks about wiping Israel off the map. The Iranian nuclear programme is a threat, not just to my country, but to the entire region. And it’s incumbent upon us all to do what needs to be done to keep from proliferating."

Why is Israel the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Regev? Are we all supposed to believe that Israel's 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads pose no threat to the region? Would you also tell us why Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and hasn’t ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty or the Chemical Weapons Convention? What proof do you have of Iran's nuclear weapons plans?

And why do you deliberately misquote Mr Ahmadinejad? For the record, the Iranian president said, quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini: "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time."

Israel’s Crapaganda Handbook

The rest is on the link ...

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