Ahed Tamimi: Erasing the violence, erasing the history

Still from Telesur

The same newspaper that heralds “a new era” for women in Canada victimized by “men in power” has no objection to the brutish treatment of Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old Palestinian girl who is in indefinite military custody for courageously challenging Israeli occupation forces on her family’s property. The Globe and Mail has carried but one item – on January 1 from Reuters. CBC also carried the same item on January 1st. The Toronto Star carried a derivative six-sentence item on the same date.

The reports all deceitfully refer to Ahed’s actions as “assaults” and an “attack.” “Clashes” is the automatic default official term used by ALL Canadian and U.S. media when Israeli occupation troops kill unarmed Palestinian protesters. They do not inform that Israeli soldiers had just shot in the head and severely injured her 15-year-old cousin, Nur Tamini. Ahed was detained in a night raid in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh a month ago, after video circulated showing her and a cousin slapping and shoving two heavily-armed Israeli soldiers following the shooting. She is still being held, without bail, on 12 charges. Nariman Tamini, her mother, was detained when she went to inquire after her daughter’s safety. Nur Tamimi was arrested together with Ahed but has since been released, although she has been charged with being involved in slapping of the soldiers. Mixed with the other narratives that the same media outlets are painting, the seizure of the Taminis is openly portrayed as some type of legitimate retaliation; the attempted murder is simply ignored by sleight of hand. The Globe and Mail, CBC and Toronto Star reports give the false impression that the heavily-armed and dispassionate soldiers were attacked without provocation by the young girl: “The confrontation took place after what Israel says was a stone-throwing assault on its troops.”

The Palestinians as a people are rendered almost invisible, except when they can be used to reinforce stereotypes of Arabic and Muslim irrationality and irascibility — while the reasons for Palestinians’ resistance, anger, and frustration remain oblivious. The Toronto Star, which itself has invested in land illegally stolen from the Palestinians by force of arms [1], earlier portrayed the youthful victims as the victimizer. It propagated the following account in an article reproduced from the Washington Post on December 19, 2017 :

“This was a severe incident, when Palestinian women attacked an [Israel Defense Forces] officer and attempted to use social media as a platform to provoke the officers to respond,” said Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. He said police were continuing to investigate what had happened.

Some of the rioters, the army said in a statement, entered a nearby house and continued to throw rocks at troops. Then, it said, Tamimi and some women exited and started to “violently provoke” the soldiers.

Tamimi, her wild blond curls swept up in a hair band, can be seen on film slapping and kicking a soldier, as another young woman captures the exchange on her smartphone.

Their protests are aimed at a nearby settlement, Halamish, which they assert is stealing land and water.colony on occupied territory and which is illegal under international law.  A military occupation of the West Bank of 50 years duration is not mentioned.

According to official and media accounts of crimes committed against the Palestinian people by the Israeli state, some crimes never took place, others are unacceptable aberrations and most are the fault of the victim. The Star gives credence to the attempts of the Israeli state, which has an entire force dedicated to hasbara (a Hebrew word meaning explanation) [2], to turn truth on its head, framing the resistance of the Tamini family as a propaganda stunt by professional actors who may not even be Palestinian:

Her regular spots in such videos have garnered her the nickname “Shirley Temper” from pro-Israel bloggers. They, like the Israeli police, say her actions are staged and a clear attempt to create a negative image of Israel. The term “Pallywood” is used to describe Palestinians attempts to win the public relations war against Israel by manipulating the media. (“Israelis call her ‘Shirley Temper.’ Palestinians call her a hero,” Toronto Star and Washington Post, December 19, 2017)

Readers are basically led to think that the families’ resistance is performance art. Identical phrases and metaphors turn up in CNN, which similarly trivialized Tamimi’s arrest, noting that Israelis call her “Shirley Temper” because of “her long ginger curls” and because they accuse her of “starring in carefully choreographed ‘Pallywood’ videos, a dismissive characterization of protests considered staged for the camera.” They are deliberately costumed in clothing that Americans could relate to like backwards baseball caps. The Zionists assert that a Palestinian who has blonde hair and who doesn’t wear a galabiya cannot be real. A secret Knesset subcommittee (the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee) had looked into and discussed the issue and conducted an investigation into whether the Tamimis are a real family.

The paper even implied that Palestinians may be happy that Tamimi was arrested, writing that “the scene of the young woman being hauled away may have given Palestinians the clear-cut propaganda coup they had been denied by the original confrontation.”

Outraged by a perceived insult to their occupation forces, Israeli leaders are vowing revenge against the Tamimi family and are subjecting Ahed, her mother Nariman and cousin Nour to military trials in kangaroo courts. Ahed is being held without bail. At no point does the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star or CBC inform that the proceedings are taking place in a military court, where the conviction rate against Palestinians is 99 per cent.

The process in which Palestinian children are callously arrested –
infographic prepared by the moqawama website to visualize the scene | Click to enlarge

The fact that occupied people have a legal right to resist occupation is left out of all of the articles discussed here.

The disinformation of the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and CBC mirrors that of the U.S. monopoly media, as Gregory Shupak, who teaches media studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto, documents for FAIR, a media watchdog organization. He reviewed reports from CNN, CBS, New York Times, Newsweek, Reuters and Associated Press. Identical phrases and metaphors turn up in CNN (1/8/18) which similarly trivialized Tamimi’s arrest, noting that Israelis call her “Shirley Temper” because of “her long ginger curls” and because they accuse her of “starring in carefully choreographed ‘Pallywood’ videos, a dismissive characterization of protests considered staged for the camera.”

Prof Shupak points out:

“For example, none of the above-mentioned articles mention the risk of Tamimi being seriously harmed in Israeli jails. Yet UNICEF charges Israel with subjecting Palestinian youth to ‘practices that amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.’ These include children ‘being aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by many armed soldiers and being forcibly brought to an interrogation center tied and blindfolded, sleep-deprived,’ and “threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member.’” (For his article, click here.)

Of course, Western correspondents in Beirut nor Jerusalem, as in the case of the CBC where it has a bureau, never heard of Ahed Tamini. And she has been resisting occupation as a child: not being manipulated by her parents or by Gulf regimes. (For an eloquent photo essay on Ahed, see Sighting: A Lioness of Palestine, December 29, 2013.)

This type of yellow journalism that relies on misleading headlines that essentially say everything that the hollow articles carry and have little or no newsworthy material is not politically neutral. It is a political weapon of war. All these articles are agitating for or conciliating with bloodletting in the Middle East, specifically against the Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Yemenese and Iranians and between Shias and Sunnis. This type of journalism either directly or indirectly stokes aggression by giving impunity to the aggressors. This is why it deliberately ignores and refuses to even acknowledge the main issue, that the people of Palestine are fighting to affirm their right to be.

“It is easy to blur the truth with a simple linguistic trick: start your story from ‘Secondly,’” writes Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti, in his memoir I Saw Ramallah. “Start your story with ‘Secondly,’ and the arrows of the [Indigenous peoples] are the original criminals and the guns of the white men are entirely the victim … It is enough to start the story with ‘Secondly,’ for my grandmother, Umm ‘Ata, to become the criminal and Ariel Sharon her victim.”

Endnotes

On the links of the Canadian media and the illegal Israeli occupation

1. In June 1967, the Palestinian villages of Beit Nuba, ‘Imwas (Emmaus), and Yalu were occupied, bulldozed, and totally demolished by Israel on the orders of Yitzhak Rabin, and their inhabitants, over 10,000 people, forcibly dispersed; these acts are rightly described as war crimes. Today, at the site of the ruins of these villages, stands the infamy called Canada Park, a recreational playground financed by Canadian  tax-deductible dollars. For a detailed exposure by Dr Ismail Zayid of the Canada Palestine Association, visit http://izayid.tripod.com/canpark.pdf

The Toronto Star Newspaper Ltd. has a commemorative plaque attached to a wall, indicating its corporate sponsorship. In 1999, the Star made a financial contribution to the Bassett Foundation for Environmental Action in Israel.

On the role of the U.S. and the intelligence agencies in both Canada and Israel

2. The role of the U.S. and the intelligence agencies in manufacturing hasbara and its aim is often obscured. Further, it cannot be seen as merely a propaganda weapon to oppose groups advocating the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) approach, as some advocate. Although Israel does mount specific operations against BDS groups, including black ops, the basic aim is to present the state as humanitarian, disinform the polity and criminalize all those who support the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Internationally, the working class, trade unions and communists are the strategic target, with the aim to disenfranchise them from playing any independent role. In December 2002, the then head of the World Zionist Congress stated in a visit to Ottawa that its two greatest concerns were “an alliance of Marxist-Leninists and Islam” and the Canadian trade unions. The coinage of the term “the new anti-semitism” which has been codified into resolutions in the Canadian parliament and the Ontario legislature aims to include political opposition to the Zionist politics and ideology as a crime. This information war is a contest where the international news networks and major newspapers act as armies, the weapons being used are the state and the media, and the frontline is the interactive space known as the public sphere.

In 2009 U.S. Republican political consultant Frank Luntz, was commissioned to prepare a new updated media guide for “leaders who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel.” Luntz is considered master at framing the political debate through his manipulation of language. He is credited with the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 via his so-called Contract with America and was advisor to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

Luntz’s strategy is described in an informative article authored by Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst at Al Jazeera (click here). Much of this well-orchestrated media strategy to mystify, mislead and even misrepresent the reality can be found in The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary. This project was closely linked to the U.S. state. According to the London Guardian, “The Israel Project, with an advisory board that includes 20 members of Congress from both parties, issued the confidential document to its supporters at about the time Obama came to power in January.” The report was marked as “not for distribution or publication” but later leaked. “The report , writes Bishara, “came after Israel’s 2008 Gaza war and following US President Barack Obama’s denouncement of Israeli settlements and his overtures towards Iran. It was prepared for internal use only and kept secret, until it was finally leaked in the fall of 2009.”

Marwan Bishara further describes the modus operandi of the media strategy: It’s a step-by-step guide that underlines “the words that work’ and the ‘words that don’t work’ when speaking to westerners. Like any marketing or PR campaign, much of the suggested code words, phrases and sound bites are based on polls.” He details an example of “the five-step approach to talking about civilian casualties in Gaza:

Empathy: “All human life is precious. We understand that the loss of one innocent Palestinian life is every bit as tragic as the loss of an Israeli life.”

Admission: “We admit that Israel isn’t always successful at preventing civilian casualties…”

Effort: “We remain committed to doing everything in our power to preventing civilian casualties.”

Examples: “Let me tell you how our armed forces are trained, tasked, and operate to ensure that Palestinian civilians remain safe.”

Turn tables: “It is a tragedy that Iran-backed Hamas shoots rockets at our civilians while hiding in their own … This causes tragic deaths on both sides.”

The guide concludes this chapter on the worst possible advice: ‘Israel should not give any more land for peace, because every time it does, it just gets more war’.” (Marwan Bishara, “How the Israeli government is misleading the world one press conference at a time,” Al Jazeera, July 14, 2014)

Furthermore, these American strategists freely intervene in the internal affairs of Canada, including the media.

To give but one example, Luntz was deployed to Canada in 2006 to advise Stephen Harper and his minority government on how to bring about his electoral coup d’état. Media critic Donald Gutstein wrote at the time, “Luntz was in Canada in May 2006, to meet privately with Harper and to address the shadowy Civitas Society, whose members include Harper’s chief-of-staff Ian Brodie, his longtime political mentor Tom Flanagan, and Environment Minister John Baird. Montreal Gazette reporter Elizabeth Thompson heard Luntz tell the 200 libertarians and neoconservatives that voters want someone who is credible and they can trust, more than someone who shares their ideas. ‘More than anything else, they want to know you are a straight shooter,’ he added.” Luntz’s speech was titled “Massaging the Conservative Message for Voters.” Thompson reported, “Introducing Mr. Luntz yesterday, former Reform party leader Preston Manning praised the work Mr. Luntz had done for him several years ago. During his speech, Mr. Luntz mentioned that he had met with Mr. Harper – whom he referred to on a first-name basis – Friday and had posed for a picture together.”

The U.S. style smear campaign was particularly ugly; it involved labelling Liberal leader Stéphane Dion as a “flip flopper,” a flake who could not be trusted. Among other things, Dion was vilified of divided loyalties because of his dual Canadian and French citizenship, “flip flopping” on the Anti-terrorism Act, Kyoto, NATO, sending troops to Afghanistan and Bill C-257, which would outlaw replacement workers in strikes against employers in federally-regulated industries.

The Civitas Society has been described as “a society for conservative and libertarian academics, think-tankers, lobbyists and journalists.” According to Sourcewatch, “Civitas Society is a low-key but influential Conservative group in Canada with close ties to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In its last annual report filed with the government, Mr. Harper’s chief of staff, Ian Brodie, is listed as a director and Mr. Brodie attended the group’s annual conference in May 2006 held at the luxurious Brookstreet Hotel in the Kanata high-tech research park of the Canadian capital, Ottawa. Brodie worked for Harper for six years, including three years as his chief of staff and two years as executive director of the Conservative Party of Canada.Brodie is now Associate Director, Centre for Military, Strategic and Security Studies, University of Calgary. He seems to have replaced Roland Paris on the Agenda Working Group of the Halifax International Security Forum, when the latter was appointed Trudeau’s senior foreign policy advisor in November 2015. Montreal Economic Institute president Michel Kelly-Gagnon is also a member of Civitas.

Civitas has close links with the monopoly media. Members include Don Martin of the National Post and CTV, and Brian Lee Crowley, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), a U.S. and corporate-funded free-market think tank in Halifax [but at the time editor of the Globe and Mail – TS], and a member of the advisory Board of the Frontier Institute for Public Policy in Winnipeg, Manitoba. AIMS was set up in the mid-1990s with U.S. $500,000 from the Donner Foundation and a like amount from Atlas Research, a so-called “libertarian” think tank, which has established an international network of some 200 think tanks.

The group’s current president is Lorne Gunter, a Toronto lawyer, Zionist and columnist with the National Post, now owned by a U.S. vulture fund. His columns are also carried in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Edmonton Journal, Victoria Colonist, etc. He is the editorial director of the Canadian Centre for Libertarian Studies which, like AIMS, follows the economic theories of Friedrich von Hayek. Hayek, an Austrian-born economist, wrote The Road to Serfdom in the early 1940s, a paean to unbridled capitalism which claimed that Nazism originated in socialism, not capitalism, and that fascism had its origins, not in monopoly capitalism, but in any form of central economic planning. Hayek went on to serve Chile’s fascist dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, as Honorary Chairman of Chile’s economic think tank, “Centro de Estudios Públicos”, which was charged with erasing any vestiges of socialism from Chile. At last count, the Pinochet regime was responsible for over 40,000 deaths. (Dougal MacDonald, “Canadian Wheat Board: Who Is Really Trying to Rig the CWB Vote?,” TML Weekly, No. 7 August 22, 2011)

***

In Israel, a former senior intelligence officer, who works hand-in-hand with the United States, has been running the Zionist state’s global disinformation for the last two years. “I want to create a community of fighters,” Sima Vaknin-Gil said soon after her appointment to the strategic affairs ministry in 2016. She had been a high-ranking officer with an Israeli spy agency, spending more than 20 years as a spy in Israeli air force intelligence, rising to the rank of brigadier general. During that time, she worked “closely with US officials and the highest ranking officers of Israeli intelligence.” “She said she planned to “flood the internet” with Israeli propaganda that would be publicly distanced from the government.”

“Strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan’s official diary for 2016, obtained by Israeli activists and translated by The Electronic Intifada, confirms his department’s intimate links with the country’s spy agencies. … On 20 March, Erdan apparently met with the “head of 8200” – a reference to Unit 8200, the Israeli spies responsible for leading cyberwarfare efforts. According to veterans of Unit 8200, its activities include eavesdropping on the communications of Palestinian civilians living under Israeli occupation for political persecution or to find embarrassing personal or sexual information that could be used to blackmail them into collaborating.”

Radio frequencies, air waves, satellite feeds, social media, cellular or mobile phone uploads, communication networks, and the internet are all part of the this psychological warfare. The strategic affairs ministry campaign includes a $740,000 budget “to promote content on social media and search engines, including Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”

All U.S. and Canadian media – especially the New York Times – love to exaggerate and even fabricate success of Israeli intelligence.

Conservative estimates put the total amount of U.S. aid to Israel since 1949 at close to $150 billion. Although that aid is commonly classified as “military,” much of it once flowed through the U.S. Agency for International development as cash assistance. For perspective, consider that, according to numbers published by the U.S. Government Accounting Office, USAID’s total spending since 1962 has been about $273 billion. 

3. The role of specific publications and specific journalists cannot be underemphasized. For example, the correspondent featured by the Toronto Star from the Washington Post, whose sole owner is a CIA contractor, is Ruth Eglash, a Jerusalem-based journalist who is on the board of the Foreign Press Association in that city. Her judgment is open to question, to say the least. Recently she liked a Facebook post by Yair Netanyahu, 26 and the eldest son of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, suggesting that anti-fascists and activists with Black Lives Matter are a bigger threat to Israel – and perhaps to Jews throughout the world – than the neo-Nazis whose recent rampage in Charlottesville left one person dead. It came on the eve of an Israeli plan for the “removal of 35,000 non-Jewish black people on account of their skin colour”, as described by Haaretz’s Gideon Levy (click here). When Eglash was hired in 2013, The Electronic Intifada reported a potential conflict of interest: Her husband heads a company that has for years been deeply involved in efforts to promote Israel and Israeli government policy. “In 2014, the year Israel launched its most recent massive attack on Gaza, Michael Eglash’s public relations firm Upstart Ideas listed as clients Israel’s foreign ministry, tourism ministry and several pro-Israel groups. The company no longer publishes its client list.”

Eglash is hardly unique. Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic is a former Israeli prison guard. Neither the Cairo bureau chief of the Times nor the Washington Post’s Beirut correspondent, who misreports the war on Syria, knows Arabic. The former Times correspondent in Jerusalem had a son in the Israeli occupation arm. In April 2017, the Times appointed a former editor of the Jerusalem Post, Bret Stephens, as an op-ed columnist. “Stephens, who made his journalistic debut in an article for Commentary, then a publication of the American Jewish Committee, has been a popular guest speaker on the after-dinner and conference circuit of American Jewish organizations, including the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” (Algemeiner) More significantly, in the context of the development of the Saudi-Israel alliance, is that his immediate background is Wall Street, having served as a foreign affairs columnist and deputy editorial page editor  the Wall Street Journal since 1998. Longtime columnist Thomas Friedman, in his From Beirut To Jerusalem, advocates that Israel was a peaceful and democratic state but the Arab neighbourhood infested and polluted it. As if Israel was not originally and always bad in itself, racist in itself, and repressive in itself. This is a state which jailed poets from early on. A state which sent women to jail for speeches about Palestine, where colours of the Palestinian flags were banned, where the v-sign was considered illegal.

The role of this media is to facilitate the disinformation of the state. The New York Times, Washington Post as well as the Globe and Mail played a major role in agitation for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 – every single newspaper in Canada backed this war which was opposed by Canadians. They are reprising this role today. In regards to Syria, the role of this media is to facilitate the disinformation of the state: it attempts to depict the fighting in Syria as a “civil war”, in sectarian terms as a regional war between Shias and Sunnis, or to demonize the president of the Syrian Arab Republic and Syria’s allies. When Trump attacked Syria in May, 2017 they all set their differences with his regime aside: according to a FAIR summary, “Five major US newspapers – the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News – offered no opinion space to anyone opposed to Donald Trump’s Thursday night airstrikes.” “Cable news coverage was equally fawning.”

All news reports in the Canadian media on the war against Syria between 2011 and 2016 were supplied from abroad. In that period, a grand total of three Canadian journalists visited Syria; Mahdi Darious Nazemroaya, Eva Bartlett and Tony Seed, all independent. None has visited Yemen.

About Syria, look at this ridiculous, comic claim in the New York Times: “The American-led coalition has retaken 97 percent of the territory once held by the militants.”

Analyst Mahdi Darious Nazemroaya writes of the information war thusly: “This information war is a contest where the international news networks and major newspapers act as armies, the weapons being used are the state and the media, and the frontline is the interactive space known as the public sphere.” To reduce this to a matter of “right wing” or “corporate bias” or of a Zionist lobby is to disinform people on the nature of the forces in combat and the solution: to build an independent media of the working class which champions enlightened solutions to the conflict.

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4 Comments

Filed under Media, Journalism & Disinformation

4 responses to “Ahed Tamimi: Erasing the violence, erasing the history

  1. Mondoloni

    pourrai-je voir ce site en français? indiquez moi la marche à suivre, je vous prie.

  2. Pingback: The CBC and censorship of the news from Palestine | Tony Seed's Weblog

  3. Pingback: CBC is unabashedly supporting Israeli ethnic cleansing, war crimes and apartheid | Tony Seed's Weblog

  4. Pingback: How not to do an interview with the media: A confession by Amira Hass | Tony Seed's Weblog

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