This mornings act of piracy and murder by the military wing of the state of Israel has rightly provoked outrage across the world. The Gaza freedom flotilla was an unarmed civilian humanitarian aid convoy in international waters. Yet the Israeli state propaganda (hasbara) machine is trying to construct its media spin, to justify this atrocity – they are claiming that the human rights activists were ‘Hamas terrorists’ who attacked first! This is despite the fact that the people on board the ship were an international collection of activists consisting of Jews, Muslims, Christians and others, and included citizens of America, Britain, Turkey, Israel and many more countries. On board were respected peace and human rights activists, plus parliamentarians and journalists, all attempting to bring aid to Gaza, to highlight the injustice of Israel’s blockade of Gaza which the UN has said is leading to poverty, hunger and death.
But we should beware that all states who repress a population construct a defensive wall of lies, propaganda and spin. Here in Britain we were kept in ignorance about the behavior of the british state in the north of Ireland for years. In the 1972 ‘Bloody Sunday’ massacre British troops opened fire on a civil rights demonstration. 14 people were killed. Eyewitnesses, including British and Irish journalists maintain that the soldiers fired into an unarmed crowd, or were aiming at fleeing people and those tending the wounded. After official enquiries, this is now the accepted story. Yet at the time, and for some years after, the state propaganda machine said otherwise. The British Home Secretary, speaking the next day in the House of Commons, put forward the army propaganda position that the British paratroopers had reacted to the gun and nail bomb attacks from suspected IRA members. The media spun this lie to the British public.
The same pattern can be seen in the Sharpeville massacre in Apartheid South Africa in 1960, where the South African police opened fire on a crowd of black civil rights protesters, killing 69 people. Back then, the Apartheid state and media claimed that the police were defending themselves from ‘black violence’.
The majority of White South Africans believed in the propaganda after Sharpeville, just as the majority of the British public were taken in by the propaganda after Bloody Sunday. After todays Gaza aid ship massacre, plenty of Israelis (and the international fellow travelers and apologists for Israeli state policy) will believe the propaganda as well.
This is the case everywhere. While tens of thousands of Turkish people are rightly taking to the streets in anger at the Israeli states persecution of the Palestinians, many Turks will remain in ignorance about their own states appalling treatment of the Kurdish people. Those who live inside a state that is repressing another people are the last to learn the truth.
But today, those outside the Israeli state / media bubble – i.e. the rest of the world – have seen the reality that Israel is a rouge state, out of control. Todays massacre will be a turning point, just as Sharpeville and Bloody Sunday were. Even though it took many more bloody decades of struggle for truth and justice to surface (still incompletely), it is clear that the current status quo in the middle east cannot last forever. Viva Palestina!
Another truth must surface. As Marx once said of Britain and Ireland: “A nation that oppresses another can never itself be free”.
Shalom Aleichem! שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם / Salaam-Alaikum السلام عليكم / Peace be upon you