Chris Hedges, Ali Abunimah – The Israeli propaganda machine and a compliant press that reports Israeli lies as fact

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Israel, like all settler colonial projects, is built on lies – the lie that the land historically belongs to the colonizers, the lie that Palestinians have no national identity, the lie that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the lie that a peaceful settlement is thwarted by the Palestinians rather than the Israelis. This mendacity is especially prevalent when Israel carries out its murderous assaults against the Palestinians, including the current genocide in Gaza.

The Hebrew word for this propaganda is “hasbara” or “explanation.” Hasbara is a combination of agitprop, propaganda and censorship. It is designed to ensure unity among the Jews in Israel and abroad; sustain the support of allies, especially the United States; discredit and delegitimize critics who are branded, even if they are Jewish, as anti-Semites and control the narrative within the media and academia.

Hasbara is designed to obscure and neutralize the gross violations of human rights and international law that defines Israel’s occupation. The effort includes the maintenance of websites, social media accounts, and messages under false identities as well as the manipulation of browser functions, search engine algorithms, and other automated mechanisms to control what information is presented, and what is obscured, to Internet users.

Satellite organizations, including American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC, the Canary Mission and “CAMERA” – the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America – along with Hillel Houses, Jewish campus organizations, carry out viscous coordinated campaigns of character assassination against those who champion Palestinians rights and denounce Israeli apartheid.

As much of the world recoils in revulsion over Israel’s slaughter in Gaza, which includes carpet bombing, hundreds of dead and wounded civilians a day, weaponizing starvation and infectious diseases, Hasbara has gone into overdrive – beheaded babies, mass rapes, group executions in a nursery, children hung from clotheslines, infants incinerated in ovens, pregnant woman having their stomachs cut open and the fetus knifed in front of them and their other children, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been infiltrated by Hamas and hospitals in Gaza serve as Hamas command centers and are therefore legitimate targets.

Most of the media, including The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC and The Intercept, have swallowed this propaganda and spat it back to their readers or viewers as fact. A handful of publications, Electronic Intifada, The Grayzone, Mondoweiss and Al Jazeera have doggedly exposed the lies spread by Israel’s vast disinformation campaign, often forcing mainstream publications, including The New York Times, to retract or backpedal on their reporting. Joining me to discuss Israeli hasbara is Ali Abunimah, one of the founders of The Electronic Intifada.

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