American Herald Tribune | David Macilwain: Before the launching of the war on Syria in 2011 by agents of the US and its Middle Eastern allies, the focus of my political activism was almost exclusively Palestine. “Self-radicalised” is a suitable descriptor for the slow awakening of my awareness of the way things were in the Israeli-occupied territory and the Arab and Islamic world around it.
As with many of my contemporaries, the 2003 attack on Iraq was a springboard in this radicalisation, not out of sympathy and understanding of Iraq but rather from antagonism to the US neo-con regime with its UK and Australian allies. Israel’s central role in orchestrating the attack on Iraq, as well as the pretext for it eighteen months earlier didn’t become clear – to me at least – until sometime later, when my antagonism began to concentrate on the Zionist State.
“Antagonism” doesn’t begin to describe the feelings that developed during Israel’s 26-day massacre of innocents of Gaza in 2009 however, nor the absolute disdain and disgust at Western leaders’ failure to condemn it. Notably too, the failure of Western media organisations to report the daily atrocities being committed by the IDF in Gaza revealed the extent of networks of propaganda support for the Zionist entity.
In the controversy that followed “Operation Cast Lead”, which finally came to an end just after Obama’s inauguration, it also became clear who was prepared to stand up for the people of Gaza and for Palestine and who was not. Many organisations we may have thought to be “impartial” turned out to be compromised when it came to Palestine, including the UN and NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Their failure to react and respond appropriately to the terrible injustices and atrocities inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza, in the false name of fighting “Hamas terrorism”, gave huge impetus to the BDS movement. In the absence of any real condemnation of Israel’s barbarity, leave alone sanctions, or enforcement of outstanding UN resolutions, boycott and divestment became the only means to support Palestinians’ rights.
One could never say that the BDS campaign against Israel’s occupation was a success, though there were successes. In countries with a strong Israel lobby like the US, UK, Australia and France, the lobby’s fightback with both propaganda and legal instruments began almost before any real action could be taken, while Zionist infiltration and influence on government members made sure Israeli interests were protected. The associated academic and cultural boycott – PACBI – had more success in influencing public opinion, with the help of some great artists like Roger Waters and Ken Loach, but the fightback against them was even more intense, and continues to this day.
In an attempt to convince ourselves that something has been achieved over the last ten years, we may consider this reaction to the boycott campaigns as a recognition of their effectiveness – or at least potential effectiveness; the opinion of one influential celebrity can sometimes change the minds of millions.
But doesn’t Israel know this!
The truth is that the state of Israel is founded on something like the antithesis of a boycott campaign – as a state of mind cultivated with centuries of sectarian propaganda. How else could you create a whole society in which individuals believe themselves to be “exceptional” and racially superior to the native inhabitants of the land they are occupying by force? A society for which militant racism is the sine qua non of its nationhood and identity.
Not only have Israel’s leaders and educators achieved this “state of denial” amongst the Jewish citizens and the diaspora – with some important exceptions – but they have managed to maintain credibility as a “democratic” state with Western nations against all odds. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times one points out that a state defined as “Jewish” cannot also be democratic if some of its citizens are not Jewish.
The immediate and current context of this discussion is the fiesta of Zionist propaganda that just took place in London’s Roundhouse centre, called “TLV in LDN”, and the protest campaign against it by a group of artists, including those venerable veterans named above. But the context is rather different from that of ten years ago when the siege of Gaza began, following Hamas’ victory in Palestinian elections.
In fact it begins to look a little desperate, and the defence of this opinion-twisting offensive a bit hysterical. The “facts on the ground” created in what was once Palestine by the Zionist regime in those ten years now mean that Israel’s legitimacy can only be defended with increasingly shrill accusations and violence against Palestinians and their true supporters in the West.
But there may be another reason for the creators and defenders of “The Israel Project” to have a feeling of panic – such as that shown by Netanyahu on his recent visit to Sochi. As Sharmine Narwani has described, things are changing rapidly on Israel’s borders, with Jordan and Lebanon moving to restore relations with Damascus, and other sometime allies like Turkey and Egypt, and even the US seeking to cooperate with Russia and Iran.
There is also something happening within Palestine, as the new Hamas leadership seeks reconciliation with Syria and Iran – effectively returning to the position of ten years earlier, when Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal lived in Damascus, and Iran was a key mediator for the democratically elected Hamas government.
Most ironic however is the situation for so many supporters of the Palestinian struggle, who tragically had followed Hamas’ lead and deserted Syria in 2011. One can hardly understate the devastating effect on the Syrian conflict, and on Western perceptions of it from this historic rift in the Resistance. That section of Western society that showed most concern for Palestinians, including many solidarity groups as well as human rights NGOs was effectively duped into siding with Israel against Syria.
While this “kidnapping” of the most influential anti-war and anti-Zionist activist populations was achieved primarily thanks to propaganda from Al Jazeera and its Western media partners like the Guardian, the contribution from groups like Avaaz and Amnesty suggests another partner in the propaganda war on Syria.
Given the IDF’s vital support role for Al Qaeda groups in Southern Syria, we might safely assume that Israel’s misinformation industry has also been working overtime in pursuit of the state’s cynical and criminal objectives. One key event in the propaganda war on Syria supports that assumption – the “siege” of the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk – whose reality was so twisted by “humanitarian” NGOs and even by the UNRWA as to portray Al Qaeda as defending innocent civilians against the Syrian Army. The object of that propaganda campaign was creating a pretext for “humanitarian intervention” to save starving Palestinians from the Syrian Government, when it was actually protecting them.
As Palestinians in the occupied territories and in Gaza increasingly now look to Syria and its allies for defence against the malevolence and lies of their oppressive occupier, it’s past time for their many genuine supporters and allies in the West to get on the right side of history and join the Resistance! And that resistance includes fighting off Israel’s ingeniously engineered “cultural offensives”.