[News] Israeli propaganda stunt exploits Gaza children

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 28 17:47:57 EDT 2016


*https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-propaganda-stunt-exploits-gaza-children

*

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> 27 
April 2016


  Israeli propaganda stunt exploits Gaza children

Image of Gaza children taken for a day out at a nature reserve by 
Israel’s COGAT occupation authority. COGAT posted the image on its 
Facebook page.

During the most brutal days of apartheid in South Africa, the racist 
regime produced reams of propaganda 
<http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/01/selling-apartheid-new-book-lays-bare-south-africas-propaganda-war>, 
including glossy magazines that “featured images of wonderful wild 
animals, sunsets and happy Black people on the beach.”

As South African author Ron Nixon documents in two books, /Operation 
Blackwash/ 
<http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-09-06-a-chronicle-of-apartheids-propaganda-war-on-black-america/> 
and /Selling Apartheid/ 
<http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/S/bo25367047.html>, 
such propaganda was often generated under the guidance of the regime’s 
intelligence agencies, with the aim of counteracting growing 
international criticism and pressure.


    “Operation Heartbreak”

One scheme, part of a campaign backed by the racist government in the 
late 1980s, was cynically dubbed “Operation Heartbreak.” It involved a 
Black US pastor bringing a group of American children to deliver dolls 
to members of Congress.

“Each doll represented a child who would be harmed by the sanctions 
Congress had imposed on South Africa,” Nixon writes 
<https://100r.org/2013/10/operation-blackwash-apartheid-south-africas-campaign-to-buy-off-black-america/>. 
“Organizers of the event also said the dolls represented children harmed 
by the tactics of the African National Congress and its all-out war 
against the apartheid government.”

These propaganda messages failed to stop the growing momentum for 
boycott, divestment and sanctions on South Africa – pressure that 
eventually helped bring down the white supremacist regime and usher in a 
non-racial democracy.

But similar tactics are now being revived by the apartheid government of 
Israel, as part of its all-out assault against the BDS movement.

Nowadays, the same type of bogus grassroots campaigns 
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/anti-bds-group-sawtona-impersonating-palestinians/16326> 
make the same type of claims that BDS hurts Palestinians 
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/how-todays-liberal-zionists-echo-apartheid-south-africas-defenders/13168> 
more than it helps them.

These claims aim to distract from the devastating economic impact and 
human rights abuses 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/end-all-business-israeli-settlements-says-human-rights-watch> 
directly caused by Israel’s occupation and illegal colonization of the 
West Bank.


    Israel’s propaganda

The manipulative South African propaganda came to mind when I saw a 
Facebook post by COGAT 
<https://www.facebook.com/cogat.israel/photos/pcb.997736720322012/997735766988774/?type=3&theater>, 
the Israeli military authority that rules the lives of millions of 
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“A few minutes ago, a group of 23 children from Gaza crossed through 
‎Erez Crossing to have a day of fun in Israel,” the Tuesday post stated.

COGAT said the children “went for a walk through the #‎naturereserve Gan 
HaShlosha (Sahne) in the north of the country,” and wished them “a day 
full of fun and adventure.”

    LIVE: A few minutes ago, a group of 23 children from #Gaza
    <https://twitter.com/hashtag/Gaza?src=hash> crossed #Erez
    <https://twitter.com/hashtag/Erez?src=hash> Crossing to have a day
    of fun in #Israel <https://twitter.com/hashtag/Israel?src=hash>
    pic.twitter.com/KsYncAERE0 <https://t.co/KsYncAERE0>

    — COGAT (@cogat_israel) April 26, 2016
    <https://twitter.com/cogat_israel/status/724885689062535168>

The occupation authority posted photos of the children, including the 
one at the top of this article, with their faces blurred, on Facebook 
and Twitter.

“Cool,” commented 
<https://www.facebook.com/cogat.israel/posts/997736720322012?comment_id=998333260262358&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D> 
Gaza writer Refaat Alareer 
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/refaat-alareer> sarcastically, 
“Now we Palestinians feel OK about the thousands of kids Israel has 
murdered and the seven decades of occupation, oppression and humiliation.”

It should be noted that this is the same COGAT that routinely blocks 
patients from Gaza 
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/gaza-patients-battle-cancer-and-israeli-siege/15576>, 
including children, from leaving the besieged territory for lifesaving 
treatment.

In the first 10 months of 2015, COGAT denied 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/israels-deadly-restrictions-palestinian-patients> 
1,035 Palestinians in Gaza exit permits to receive necessary treatment 
in the occupied West Bank, present-day Israel or Jordan. That represents 
almost twice as many denials as were issued the entire previous year.

And yet when it is helpful to Israeli propaganda, COGAT allows a few 
children out of Gaza for a single day.


    Destroying children’s lives

Israel has tried to pull off a propaganda stunt with Gaza children for a 
while – an effort to use orphans from Gaza in a similar manner was 
foiled in 2014 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/revealed-gaza-orphans-israel-trip-was-government-backed-pr-stunt> 
when Hamas put a stop to it.

Palestinian media, citing Israeli media, reported 
<http://zamnpress.com/news/97159> that this time the trip was given the 
go-ahead by Hamas after the intervention of Qatar.

The defenders of such cynical gimmicks will undoubtedly claim that 
critics like myself, or Alareer, are against Palestinian children having 
fun; of course we are not.

I am against Israel imposing conditions that historian Ilan Pappe has 
termed “incremental genocide 
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/israels-incremental-genocide-gaza-ghetto/13562>” 
against 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, about half of whom are aged 18 
or under.

I am against Israel massacring 551 children as part of its most recent 
war in Gaza 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/balance-un-gaza-report-cant-hide-massive-israeli-war-crimes> 
and then claiming this as “self-defense.”

I am against Israel destroying vast swathes of Gaza then blocking 
reconstruction 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/tens-thousands-still-displaced-gaza> 
by maintaining a siege, which although devastating to Palestinians is 
very lucrative 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ryan-rodrick-beiler/how-israel-makes-money-blockading-gaza> 
for Israeli companies.

According to a recent survey 
<http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/idps_report_april_2016_english.pdf> by 
the UN monitoring group OCHA, 44,000 Gaza children whose homes were 
destroyed in the 2014 Israeli attack are still displaced.

“Around 225,000 children in Gaza require psychosocial support and child 
protection services,” the report adds.

Will Israel allow them all to visit a nature reserve?

I am against Israel’s systematic abuses of Palestinian children in the 
occupied West Bank, including routine killings with no accountability 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/impunity> and the fact that Israel 
is the only country in the world to annually prosecute hundreds of 
children (Palestinians only) in military courts 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/number-palestinian-children-israeli-prisons-soars>.

I am against all this and I am also against Israel then using a very 
tiny number of children from Gaza in a photo-op to falsely portray 
itself as benevolent and caring.

Ironically, the propaganda – or /hasbara/ – appears to have backfired, 
at least with many of the Israelis who reacted with outrage to COGAT’s post.

“Shame on you,” wrote 
<https://www.facebook.com/cogat.israel/photos/a.757361664359520.1073741828.724192144343139/997735766988774/?type=3&comment_id=998300996932251&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R3%22%7D> 
Leat Bodenheimer in a typical comment, “There are lots of Jewish 
children who would have liked this and instead you went and took a 
murderous enemy in the hope that they will love you.”

Such pervasive attitudes 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/death-arabs> toward Palestinians 
underscore that the children of Gaza are not victims of a natural 
disaster who just need a nice day out to forget their woes.

They are victims of Israel, its brutal wars, racism, occupation, 
settler-colonialism and siege. They need an end to Israel’s oppression 
and they need justice for what Israel has done and is doing to them.

Israel’s cynical exploitation of these children should cut no more ice 
with anyone who cares about Palestinian rights than the crude South 
African propaganda did with those committed to ending apartheid.


    Update

Shortly after this article was published, COGAT appears to have deleted 
the Facebook post. Perhaps even they figured out that this propaganda 
would not fly.


-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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