[News] Israeli propaganda stunt exploits Gaza children
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 28 17:47:57 EDT 2016
Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> 27
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
During the most brutal days of apartheid in South Africa, the racist
regime produced reams of propaganda
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
and /Selling Apartheid/
such propaganda was often generated under the guidance of the regime’s
intelligence agencies, with the aim of counteracting growing
international criticism and pressure.
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
“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
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
make the same type of claims that BDS hurts Palestinians
more than it helps them.
These claims aim to distract from the devastating economic impact and
human rights abuses
directly caused by Israel’s occupation and illegal colonization of the
The manipulative South African propaganda came to mind when I saw a
Facebook post by COGAT
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>
— COGAT (@cogat_israel) April 26, 2016
The occupation authority posted photos of the children, including the
one at the top of this article, with their faces blurred, on Facebook
Gaza writer Refaat Alareer
“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
including children, from leaving the besieged territory for lifesaving
In the first 10 months of 2015, COGAT denied
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
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
against 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, about half of whom are aged 18
I am against Israel massacring 551 children as part of its most recent
war in Gaza
and then claiming this as “self-defense.”
I am against Israel destroying vast swathes of Gaza then blocking
by maintaining a siege, which although devastating to Palestinians is
for Israeli companies.
According to a recent survey
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
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
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.
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.
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