Hypocrisy begins at home

Salman Masalha

Hypocrisy begins at home

It may be that the whole world is dazzlingly two-faced, but we should nevertheless focus on the hypocrites in our own region, since after all, hypocrisy begins at home.

Some six months ago, while it was still licking the wounds caused by the barbs hurled at it from all sides because of the lead it cast in Gaza, Israel was given a chance to improve its image. It seized the opportunity presented by the horrendous earthquake that devastated Haiti and rapidly dispatched a relief delegation. Thus, while denying the children of Gaza pencils and notebooks, Israel poured aid into a country thousands of kilometers away.

Perhaps now, in the wake of the Turkish flotilla affair, there are specimens of the local breed of hypocrites who are silently praying for some natural disaster to strike somewhere in the world that will enable Israel to unsheathe this rusty propaganda weapon once again.

But hypocrisy is not confined to Israelis. It seems that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has learned a lesson from Israel: The Turkish flotilla to Gaza was in fact one big public relations exercise. Erdogan noticed that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was raking in the whole popular Arab jackpot called Palestine, and he also wanted to grab some of it. The Palestinian-Israeli jackpot is a photogenic one, and every home with a satellite dish on its roof watches what happens to it.

And now there's talk of another "humanitarian" flotilla in aid of Gaza. Another convoy of hypocrisy, well-covered by the media, is setting sail, this time from Lebanon, of all places. Now that the Lebanese have boosted their national pride by registering the world's biggest dish of hummus in the Guinness Book of Records, they are bidding for the record in hypocrisy, soon to be seen on television screens everywhere. For it is not humanitarian motives or concern for the Palestinians that are making all these hypocrites restless. All they want is spectacle, footage and headlines. Because as we have already said, the Israeli-Palestinian arena is the most photogenic arena in the world.

If they had any genuine humanitarian concern, the Lebanese would stage protests against the harsh blockade that has been imposed on the Palestinian refugee camps in their country for decades. You have to read Amnesty International's reports on the situation of the Palestinians in Lebanon to comprehend the humanitarian disaster there. This hypocrisy was best described by a European volunteer in those camps, who told the organizers of the new flotilla: "You love the Palestinians in Gaza and hate your own Palestinians."

Since 1948, the Palestinians have been a pawn in the hands of the Arab and Muslim regimes. The problem was exacerbated because the Palestinians themselves willingly accepted that role. And so we are witnessing a situation in which the Palestinian nation, even before it has taken on a coherent shape, has split into two: Gaza, backed by Iran and Syria, and the West Bank, backed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And then there are the "opsimists" (to use the oxymoron coined by the late Palestinian author Emil Habibi ) - the Israeli Palestinians sitting on the fence and trying to please everyone.

One reason for all this is the absence of a Palestinian leadership - political, social or cultural - worthy of the name. Six decades after the Nakba, the Palestinians have not even managed to turn themselves into a nation with a clear national agenda.

It looks as if this place, the cradle of monotheism, will continue to be a pawn in the hands of regional and international powers, a region so well covered by the media that all of the world's hypocrites rush over here to try to wipe away the moral stains that have tarnished them.
Published: Op-Ed, Haaretz, June 24, 2010

For Hebrew, press here

All in the Same Boat

Salman Masalha

All in The Same Boat

The analytic mind who holds the political security portfolio in the “didn’t know, didn’t hear, didn’t see” government of Israel has finally found the light at the end of the open sewer.

“The hasbara (public relations, propaganda) in the operation was flawed,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the Labor Party cabinet ministers’ forum.


Now the very energetic and very catalytic spokesman for the pirate army is bombarding the media with immaculately edited films and cheap, colorful propaganda pictures. However, the more films and pictures the spokesman distributes, the more he sinks himself and those who send him, both the state and the government, in the pool of quicksand into which they have jumped.

The energetic spokesman has distributed a film in which supposedly a stun grenade explodes on the rubber dinghy of the naval commando soldiers who closed in on the Marmara. However, no edited film can launder the piratical crime committed by the Israel Defense Forces out in the Mediterranean Sea. The spokesman only forgot to mention one very simple fact: This grenade is an IDF grenade the soldiers lobbed in their attempt to get control of the huge uproar taking place on the deck. It can’t be helped that this is the stun grenade that fell on the rubber dinghy circling the Marmara to cut it off.

The more one watches the films and examines the pictures distributed by the hasbara captains, the clearer the pictures become and expose their wretchedness. Here is another photo distributed by the IDF spokesman. So, what do we see in this “incriminating” picture?

The analytical minds that sobered up looked for more and more incriminating findings and gathered together the objects in the previous picture. Thus in the new picture we see some more simple kitchen knives as well as the same knife with a curved blade from the previous picture.

After an exacting search two more “very incriminating” items were found in the ship’s toolbox. The analytic mind’s catalytic spokesman carefully added them and arranged them clearly in the foreground of the new color picture. It is easy to discern that there are two rusty saws, which had apparently been lying around in some crate without anyone having touched them or used them for a very long time.

I show this picture to a friend and explain my findings from the picture. Sarcastically, she replies: “Very evil people, those Turks. It was all planned. They knew that rusty tools can cause tetanus and other horrible diseases.”

In the caption under the pictures published on the Ynet site the IDF Spokesman says: “The activists on the deck were armed with knives,” and “No one is really talking about the knives that were found on the ship.”

About this we shall say: You are right. So here we are, talking about them.


See also: "A Picture Worth 190 Words"


published also in: Middle East Transparent

For Hebrew, press here

A Picture Worth 190 Words

Salman Masalha

A Picture Worth 190 Words
The IDF, Israel’s pirate army, which has taken nine lives and wounded scores of other civilians who sailed in the humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip needs a propagandist to distribute “suspicious” findings and launder the crime.

There is no need to say much about the picture distributed by the IDF spokesman. Just a brief glance at the picture suffices to teach us about the “analytic minds” in the heads of its leaders. The picture has been distributed, of course, to serve Israeli propaganda after the dimensions of the crime it committed at sea were revealed to the world.

What is seen in the picture?
Here is the list:
13 ordinary kitchen knives
4 ordinary pocketknives
1 knife with a curved blade
2 ordinary screwdrivers
1 voltage-testing screwdriver

So, what can be said about the picture?
Considering the hundreds of people who set sail on the decks of the Turkish ship Marmara, apparently its kitchen for serving the hundreds of passengers is quite wretched. Never mind the ship’s toolbox.

The “wretched propaganda” picture reveals a wretched army as well as a government wretched from head to toe.

See also: All in the Same Boat

For Hebrew, press here

Martin Niemoller - First They Came

Martin Niemöller

First They Came

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialist
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.


For Arabic translation, press here.