May 29, 2008

In the Propaganda Game, Israel Easily Wins

Posted in Israel-Palestine tagged , , , , , , , , , at 2:32 pm by Mazin

By Stuart Littlewood

Some time ago Hamas complained that the Palestinian Authority was not getting its message across thanks to “poorly qualified or unqualified spokespersons with inadequate political and linguistic abilities”.

Diplomacy had failed and the Palestinians needed “professional spokespersons with excellent knowledge of the world and mastery of foreign languages, especially English, to tell the world in a straightforward manner that Israel is a murderer, liar and land thief…”

How right Hamas is. Israel is the undeserving winner in the propaganda game. The Palestinians squander their chances and make little impact even though truth and justice are on their side. They occupy the moral high ground but consistently lose the all-important war of words. Why? The Palestinian General Delegation in London, for example, is blessed with two very talented people who should be making an impression.

Professor Manuel Hassassian took up his post as ambassador two and a half years ago, arriving at a critical moment in Palestinian diplomacy. He’s an academic “big gun” – a BA in Political Science from the American University of Beirut, an MA in International Relations from Toledo University, Ohio, USA, and a PhD in Comparative Politics from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Before his appointment to this vital London job he was executive vice-president of Bethlehem University as well as professor of political science and president of the Palestinian-European-American Cooperation in Education (PEACE) programme. Among other things, he’s an expert on Palestinian civil society and citizenship, the right of refugees to return and church affairs. And he’s very articulate.

Husam Zomlot is the Oxford Research Group’s Middle East consultant and political adviser to the Palestinian diplomatic effort in the UK. Another highly qualified academic, Zomlot has a BA in Economics and Political Science, an MSc in Development Studies, and his PhD thesis dealt with international peace building and post-conflict reconstruction aid programmes.

He has worked with the UN, the London School of Economics and the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute. He lectured on international economics at the University of London and has contributed to several books, including State formation in Palestine: viability and governance during a social transformation – heavy stuff by the sound of it. Zomlot is an expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Palestinian and Arab politics, transitional economies, and bilateral and multilateral negotiations.

These are the voices appointed to speak to Western diplomats and media on behalf of a dispossessed, tormented and humiliated people in what is possibly the world’s hottest of hot-spots. The General Delegation also has a public relations person, so with a team like this the Palestinians surely can’t go wrong.
During the Palestinian elections (January 2006) I tuned in to British TV and radio expecting informed comment from key Palestinians. The BBC wheeled in people whose English was often so bad as to be almost unintelligible, while giving generous air-time to well-rehearsed Israeli propagandists.

This prompted a letter of frustration to the BBC. “Why wasn’t the Palestinian ambassador at the forefront of your election news coverage?” I wanted to know. “I understand from the Palestinian Delegation in London that he was interviewed for the World Service and one or two digital channels, but that hardly gave mainstream viewers such as myself a chance to hear the authentic voice of Palestine…”

The BBC’s reply gave links to a few reports most of which had indeed been broadcast on the World Service rather than domestic channels. “I saw and heard none of them,” I wrote back. “Also you do not say why the official voice of Palestine in the UK, Professor Manuel Hassassian, is so seldom heard.”
Is Hassassian’s team not pushy enough? Has the tame Fatah administration in Ramallah ordered them to dumb down and not rock the boat? Or is it a case of not being “savvy” enough? One thing is certain: they are no match for the Israeli lie machine.

I twice asked the General Delegation’s London office to copy me on all press releases, and they twice promised to do so. I have received nothing except a few notices about forthcoming demonstration and suchlike, nothing a journalist could use to develop a good story. Are they not bothering to brief the press and TV? Is there no attempt to educate and inform?

How are British people supposed to understand the Palestinian point of view? The appalling situation in the West Bank and Gaza, which can be traced back to Britain’s foolishness 90 years ago, is massively relevant to us in the West today: it’s about Israel’s grand theft of the Holy Land, no less, and the terrorizing of its Christian and Muslim communities.

Hamas’s Haniyeh, Al-Zahar and Abu Zuri, and even the Catholic priest Fr Manuel Musallam, all bottled up in Gaza, seem far more effective with their limited access to news organizations than Hassassian and Zumlot in London with the world’s media on their doorstep. It is puzzling that Prof Hassassian, who comes from the besieged town of Bethlehem and ran a university that has been closed 12 times by the Israeli invader and shelled by Israeli tanks, apparently cannot make himself heard. As a Christian Palestinian with the highest credentials, one might have thought he’d find a ready audience here in Britain.

But academic guns are not necessarily the right calibre for counter-propaganda work, and Hamas have a point. Getting the message across, exposing Israeli disinformation, broadcasting the truth and setting the news agenda are tasks that require diplomats and senior politicians to be properly trained in Western media and publicity skills. The Palestinian Authority needs a shrewd communication strategy, a more proactive style and the right people to carry it off.

They must be able to refute and demolish Israel’s distorted definition of the conflict and re-frame it in Palestine’s terms, based on truth and justice.

Otherwise, the General Delegation in London might as well pack its bags.

-Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information visit:



  1. dcbarton said,

    In order to truly understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict you have to get past the hatred of Israel and look at the facts. The facts are that the Palestinians are not innocent victims. They started the conflicts as soon as Israel was formed as a nation. Palestinian landowners started selling land to the future Israelis as early as the 1930’s, then after Israel was recognized as a sovereign nation by the UN, the Palestinians, Iraq, Egypt and several other nations all attacked Israel. The land Israel “occupies” was taken in that war. Everytime Israel tries to give some land back in a peace deal, the Palestinians attack again. The Palestinians like to cry that they are victims, but the truth you fail to recognize is that the Palestinians idea of peace is the complete destruction of Israel. They have proven that over and over again. That is not “truth and justice”. If the Palestinians really just wanted to rule themselves and be a sovereign nation and live in peace, it is easy to do, just quit attacking Israel.


  2. Mazin said,

    You surely have a very distorted outlook of the history of Israel-Palestine. Palestinians just didn’t sell their land to the Zionists.They were terrorised and murdered by the Jewish terrorist organisations such as Irgun as early as 1930’s and were forced to flee their lands especially in 1948. All what you have said is a propaganda spread by the zionists who wish to absolve themselves of all wrongdoing .

    //The Palestinians like to cry that they are victims, but the truth you fail to recognize is that the Palestinians idea of peace is the complete destruction of Israel. //

    Your comment shows how much morally bankrupt you really are.

    Bigots like you want Palestinians to sit quitely while there lands are being
    occupied by the zionists , to construct settlements , and witness ethnic cleansing of their people.

    You should read this : The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict



  3. dcbarton said,

    Me a bigot? Because I think the Palestinians should try living peacefully? After the Oslo Accords, Israel started to pull out of the West Bank, Palestinian terrorists groups immediately moved in and started firing rockets into Israel. Hamas’ charter calls for the complete destruction of Israel. Every time Israel gives an inch, the Palestinians take a foot. Palestinians hide their militias amongst the people, attack Israel, then cry victimhood when Israel retaliates and Palestinian civillians are killed. The truth is, only Palestinians can be blamed for what is happening in Palestine, try living in peace, Israel will be more than willing to live in peace as well.


  4. Mazin said,

    // After the Oslo Accords, Israel started to pull out of the West Bank, Palestinian terrorists groups immediately moved in and started firing rockets into Israel. //

    Thank you for repeating another common propaganda of the Zionist enterprise . It is time that you enlighten yourself with what really happened after the Oslo Records .



    “The United States has been a terrible ‘sponsor’ of the peace process. It has succumbed to Israeli pressure on everything, abandoning the principle of land for peace (no U.N. Resolution says anything about returning a tiny percentage, as opposed to all of the land Israel seized in 1967), pushing the lifeless Palestinian leadership into deeper and deeper holes to suit Netanyahu’s preposterous demands.

    “The fact is that Palestinians are dramatically worse off than they were before the Oslo process began. Their annual income is less than half of what it was in 1992; they are unable to travel from place to place; more of their land has been taken than ever before; more settlements exist; and Jerusalem is practically lost…

    “Every house demolishment, every expropriated dunum, every arrest and torture, every barricade, every closure, every gesture of arrogance and intended humiliation simply revives the past and reenacts Israel’s offenses against the Palestinian spirit, land, body politic. To speak about peace in such a context is to try to reconcile the irreconcilable.”
    Edward Said in “The Progressive”, March 1998


    “The explosion of Palestinian anger last September 29 put an end to the charade begun at Oslo seven years ago and labelled the ‘peace process.’ In 1993 Palestinians, along with millions of people around the world, were led to hope that Israel would withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza within five years and that Palestinians would then be free to establish an independent state. Meanwhile both sides would work out details of Israel’s withdrawal and come to an agreement on the status of Jerusalem, the future of Israeli settlements, and the return of Palestinian refugees.

    “Because of the lopsided balance of power, negotiations went nowhere and the Palestinians’ hopes were never fulfilled. The Israelis, regardless of which government was in power, quibbled over wording, demanded revisions of what had previously been agreed to, then refused to abide by the new agreements. Meanwhile successive governments were demolishing Palestinian homes, taking over Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem for Jewish housing, and seizing Palestinian land for new settlements. A massive new highway network built after 1993 on confiscated Palestinian land isolates Palestinian towns and villages from one another and from Jerusalem, forcing many Palestinians to go through Israeli checkpoints just to get to the next town…

    “According to President Clinton and most of the media, Prime Minister Ehud Barak conceded at Camp David virtually everything the Palestinians wanted, and Yasser Arafat threw away the opportunity for peace by rejecting Barak’s offer. In fact Arafat could not accept it. Barak, backed by Clinton, wanted assurance of Israel’s continued strategic control over the West Bank and Gaza, including air space and borders, and insisted that Israel retain permanent sovereignty over most of East Jerusalem, including Haram Al-Sharif. This was a deal no Arab would accept.

    “As the protests grew, army helicopters rocketed neighborhoods in several Palestinian cities, destroying entire city blocks and causing scores of casualties. Israeli tanks surrounded Palestinian towns with their guns turned toward the town. Armed Israeli civilians within the Green Line rampaged through Arab neighborhoods destroying Arab property and shouting “Death of Arabs’…Israeli police who were quick to use bullets against Palestinian stone throwers failed to restrain the Israelis and instead fired at Arabs trying to defend their homes. Two Arabs were killed.

    “The uprising was undoubtedly fueled by the resentment caused by years of daily abuse and humiliation under Israeli occupation. On September 6, a group of Israeli border police stopped three Palestinian workers as they were returning home from Israel and, for no reason at all, subjected them to 40 minutes of torture. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on September 19 that the policemen punched the three men, slammed their heads against a stone wall, forced them to swallow their own blood, and cursed their mothers and sisters. The incident only came to light because the policemen took photographs of themselves with their victims, holding their heads by the hair like hunting trophies. Israeli human rights workers said such beatings are a common occurance, but they are seldom reported.”
    Rachelle Marshall, “The Peace Process Ends in Protests and Blood”, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2000.


    “In the Oslo Agreements, Israel and the West put Palestinian leadership to a test: In exchange for an Israeli promise to gradually dismantle the mechanisms of the occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian leadership promised to stop every act of violence and terror immediately. For that purpose, all the apparatus for security coordination was created, more and more Palestinian jails were built, and demonstrators were barred from approaching the [Jewish] settlements.

    “The two sides agreed on a period of five years for completion of the new deployment and the negotiations on a final agreement. The Palestinian leadership agreed again and again to extend its trial period…From their perspective, Israel was also put to a test: Was Israel really giving up its attitude of superiority and domination, built up in order to keep the Palestinian people under its control?

    “More than seven years have gone by and Israel has security and administrative control of 61.2% of the West Bank and about 20% of the Gaza Strip and security control over another 26.8% of the West Bank. This control is what has enabled Israel to double the number of settlers in 10 years..and to seal an entire nation into restricted areas, imprisoned in a network of bypass roads meant for Jews only…

    “Israel has failed the test. Palestinians control of 12% of the West Bank does not mean that Israel has given up its attitude of superiority and domination…The bloodbath that has been going on for three weeks is the natural outcome of seven years of [Israeli] lying and deception.”

    Israeli journalist Amira Hass, “Israel Has Failed The Test,” in Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, 10/18/00.

    So the Intifada was a natural result of the brutal oppression of Palestinians ever since the so called “Peace Process” began.

    // The truth is, only Palestinians can be blamed for what is happening in Palestine, try living in peace, Israel will be more than willing to live in peace as well.//

    Let’s see who are the real trouble makers .

    “Rarely do American journalists explore the ample reasons to believe that the United States is part of the oft-decried cycle of violence. Nor, in the first half of October, was there much media analysis of the fact that the violence overwhelmingly struck at the Palestinian people.

    “Within a period of days, several dozen Palestinians were killed by heavily armed men in uniform — often described by CNN and other news outlets as ‘Israeli security forces’. Under the circumstances, it’s a notably benign-sounding term for an army that shoots down protestors.

    “As for the rock-throwing Palestinians, I have never seen or heard a single American news account describing them as ‘pro democracy demonstrators.’ Yet that would be an appropriate way to refer to people who — after more than three decades of living under occupation — are in the streets to demand self determination.

    “While Israeli soldiers and police, with their vastly superior firepower, do most of the killing…American news stories highlighted the specious ultimatums issued by Prime Minister Ehud Barak as he demanded that Palestinians end the violence — while uniformed Israelis under his authority continue to kill them…

    “Like quite a few other Jewish Americans, I’m apalled by what Israel is doing with U.S. Tax dollars. Meanwhile, as journalists go along to get along, they diminish the humanity of us all.”

    Norman Solomon, “Media Spin Remains In Sync With Israeli Occupation,” from FAIR’s Media Beat, October 14, 2000.

    More on Israeli Terrorism over here


    Persecution of Palestinian Christians by Israeli Forces :

    Also visit’s-neglect-of-a-great-injustice/

    As a final note , It is comforting that in spite of people like you , there exist moral and civilised Jews in America and abroad who recognise the oppression and damage done by Israel to the Palestinians .


  5. Mazin said,

    Here’s a bit of a “trivia” for you :

    Amnesty International’s 2008 Report on the situation of Human Rights in Israel and the Occupied Paestinian Territories

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL :Israel and the Occupied Territories
    House demolition and destruction of land and property. Executive Summary


  6. dcbarton

    Mazin is exactly right and you do have a distorted vision of reality EVEN when Israeli historians themselves prove the fact that Israel terrorized the Palestinians. Forget Historians and look at the thug Ben Gurion’s remarks and quotes. It’s documented. The likes of you (and CAMERA) try to distort the facts to “erase” the truth. I guess Israelis have not yet learned from history… that neither the Holocaust nor the Shoah in Palestine can be erased!




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