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Israel-Palestine war: Debunking Israel's top 10 propaganda points

Since Israel launched its genocidal campaign against Palestinians in Gaza, its western propagandists have waged a battle of disinformation
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest outside of The New York Times headquarters for its coverage of the Israel-Palestine war in New York on 9 November 2023 (AP)
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest outside of the New York Times headquarters for its coverage of the Israel-Palestine war, in New York on 9 November 2023 (AP)

As soon as Israeli forces began the round-the-clock carpet bombing of Gaza on 8 October, prominent media outlets like the New York Times and the BBC went full throttle in waging a massive disinformation campaign to justify the horrors that would soon unfold.

Western media carpet-bombed the news cycle with pro-Israel propaganda and a narrative that would distract from the fact that Israel was engaged in a barbaric genocide of an entire people and that the whole edifice of the presumptuous "western civilisation" and "democracy" was a big fat lie. 

Here are the top 10 propaganda points western media were pushing on behalf of their favourite settler-colony:  

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1) The conflict began on 7 October, following Palestinian fighters' attack on Israel

President Joe Biden declared the 7 October attack as equivalent to "15 9/11s" for Israel, which western outlets similarly argued. It is not, however. Before 7 October, there was 6 October, and before that was a succession of dates and facts in a murderous colonial project of domination and dispossession going back to the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948.

Before that was the racist Balfour Declaration of 1917, deliberately designed to get rid of European Jews, which was preceded by European misadventure into the heart of the Arab and Muslim world and the rise of Zionism as a settler-colonial movement. And before that still was Christian Zionist zealotry, lobbying to force Jews back to Palestine to expedite the coming of their Messiah.  

While the Israeli government and its Zionist propagandists wish to fetishise 7 October, we are here to de-fetishise and historicise it

The succession of Zionist terrorist attacks on defenceless Palestinian civilians includes the massacres of Deir Yassin (1948), Kafr Qasem (1956), Khan Younis (1956), Sabra and Shatila  (aided and abetted by Israel, 1982) and countless others.

Israel was founded on the bloodshed and broken bones of Palestinians long before 7 October 2023. The world also continued after 7 October, when Israel commenced yet another genocidal attack on 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza.

While the Israeli government and its Zionist propagandists wish to fetishise 7 October, we are here to de-fetishise and historicise it.  


2) Palestine is Hamas 

Palestine is not. Israel and its US and European accomplices have equated Hamas with the entirety of Palestine to discredit their entire resistance and liberation struggles. 

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3) Hamas is ISIS

It is not. ISIS, or the Islamic State group, was a rootless, violent gang created and conditioned by the US invasion of Iraq. Fortunately for Palestine, Palestinian fighters represent a deeply cultivated and historically conscious Palestinian population collectively resisting the Zionist thievery of their homeland.

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Palestine is not Hamas. Palestine is its heroic people, its generations of scholars, historians, artists, novelists, playwrights, poets, filmmakers, scientists, physicians, engineers, revolutionary thinkers and activists. Israel and its American and European enablers are no match for Palestinians.  

4) The situation in Palestine is a humanitarian crisis

It is not. It is an awe-inspiring national liberation struggle and will remain that way even if Israel, the US and Europe continue to conspire to fragment and dismantle it into more refugee camps.  Palestinians are not going to be liquidated into a humanitarian crisis.

Israel and the US may force them into Egypt, as they have been forcing them into Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, or any number of other neighbouring countries. But they will not disappear into thin air. They will regain and return to their homeland.  

Propaganda machinery

5) The BBC and the New York Times are the best specimens of objective journalism

They are not. They are deeply compromised and discredited propaganda machinery most of the time parroting Israeli talking points. Fortunately, the world is no longer at the mercy of these outfits. Glaring facts and superior analysis of global opinion-makers are far more effective than the columnists of the New York Times and reporters of the BBC.  

6) Palestinian fighters hide among the civilian population

Another falsehood. Palestinian fighters are deeply rooted in the hearts and minds and aspirations of the Palestinian people. They did not fall from the sky. They do not hide among the population. They emerged from that population. They are their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, children and grandchildren.

The assumption that they hide among the civilians is a barefaced racist assertion by those who believe Palestinians are not human beings. Israel faces the steely determination of a nation, not a collection of isolated guerrilla organisations.  

7) Palestinian casualties are exaggerated and untrustworthy

This is the propaganda point of the New York Times and the Washington Post for Americans and BBC for Europeans, which formed the phrase "Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry", as if the details of Israeli casualties are independently verified by the International Criminal Court. When the New York Times or BBC state the "Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry", we read the phrase back at them: the pro-Israel biased news outfits discredit Palestinian suffering.

Reactionary lies

8) The reactionary Zionists writing for the New York Times now warn their readers of 'the emergence of an Arab street inside the West'

What does that even mean? They argue: "The recent protests in European capitals, especially, are less an extension of a radicalised progressivism than a straightforward expression of ethnic and religious solidarity with the Palestinians on the part of Middle Eastern immigrants and their descendants."

Despite racist assertions that only Middle Eastern immigrants are protesting, the millions of people standing in solidarity with Palestinians is not 'the Arab Street'

This is a racist xenophobic attempt to brand and alienate a whole new fact of citizenship in the US and Europe. Millions of people protesting against Israel and in solidarity with Palestinians is not "the Arab Street". These courageous demonstrators are Americans, British, Germans, French, Italian etc, and they are there not to allow genocide in their name. And they are not only in the streets. They are on university campuses, in law firms, centres for research and scholarship, in factories and workshops, and of course, serve on editorial boards and in university administrations.  

9) The same reactionaries warn of 'the dilemmas of progressive Jews and Zionist Democrats'

Again, what does that mean? "If the pressures on European elites come from multiple directions, the pressures on American Jews and Zionists inside the Democratic coalition push just one way: toward the right," they state.

Yet there is no such dilemma. If you are a Zionist, you believe in a racist, apartheid state. Period. There have always been critical and conscientious Jews on the side of Palestinians and there are millions of Christian and Muslim Zionists on the side of Israel. Zionism is a far more Christian colonial project than it is Jewish - and there are plenty of Muslim Zionists in the ruling class of many Arab states. They have an exclusive club they call their "Abraham Accords". 

10) Reactionary pundits at the New York Times warn their readers of 'the radicalisation of progressivism'

Here they write: "The extent to which the rhetoric of 'decolonisation' turns out to naturally extend... from cultural and psychological projects to literal support for armed struggle and tacit apologia for antisemitic terror still feels like an important unveiling." This is a flawed and dangerous reading of the situation. 

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The latest genocidal spectacle they have staged since 8 October for the whole world to see more than ever proves that as a misbegotten European ideology of conquest and domination Zionism is an unqualified failure - kept like a zombie in motion by a sick dysfunctional empire.

Despite western outlets' most rigourous attempts, the world is cured of such delusions.

The views expressed in this article belong to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he teaches Comparative Literature, World Cinema, and Postcolonial Theory. His latest books include The Future of Two Illusions: Islam after the West (2022); The Last Muslim Intellectual: The Life and Legacy of Jalal Al-e Ahmad (2021); Reversing the Colonial Gaze: Persian Travelers Abroad (2020), and The Emperor is Naked: On the Inevitable Demise of the Nation-State (2020). His books and essays have been translated into many languages.
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