Sunday, December 18, 2016

Many Lebanese are sharing an Israeli propaganda video

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Many Lebanese are sharing on social media a video featuring Lucy Aharish, an Israeli TV anchor introducing herself as an Arab, a Muslim and a citizen of Israel. In this video, Aharish throws a fit about what’s happening in Aleppo, calling it a Holocaust. But if we look closely at her angry act, we realize that her fit is nothing short of the usual Israeli propaganda.

The difference between journalism and propaganda is facts. When facts are presented in an unbiased fashion, the truth comes out on its own, no need to hammer it down our throats. Lucy Aharish angry speech doesn't include facts, just some historically false comparisons and some convenient omissions. She compares what’s happening in Aleppo to other massacres that took place around the world – Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur – but she conveniently forgets Gaza. She conveniently forgets the men, woman and children slaughtered by the Israeli army over the many wars it launched on the surrounded and overpopulated small piece of Palestine. He goes on condemning the hypocrisy of the world but seems to forget her own.

Besides her utter dishonesty, saying that a Holocaust is taking place in Aleppo is, at best, outrageous. I will not dwell on the biblical significance of a Holocaust but rather on its historical meaning. The Holocaust was the planned, organized and industrial killing of several million people based on their religion – Judaism – by the racist and supremacist government of Nazi Germany. European Jews were methodically arrested, transported like cattle in trains, taken to concentrations camps where they were used as slave labor then murdered in gas chambers and their bodies cremated.

Nothing like of that sort is happening in Aleppo. If we want to stay on World War II comparisons, the terrible fate of Syria’s second largest city is somewhat similar to what happened to Guernica in Spain – flattened by German warplanes to help Franco’s fascist troops defeat the Republican army. It’s not so different from what happened to Dresden in Germany, destroyed by British and American aerial bombing attacks, or to Berlin ravaged by the Soviet forces during the final assault on Hitler’s army. Many cities in Europe suffered the same fate as Aleppo, but the massacres happening in the Syrian city can’t, in any way or form, be called a Holocaust.

On the other hand, what’s going on in Aleppo is not so different from what’s happening right now in Mosul: the Iraqi city controlled by Deach, attacked by Iraqi troops and their allied militias and bombed by the International Coalition led by the United States, Israel’s best ally and biggest sponsor. Not so different either to what’s happening in different cities in Yemen where countless civilians are being massacred every day. And of course what happened over the years in Gaza. But yet, Lucy Aharish doesn't seem bothered by that. As if it was ok to cry over some massacres but not over others, depending on who's committing them.

What's the point of such propaganda if not to get international public opinion to demand that action is taken by Western governments and maybe by Israel itself to help the jihadi groups get back on their feet after their defeat in Aleppo? The same groups Israel has been supporting and protecting, and even providing medical treatment to their wounded fighters – as reported by Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post and the Wall Street Journal, and confirmed by Mossad former director Efraim Halevy to Al Jazeera English.  

There are no clean wars. All wars are horrifying. All wars lead to massive civilian killings. But that’s not what Aharish seems to think. For her, it looks like there are two types of civilian population: some worth killing – in Gaza – and some worth saving – in Aleppo. These double standards are not really surprising coming from an Israeli TV network. What’s surprising is that many Lebanese are widely sharing this propaganda piece on social media.

For the past 60 years, Israel has waged many wars against Lebanon, killing tens of thousands of people, displacing over a million men, women and children, committing number of massacres, destroying entire towns and many infrastructures. It invaded our country on several occasions and occupied a portion of Lebanese territory for decades, creating and arming its own militia, arresting, torturing and murdering hundreds of civilians. 

Why some Lebanese willingly act as a relay to an Israeli propaganda piece is beyond me. Being horrified by what’s going on in Aleppo is not a good enough reason. There are many videos circulating on social media denouncing the battle of East Aleppo and its dire consequences, why not share these? Are they so blinded by their emotions, they can’t think clearly anymore? Are they so easily fooled by a good-looking anchor stirring and manipulating their outrage? If they forgot about Gaza, did they forget about what Israel did to Lebanon, and still plans on doing?

I have to confess that whatever way I look at it, I can’t rationally explain it. One can argue that being rational is not exactly a Lebanese quality. But between being irrational and being totally blind, there’s more than just a fine line. A line many Lebanese have crossed without a second thought.

© Claude El Khal, 2016