One thing that is apparent to those of us who have been involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights is that no lie told about Palestinians is too big to try to get away with.  Any of us with close Palestinian friends, either those who live there now, or who have, for one reason or another emigrated, know that Palestinians, be they religious or not, are often more like you and me than we are ourselves.

Just like in the 19th century, when the American expansionist narrative was forced to paint Native Americans as “the other,”in order to justify their murder as we stole their lands, waters and mineral wealth, so now in the early 21st century, the Israeli expansionist narrative demands that Palestinians be painted as “the other,” as they are herded into increasingly smaller reservations, so that their wealth may be robbed.

Those of us who attempt to articulate how wrong this is are badgered from every direction, not just from the far right.  The same was true as we exterminated the vast majority of our own indigenous population to make room for people to come to our “promised land.”

The number of lies Israeli government sources and supporters of that government have been caught up in these past ten days, in regard to the hard line being erected against the premise of the necessity of this year’s Gaza flotilla, is astounding.  The bottom line, from that point of view, is that there is no need for Gaza’s borders to be open, as all the needs there are being met already, and that those who have a different point of view are enabling Hamas and every other possible entity, real or imagined, that might diminish international respect for Israel, and are therefore indulging in anti-Semitism, whether they understand that or not.  The specifics of these lies and falsehoods are interesting, but the most recent is the accusation that Hedy Epstein is not actually a “Holocaust survivor” per se:

Epstein is many things a holocaust survivor is not one of them. She is a refugee from Germany the same that Einstein was and Dr. Ruth, the sex therapist was. To have survived the holocaust is to have a tattoo on your arm or to have been in hiding in an attic for years. One is not a survivor because you spent the war in a London orphanage.To equate her with survivors imbues her with the same level of suffering as Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi and Anne Frank. She says she is a survivor because her family died, well under that guise every Ashkenazi Jew and some Sephardi Jews are survivors too. The problem is that we let people like Epstein and the other “As a Jews”steal the narrative. We should confront them for what they truly are, usurpers of history, hate mongers and collaborators.

Last year, when Ms. Epstein attempted to participate in the late May flotilla, the same accusation was made.  The reality, though, is that even the Holocaust History web site defines her as a “Holocaust survivor”:

1. Unfortunately there is some confusion and disagreement about what this term means.

2. Some people use a narrow definition, including only those who at the start of WWII were living in or citizens of an area that came under Nazi control. (Note that this does not mean that they ever actually lived under Nazi control; they may have escaped after the war started but before the Nazis actually arrived.) Others use a much broader definition. They include everyone who was living in such an area at the time Hitler came to power, even if they emigrated to a safe area long before the start of the war.

Even within the narrow definition, not every Holocaust survivor is a concentration camp survivor. Any Jew who survived in hiding, or by passing as a Gentile, or as a member of the Soviet army, would be a Holocaust survivor without being a concentration camp survivor.

Many Israeli lies last week were serious, but one of them, exposed by the Electronic Intifada, and further exposed by Max Blumenthal, was not only absurdly hilarious, it serves as an illustration of how dense Israeli propagandists can be.  Here’s what they tried to pull off:

Here’s a link to the initial post on this at EI, where Benjamin Doherty appropriately tagged it as “pinkwashing”:

This is a transparent effort to justify the oppressive and criminal siege of Gaza—and possible violent Israeli attack on the upcoming Flotilla—by describing Palestinians as dangerous, violent homophobes and misogynists. Pinkwashing is a tactic that pro-Israel groups and the Israeli government have been consciously using to try to divide and co-opt the Palestine solidarity movement and its connection to other movements around the world. Pinkwashing is a phenomenon that Palestine solidarity activists have become vocal in resisting.

And here’s Max’s further investigation:

Since [the EI article], Doherty and I have gathered evidence suggesting that the video has links to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, or is at least being promoted through an official government hasbara operation.

Earlier today, the Israeli Government Press Office promoted the apparent hoax video on Twitter. In the tweet, @GPOIsrael cited @guyseemann. I headed over to Guy Seemann’s twitter feed and found that he had only tweeted one item in his entire history: the pinkwashing anti-flotilla hoax. In fact, Seemann only joined Twitter on June 15, 2011. Then I took a look at Guy Seemann’s bio:

Guy Seemann studied government, international policy, philosophy and physics at American University in Washington, DC. Before moving to Israel, Guy worked for United States Senator Robert Menendez, and then as a special projects coordinator in the North Eastern campaign for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Since the campaign and moving to Israel, Guy was awarded a fellowship to work with international journalists and diplomats at the Prime Minister’s Office, served as the international director for Lev Echad, and volunteered for the IDF. Guy will soon begin a new job at the Prime Minister’s National Security Council working on Iranian, US and UN policy.

Why would the Israeli GPO have tweeted at Guy Seemann, a Netanyahu aide who seems to have created a Twitter account for the sole purpose of promoting the pinkwashing hoax? And what was Seemann’s role in the video’s creation? How did Lazarus know about the video before it had garnered any media interest — and only a small handful of hits? These questions remain unanswered. However, the video’s promotion by an exclusive cadre of official Israeli hasbara entities and figures suggest the hoax was part of a desperate government operation designed to discredit the Free Gaza flotilla. I will be updating here as I learn more.

Update: Guy Seemann’s twitter page has disappeared and his bio has changed.

Israeli government efforts to paint flotilla participants as terrorists might work on the U.S. Senate and our State Department, but the U.S. media was surprisingly open to honestly reporting about this fuckup, including MSNBC and the Christian Science Monitor.  Yet even though Doherty exposed the fraud on June 23rd, as recently as the 29th, media outlets were continuing to report Gershon’s hoax as fact.

A compilation of the disinformation dispersed by Israeli-tied sources appeared Thursday at the Institute for Middle East Understanding.  It touches upon some of the material above, but also on some very serious, yet totally unsubstantiated allegations about flotilla participants. Those are that:

1) The flotilla is financed by organizations with ties to terrorism.

2) There is a hard core of terrorist activists embedded within the passengers and crew.

3) There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

4) Participants intend to use chemical weapons upon Israelis when they attempt to board the vessels.

Each of these claims has been thoroughly debunked.

At the same time Israeli resources and compliant American outlets and politicians have created a massive disinformation campaign, the Israelis appear to be trying to pick off one flotilla vessel at a time before they even leave port.  The Irish boat appears to have been sabotaged in such a way it could have killed people on board.  The Scandinavian boat was dealt with similarly, but may be repaired in time.  Max Blumenthal, among others, thinks this has all the markings of an Israeli operation.  That the Israelis appear to be denying this is not surprising, as admission of involvement would be owning up to an act of war upon the nations who own the harbors that were invaded.

The Israelis are backing individuals and organizations seeking to cut the flotilla off from access to electronic communication during the journey.  This also isn’t surprising, as last year’s flotilla message, at first controlled in the debris of the wake of the intercept by imagery created by the Israeli government, was ultimately discredited by the compilation of all surviving material from before, during and shortly after the interception, murders and boardings.

Although I am once again praying that nobody gets hurt or killed, the level of misinformation seriously promulgated by the Israeli government this past week leads me to believe that they want to make an example out of these people that will end flotillas once and for all, and that in the minds of those in control of the operation, that message necessitates bloodshed that will shock people into abandoning the idea once and for all.

Update – 10:45 am PDT:

The Greek coastal forces were ordered early Friday:

Pursuant to a decision by the Minister of Citizen Protection Mr. C. Papoutsis, the departure of ships with Greek and foreign flags from Greek ports to the maritime area of Gazahas been prohibited today.

By orders of the Hellenic Coast Guard Head Quarters to all local Hellenic Coast Guard Authorities, all appropriate measures are taken for the implementation of the said decision.

Responding to that order, three Greek government vessels, one with a large contingent of heavily armed “commandos,” forced the U.S. vessel MV Audacity of Hope to return to a Greek port, which they are now entering. Not much news on other vessels, either already at sea, or attempting to leave ports.

The Greek interception, according to a tweet from US Boat to Gaza, was documented by more media than I was aware to be on board:

MT .@medeabenjamin Greek confrontation was done in full view of media on board: CNN, CBS, NYT, The Nation, Democracy Now

Also, Medea Benjamin has tweeted that the Greeks have told them they may leave on Saturday.

EdwardTeller

EdwardTeller

Alaska progressive activist, notorious composer and firedoglake devotee.

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