Israel's Spin Machine: It Keeps Spinning, and Spinning, and Spinning

Gaza flotilla (Reuters)As per usual, when push comes to shove, the right-wing Israeli government, along with the Israel Defense Forces spinmeisters, have gone back to the simple formula: when they do something illegal and barbaric, blame the victim, for the United States will obligingly agree and stand by that narrative. Like always, while the rest of the world protests in condemnation and speaks out against Israel's actions and crimes, the U.S. government stands by complicitly, continuing to shower Israel with over $3 billion per year in military aid into perpetuity.

A Bit of Background is in Order

In 2006 Hamas, an Islamist faction inspired from the Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood, won a fair and clean democratic election in the Palestinian Occupied Territories that was praised as such by The Carter Center. In return, the U.S., Israel, and the European Union subsequently decided that the people of Gaza chose the wrong elected officials and held them accountable for it, with Israel implementing a blockade by land, air, and sea, furthering their stranglehold over the people of Gaza. They imposed sanctions suspending all foreign aid, upon which Gazans depend, which has since turned into a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.

Next came an attempted coup of the Hamas government in late-2006 through mid-2007. The Fatah military, backed and trained by the United States, attempted to violently overthrow the Hamas government and failed to do so, which resulted in 120 deaths and the strengthening of Hamas, as well as a de-unification of the Palestinian government at-large, with Hamas now leading the people of the Gaza Strip and Fatah now leading the people of the West Bank.

Blazing along, late 2008 and early 2009 brought Operation Cast Lead, or what Amnesty International called "22 days of death and destruction" in the Gaza Strip. It was Israel's punishment for rogue Islamic factions shooting rockets into Israel. Israel was charged with war crimes and possible crimes against humanity by the Judge Richard Goldstone. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including 300 children, hundreds of other unarmed civilians, and over 115 women and some 85 men aged over 50.

While the U.S. government rushed to applaud Israel for acting in self-defense, the rest of the world saw things differently, and saw what ensued as not a war, but a bloody massacre. While the world protested and condemned, again, the U.S. government sat by idly, or worse, applauded the massacre. The infrastructure of Gaza, already crippled by the siege, was now destroyed. Gaza to this day remains besieged.

Enter, the Freedom Flotilla

It is in this context that the Freedom Flotilla set sail to the Strip in an attempt to free Gaza and end the blockade. The ship was part of the Free Gaza Movement, whose self-described purpose is "to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise. We have not and will not ask for Israel’s permission. It is our intent to overcome this brutal siege through civil resistance and non-violent direct action, and establish a permanent sea lane between Gaza and the rest of the world." It was the ninth Free Gaza seat delegation ever sent to the Gaza Strip and many more are to come, including a Jewish-led one in mid-July.

The Mari Marvara, along with six other ships, set sail to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid, with a value of $20 million, including food and medicine, and building materials such as cement. In the middle of the night on June 1, 2010, shooting their way onto the ship from above, the IDF commandos boarded the Mari Marvara and killed nine of the aid-carrying activists, wounding dozens of others nearly 70 miles off of the coast of Gaza.

The Isreali Spin Machine

Israel got to tell its story first, as it imprisoned all of the journalists and activists on the ship for two to three days, disseminating its videos and account throughout the world and not allowing for any passenger rebuttal. Israel released videos showing those on the ships beating up the IDF with metal poles, with hard-to-take-seriously Orientalist pictures of knife-wielding Islamic men, pictures of weapons spread on the floor of the Mari Marvara, and going so far as to say that this was a terrorist mission affiliated with Al-Qaeda, so Israel had every right in the world to "defend" itself.

But, as Phil Weiss of Mondoweiss blog asked, "Does this story pass the laugh test?" The answer is a resounding "no," yet those who are blind supporters of Israel ate it up anyway and myth became reality, victims became victimizers, and a heinous crime committed by the IDF became a two-tiered storyline that is somehow up for debate.

While protests raged throughout the world, including here in the U.S. and also in Israel, most members of Congress, along with the Obama Administration, failed to condemn Israel, lending legitimacy to Israel's implausible account. Dozens even condoned. Two members of Congress did condemn Israel: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Now that the other side of the story is being told, though, nearly everything the IDF has said is being refuted.

Rules in International Waters

First of all, when the IDF attacked the Mari Marvara, it was in international waters, meaning this was an act of piracy. Secondly, the record demonstrates that the ship was in a mode of retreat when commandos boarded the ship with guns blazing. Thirdly, much of the audio and many of the photos have been found to be doctored or taken out of context, and much of the fairy-tale the IDF tried to propagate to the world has been shot down by serious journalists. Lastly, if attacked in international waters by pirates, one has the right to defend himself if under fire. Though violence is not laudable, it is, at minimum, understandable as a gut reaction when being shot at from all angles. In short, serious people who are looking into the truth have found that the IDF's story doesn't have much grounding in reality.

So, we're back at square one. The siege is still in play, with Israel still in complete control of what goes into and comes out of the Gaza Strip. Israel and the U.S. refuse to communicate with the Hamas government, which is a huge mistake. American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lead another loyalty oath to support the most recent Israel barrage, with dozens of members of Congress standing by Israel and against the peace activists on the Flotilla, despite the fact that one of the nine slaughtered was an American civilian.

President Obama's Choice

Obama's team has a choice: kowtow once again to the right-wing Pro-Israel lobby, meaning the likes of AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, and friends, or, make a bold move and push for an end to the cruel blockade, come to the negotiating table and talk to the leaders of Hamas, and discuss the steps it will take to achieve a just solution to the nearly century-long conflict. Israel is in a dangerous place in its history, losing allies left and right, becoming more racist by the day, and becoming a truly undemocratic place to live, and it needs the U.S. to be a wise mediator, rather than the unwavering, blindly loyal one it has been for the past 40+ years. Lives and livelihoods are on the line, and it is in this moment of crisis that Obama must step up to the plate and make the tough decisions it will take.

Those who stand for justice are always on the right side of history.


Why is it that every time someone realizes the U.S. government declares war on a country, or supports a country, is actually due to political and ultimately more than likely corporate greed, as the government is the puppet of corporations, do U.S. citizens not demand an investigation of their own government? This is sometimes done a bit by demanding justification, but justification can be be any old excuse, and excuses can even be artificially created. Of course anyone with morals can easily correctly deal with excuses, and put them in their place. The U.S. government and all those greedy interests which surround it need to be put in place. Probably the Industrial Military Complex in this case, but many other companies are effected as well by these kinds of decisions.

A very compelling article, but while I don't question the facts you gave, the whole article was written in quite a biased style. A good read none the less.

Great way to start in 2006... love it. The bias here appears to be mere PR for Iran frankly. Where are you with darfur? where there really is slaughter and genocide going on in the name of Allah. I will be taking your website off my list of credible sources.

Agreed/ This website reckons it is non-partisan - see the about us - and yet Steve Horns article is nothing by pro Hamas, antisemitic fiction. After I looked at the "about Us" section I saw that the author is little more than a graduate, a bit naive and unworldy perhaps. I know being pro-Hamas is meant to be cool among young people, but realy PR Watch - you are just as bad as the "spin" you say you expose...the whole Gaza Flotilla debacle was a masterful piece of spin xcontrived by Hamas!

Seth: Bias is no sin. Absolute objectivity doesn't exist. More important is accuracy. The assertions in the article are backed by references. The other world trouble spots you mention need clarification too, but their violence doesn't invalidate the fact that Israel alone was responsible for the attack by its military forces on those civilian vessels in international waters - and for the fatal consequences of that attack. Israel's PR machine (like that of the USA, or Iran, or any other state), attempts to justify its government's actions and present them in the most favourable light. Two tactics it has employed consistently are "blaming the victim" (e.g. claiming child casualties had been used as human shields), and "killing the messenger" (e.g. smearing the character of otherwise respected critics such as Richard Goldstone or Jimmy Carter). In the case of the humanitarian flotilla tragedy the approach was to sever all electronic communication with the attacked vessels, impound PCs, mobile phones, video cameras and other material that might have served to clarify the sequence of events, ignore the Western human rights organizations involved, direct attention to the "suspect" Turkish movement and label its members "armed militants with possible links to Al Qa'ida". Moreover, for a considerable period during and following the military operation and communication blackout, information channels were monopolized by Israeli sources alone. Was this unreasonable? Of course not. Only pro-Iranians could think that way.

It really is time for an Administration to have the courage to stand up to Israel without the fear of losing the support of the American Jewish voter and to understand and make clear that there is a real distinction between being critical of the government of Israel and being anti semetic.

Steve Horn's piece on the Gaza Flotilla debacle is very alarming given that it contains so many factual errors. It fails to acknowledge any link between IHH (the Freedom Flotilla) and islamic terrorist organisations - as established by independently by Turkey and the EU. It shows a very naive and false understanding of international law. It says IDF descendied on the ship shooting first. This is not true at all and IDF only fired a shot after they were mobbed, beaten with weapons, pushed off balconies and then eventually shot by activists on the ship. The article fails to note the significant cache of weaponry found by IDF on the ship or that there is around a hundred indepenednet videos on Youtube showing the peace activists on the ship prior to the boarding, chanting songs about destrying every Jew in the world via martyrdom. On camera when asked how he felt as they neared Gaza, one fo the activist leaders says ity is a very happy day because they will either get to Gaza or die as Martyrs. The article fails to note the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of aid that Israel sends into Gaza each week. If PR Watch is not an anti-zioinst and antisemitic media outlet, it should acknowledge these points in its coverage.

Entitled "errors of material fact" the above comment nevertheless provides absolutely no facts itself. Instead it offers a host of misleading assertions uncorroborated by links to reliable sources. No number of such cynical PR-type damage-control obfuscations will alter the tragic reality: gratuitous civilian deaths resulting from an unprovoked military attack by armed commandos on peaceful cargo and passenger vessels in international waters.

Irrespective of whether boarding the ships was legal or not, there are several other core problems not reported by Horn. Do democratically elected governments impose laws that restrict the very freedoms that Hamas claims they have lost due to the Israeli blockade? Hamas could give a rat's tail about the average Palestinian, staging fake protests in the dark claiming electricity has been lost, brainwashing children to hate Israel and the West with cartoons oddly similar to Disney characters. Finally, Hamas initially refused the aid confiscated by the Israelis on the ships. Israel has always let in the necessities into Gaza to prevent construction materials from falling into the wrong hands. The amount of aid on the ship was but a fraction of what is trucked into Gaza on any given day. Why did the mainstream media not report that Hamas refused the aid offered to them? For the simple reason that it would glorify Israel and expose Hamas' true intentions. Also, Kucinich and Paul? They are hardly mainstream and represent the wacked out point of view.

I strongly recommend you take some time to understand Hamas, rather than condemn them using the regular slogans. Indeed, it is well-known that Hamas provides much better social services, such as hospitals and health care for its people than does Fatah, or at least better than Fatah did in the past. I would say it's hyperbolic to say that Hamas "doesn't give a rat's tail about the average Palestinian." And sure, brainwashing occurs in Gaza. Guess where else it occurs? Israel. Here's a link to a book you should read called "The Palestinian Hamas," written by Shaul Mishal: And here are a few links showing how brainwashing swings both ways in this conflict:;; As for the refusal of aid, the mainstream media DID report it. I heard about it. I'm sure many others did, too. Israel and the IDF made it perfectly clear that this occurred. Your claim on this regard is not backed up by reality. And as for this claim: "Israel has always let in the necessities into Gaza to prevent construction materials from falling into the wrong hands," re-read my blog post and the links. All mainstream human rights organizations say that Israel DOES NOT permit the basic necessities to enter Gaza and is collectively punishing Gazans because of who they elected, which is Hamas. A simple Google search of "collective punishment of gaza" will land you plenty of reports demonstrating this fact. "Also, Kucinich and Paul? They are hardly mainstream and represent the wacked out point of view."' Lastly, your comments on Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul are fairly preposterous. Because Glen Greenwald can say it better than I can, please read this masterful blog entry by him titled "Who are the real "crazies" in our political culture?" The blog clarifies just who are the crazies in our political culture and who are not: