Okay, so I just had to post about this. I have been finding the latest Israeli – Palestinian conflict really difficult to deal with. The needless deaths and the horrific slaughter of children and civilians is atrocious. The planned bombing of a UN school, filled with traumatised refugees who were forced to flee their homes thanks to consistent shelling is a tragedy, not to mention a war crime.
But it’s the propaganda coming from Israel that has shocked me, I have to say.
I was accidentally exposed to this irresponsible content on Facebook the other day. I was scrolling absent-mindedly through my feed, when I saw a video filled with twisted facts and blame which caused me to literally say ‘WTF?’ It gave me an insight into the Israeli propaganda machine, and gave me some understanding of how people come to defend Israel.
The post came from an Israeli I had met in Thailand three years ago. At the time, I made an effort to steer clear of political issues with him and his friend, but I had assumed he was a well-rounded, reasonable person, and my friends and I enjoyed a couple of days in their company.
After seeing that post, I went onto his page. What I discovered was a chilling feed filled with nothing but propaganda defending Israeli war crimes and human rights violations. It really scared me to think there is so much dangerous material out there, and reading the comments underneath these videos made me feel both utterly hopeless and tearfully frustrated in equal measure.
For many people, the situation between Israel and Palestinians is so complicated and dense, that it is really challenging to even begin to wrap your head around it. I know that when I first made the effort to understand it all, it really was a lot of effort to take in all the history.
And that is why this crap is so dangerous.
I wanted to write a post about it, my fingers were literally itching to expel my frustration onto my screen. But, I hesitated.
Then, today, it got personal.
I was reading the Irish Times on my phone, when an article caught my eye and caused me to stop in my tracks, in the middle of town, and literally gasp. At first, I thought it was some sort of a joke.
The Israeli Embassy had posted a disgusting image on its Twitter feed a few days ago. It was a photoshopped image of Molly Malone (a famous Irish statue and landmark), covered in a long niqab, with the words, ‘Israel now, Dublin Next.’ Along the bottom of the image read, ‘Israel is the last frontier of the free world.’
They also released images of the Mona Lisa in a hijab holding a rocket, Italy’s Michaelangelo’s David with a headscarf and a skirt of explosives, and the Little Mermaid in Denmark holding a rifle.
The fact that an official embassy could do something so revolting blows my mind. Aside from its scaremongering, it is also inciting hatred and racism.
It is wrong on so, so, so many levels.
It is no different to the absolute worst Nazi propaganda, or the most ridiculous antisemitism there is. And to come from Israelis, who are Jewish, just makes it all the more hideous. What happened to ‘Never Forget?’ and ‘Never Again?’
Muslims around the world have a tough enough time dealing with inaccurate stereotypes and prejudices. There has been irreparable damage done to Muslims thanks to the ‘War on Terror’ and irresponsible reporting by governments and the media.
There are already enough people in the world who wrongly believe that all Muslims=terrorists, and who have no idea of the difference between an extremist, a terrorist, a jihadist and a person who follows the Muslim faith. There has been more than enough damage done. And for the Israeli EMBASSY to be instigating the spreading of more damaging lies is nothing short of horrific.
Stooping to such tactics in an attempt to make people afraid, afraid of something that is not in the slightest bit true is inexcusable.
The fighting between Israelis and Palestinians has absolutely nothing to do with religion. This is not a religious conflict. The Palestinians are not on a mission to spread extremism, or Islam, anywhere, least of all Ireland, France, Denmark and Italy.
How could anyone believe that the Palestinians, who are struggling with living under constant confinement and degradation, have any intention of coming to Ireland to convert everyone to a form of Islam where women are forced to cover up? They’re Palestinian, not Saudi Arabian, and they’re more concerned with being able to move freely in their own home.
It is absolute bullshit.
It is dishonest.
It is highly irresponsible of a government representative, and deliberately designed to sow fear.
The Israeli Embassy in Ireland declined to comment on the images, and the Israeli ambassador said he couldn’t comment as “We are now in the middle of a war and I have other things to deal with.’
In an amazing show of hypocrisy, on July 23rd, the Israeli Embassy tweeted an image of the Palestinian flag and an image of Hitler, stating ‘Hamas take lead from Hitler.’ Yet Israel is the one using their official representatives to spread such sickening propaganda.
You can read the Irish Times article here.
I realise this post is not the normal travel blogger type article, but I think it is okay to talk about this sort of thing, particularly when it evokes such a strong reaction in me. As a journalist and a member of the media, I think it is important to shine a light on the type of racism, incitement of hatred and misinformation that can such damage and false impressions of people. Especially when those responsible are representatives of a nation.
Update- After people voiced their disgust at the images, the Israeli embassy posted on their Facebook page-
Some of you may have seen/ heard some recent media coverage regarding a set of images that were posted on the Israel in Ireland social media pages. We have thus far refrained from commenting in the Irish media on the subject but we would now like to share with you the following information. One of the administrators of the embassy’s social media accounts posted the images, which originated from a media site. When the account administrator received a request from one of our followers to take down the images, the request was complied with immediately. There was no intention to cause insult or offense to anyone.
Thank you so much for all your support!’