By Ran Ha Cohen
Not many atrocities can be less controversial than Israel’s attack on the Turkish-based flotilla heading to Gaza yesterday. Like Somali pirates, Israel attacked the boats in international waters. Like the darkest regimes, Israeli forces opened fire on unarmed civilians who had not posed a threat to anybody, except to the siege that Israel (with Egyptian co-operation and U.S. backing) imposes on Gaza. Condemnation of what the Turkish prime minister rightly termed “an act of state terrorism” has been global, except for the shameful mumbling of the American government (but what can you expect from the complicit?).
In any normal place, you would expect masses to take to the streets and protest. Indeed, precisely this happened all over the globe. Not in Israel. A few hundred people did demonstrate in Tel Aviv and in several other towns, but then again a few hundred gathered to throw eggs at the Turkish embassy. On the internal front, the Israeli government has nothing to worry about.
How is this consensus achieved? How can you turn millions of fairly educated citizens into silent lambs, or worse, into supporters of their own state’s terrorism? If we concentrate on the short term, leaving aside, for the sake of brevity, decades of indoctrination, one can spot a few themes in the Israeli propaganda, which emerged during the first hours after the incident.
The first theme was “weapons.” The peace activists were quickly portrayed by Israel as “armed.” The details changed with the minute: some media channels claimed they snatched a gun from an Israeli soldier, others said an empty ammunition magazine was found on board, others simply repeated the words “armed” or “carrying weapons” without bothering to explain. The adjective “cold” disappeared from yesterday’s Hebrew dictionary: every knife, stick, stool, or cushion turned their holders into dangerous killers – especially when facing Israel’s elite soldiers, who entered the boat peacefully and bare-handed (except for their unmentioned pistols, revolvers, hand grenades, tear gas, shockers, noise bombs, smoke bombs, protective vests, etc., etc.).
Soon after, an Israeli military spokesperson came out with the most lunatic theme of all: