In the dispute between Israel and the Arabs over the land of Palestine, perception supersedes reality
The claims and counterclaims over entitlement to a homeland, and independent states for Jews and Arabs, in the historical territory of Palestine, appear irreconcilable.
Millions of words and thousands of books, articles and essays have been published about the subject. I just want to address the aspect of perception.To address the “truth” is impossible.
There is no absolute truth. What the world is grappling with is different narratives.
There is the Zionist and pro-Zionist perspective; and there is the Arab and pro-Arab perspective.I hesitate to use the word Palestinian, since many of the histories of the region disagree on the definition of “who is a Palestinian”. How is the world to decide who has the greater claim to the land? A world in which opinions are formed after exposure to 20 second “sound bites”? Understanding the complexities of any dispute requires time and study.
Even then, how to decide which sources are authoritative? On what basis can an individual judge the validity of the material presented? Even eye witness accounts are notoriously unreliable. Who can decide on the quality and correctness of any translation? In this media dominated society, opinions are usually formed in the space of a few minutes. And these are based on a slick news report and the comments of a few “ talking heads”.
For example, if there is an incident involving Israel, the thrust of the post report discussion depends on who was selected to speak. Inevitably 1 Arab and 1 Jew. And who determines their personal agendas? Even their command of English is critical in such situations.
I have witnessed the situation of a vehemently pro-Arab propagandist being matched with a Jew supporting the Arab position. The result of an interesting editorial decision.
Words are weapons in the war of perception.
There is always the question of the pejorative use of language In this respect, the Arab PR has resonated strongly with a gullible public. The victim card is always emotionally satisfying.. They learned well from the teachings of Joseph Goebbels.
The constant repetition of “ The Big Lie”.
What does that mean?
Goebbels major contribution to the world of propaganda was to understand and develop the concept, first proposed by Adolph Hitler in “Mein Kampf”, of making an outrageous claim and then repeating it incessantly. The reasoning was that it would embed itself into the human consciousness to such a degree that it could never be dislodged. A perfect current example is the addition of the word “ occupied” to any description of territory under Israeli administration. All Arab commentators use it, as do a considerable number of media outlets. Since the world in general has only the most superficial knowledge about the historical, geographical and political complexities of the Israeli/Arab disputes, the descriptions are rarely challenged.
In this article I am dealing with Israel.
However, assumptions are made about each and every news story. Who really knows the truth about Serbia/Bosnia/Kosovo? Or Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers? Or Darfur? The answer is: only a tiny handful of people directly connected to those areas and events. For the rest of us it’s a few minutes on the evening news or a short newspaper article. Increasingly, it’s a glance at the internet news or, disturbingly, 10 seconds on Twitter and 140 letters maximum.
On this basis, opinions are formed.
And then there’s always Wikipedia; the world’s reference book. I am not criticising it or its concept. The fact that it is an open source facility with multiple contributors does not make it less valid than say, the former “ Encyclopedia Brittanica”. All reference books were written by somebody; allegations of historical inaccuracy have always been made by a party feeling itself depicted unfairly.
In the world of academia, the arguments are even more vociferous.
Specifically on the subject of Israel, the historians be they Jewish, Arab or anything else, have been disagreeing with each other ever since the idea of a modern Jewish state was suggested. Revisionist, post-revisionist, and a myriad other descriptions, are used to explain and/or justify the conflicting viewpoints. And when they disagree, the sparks really fly. In their world, accusations of “intellectual dishonesty”, “ flawed research” , “deliberate misinterpretation” and just plain “ lying” are some of the milder forms of their mutual criticisms.
And, finally, there are the Internet forums or social media “ chat rooms”.
If the Press is called the “Fourth Estate” I think the forums can be categorised as the “ Fifth Estate”. A number of sites are controlled or “ moderated”. Actually another word for “ censored” since someone decides what can, or cannot, be published.
But there are “open” sites. In these locations, contributions are posted first, and sometimes deleted later following complaint. It is on these sites that you can experience the rawest forms of comment – usually with expletives NOT deleted! Sociologists and Anthropologists have a wealth of material to investigate here, about the state of the human psyche in confrontational situations. Particularly the degrees of hatred and racism. On some of the sites I post to, there is also anti-Semitism and anti- Zionism, expressed in the most extreme terms.
Which brings me back to my earlier point about perception. I’m not sure that some of these people have ever met a Jew – far less an Israeli Jew. But this doesn’t prevent them from indulging in the most rabid, vituperative and violent forms of anti- Jewish or Israeli rhetoric. Where did this come from? It came from perceptions resulting from exposure to a media driven society in which the editorial philosophy governing the news is “if it bleeds, it leads”. Graphic images, often with no context, are very influential.
Truth is always relative – perception is everything.
Andyboy – Telling it as it is!
- The Condition of the Israeli Arabs (robertlindsay.wordpress.com)
- Middle East Judenrein: the Real Reason for ‘Palestine” (politicsontoast.com)
- The Big Lie – alive and well! (andyboy1.com)