Gaza Propaganda – Barbara Cohen

Alan Melkman took the seminar at Sinclair House on Sunday 27 July 2014.

When the chat radio shows are listened to, how many of us phone up and give the Jewish perspective. Not enough people, but if we do, what should we say? We should act like politicians and not respond to the last caller who probably made our blood boil.   Not be angry, not be emotionally charged as then we could sound irrational, write down the key words that we are going to say on a piece of paper , then take a deep breath and make sure what we say first is the most important.

Say you have 3 points, so if you get heckled at one point you still have two more points to come across. After you have made your points, you stop the conversation. Don’t be scared that you think that you don’t know enough, that you don’t know resolutions or dates. You will never know enough.

Push our agenda. Our agenda is not to defend ourselves, our agenda is not to reply to others agenda. Our agenda is to state our agenda. We want PEACE, we do not tolerate WAR CRIMES and we are a DEMOCRACY. We benefit the world with all our technological and medical initiatives. We are being bombarded with rockets, as many as 400 a day. We are a vibrant democracy, with equality for women, we have Arab diplomats, judges, we have fair democratic laws, we look after our poor, and we look after our old, these three things in any way you choose in as many ways as you choose and the world WILL LISTEN. We must all sing from the same song sheet.

Who are we speaking to? 15% of list extenders support Israel. 20% support the Palestinians and a massive 70% are not interested, couldn’t care less. If we reinforce the propaganda that we hear so much by responding to the idea that Israel is a pariah state, with devilish motives the that is what some people will believe is so.

In interviews on TV there is often the interviewer, a representative from the Israeli embassy and a human rights representative, the missing party is the Palestinian representative; Israel then has the responsibility and it’s Israel that gets criticised.

What not to say, even if we feel angry. Ignore irrelevant negativity. This is not to seem power ourselves with knowledge of the reality of the situation. Express sympathy that any killing has been carried out, it is surely horrible to see babies and children as victims of war, whichever side they are on, sympathy is what is what is required here.

But why are the families not evacuating from the places that are about to be bombed. They have leaflets distributed, sent SMS messages, before an attack but Hamas tells its people to ignore them. The footage we see on TV could have come from any conflict anywhere at any time not necessarily at Gaza the day before. However to say this is defensive, know it but this is not to be reinforced on the radio chat shows by Usman most people do not care, as I have already stated and if they care, they already know this. The people that can be influenced need to hear positivity from us.

How crowded is Gaza? I certainly imagined a built up ghetto like place, the most densely populated on earth with nowhere to go except in the city, well that is not so. It has 4,603 people, compared with Tel Aviv 7,524, New York 10, 641 and Hanoi 23, 718. (Although these figures were taken in 2008). There is countryside in Gaza, it is not just a city where the population is trapped inside as shown on the TV.

How many rockets have been sent to Israel? 2,400 as many as 100 a day but regularly about 50. Thank G-d we have the ‘iron dome’ to prevent the rockets reaching targets, without it, each rocket could create carnage, injury and casualties.

The IDF has under covered approximately 40 tunnels between Gaza and Israel and Gaza and Egypt. Tunnels used to smuggle arms and cement to build more tunnels. The war has moved underground.

The News is often quoted as saying that Palestinians want the end of the blockade. There is no blockade of food or medical equipment. The blockade is of military equipment.

The media show close up video of war, they show children, babies injured. We are of course saddened, we react to images of war. We have sympathy for victims of war, we have sympathy for innocent people injured and killed as we are human beings with emotions. What the TV does not point out is that the Hamas ‘militants’, the Hamas soldiers, do not wear uniforms, they look just like other innocent people of Gaza.

Gaza has no sirens, no shelters. Hamas activists hide amongst the civilians, launch rockets from homes, hospitals and schools, children throw grenades as IDF. Israelis attack homes, not to attack Hammas leaders but to destroy the launching of more rockets.

Emotional psychological scarring is a result of unrest, it is the result of war. Adults and children alike live in fear. Human rights activists need to look at the whole picture and not focus on the events of one attack.

War is senseless. Israel cannot let Palestinians launch rockets into Israel without retaliating. Israel cannot tolerate tunnels being built and used to attack them by Palestinians. We are human beings not animals and we all need to talk not fight, it is better to negotiate and then hopefully come to a long lasting peace.