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Issue #1822      May 16, 2018

Israel’s propaganda trap

Distorting the timeline of events is a long-time Israeli strategy to make its enemies look like the aggressors and pass itself off as the victim. Israel’s massive aerial attacks last week on Iranians and Syrians – its most extensive cross-border strikes in decades – are carrying out this propaganda strategy to perfection, and even normally sceptical news outlets are being fooled.

Israeli fighter jet.

Here’s the actual order of events:

  • Just one hour after Donald Trump violated the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, Israel launched missiles against targets south of Damascus, Syria, reportedly killing 15 people, at least 8 of them Iranians.
  • In response, Iran struck back with 20 rockets aimed at the Golan Heights, (which is occupied by Israel since 1967 but is still legally part of Syria).
  • Hours later, Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of allegedly Iranian targets in Syria.

The mainstream Western media is falling into Israel’s propaganda trap. Most reports are treating the Iranian rockets as the original provocation, and framing Israel’s massive air strikes as the (understandable) response. Unusually, the New York Times coverage was actually moderately less biased than other outlets, such as the Washington Post and the BBC. The Times at least noted – down in paragraph 12 – that Israel had first attacked Syria right after Trump pulled the US out of the Iran deal.

Nor, so far, are the major media connecting Benjamin Netanyahu’s belligerence to his desperate need to distract from the multiple domestic corruption investigations against him and his wife – an angle some of the Israeli press is not too squeamish to note. In the excellent online publication, +972, Dahlia Scheindlin notes that Netanyahu’s strategy is working; he “appears to have inoculated himself against looming corruption charges due to the dramatic developments on the security front.” She adds that the latest Israeli opinion polls show Netanyahu’s Likud party with its best showing in a decade.

Larry Derfner, the American-turned-Israeli who is one of that country’s most experienced reporters, is hammering away at the truth on his Facebook page:

“I’ve been arguing all day against Israel’s policy of continually bombing Syria, Lebanon and Iran, pointing out that they’re not bombing us, we’re bombing them, which means we’re not acting in self-defence, we’re the aggressors. ... For [people with the opposing opinion] it doesn’t matter how many times Israel bombs the enemy and the enemy doesn’t bomb back – Israel is still bombing in self-defence and the other side is still the aggressor. Why? Because Israel is Israel and Iran/Syria/Lebanon is Iran/Syria/Lebanon. Israel is right because it is good and they are wrong because they are bad. ...”

Information Clearing House

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