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In Israel, a nation brainwashes itself on the Gaza flotilla

By Dan Fleshler | June 1, 2010

Writing about the Israeli reaction to the attack on the Gaza flotilla, Larry Derfner, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, sent the following note to a small group yesterday. He was kind enough to let me quote it in full:

For those of you in the U.S., you’re missing out on the experience of a nation brainwashing itself. The TV and radio reporters, commentators and interviewees are repeating the official line word for word – that Israel was acting in self-defense, that the guilty ones were the terrorists on the ship. No one questions whether we have the right to blockade Gaza, no one stops to take in the lopsided death and injury toll – no, once again, we’re the persecuted, they’re the persecutors.

After interviewing one of the handful of Israeli leftists who demonstrated at Ashdod port, a radio reporter, to put things in context, said, “He failed to mention that he wouldn’t be able to say such things in an Arab country.” I was watching the TV news in a hospital waiting room in Ashkelon, and it was like sitting with the home team fans at a game. “Some humanitarian act, some peace activists,” said one guy. The announcer says Jordan has condemned Israel, and somebody says, “Jordan! They kill Palestinians by the dozens.” Everybody’s on board, excuse the pun.

The only criticism leveled by the media is on the strictly military aspect of the raid. Otherwise, they’re exploring how Israel should spin this. All the talking heads and all the men and women in the street are propagandists today – exactly like they were during the war in Gaza and the 2006 war in Lebanon. It’s so deflating to remember that in the 80s and 90s, this place really did feel like a “vibrant democracy,” not the zombie-land it’s become.

Topics: Gaza flotilla, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel, Palestinians | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “In Israel, a nation brainwashes itself on the Gaza flotilla”

  1. Y. Ben-David Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Frankly, I think it is presumptious for “progressives” to describe us as zombies and non-democratic simply because we don’t wish to carry out the self-destructive policies the “progressives” want to force on us so they can supposedly clear their conciences. Derfner and his ilk lost the political argument here so he is whining like a child who has lost the game and is threatening to go home in a huff.
    What happened since the “good old days” of the 80’s and 90’s? The lies of Oslo and its subsequent failure, the thousands of Israelis killed or wounded by Arafat who Peres and the other Osloids told us “had changed”. The rise of HAMAS and HIZBULLAH, the disaster of the destruction of Gush Katif which brought the misery of Gilad Shalit’s imprisonment and this latest flotilla fiasco. Derfner and his delusional “progressives” had their chance, they failed miserably, so now it it the turn of the sane camp to try to extricate us from the disasters the Israeli “peace camp” wrought on us.

  2. Aaron Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 11:33 am

    When the people agree with me, they’re vibrant democrats. When the people disagree with me, they’re zombies.

    I think a lot of the Israeli reaction was driven by the immediate condemnation of Israel for “attacking unarmed peace activists”. The Israeli media paid attention to the fact that the people on the ship were neither unarmed nor peace activists, and that they, not the commandos, delivered the first blows. If the international condemnation had focused more on the alleged illegitimacy of intercepting the vessels in the first place, then Israeli reaction would have focused more on that as well.

    Also, this formula of comparing body counts (“lopsided death toll”) is getting really old. Either Israel’s actions were justified or they weren’t. Once that question is decided, you can worry about Israel apologizing for not getting more of its own soldiers killed.

  3. Donald Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 11:39 am

    “Also, this formula of comparing body counts (”lopsided death toll”) is getting really old. Either Israel’s actions were justified or they weren’t. Once that question is decided, you can worry about Israel apologizing for not getting more of its own soldiers killed.”

    Well, you know the lopsided bodycount might have something to do with one’s judgment of whether the action was right or wrong. And one way to avoid any bodycount on either side would be to avoid sending commandos onto a ship in international waters.

  4. Y. Ben-David Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 11:49 am

    In World War II, ten times as many German civilians were killed by Allied strategic bombing in the war than British civilians killed by German bombing. Does that make the Germans the “good guys”? The Allies were far more powerful than the Axis powers, and the Axis powers really had no chance to win the war. That makes them the “underdog”. Are “underdogs” always right?

  5. Koshiro Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    @ Aaron
    “Also, this formula of comparing body counts (”lopsided death toll”) is getting really old. Either Israel’s actions were justified or they weren’t.”
    Yes, of course, because there’s no such thing as proportionality, right? No, not quite.

    @ Y
    “Does that make the Germans the “good guys”?”
    Well, a lot more, what did they call them, ‘Bandits’, ‘Bandit supporters’ or ‘probable Bandits’ were killed on the eastern front by the Nazis than the other way around. That of course doesn’t make the Germans the bad guys either, eh? And it’s actually a lot more fitting than equating a military power capable of subjugating all of continental Europe and only brought down by an alliance of basically all other major powers to a few guys armed with – at best – chairs and kitchen knives.

    Your example, by the way, is pure, weapons-grade bullonium. Bomber Command had the highest personnel loss rate of any British service branch – almost half of their flying personnel killed or missing. I cannot really imagine the hysterical fits that would result from the IDF losing half of its personnel in any given operation.

  6. Donald Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Who said underdogs were always right? I just implied that it would be a good thing to lower bodycounts and immediately you go Godwin on me. (Is there such a thing as an historical analogy that doesn’t involve Germany in WWII?) Anyway, doesn’t Israel constantly claim to be the underdog?

  7. Tom W Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I know little of what is right or wrong in the middle east. I try to find good information but it is not easy. I consider this to be one of the best places to discover more truth.
    About the middle east I can honestly state this as a fact… there is a problem.
    I always thought the public debate in Israel was more forthright but it sounds like the truth only has two sides… even there in Israel.
    Israel is in real jeopardy of losing the American public.
    This saddens me.

  8. Dan Fleshler Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 5:42 pm


    My only comment is that “weapons-grade bullonium” is a wonderful phrase. Did you make that up? I’m going to steal it and use it someday. Thanks.

  9. Koshiro Says:
    June 3rd, 2010 at 2:16 am

    No, I didn’t make it up. It’s from “Futurama”, the Sci-Fi comedy show by “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening.