LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
3 August 2014
How To Win Friends and Influence People

You Like Me, You Really, Really Like Me – not really.  

So let’s starting off with a bit of levity, which we clearly are in need of and then
moving on to lies, which we clearly aren’t in need of. Nevertheless....

If Brits ever wondered what the rest of the world thinks of them, the research
has been done. At last. Didn’t you always want to know? As I thought. You
didn't.

Despite that, 5,029 18-34 year-olds from Brazil, China, Germany, India and
America considered British traits for the report,
As Others See Us, on behalf
of the British Council. The usual decades-old perceptions: bad food, bad teeth,
bad weather, bad drunks.

Yawn and wrong. Best food, American teeth, worthy of note weather, oops...
what can I say – good drunks?

Not to be ignored: We Are the Best. Oh sorry, that’s an amusing Danish film.
All the same: best museums and galleries, best fashion, best wine and
champagne, best innovative science, best architecture, best countryside, best
history, best heritage sites, best shops, best multi-culturalism, best universities,
best writers, best films, best animation, best theatre, best telly, best actors, best
looking, best queuing, best humour, oh you know the rest of the best. Dear me.
Am I sounding a bit nationalistic? All right. On balance we did invent almost all
sports. Admittedly we’re not very good at them.

Have they ever had a meal in one of the 138 one-star Michelin-starred
restaurants, 21 two-starred, 4 three-starred, watched the Great British Bake
Off, Sunday Brunch, all those other TV programmes which inevitably includes a
fun food segment, shopped at Marks & Spencer’s food hall? Clearly not.

I must include what the survey revealed. Multi-cultural Britain is ignorant of
other cultures, intolerant towards people from other countries and too
nationalistic (dear me), oh sorry, but very polite with good manners said 46%,
as Brits display these unattractive traits.

We respect the rule of law, are friendly, skilled, but only 25% thought we were
humorous. What? Really? Are they having a laugh?

They liked the Queen, Shakespeare and David Beckham. As do we, but clearly
they don’t know much about Britain or Britons. Sorry.

Hmmmm. Curiously we did finish second in a list of 15 countries for overall
attractiveness.

Sorry. We’re going go out and get legless, pissed, hammered, wasted. Sorry.


Myths and Lies

After watching in horror the horrible horror herself, Joan Rivers, shrieking into
a camera “Theyyyyyy started it! Whatsamadder with you people! Theyyyyyy
started it!” I didn’t catch all of her quite unattractive screeching rant as I was
mesmerised by her way-over-the-top-plastic-surgery mask. Terrifying. It’s
always extraordinary that she can express her standard vicious vitriol with a
face that not only doesn’t move, but would scare a shrew-mole hiding in its
tunnel.

As a result I felt compelled to respond. So. Joan. If you’re reading this....but
hang on...first Brian Eno has something to say to you.

Brian Eno, who actually had the indisputable courage to say the truth, unlike
those few celebrities who immediately retracted – you know who they are....

Shortened version, but you will get the point.

“Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man carrying a plastic carrier
bag of meat. It was his son. He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an
Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs.
You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed into
explosives which tear the flesh off humans. The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-
Nawasra. He was four years old.

Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in
Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won't sign up
to it.

What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted
your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story.
But - for Christ's sake! - it's not that hard to find out. Why does America
continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY?
I just don't get it. I really hate to think it's just the power of AIPAC… for if that's
the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don't think
that's the reason… but I have no idea what it could be...

We got to see some harrowing things - Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire
mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary
towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten
by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole
village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their
land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto
Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless
daily humiliations. I kept thinking, "Do Americans really condone this? Do they
really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?

I'm sorry to burden you all with this. I know you're busy and in varying degrees
allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It's us squandering the
civilisational capital that we've built over generations. None of the questions in
this letter are rhetorical: I really don't get it and I wish that I did.”

XXB


You might want to read the article in its entirety. You as well, JR.

The myths - and I don’t mean Greek, should be noted. Alternet.org has run
several articles on the deliberate manipulation of information regarding the
slaughter in Gaza. So, Joan. Begin here – or have the lies read to you if you
are too entitled to read yourself. Hint before you begin. ‘They’ didn’t start it!

The first abbreviated article from alternet.org is from Noura Erakat, a human
rights attorney and activist, an Abraham L. Freedman Fellow at Temple
University, Beasely School of Law, and a contributing editor of Jadaliyya. I’ve
tried not to comment...often.

“This is not the first time. The gruesome images of decapitated children’s
bodies and stolen innocence on Gaza’s shores are a dreadful repeat of Israel’s
assault on Gaza in November 2012 and winter 2008–09. Not only are the
military tactics the same but so too are the public relations efforts and the faulty
legal arguments that underpin the attacks. Mainstream media news anchors are
inexplicably accepting these arguments as fact.

Below I address five of Israel’s recurring talking points. I hope this proves
useful to newsmakers.”

1) Israel is exercising its right to self-defence.

It cannot simultaneously occupy the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Territories
usurping their self-governing powers and declare war upon them. These
contradictory policies (occupying a land and then declaring war on it) make the
Palestinian population doubly vulnerable.

Israel denies Palestinians the right to govern and protect themselves, while
simultaneously invoking the right to self-defence. This is a conundrum and a
violation of international law, one that Israel deliberately created to evade
accountability.

2) Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

Despite removing 8,000 settlers and the military infrastructure that protected
their illegal presence, Israel maintained effective control of the Gaza Strip and
thus remains the occupying power as defined by Article 47 of the Hague
Regulations. To date, Israel maintains control of the territory’s air space,
territorial waters, electromagnetic sphere, population registry and the movement
of all goods and people.

Palestinians have yet to experience a day of self-governance. Israel
immediately imposed a siege upon the Gaza Strip when Hamas won
parliamentary elections in January 2006 and tightened it severely when Hamas
routed Fatah in June 2007.

Inhabitants will not be able to access clean water, electricity or tend to even the
most urgent medical needs. The World Health Organization explains that the
Gaza Strip will be unliveable by 2020. Not only did Israel not end its occupation,
it has created a situation in which Palestinians cannot survive in the long-term.
[Is that cheering I hear?]

3) This Israeli operation, among others, was caused by rocket fire from
Gaza.
[Pay attention here, Joan.]

Israel claims that its current and past wars against the Palestinian population in
Gaza have been in response to rocket fire. Empirical evidence from 2008, 2012
and 2014 refute that claim.

Hamas rocket fire increases in response to Israeli military attacks and
decreases in direct correlation to them. Cease-fires have brought the greatest
security to the region.

[the details] During the four months of the Egyptian-negotiated cease-fire in
2008, Palestinian militants reduced the number of rockets to zero or single
digits from the Gaza Strip. Despite this relative security and calm, Israel broke
the cease-fire to begin the notorious aerial and ground offensive that killed
1,400 Palestinians in twenty-two days. In November 2012, Israel’s extrajudicial
assassination of  Ahmad Jabari the chief of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza,
while he was reviewing terms for a diplomatic solution, again broke the cease-
fire that precipitated the eight-day aerial offensive that killed 132 Palestinians.

4) Israel avoids civilian casualties, but Hamas aims to kill civilians.

Hamas has crude weapons technology that lacks any targeting capability. In
contrast, Israel is a nuclear power and has one of the most powerful military in
the world [be grateful to ally-America for all that influx of cash when needed],
that has not ratified the non-proliferation agreement and has precise weapons
technology. With the use of drones, F-16s and an arsenal of modern weapon
technology, Israel has the ability to target single individuals and therefore to
avoid civilian casualties. But rather than avoid them, Israel has repeatedly
targeted civilians as part of its military operations. [Relief for Joan she’s on the
‘right’ side.]

Far from avoiding the deaths of civilians, Israel effectively considers them
legitimate targets. [No. Really?]

5) Hamas hides its weapons in homes, mosques and schools and uses
human shields.

This is arguably one of Israel’s most insidious claims, because it blames
Palestinians for their own death and deprives them of even their victimhood.
Israel made the same argument in its war against Lebanon in 2006 and in its
war against Palestinians in 2008. The two cases where Hamas indeed stored
weapons in UNRWA schools, the schools were empty.

International human rights organizations that have investigated these claims
have determined that they are not true [note, not true].

The evidence Human Rights Watch uncovered in its on-the-ground
investigations refutes Israel’s argument…we found strong evidence that
Hezbollah stored most of its rockets in bunkers and weapon storage facilities
located in uninhabited fields and valleys, that in the vast majority of cases
Hezbollah fighters left populated civilian areas as soon as the fighting started,
and that Hezbollah fired the vast majority of its rockets from pre-prepared
positions outside villages.

In fact, only Israeli soldiers have systematically used Palestinians as human
shields. Since Israel’s incursion into the West Bank in 2002, it has used
Palestinians as human shields by tying young Palestinians onto the hoods of
their cars or forcing them to go into a home where a potential militant may be
hiding.
[Stop. Reread this. Please memorise it.]

Israeli society is urging its military leadership to do. Israel cannot bomb
Palestinians into submission, and it certainly cannot bomb them into peace.

The second abbreviated article by Omar Baddar for Salon.

1. Israeli officials now acknowledge that Hamas was actually not
responsible...
not responsible for the kidnappings of the three Israeli
teenagers/soldiers. Israeli intelligence officers reportedly this as early as 30
June: there was no evidence implicating Hamas. [Surely you know that from the
media coverage. Right.]

In Gaza one day before the kidnappings a Palestinian man and a 10-year-old
child were killed by an Israeli airstrike.

Then Israel used the excuse to go on a violent rampage in the West Bank;
invading homes, killing demonstrators, arresting hundreds of Palestinians,
including 60 Hamas members who had been freed in an earlier prisoner swap.
[Clearly this is legitimate behaviour...if you are Israeli. Imagine the reverse. No
one else has.]

2.
Hamas had been strictly observing a cease-fire agreement since it was
brokered in 2012
. Hamas arrested Palestinian militants from rival factions who
had fired rockets at Israel as recently as last month.

Hamas ultimately resumed firing rockets into Israel, but only after the massive
crackdown Israel initiated against Hamas in the West Bank and by some
accounts, even after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza.

3.
For more than two decades, Palestinians and Israelis have been engaged
in a so-called peace process
, which aims to establish a Palestinian state on
the occupied territories, the very same small areas from which Israel is legally
required to withdraw.

But that peace process was always doomed to fail because Israel was never
serious about allowing a viable Palestinian state to exist. They continued their
relentless settlement expansion in direct violation of international law. Netanyahu
announced Israel would not allow a sovereign Palestinian state to exist. [In case
you missed that.]

So when Hamas and the Palestinian Authority agreed to end their division in
recent months, Netanyahu’s government panicked and demanded Western
governments boycott the new united Palestinian leadership. [And his excuse?]

4. Having illegally occupied the Palestinian territories for many decades,
Israel
is actively engaging in land theft through illegal settlement expansion and is
imposing a system of apartheid.

Under those circumstances, Israel’s very posture is offensive, and it cannot
claim to be engaging in “self-defence” against the very people whose land it
has illegally usurped.

Norman Finkelstein said “The refrain that Israel has the right to self-defence is
a red herring: the real question is, does Israel have the right to use force to
maintain an illegal occupation? The answer is no.”

5. The ubiquitous talking point “
Israel was forced to defend itself from Hamas
rockets”
is wrong on three counts: [you still there, Joan? I thought not.] 1) This
round of violence did not start with Hamas rockets; 2) Israel was not “forced”
into this confrontation; and 3) Israel as the occupying power is certainly not
“defending” itself.

6.
Israel wants a cease-fire that effectively ends the fighting while allowing
Israel to keep its boot on Gaza’s neck. Hamas insists on some humanitarian
conditions including ending the siege and economic suffocation of Gaza, the
introduction of international peacekeeping forces at Gaza’s borders, and the
freeing of prisoners rounded up in recent weeks, many held without charge or
trial.

OK. Time out. Cease fire. Peace sign. Now you know – or you should know
what is spin and what isn’t. Which brings me to Republican pollster and political
strategist, Frank Luntz.

In
The Independent  Patrick Cockburn explains:

The Israeli spokesmen spinning the justification of the slaughter are using a
professional, well-researched, very confidential 112 page analysis by Luntz;
how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe.
Commissioned five years ago by The Israel Project, with offices conveniently in
the US and Israel, for use by those "who are on the front lines of fighting the
media war for Israel".

Instructions: “Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967,
because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel's military history.
Particularly on the left this does you harm. For instance, support for Israel's
right to defensible borders drops from a heady 89 per cent to under 60 per
cent when you talk about it in terms of 1967."

Use minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear. The
booklet is full of meaty advice about how they should shape their answers for
different audiences.

A few hints: use the word ‘demand’ only when referring to Palestinians...
‘Americans don’t like people who make demands’...use ‘suggestions’ when
referring to Israelis.’ Demonise Hamas, but always appear sad over ‘the
deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children’.”

We know the soulless supercilious spokesman Mr Regev has memorised every
page. As Dr Luntz said: “Don’t confuse messages with facts.” Facts should be
selective. Now that is a surprise.

At the end of the day - usually a gruesome, horrifying, appalling, shameful,
unimaginable day - we know why and how the terrorist organisation, Israel,
continuously lies and lies and lies and....
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