Propaganda by Palestinians

Propaganda is different from persuasion.  Persuasion uses legitimate facts and arguments to support claims.  Propaganda uses illogical techniques to try to bolster false claims, yet the arguments often appear either logical or they call upon your emotions to acquiesce to an illogical viewpoint.  These propaganda techniques often deflect critical truthful responses that refute Palestinian arguments through half-truths, inaccuracies, lack of context, ad hominems, and other techniques.

Common propaganda techniques include the following (see more on the website Propaganda Critic):

Common techniques

  1. Word games:  Name-callingGlittering generalitiesEuphemisms
  2. False connections:  TransferTestimonial
  3. Special Appeals:  Plain FolksBandwagonFear

Logical fallacies:  Bad Logic or propaganda?  Unwarranted extrapolation

As one example of propaganda language used by a university professor commonly quoted by the media, CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, has produced an important document detailing the logical fallacies and propagandistic language of Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University when he appeared on CNN on February 12, 2017 (more on Khalidi from CAMERA below the original reproduced article).  Here is CAMERA’s analysis (some of the weblinks have been stripped out of this reproduction; for all of the links, the original article can be found here):

“Analyzing Palestinian Propaganda on CNN: Rashid Khalidi on “Fareed Zakaria GPS”, CAMERA February 20, 2017

On Feb. 12, 2017, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi was hosted by Fareed Zakaria (Fareed Zakaria GPS) to defend and justify the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. This followed an interview on the program a week earlier with French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy where he charged the BDS campaign with being “an anti-Semitic campaign” which “takes its roots a long time ago, 60 years ago, in the fringes of dying Nazism.” Lévy’s words so enraged Khalidi and other proponents of the anti-Israel campaign that Khalidi complained to the host, then appeared himself on the show the following week.

Khalidi, an experienced propagandist, used classic propaganda tactics (name-calling, transfer/association, glittering generalities, logical fallacy, bandwagon, plain folks, and card stacking, as described by the ) to defend BDS, and to delegitimize Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, much as he had done several weeks earlier on WBEZ’s Worldview.

Fareed Zakaria, with a history of skewing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, helped Khalidi along, not only providing him with an unfettered platform to disseminate his misinformation, but having photos and drawings televised to illustrate Khalidi’s  deceptive analogies, and in the case of Jerusalem, disseminating some half truths of his own.

Here are the facts on BDS and Jerusalem, followed by an analysis of the propaganda disseminated on Zakaria’s CNN program.

BDS:  The Facts

Soviet dissident, author and human rights activist Natan Sharansky has proposed a test for the “new anti-Semitism” which he describes as the three D’s—double standards, discrimination and delegitimization— to indicate whether a movement, organization or campaign is anti-Semitic in nature. The BDS campaign employs all three: it uses double standards to single out the Jewish state for delegitimization and discrimination.

Proponents of the BDS campaign have made it clear that they oppose Jewish self-determination and that their ultimate goal is the elimination of a Jewish state in the region. This is what they say:

“A Jewish state in Palestine, in any shape or form, cannot but contravene the basic rights of the land’s indigenous Palestinian population…most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian — rational Palestinian, not a sellout Palestinian—will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”(Omar Barghouti, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel)

“..That [the real aim of BDS is to bring down the Jewish state] should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.” (A’sad AbuKhalil, Stanislaus State College political science professor and supporter of BDS)

“…civil society says Israel is the oppressor, not the settlements.…” (Hind Awwad, national coordinator of the Palestinian BDS national committee)

“…we wish to report and confirm that our corporation boycotts all Israeli products and services, and encourages other institutions, companies and individuals to cease and avoid all economic, academic and cultural activity that supports the racist state of Israel until that state dissolves itself…”(Paul Larudee, International Solidarity Movement, Free Palestine, and BDS activist)

“So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state…I view the BDS movement as a long-term project with radically transformative potential… Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself.” (Ahmed Moor, political commentator and BDS activist)

In addition to the BDS activists’ articulated goal of eliminating a Jewish state, their actions demonstrate anti-Semitic motives rather than a quest for civil rights. Here are just a few of the numerous examples of how Jews are singled out for bullying by BDS activists:

  • As part of its “Globe to Globe” festival in May 2012, London’s Shakespeare Globe Theatre invited companies from around the world to perform Shakespeare’s plays in their native languages. After the Palestinian Ashtar company performed Richard II in Arabic, BDS activists attempted to shut down the Israeli Habima company performance of The Merchant of Venice in Hebrew.
  • Regarding Justin Bieber’s 2011 performance in Tel Aviv, BDS activists reportedly threatened Justin Bieber’s Jewish manager with “the Jew manager will die.”
  • In August 2013, BDS activists protesting the performance of Israeli jazz musician Daniel Zamir at Johannesberg’s Wits University, chanted and sang out “Shoot the Jew.”
  • In August 2015, BDS activists in Spain pressured organizers of a music festival to exclude singer Matisyahu from performing unless he publicly denounced Israel and declared his support for a Palestinian state. The American performer, who was singled out solely because of his Jewish identity, refused to cooperate and his performance was canceled. But following fierce criticism by the international press, Spanish government and others of this overtly anti-Semitic action, organizers reinstated the Jewish singer’s participation in the festival. A Spanish court has now admitted a criminal complaint against the BDS activists, filed by an association of human rights lawyers fighting against anti-Semitism.

The BDS campaign against the Jewish state has been condemned as anti-Semitic by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union(CDU) party, France’s Supreme Court, and the UK’s Minister of Justice:

The German CDU party passed an anti-BDS resolution comparing it to the Nazi boycott of Jews in 1930’s Germany, noting that, “Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called to not buy from Jews. That is nothing other than coarse anti-Semitism.”

In France, BDS is considered a hate crime; The French Supreme court upheld the anti-BDS Lellouche law to rule promoters of BDS guilty of anti-Jewish hate and discrimination and as a result of this law, a major French bank shut down the account of a BDS group.  

The UK Secretary of Justice Michael Gove has slammed the BDS campaign as “indulging prejudice” and a new manifestation of an old anti-Jewish hatred.

BDS: The Propaganda

Here is what Khalidi said regarding the BDS campaign (interspersed with the author’s comments in italics):

Khalidi: “[The statement that the BDS campaign is anti-Semitic] is grotesque, in a time when there is real anti-Semitism, Jew hatred that is being publicly expressed by people who are supporters of President Trump …that people are talking about boycott, divestment and sanctions as anti-Semitic.”

This is an example of how Khalidi uses the tactic of “name-calling” –i.e. “grotesque”– to discredit the charge.

Khalidi: “Many of the people who support it are Jewish, so presumably they’re self-hating?”

Khalidi employs a logical fallacy—a false extrapolation– to imply that because someone is Jewish, he or she cannot be anti-Semitic. In fact, the radicals who support BDS and single out the Jewish state for demonization and delegitimization include Jews on the margin who publicly distance themselves from mainstream Jewry and its support for Jewish self-determination.

Khalidi: “Moreover, this is a time-honored tactic. The Boston Tea Party was a boycott, Selma, Montgomery– every major campaign in civil rights involved boycott– the South African freedom struggle used boycott, divestment and sanctions as a central element. But why are the Palestinians not allowed to do this?”

Here, Khalidi uses the propaganda techniques of “glittering generalities” – i.e. vague, emotionally laden phrases — like “time-honored tactic”— to evoke a positive feeling, and “transfer” of the positive cause of civil rights to the negative one of BDS. In fact, neither the Boston Tea Party—a protest act by colonists who were unfairly taxed by a government in which they had no representation; nor the civil rights marches in the 1960’sthe non-violent demonstration for African American voting rights; nor the Montgomery bus boycottwhere African Americans refrained from using segregated buses in which they would be forced to the back, were in any way akin to the BDS movement. These were all examples of colonists and citizens attempting to secure their own constitutional rights through non-violent demonstrations. They were not, as BDS’ often violent actions are, an attempt to obstruct other people’s constitutional rights (for example, the rights of Jews or Israelis to gather, speak or perform), or to delegitimize a state and to deny another people’s right to self-determination.

Khalidi: “There’s absolutely nothing anti-Semitic. Boycott, Divestment and Sanction says Israel has to end the occupation, Israel has to treat its discriminated-against, second-class Arab citizens–20% of the population–equally, and Israel has to give Palestinians who lost their homes, whose homes were stolen in 1948, the right to get those homes back and/or to return. There’s nothing anti-Semitic in that.”

Khalidi is using the technique of “card stacking” – manipulating the audience’s perception of an issue by exaggerating one side and repressing the other. Here, he deliberately misrepresents the status and situation of Israeli Arabs, and the issue of Palestinians who became refugees in 1948. He stacks the cards by falsely implying that Arab citizens of Israel do not enjoy equal rights under the law and that Israel stole Palestinian homes and continues to discriminate against those who became citizens. He hides the fact that Arab citizens enjoy the same voting rights, civil rights and representation in parliament as do other citizens. And he hides the reason why Palestinians lost homes, namely, because their leaders urged them to temporarily vacate their homes while they waged an aggressive war against the nascent state of Israel. Instead of presenting the facts, card-stacking propaganda exaggerates or downplays information in order to suit the propagandist’s goal.

Khalidi: “Property rights? What’s anti-Semitic about property rights? The right to live in your homeland? What’s anti-Semitic about that?” An end the longest occupation in history? What’s anti-Semitic about that?”

Khalidi uses the “plain folks” strategy here to falsely imply that BDS is “of the people” with the same goals as any plain folk. But BDS is not about property rights, the right to live in your homeland, and ending occupation. It is about denying Jewish property rights, the rights of Jews to live in their homeland by eradicating the Jewish state.

Khalidi: “I think that when you are defending the indefensible as Bernard-Henri Levy and many extreme supporters of Israel are doing, you have no alternative but to resort to smears and slurs against the people who are, in my view, making a very, very strong case that the United States has not done, that the international community has not done what it said it wanted to do in terms of stopping occupation, settlement, land theft, and that it’s up to people, ordinary people to try and push their government and push people with a moral conscience to put pressure on Israel so that it stops all of these violations of human rights and of civil and property rights.”

For his dishonest finale, Khalidi mixes “name-calling” – calling Levy “extreme” – with role reversal – suggesting that it is Levy, and not Khalidi, who is the one “resorting to smears and slurs.” He again uses “card stacking” as he manipulates the facts and reverses the role of the attacker and victim. He culminates with the propaganda technique of “bandwagon” calling on all those “with a moral conscience” to jump on the bandwagon and join the BDS movement.

Jerusalem: The Facts

The status of Jerusalem is contested: Israel considers Jerusalem – both western and eastern– the country’s eternal, undivided capital based on its historical, religious and political claims to the holy city. Since Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, following 19 years of division during which Israeli Jews were excluded from the eastern part, the government through successive administrations has vowed never to re-divide the city again. In 1980, the Israeli Knesset passed a Basic Law declaring reunified Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel, while providing for freedom of access to each religion’s holy sites.

The Palestinians view eastern Jerusalem as part of the West Bank, which it considers Arab territory that Israel is illegally occupying. While Palestinians reject Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, they claim eastern Jerusalem – with holy sites to three religions – as the capital of their future state and view the permanent status of western Jerusalem to be subject to final negotiations.

International law firmly establishes the right of Israelis to settle and reside anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an area which includes eastern Jerusalem. This international legal right is vested in political and legal agreements drawn up in the post-World War I years between 1919 and 1923. A Mandates System established in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, was contained in the Treaty of Versailles and other peace treaties made with the Central Powers. The Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers officially recognized Palestine as a mandated state for the Jewish people at the 1920 San Remo Conference. The San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920 served as the basis for the future administration of Palestine which would henceforth be recognized as the Jewish National Home, as envisioned by the Balfour Declaration. The resulting 1922 Palestine Mandate, which incorporated the resolution into its preamble, confirmed Jewish historical and national rights and converted the Balfour Declaration from a statement of British foreign policy to binding international law.

According to Article 6 of the Mandate, “close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands not required for public use” was to be encouraged. Article 80 of the U.N. Charter preserved this Jewish right to settlement by specifying that nothing in the U.N. Charter’s chapter on the administration of Mandate territory shall be construed ” to alter in any manner” the rights of people and the terms of “existing international instruments” (for example, the Mandate).

Eugene Rostow, a legal scholar who served as U.S. under-secretary of state under the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, explained that “the Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there.”

Jerusalem: The Propaganda

The host, Fareed Zakaria, in his introduction serves up his own propaganda on Jerusalem.

Zakaria: “In 1949, negotiators drew a green line that divided Jerusalem in two. Israel controlled the west, Jordan the east. It was so divided until 1967 when Israel began to occupy the east during the Six Day War.”

Zakaria is using the technique of “card stacking” where he emphasizes the facts that suit him while hiding those that do not. He emphasizes that Jerusalem was divided in two but hides the fact that this was a ceasefire line as a result of an Arab aggressive war. He hides the fact that Jordan destroyed Jewish holy sites and illegally annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem, in a move that only Pakistan recognized . He hides the fact that under Jordan’s occupation and in violation of the same ceasefire agreement, Jordan denied Jews the rights to their burial and holy sites in Jerusalem.

He emphasizes Israel’s “occupation” of the eastern part of Jerusalem but hides Jordan’s aggression that led to Israel’s capture of this territory. Zakaria hides the circumstances under which this territory, which includes Judaism’s historic holy sites, came under Israeli control: During the 1967 war, Israel appealed to Jordan to stay out of the war, but despite this appeal, Jordanian forces fired artillery barrages from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Although Israeli forces did not respond initially, not wanting to open up a Jordanian front in the war, Jordan continued to attack and occupied UN headquarters in Jerusalem. Israeli forces fought back and within two days managed to repulse the Jordanian forces and retake eastern Jerusalem.

And guest Rashid Khalidi provides more.

Khalidi: “In 1947, the United Nations when it gave legitimacy to the idea of a Jewish state and an Arab state said that Jerusalem had to be a separate entity. And the United States has said, and other countries have said, that until there is a final status resolution of the question of Jerusalem, nobody should change the status there, including moving embassies there, proclaiming it your capital, building settlements–there are 200,000 Israelis living illegally in occupied Arab East Jerusalem today. All of these things in the eyes of American policy– until President Trump was elected – and in the eyes of every country in the world – are illegal until and unless the Israel and the Palestinians come to terms about Jerusalem.”

Khalidi similarly uses the “card stacking” technique as he talks about the “separate entity” (corpus separatum) recommended in the 1947 UN General Assembly partition resolution. He hides the fact that the Arabs all rejected this resolution, so that it never went into effect, and further nullified it by aggressively attempting to annihilate the Jewish state. Similarly, while he categorically states that the United States views Israeli habitation in eastern Jerusalem to be “illegal” and that it has declared that embassies should be barred from Jerusalem until there is a final status resolution, he hides the fact that there is no unified US view about Jerusalem. While the State Department does not officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital and does not recognize Israel’s effective annexation of the eastern part of the city, the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995 to initiate and fund the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. This was followed by the Foreign Relations Authorization Act signed by President Bush in 2002, maintaining the commitment to moving the embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. U.S. presidents, caught in the middle (including President Bush), have viewed these Congressional Acts as advisory and have regularly exercised presidential waivers to temporarily suspend the move of the embassy to Jerusalem “in order to protect the national security interests of the United States.”

With such disingenuous techniques employed on a mainstream U.S. news outlet, with the help of a CNN journalist, in order to influence public perception on controversial issues, it is no wonder that more and more people are talking about “fake news.” (To view the tape, click here.)

More on Rashid Khalidi:

Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American academic, is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He is also a well-known propagandist, a PLO associate under Yasir Arafat,  and a frequent guest on NPR programs. CAMERA has, in the past, criticized the academic’s free use of fabricated quotes and other falsehoods to make his points.

Several weeks ago, Khalidi broadcast yet more false information and hate rehtoric on a WBEZ-produced global affairs program –  Worldview, hosted by Jerome McDonnell and available as a podcast on NPR’s website. In the past, that radio show was criticized for providing anti-Israel guests with an unfettered platform from which to promote their biased agenda and bigotry.  But on this particular segment, entitled “Scholars On Israel And The United Nations” (January 17, 2017), Khalidi’s views were countered by those of Eugene Kontorovich, law professor at Northwestern University and expert on international law and the Israel-Arab conflict.

Still, Khalidi managed to stir up controversy by scurrilously suggesting American political supporters of Israel were an “unsavory” lot, akin to vermin. He said:

…The Israeli right wing and its enablers, the unsavory characters in American politics who have enabled and supported it, are about to move us far, far further down this road than any other administration has ever gone… [Worldview with Jerome McDonnell, Jan. 18, 2017, 5:18]

and later

…There are a group of people, a lot of them in Israel and some of them in the United States, who live in a world of their own…And unfortunately, these people infest the Trump transition team, these people are going to infest our government as of January 20. And they are hand in glove with a similar group of people in the Israeli government and Israeli political life who think that whatever they think can be imposed on reality. [Worldview with Jerome McDonnell, Jan. 18, 2017, 7:09]

Khalidi also defended the tactic of boycott (as used by BDS campaign against Israel) as “a cherished American tradition,”a “time-honored, internationally recognized technique” and a “peaceful means of free speech.” He condemned the efforts to pass anti-BDS legislation as “nauseating in and of itself,” and claimed such legislation is probably illegal.

The professor was given free reign to served up a hefty dose of misinformation about the Arab-Israeli conflict in the first half of the show, without any challenge by the host. And although Mr. Kontorovich did manage to refute several of Khalidi’s distortions when he was given the microphone in the latter half of the show, the host’s questions seemed to indicate that he had accepted many of Khalidi’s assertions as fact.

Khalidi’s arguments, based on false premises and historical revisionism, provides insight into the line of reasoning used often by Palestinian advocates. For example, in response to the host’s question about what “bad thing” happens if the U.S. embassy moves to Jerusalem, Khalidi railed:

This is not even an issue related to 1967 and the occupation of east Jerusalem. It’s an issue going back to the establishment of Israel. Israel was established by an international consensus which said three things: First, that there should be a Jewish state. Second, that there should be an Arab state, and third, that Jerusalem should have a separate status. And so by moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the United States is violating the birth certificate of Israel, which is General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947.

Israel’s legitimacy is entirely based on an international decision that there should be a Jewish state, but that decision also called for an Arab state and that decision also called for a separate status for Jerusalem. So if the United States puts the stakes through the heart of a two-state solution, if it says there is not going to be an Arab state and it says Jerusalem is entirely Israel’s, which I expect is coming, that this administration is going to say, it’s putting the boot into Israel itself, into the legitimacy, the document which is the birth certificate of the State of Israel.

The only thing that gives [the Jewish state] legitimacy is that Partition Resolution (UNGA 181). Now that has been re-endorsed since, but you’re going back to the very beginning. You’re not just going back to ‘67. You’re going back before 1948 to the international consensus on the creation of Israel, one condition of which was that Jerusalem is not for the Jewish State and for Israel to play with as it chooses. [Worldview with Jerome McDonnell, Jan. 18, 2017, 5:43]

These claims are absurd, contradictory and deceitful.

The suggestion that the 1947 partition plan (UN General Assembly Resolution 181) is Israel’s “birth certificate” and the single document that confers legitimacy on its statehood is patently false. The political and legal basis of the modern Jewish state is not the UNGA resolution, but a series of political and legal agreements drawn up in the post-World War I years between 1919 and 1923.

A Mandates System was established in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and was contained in the Treaty of Versailles and other peace treaties made with the Central Powers. The Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers officially recognized Palestine as a mandated state for the Jewish people at the 1920 San Remo Conference. And the San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920 served as the basis for the future administration of Palestine which would henceforth be recognized as the Jewish National Home, as envisioned by the Balfour Declaration. The resulting 1922 Palestine Mandate, which incorporated the resolution into its preamble, confirmed Jewish historical and national rights and converted the Balfour Declaration from a statement of British foreign policy to binding international law.

The General Assembly partition resolution, some 25 years later, was a non-binding recommendation to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states and temporarily internationalize Jerusalem for a period of 10 years, after which its status would be determined by a referendum. Its applicability rested upon the resolution’s acceptance by both parties. But the Arabs rejected this resolution in its entirety and nullified it with their belligerent actions following Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 as the British Mandate expired. By rejecting Resolution 181 and forcefully attempting to annihilate the nascent Jewish state, the Arabs aborted the resolution and all of its recommendations.

Professor Kontorovich similarly refuted Khalidi’s claim:

I would contest the very premises of Professor Khalidi’s statements: Israel’s birth certificate is not a General Assembly resolution, for a lot of reasons. The General Assembly resolution he mentions from 1947 didn’t create the State of Israel. It called for a totally different system to come into being, which was never realized. And what created the State of Israel was Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948, followed by its successful War of Independence against multiple invading Arab countries… [Worldview with Jerome McDonnell, Jan. 18, 2017, 21:35]

Kontorovich also voiced his view that it is an “inherently anti-Semitic notion to think that the Jewish state for its existence requires a birth certificate whereas Canada or Niger does not require a birth certificate,” while pointing to the huge difference between the1922 League of Nations Mandate establishing a national homeland for the Jewish people, which was a legally binding international document and the only one that can be construed as the legal “birth certificate”of the modern Jewish state, unlike the non-binding1947 UNGA resolution.

By stating, therefore, that the move of an embassy to Jerusalem would negate the legitimacy of the Jewish state, Khalidi is not only wrong because the resolution is not what confers legitimacy upon Israel, but because of the false implication that this resolution determines the current status of Jerusalem, making any move of an embassy anywhere within Jerusalem a violation. Khalidi’s glib dishonesty is evidenced by this sudden citing of the resolution’s recommendation on Jerusalem, when in the past he argued the opposite on NPR, namely, that “Jerusalem is and has to be seen as the capital of Palestine, of a Palestinian-Arab state.” (All Things Considered, July 16, 2000).

Khalidi’s selective citing and contradictory argumentation attests to his experience as a propagandist who banks upon the gullibility of his audience and the unwillingness of his interviewers to challenge his statements.

It is time that those journalists who call upon Khalidi to provide insight into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict realize that by allowing a notorious propagandist to peddle falsehoods without objection, or to present them as one side’s perspective that can be balanced by another viewpoint, they are deceiving their audience and abandoning journalistic ethical standards.