Propaganda Analysis: Suggestions to Students Concerning Israel's Attack on Lebanon
July 26, 2006

You can learn a great deal about Israel's current war against Lebanon by reading FrontPage magazine.com's July 21 propaganda piece, The Protocols of Pat Buchanan, by the web site's staff. You also need to read and think about most of the articles linked to from the "Protocols" article and note how the "Protocols" article spins them. I would suggest printing out all the articles you want to study and underlining, with one distinctive color, all the text that is quoted in the FPM article, while using some other color for any other underlining or marginal notes. That way, when you review the FPM article and the things it links to, you can easily find the original contexts for quoted text.

I've just completed the exercise -- it's taken me about one full workday. I'm not going to do a full "point by point" commentary, but there are a few things I'd like to mention. Your best bet might be to do the study or some shorter version of it first, and then read my comments.

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The word "protocols" in the title of the article refers to pamphlet called "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." It was prepared in Russia by the Czarist secret police some time around 1905 and pretended to be an actual outline for a Jewish plot to take over the world. It was widely cited and disseminated by anti-Semites. I found an article on the web a few years ago which claimed that the original "Protocols" was the work of a French satirist around 1875 and was about conspiratorial rich people in general, not about Jews.

In any case, the FrontPageMag article is an attempt, crude in some ways, clever in others, to strengthen the idea that criticism of Israel's conduct is motivated by a spirit of virulent anti-Semitism. It might very well achieve that goal in the minds of a majority of its readers, who, for the most part, won't bother to read any of the linked articles. Fortunately, there are at least a few intelligent people who willing and able to think for themselves on serious issues, and if these people -- including you, my readers! -- take the time to compare the actual content of the linked articles with the distorted or even falsified interpretations in the FrontPageMag article, then they and you will learn a lot about some of the truly sinister forces driving events in the Middle East and in the U.S.A.

Let's begin with paragraph three from FPM:

Nothing sets Buchanan's imagination racing like a Bush-backed Israeli war. On Tuesday, Pat asked, "Who is whispering in his ear?" His answer: bloodthirsty Hebrews.
Here is the text from Buchanan's article:
Who is whispering in his ear? The same people who told him Iraq was maybe months away from an atom bomb, that an invasion would be a "cakewalk," that he would be Churchill, that U.S. troops would be greeted with candy and flowers, that democracy would break out across the region, that Palestinians and Israelis would then sit down and make peace?
The phrase "bloodthirsty Hebrews" does not occur in Buchanan's article. Buchanan is not talking about the Jewish people in general, but of a specific group of advisors and other influential individuals, some of whom are indeed Jewish and who are indeed motivated by their concern for the nation of Israel. But that is a simple fact that needs to be mentioned and the mentioning of it is light-years away from the kind of anti-Semitism that revels in phrases like "bloodthirsty Hebrews" or "blood-drenched Jews" or "nefarious Jewish warmongers."

The FPM article is quite liberal in its use of loaded phrases when referring to any opponent of the State of Israel. Naturally the word "terrorist" is used frequently, sometimes in statements that are patently false. For example, the FPM article claims that Buchanan's WorldNetDaily article No, this is not 'our war' is

all designed to smear the Jews and paint the terrorists as the victims rather than the aggressors and sole instigators of this war. He accomplishes this by highlighting only Muslim suffering -- which Israel has taken extraordinary lengths to avoid -- while ignoring the daily panic that fills the heart of an average Israeli boarding a bus, attending a wedding, or lunching at a corner deli.
Time for a little game of "count the lies:"
  1. Buchanan's article is (in part) a criticism of acts of the State of Israel but there is nothing in it that is "designed to smear the Jews."
  2. Buchanan discusses the effect of Israel's military action on Lebanese civilians and infrastructure. He does not portray Hezbollah members as "victims."
  3. It is ludricous to call Hezbollah the "sole instigators" of the war. Israel could easily have inflicted deadly retaliation against Hezbollah without going to war against the entire country of Lebanon.
  4. Buchanan does not "highlight. . . only Muslim suffering." In fact, he emphasizes the suffering of Lebanese Christians!
  5. Israel has not "taken extraordinary lengths to avoid" civilian suffering.

Wow, that's five lies (and one major irrelevancy) in one short paragraph! That's why I'm presenting all of this as an exercise. Writing up a full point-by-point could get pretty tedious.

I do have one more point, though. The FPM article refers to the leaders of Iran as "genocidal lunatics." That might be a slight exageration of their general enmity towards the State of Israel. However, on the FPM web site, there was an advertisement for "conservative" tee-shirts. The wording on one such shirt was, "Iran wants nukes? Give them to 'em!" There was an image of a mushroom cloud in the background of the shirt. I guess genocidal lunacy is popular everywhere these days.

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For the sake of posterity, here is a list of most of the articles linked to by the FPM article. There are a few on this list that I haven't read.

  1. WorldNetDaily: Where are the Christians?
  2. WorldNetDaily: No, this is not 'our war'
  3. IDF: Hizbullah preventing civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebano... - News from Israel, Ynetnews
  4. Marathon Dancing by Butler Shaffer
  5. Attack on Syria Has Neocon Fingerprints by Jim Lobe
  6. War and Peace and the Middle East by Christopher Westley
  7. An Imperial Edict on the Late Disturbances in Phoenicia by Chris Floyd
  8. The Summer of 1914 by William S. Lind
  9. What's Really Going on in Lebanon by Eric Margolis
  10. FrontPage magazine.com :: The Old Right/Hate America Left Connection by Anthony Gancarski
  11. Open Door Policy
  12. FrontPage magazine.com :: Paul Craig Roberts and the Certifiable Right by Ben Johnson
  13. Iranophobia by Paul Craig Roberts
  14. VDARE.com: 06/11/06 - Neocon Plot To Nuke Iran Invites Catastrophe
  15. VDARE.com: 07/16/06 - America Is Being Set-Up For Wider War In The Middle East
  16. VDARE.com: 07/19/06 - Will Americans Join Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians as Neocon Victims? (NOTE: The FPM article does not give the correct link for this article.)
  17. re: Horowitz the (Supposedly) Former Commie
  18. Hizballah Wants Israel to Free Child-Killer -- 07/18/2006

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Here are a few other articles I've recently read that might be worth checking out:

  1. VDARE.com: 07/21/06 - The Shame of Being an American
  2. VDARE.com: 07/22/06 - Bush's War: On Uppity Muslims, Not "Terror"
  3. Disaster in the Making - by Charley Reese
  4. Stop That Shit, Indeed - by Uri Avnery
  5. Israel's Disproportionate Violence No Surprise - by Jonathan Cook
  6. I Was Israel's Dupe
  7. Why Hezbollah is Winning (counterpunch)
  8. Danger! Legacy Ahead!- by Justin Raimondo
  9. Five Myths That Sanction Israel's War Crimes - by Jonathan Cook

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A final note: If you do something like the exercise described in this article and you are moved to write something based on your thoughts and observations, I might be interested in posting it on this web site, with or without a byline, according to your preference.

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Addendum, August 26, 2006:

I've often opined that American involvement in the Middle East is motivated by a concern for the State of Israel. Maybe the situation is closer to a complex co-dependency. Read: How Washington Goaded Israel Into War - by Stephen Zunes.

 
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