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Whoever controls the discourse controls emotional reactions to reality

by Peter A. Belmont / 2023-10-25
© 2023 Peter Belmont


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In the Israel/Palestine history of violence and non-violence, there is ONE REALITY but have always been two stories, TWO DISCOURSES, the Palestinian story, and the Zionist story.

By way of preparation, let me try to be the “Master of the Discourse” inside my own essay! Some definitions of terms used in this essay:

”The Land” :: The land of Palestine “from the river to the sea”, the land which the British Mandate governed (1920-1948), the land which Israel now controls (excluding the Golan Heights of Syria and bits of Lebanon).

”OPT” (Occupied Palestinian Territory) :: The West Bank including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, both seized in the 1967 war and subsequently belligerently occupied (militarily controlled) by Israel, arguably illegally occupied now since the seizure is now obviously meant to be permanent and thus amounts to annexation, annexation by force being illegal.

”Zionist Project” :: the project of the Zionists, as it has developed over the years, of taking control and “ownership” of all of The Land and removing from it, and thereafter excluding from it, the Arab Palestinian people and removing signs of their long-term residence in The Land, disregarding and violating international law as seems necessary to this outcome. At present, the resulting Israeli regime is widely described as “apartheid” both within pre-1967 Israel and in the OPTs. The Israeli regime is now openly genocidal with regard to Gaza (10/2023).

”Zionist” :: a person, not necessarily Jewish, who supports the Zionist Project.

”Jew” :: A person of Jewish religion or ancestry, not necessarily a Zionist.

”Anti-Zionist” :: A person who opposes the Zionist Project. Not necessarily an antisemite. BTW, an antisemite is not necessarily an anti-Zionist. The Republican Party in the USA is full of antisemites who support Israel. Go figure!

”Christian Zionist” :: a member of various USA evangelical religious groups who makes a religious claim, and exerts political pressure, to support Israel’s right to use violence irrespective of international law to advance the Zionist Project.

”Israeli” :: a person who is a citizen of Israel, not necessarily a Zionist even if a Jew, possibly an Arab Palestinian.

”Freedom Fighter” (rhetoric) :: term of approbation for a member of an armed and violent militia working in the speaker’s interest, sometimes a Terrorist.

”Terrorist” (normal usage) :: Describes acts or threats of violence against civilians by a person not a member of a State Armed Force seeking to advance a political agenda.

”State Terrorism” :: Acts or threats of violence against civilians by a State Actor seeking to advance a political agenda.

”Terrorist” (Zionist rhetoric) :: term of disapprobation for anyone acting, speaking, or writing against the Zionist Project, even if non-violent. Example: Member of Human Rights Watch, a human-rights watchdog NGO which has declared Israel to be an “apartheid” state. As used by Zionists, this term is a “put down”, but with dire political consequences in Israel and sometimes in the USA and elsewhere.

”Antisemitism” (normal usage) :: An attitude of hatred or loathing for Jews, sometimes associated with actions taken against a Jew or Jews.

”Antisemitism” (Zionist rhetoric) :: An attitude of hatred or loathing or disapproval or criticism of Jews or of the Zionist Project or of Israel.

”The Jewish People” (normal usage) :: A term for the collective of all Jews.

”The Jewish People” (Zionist rhetoric) :: The collective of all people in whose name, even if not Israeli citizens or residents, the State of Israel exists to serve and protect. Israel, according to Zionist ideology and Israeli law, is the State of the Jewish People, and not the state of the Citizens of Israel.

”Self-Hating Jew” (Zionist rhetoric) :: Any Jew who disapproves of the Zionist Project. The idea seems to be that since, per Zionist claim, Israel is the State of the Jewish People and represents the interest of The Jewish People, any Jew who disapproves of the Zionist Project hates The Jewish People and thereby hates himself. As used by Zionists, a put-down, intended to make such a Jews untouchable among (other) Jews, certainly among Zionist Jews.

”Return” (Palestinian usage) :: The return to Palestinian territory, or to their or their ancestor’s place of residence when they became refugees in 1948 or 1967, hoped for, demanded, and never so far achieved. In 1948, the UNGA resolved that Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war had the right to “return”, but Israel has resolutely denied that right to this day.

”Return” (Zionist usage) :: As to Jews, moving from outside Israel, not being an Israeli citizen, into Israel and becoming an Israeli citizen. By Israeli law this is a possibility offered to all (politically acceptable) Jews world-wide, usually to those who have never been inside Israel, but are nevertheless deemed to be “returning”, but a possibility denied to all non-Jews except spouses of “returning” Jews, and especially gallingly denied to Palestinian refugees from Israel’s 1948 war of creation.

”Victim” :: In the I/P context, the two sides each, but especially the Zionist side, try to claim that they are the only “victims”, and the other side are “victimizers”. Thus, after the terrorist attack by Hamas fighters inside Israel on October 7, 2023, the Zionists emphasized that the 1400 dead Israelis were the only “victims” and strongly resisted anyone attempting to frame the terrorist attack as a response to (even if not excused or justified by) the obvious context of a history of Zionist oppression since 1948 and the 16-year inhuman blockade of Gaza.

”Occupation Army” :: This is a way the (Qatar-sponsored) Al-Jazeera bureau chief in Gaza referred to the Israeli army.

”Israel Defense Forces (IDF)” :: This is how the Zionists refer to the Israeli army. Israel discourages the use of the word ‘occupation”. All Israeali men (but, I believe, not Muslim or Christian Arab Israelis) are required to serve in IDF. Some refuse because of conscientious objection to he occupation.



To repeat: in the Israel/Palestine history of violence and non-violence, there is ONE REALITY but have always been two stories, TWO DISCOURSES, the Palestinian story, and the Zionist story.

People who hear only one of these stories often become emotionally (and politically) engaged with the tellers of the story they have heard.

Zionists know this and use many tools to attempt to prevent the Palestinian story from being heard.

The “western world” or “global north” has generally listened to, and repeated, and propagandized, and made part of its political party-lines, only the Zionist/Israeli story, and been deaf to and ignored, and refused to hear, indeed, refused to allow to be heard, the Palestinian story. There are reports of crackdowns and even death threats against pro-Palestine speech.
From university disciplinary hearings to death threats, supporters of Palestinian rights are facing a wave of reprisals.
(JewishCurrents).


The “global south” has been more willing to hear and attend to the Palestinian discourse.

Because story-telling can affect popular understanding and motivate emotional attitudes, Israel has used the “terrorist” accusation to attack both violent and non-violent resistance to the Zionist Program of erasure of Palestine.

As Israel Tells It, Israeli Violence Is Always Called Self-Defense, Palestinian Violence Is Always Called Terrorism


Palestinians describe the history of violence as a history of cruel terrorism, settler-colonialism and expulsion, ethnic cleansing on the part of Zionists/Israelis, and heroic resistance on the part of Palestinians. And this has been true from 1947 into the present, with the worst Zionist/Israeli violence and most heroic Palestinian resistance in 1947-1950, 1967, and 2008-2023.

Israelis describe the history of violence as heroic nation-building and then defense against terrorism on their own part and terrorism on the part of their Palestinian victims.

Most of the world and the mainstream media in the USA and elsewhere have mostly aligned with the Zionist/Israeli narrative, limiting their thought and story-telling to the Zionist/Israeli narrative.

By using money to bribe USA’s Congress, media, and others, by foreign trade, by propaganda (Israel’s much-vaunted “hasbara”), and by the skillful deployment (“weaponization”) of the Holocaust narrative and the Antisemitism narrative, and by overwhelming military success, the Zionist/Israeli narrative has achieved supremacy over the Palestinian narrative.

And since whoever controls the discourse controls the emotional reactions to the stories told, the (North American and European) world has—mostly—heard, believed, and emotionally attached itself to the Zionist/Israeli narrative and been deaf to and ignored the Palestinian narrative.

Thus, since Israel controls the world’s understanding, today’s violence is described only by Israel: Israeli violence is described far and wide as “self defense” and Palestinian violence is described as “terrorism”.

If the Palestinian narrative had the upper hand in the world’s ears, the Palestinian violence would be described as Palestinian resistance to Zionist/Israeli closure and siege of Gaza, settler-colonialism, terrorism, oppression, murder, torture, imprisonment without cause, seizure of land, violation of the international laws of war and other humanitarian and human rights law, apartheid, genocide (today in Gaza), etc., etc., ad nauseam, ethnic cleansing, and so forth—and Israeli violence would be described as all those things to which Palestinians are occasionally resisting with violence.

Non-Violence Is Also Called Terrorism By Israel

It is interesting to note that even non-violent resistance to Zionist/Israeli rule by Palestinians is called “terrorism” by Israel, so that the term “terrorism” loses all meaning while still retaining its emotional power to persuade. Here in the USA, many governments have passed laws to restrict or outlaw promotion of the Palestinian civil society’s program of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), calling BDS “antisemitic”— a response to Israel’s “weaponization” of the term “antisemitism”, robbing it of its meaning while preserving its emotionally-persuasive power.

Within Israel, Israel has declared many human-rights NGOs as “terrorist organizations” because they tell the world things about Israeli rule that Israel does not want the world to be told.

Similarly, the first intifada was a mostly peaceful, non-violent protest against Israeli rule in the OPTs (Occupied Palestinian Territories), but was put down by Israel with great violence, called “self-defense”, in this case, “defense” against a generally non-violent protest movement. (However, there was a great deal of stone-throwing by Palestinians, though not gunfire. Stone-throwing was treated by Israel as violence as dangerous as gunfire, and the Israeli response was deadly.)

Israel Insists There Is Only One Acceptable Narrative


In the news today (Oct 25, 2023), we learn:
Israel says it is banning United Nations representatives from visiting the country “to teach them a lesson” after the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said the 7 October attacks by Hamas had to be seen in the context of decades of occupation of the Palestinian people.
     reported here. One commentator put it this way:
As we’ve just seen with the UN secretary-general, not even the slightest diversion from Israel’s counter-reality is permissible – lest the whole edifice come tumbling down. * * * The Secretary-General continued: “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.” Had Guterres wanted to fill in the vacuum a little more, he could have mentioned the past 75 years of ethnic cleansing, dispossession and massacres suffered by Palestinians at the hands of Israel, which has now added forced starvation to its deadly anti-Palestinian arsenal.
Al Jazeera.

Evidently, Israel believes that it can—or should—constrain the UN’s discourse as well as everyone else’s. Truth be dammned, this is serious! Hasbara uber alles!

In Israel’s view, no-one must be heard to truthfully describe Israel’s program of erasure of Palestine, and nothing is forbidden in Zionist efforts to enforce this silencing.

Fortunately, Both Narratives Are Becoming Known world-Wide


Increasingly, it is becoming known that there are two stories. Young Americans, including young Jewish Americans, are increasingly listening to the Palestinian narrative. The news reports—often with criticism, but reporting nonetheless—that a few Members of Congress are standing up for Palestine, for instance now (10/25) calling for a CEASEFIRE while the president resolutely demonizes Gazans and vetoes a ceasefire resolution in the UNSC.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Not in My Name, etc., have become an audible minority voice in the din of otherwise overwhelmingly Zionist/Israeli controlled
voices.

A high State Department official has recently resigned because the USA has OK’d arms shipments to Israel which are clearly not for use on defense.




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