Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Documentary argues that American public is manipulated to sympathize with Israel in conflict against Palestine

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(Daily Collegian Archives)

(Daily Collegian Archives)

Approximately 80 people filed into room N251 of the Integrative Learning Center Tuesday night for the first public screening of “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States,” a documentary film depicting the alleged manipulation of media narratives to garner American support for Israel’s actions in the Palestinian territories.

The film was produced by the Media Education Foundation, an organization that produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical thinking about the social, political and cultural impact of American mass media, according to its website. Sut Jhally, a communications professor at the University of Massachusetts, is the MEF’s founder and executive director, and and also provided testimony throughout the film.

The documentary delivered its core argument by presenting first-hand footage of the violence occurring during the Israeli occupation of Palestine, followed by testimony from a number of academics to support the points made by the clips. The film referenced primary documents generated by the Israeli government’s public relations wing.

The underlying narrative pushed throughout the film is that throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli government officials have deliberately tried to influence the framing and consequential reactions to each instance of violent conflict. The film alleges that Israel harnesses the narrative of themselves as victims of history who are only reacting to aggression from Palestinians.

The film alleges that Israeli officials employ the tactics generally used by propagandists: Manipulation of perspective, control of language, agenda-setting, repetition of favorable narratives and the eschewing of context when instances of violence occur in order to serve their own purposes.

Israeli favoritism is a phenomena concentrated within the U.S., according to the film. One segment analyzes news coverage of a particular period of fighting and reveals that Israeli standpoints were represented three times as much as Palestinian ones on American network shows. The film argues that not only were supporters of Israel given more air time, but anchors framed the questions in a way where the only logical answer is to support Israel’s justification for bombing Palestinians as an action of defense.

After a series of opinions and images were presented to argue that a media bias exists toward Israel, the documentary then traced the history of the establishment of the Jewish state. Contributors to the documentary acknowledged that the crimes endured during the Holocaust were horrific, but said they did not justify the uprooting of an established population.

Israel was established in 1948 and immediately entered a war with neighboring Arab nations over the decision to carve a Jewish settlement over disputed, historically religious land. After its victory, Israel experienced a period of general sympathy and was referred to as a modern-day David versus Goliath.

In 1967, Israel was attacked once more over border disagreements and had victory, even increasing its land holdings by claiming territory in Egypt and Palestine. Following the war, Israel began transporting its citizens into settlements to territories previously held by Palestinians, violating United Nations security Resolution 242. The resolution bars an occupying power from relocating its citizens to solidify its claim on an area. The film alleges that Israel established martial law, violated the human rights of Palestinians and began its transition from its position as the underdog to a bully.

Here the documentary explained that the trend of applying a narrow focus to an issue regarding Israel’s actions emerged. The narrative of human rights violations, the death of Palestinian civilians, their cultures, history and attachment to the land were pushed to the side to make room for the narrative of Israel protecting itself in a hostile territory.

By supporting the narrative that Palestinians only attack Israelis because they’re evil to the core and are irrational delegitimizes the hardships experienced by its people that could shine light on the explanations of their actions, according to the film.

Following Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the massacre of Lebanese citizens by Israeli allies, a global backlash ensued. Israeli government officials reacted by organizing a conference, “hasbara,” dedicated to shaping the presentation of events from a pro-Israeli standpoint.

The conference drew top ad and public relation executives whose sole directive was to soften Israel’s image as a victim and dedicate a branch whose purpose is to explain Israeli actions in a way that sounds justifiable.

The Israeli government repeated this course decades later when they hired  public relations expert Frank Luntz, who drafted a 2009 report “Global Language Dictionary” outlining specific tactics Israel should take to influence how the public views their actions. The report suggested Israel emphasize its role as the victim, claim Palestine is forcing its hand and avoid discussing the victims in Palestine as a way to prevent too much empathy. It advised Israeli defenders to focus on a Hamas charter dated from the 1940s that called for the killing of all Israelis.

The documentary highlighted that the current Hamas body, which is the pseudo form of governance in Palestine, has since denounced the document but that detail does not make it into the conversation whenever the topic is broached in American media.

The documentary argues that politicians funded by pro-Israeli sources, refer to the same document to justify Israel’s continued occupation of the Gaza strip. Media outlets repeat the same phrases such as terrorism, aggression and defensive mechanisms to support a pro-Israeli reading of the situation. What is presented as objective reporting is actually the intentional exclusion of details that would provide a broader perspective on the issue, according to the film.

In the documentary’s conclusion, Jhally appears on screen to state that the real battle needs to take place in the minds of the American people. Citizens need to be illuminated to reality of the deliberate favoritism, and once shown the true picture, they will come to see the presented truth as the manipulation it is.

Brendan Deady can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @bdeady26.

10 Comments

10 Responses to “Documentary argues that American public is manipulated to sympathize with Israel in conflict against Palestine”

  1. lejardin on April 6th, 2016 3:24 am

    Complete rubbish from leftist meatheads… of course.

    “Israel was established in 1948 and immediately entered a war with neighboring Arab nations.”

    You filthy liars should burn for this libel alone. Israel did not “enter a war”… Israel was invaded in its naissance by the massed Arab armies, for the express, explicit purpose of “driving them [the Jews] into the sea,” plain and simple… pick up any history book and stop reading leftist Internet fantasy, you brainless sophomoric illiterates.

    “…supporting the narrative that Palestinians [a]re evil to the core and are irrational delegitimizes the hardships…that could shine light on the explanations of their actions.”

    Really? “Hardships” is what causes Arabs to murder innocent Jewish children and civilians with bombs and stabbings?? When the Gazans, for example, have the highest standard of living in the Arab world??? Even if you *were* facing shakedowns and searches and prejudice… would *you* murder innocent children and civilians? Would ANY normal, civilized person? No group has ever been as degraded and tortured as the Jews were in WW II in Europe… But did they ever sink to the level of barbarousness of the Arabs? Not by a long shot… in fact, search the world over, and you will find no group that behaves the way Muslims do toward their perceived enemies. Why? Because, as you say, “they’re evil to the core”; not all of them, to be sure, but enough leaders to influence a morally docile population to staggering depths, much as the Germans and the Japanese sunk to the lowest forms of life through the influence of their fascist leaders. Muslims did not evolve as we Westerners did with Judaeo-Christian ethics: “Live and let live” and “Love thy neighbor” and the Golden Rule are NOT part of their tradition, and this has dire consequences.

    Finally, this brilliant gem: “Hamas…has since denounced the document ”

    Again, your transparent disingenuousness is criminal enough that you and your children ought to be burned alive. Hamas has never for a second reversed its stance that the Jews should be annihilated and that the State of Israel should be wiped from the map… it remains to this day in their charter, and they regularly proclaim it from the mountaintops. To imply otherwise is to aid and abet murderers and terrorists. You WILL get yours!

  2. Arafat on April 6th, 2016 9:28 am

    “The underlying narrative pushed throughout the film is that throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli government officials have deliberately tried to influence the framing and consequential reactions to each instance of violent conflict. The film alleges that Israel harnesses the narrative of themselves as victims of history who are only reacting to aggression from Palestinians.”
    +++
    Well other than the fact that this is true…
    +++
    There is no “Palestine”. There might have been, but they chose war instead- time and again:
    The would-have-been “Palestinians” would have had a state IN PEACE in 1937 with the Peel Plan, but they violently rejected it.
    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 1939 with the MacDonald White Paper, but they violently rejected it (and Jews would have even been restricted from BUYING land from Arabs).
    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 1948 with UN 181, but they violently rejected it (and actually claimed that the UN had no such mandate!).
    They could have had a state IN PEACE in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza from 1948-1967 without any Jews- because the Arabs had ethnically cleansed every last one; but they violently rejected it. In fact, that’s exactly when they established Fatah (1959) and the PLO (1964).
    They could have had a state IN PEACE after 1967, but instead, the entire Arab world issued the Khartoum Resolutions:
    A. No peace with Israel
    B. No recognition of Israel
    C. No negotiations with Israel
    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 2000 with the Oslo Accords, but they violently rejected it- as always.
    And as soon as Israel pulled every single Israeli out of Gaza, what did the would-have-been “Palestinians” do? They immediately started shooting thousands of missiles into Israeli population centers, they elected Hamas (whose official platform calls for jihad with no negotiations until Israel is destroyed) to rule them, and they have dug tunnels crossing into the Negev to kill and kidnap Israelis.
    And even afterwards, Ehud Olmert made his subsequent generous offer that went far beyond even that of Barak. The would-have-been “Palestinians” rejected it.
    They had many chances.
    They threw them all away because destroying Israel was higher on their priority list. It still is.
    Oh well. That’s their choice.

  3. Arafat on April 6th, 2016 9:33 am

    That this film calls Israel the propagandist tells us just how Orwellian this issue has gotten. The Palestinians stock in trade is propaganda.

    If you want raw and unbiased information on this topic, including real footage of what is going on visit the “MEMRI” website.

  4. Arafat on April 6th, 2016 9:37 am

    “Israel was established in 1948 and immediately entered a war with neighboring Arab nations over the decision to carve a Jewish settlement over disputed, historically religious land.”

    +++
    This is a perfect example of Muslim propaganda. There is no question whatsoever that five Arab armies attacked Israel the day the UN granted Israel statehood. And all subsequent wars were also started by the surrounding Arab countries.

  5. Arafat on April 6th, 2016 9:43 am

    “In 1967, Israel was attacked once more over border disagreements and had victory, even increasing its land holdings by claiming territory in Egypt and Palestine. Following the war, Israel began transporting its citizens into settlements to territories previously held by Palestinians, violating United Nations security Resolution 242. The resolution bars an occupying power from relocating its citizens to solidify its claim on an area. The film alleges that Israel established martial law, violated the human rights of Palestinians and began its transition from its position as the underdog to a bully.”

    +++
    Let’s not forget that Israel captured the entire Sinai Peninsula – a land mass that would have almost doubled the size of Israel – but Israel returned this land in exchange for peace with Egypt. Israel also removed all settlements from Gaza, and in return for this Hamas shot more than 10,000 rockets into Israel.

    The truth is that israel has the legal right to retain control of land captured during a defensive war (which is what the ’67 war was) as long as the land captured is vital to that nation’s defense and safety. This is international law.

    Israel argues that given her neighbors history of belligerence that she must maintain defensive positions in the high grounds surrounding Jerusalem. And Israel is, of course, correct as has been proven countless times either from Hezbollah’s actions, Hamas’ actions, Fatah’s actions etc…It is obvious the Palestinians and their proxy armies have no interest in respecting the safety of Israeli citizens.

  6. Justin on April 6th, 2016 1:13 pm

    Might I recommend getting a quote or opinion from someone who’s inclined to be defensive of Israel?
    This kind vitriol is so ubiquitous on campus and I find it repugnant that this Professor- infamous for his indoctrination- has a full article on top of the film screening to voice this stuff without a counter. Might I suggest Dave Kaufman, Fmr. UMass Republican Club President?

    A friend of mine had the following to say about Sut Jahlly: “On his exams I always wrote the exact opposite of what my opinions were and tried to regurgitate whatever the prevailing hyper-liberal ‘wisdom’ was…. I got an A every time”.

  7. Arafat on April 6th, 2016 3:04 pm

    Justin,

    His days are numbered. The West is waking up to the truth about the palestinians and how they fit into Islam’s goal of controlling more and more of the world, i.e., the palestinians are nothing more than a tool manipulated by Muslims to conquer more land.

    This is no different than what Muslims have been doing ever since Mohammed left Medina to conquer the surrounding villages. It is no different than what Muslims did in their genocide and conquest of Sudan. And it is no different than what Muslims are doing today in Nigeria and elsewhere.

  8. David Hunt 1990 on April 15th, 2016 11:30 am

    “Immediately entered into a war” in 1948?

    1. This clearly indicates a total disregard for the ACTUAL FACTS OF HISTORY, in which the Arabs INITIATED the conflict to drive the Jews into the sea.

    2. The fact that the author of this article is so neutral on this indicates shoddiness of reporting at best. A GOOD reporter would have called the speaker out on this.

  9. David Hunt 1990 on April 15th, 2016 1:14 pm

    Oh, and I find the irony of a Communist-leaning professor taking the side of Islamists – who would gladly slit his non-believing throat – most amusing. And add in the fact that this capitalism-hating man makes $100K and makes movies – doubtless at a profit to himself – on top of that.

  10. Set271 on June 6th, 2016 12:52 am

    The very fact that these issues are so vehemently attacked when brought into the limelight is proof in itself. Zionists have been manipulators for thousands of years. Historically kicked out of country after country, mostly for the very fraud they have constantly purported. Their goal is to tell these lies over and over, backed by coercion, bribery, and ‘false-flag’ events. Zionist influence around the world, especially in America, is staggering. Everything said about Nazi’s during WW2 is mirrored in the occupied territories of Palestine. Every time the Zionists cry victim they’re covering, cajoling, and conspiring with their media chums to paint away the blood spilled by their war crimes. Any other country would be called to account, not Israel. The world is waking up from the sedative, foggy screen of Zionist controlled media and their teams of spinners ready to thwart any possible leaks of truth getting out of Palestine. News organizations replacing ‘illegal Jewish settlements within Palestinian occupied territories’ with ‘Jewish neighborhoods’. It’s been a difficult road for anyone to show the truth let alone tell the truth. Labels of antisemitism are thrown around to silence the truth and vilify whistle blowers. And, to be clear, It is not the average Jewish person doing this. IMO, most Jews in Israel just want to live in peace with their neighbors. It’s the Zionist government of Israel that creates the on-going settlement activity, the continual theft of Palestinian homes and land, the constant antagonizing and aggressive policies towards the Palestinian people who are contained in the open-air prison’s of the occupied-territories-of-Palestine and Gaza. Free Palestine! Free Gaza! BDS!

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