Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Chas Freeman freaks out over hasbara

Even though he is a known anti-Israel nutcase prone towards Jewish conspiracy theories, it is still amusing reading Chas Freeman's recent speech on the evils of Zionists, you know, defending themselves:

Before I get to specifics, let me provide a general description of hasbara and its purposes. Hasbara is usually translated as “explanation.” That does not do the concept justice. Hasbara links information warfare to the strategic efforts of the state to bolster the unity of the home front; ensure the support of allies; disrupt efforts to organize hostile coalitions; determine the way issues are defined by the media, the intelligentsia, and social networks; establish the parameters of politically correct discourse; delegitimize both critics and their arguments; and shape the common understanding and interpretation of the results of international negotiations.
This sounds so much more impressive than the inept pro-Israel messaging I see every day!
Hasbara has its roots in earlier concepts of propaganda, agitprop, and censorship. Like them, it is communication calculated to influence cognition and behavior by manipulating perceptions of a cause or position with one-sided arguments, prejudicial substance, and emotional appeals. Unlike its progenitors, however, hasbara does not seek merely to burnish or tarnish national images of concern to it or to supply information favorable to its theses. It also seeks actively to inculcate canons of political correctness in domestic and foreign media and audiences that will promote self-censorship by them. It strives thereby to decrease the willingness of audiences to consider information linked to politically unacceptable viewpoints, individuals, and groups and to inhibit the circulation of adverse information in social networks.
I'm sorry, but doesn't he seem to be describing anti-Israel propaganda campaigns?

Past efforts by states to shape domestic and foreign opinion depended on the production of persuasive information and efforts to deprive audiences of access to contradictory information by interrupting its supply through censorship, jamming, and other techniques directed at reducing its flow. By contrast, hasbara assumes the free flow of information within an open marketplace of opinion. In that context, it seeks to promote selective listening. The purpose is to constrict the demand for information, not its flow. Although hasbara includes efforts to impede access to information through a wide variety of techniques adapted to new information technologies, it focuses on limiting the receptivity of audiences to information.
That is freaking brilliant! By sending out information, hasbara activists are squelching the demand for contrary information! How remarkably insidious!

Of course, it doesn't explain why I would willingly link to his anti-hasbara screed and quote large sections of it. But never mind; it makes me and my pro-Israel cohorts sound so damn brilliant!

In addition to traditional techniques of agitprop, disinformation, and propaganda in conventional media, the Israeli hasbara apparatus made heavy use of more focused channels of communication like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It inundated audiences with information favorable to its cause and squeezed out information that contradicted its theses.
That is a very impressive achievement, to squeeze out other opinions simply by stating your own. Unless, by stating a Zionist opinion, one demonstrates that the anti-Zionist rhetoric is filled with lies and slander. That might effectively marginalize the liars. Which is, in Freeman's bizarro world, apparently a minor form of censorship. And must be stopped. Um...yeah.

The state of Israel has organized civilian government and military units to exploit this, including creating websites, social media accounts, and messages attributed to false identities. It has learned how to manipulate browser functions, search engine algorithms, and other automated mechanisms that control what information is presented to Internet users. Such manipulation can ensure that certain commentary and information will or will not appear in response to searches. It can assign greater prominence to old material critical of sources or analyses than to new entries favorable to them. It can arrange for searches to find only positive or negative commentary and information on a topic.
Damn, we're good! Using secret Zio-tools, we manipulate Google! We own SEO! We ROCK!
In some countries, like the United States, Israel can rely upon a “fifth column” of activist sympathizers to amplify its messages, to rebut and discredit statements that contradict its arguments, facts, and fabrications, and to impugn the moral standing of those who make such statements.
So people who are pro-Israel are a "fifth column." Hmmm. And those who love the Saudis, and support their culture of misogyny, bigotry and Islamic supremacy - like Chas Freeman - must be patriotic Americans.


As one pertinent example, the Jewish Agency for Israel has sponsored an online “Hasbara Handbook” for students around the world to use as advocates of Israel and its policies.

The “Hasbara Handbook” explains many standard techniques of propaganda and deceptive rhetoric. It rehearses specific arguments and counter-arguments and outlines a program of training for advocacy and rebuttal. It also stresses the importance of labeling or “name-calling” – the linking of a person or idea to a negative symbol.
Just for giggles, I downloaded the 2002 Hasbara Handbook and searched for how it advocated the technique of "name-calling."

Surprise! It doesn't! it talks about how anti-Israel voices use "name calling" and how to counter it!

I wonder, is "fifth column" an example of name-calling?