2010 isn’t over yet and on this website at least, the awards keep rolling.
Today we announce the winner of Australia’s premier annual award for shameless hasbara.
For those who don’t know, Hasbara is an artform in which many Australian journalists excel.
Wikipedia defines the phenomenon as follows:
Public diplomacy in Israel (also hasbara) refers to public relations efforts to disseminate information about Israel. The term is used by Israel and its supporters to describe efforts to explain government policies and promote Israel in the face of what they consider negative press about Israel around the world. Others view hasbara as a euphemism for propaganda.
Hasbara is often defind in much less flattering terms. Some folk are rude about it on a regular basis.
Hasbara. It starts with some basic principles...
Hasbara is certainly not just a new fad. It’s been going on for many decades. Unlike PR conducted by most nation-states on earth – usually designed to attract tourists – pro-Israeli (and pro-Jewish) PR is intensly partisan, political and ideological. It infuses the Australian mass media, streaming though media coverage of foreign and domestic affairs like blood corpuscles along an artery.
Australia isn’t the only place this happens of course. Hasbara in the USA is perhaps even more extreme – although resistance to it there is also stronger.
By global standards Australian hasbara has been remarkably successful. It has helped facilitate what must now be one of the most cravenly pro-Israel legislatures on the face of the earth, along with a national government that hooks up with very strange company indeed in the UN General Assembly to defend Israel’s most outrageous misbehaviour.
How on earth did they pull it off? Why is it strategists in Mossad’s Herzliya headquarters can colour Australia deep blue on the map and head for the beach – confident they can count on our unwavering support even though they deal Australia recurrent insults such as passport theft (a murderous racket that’s been going on for at least 30 years).
Part of the answer – a large part – is the Ozzie mass media. Australia’s media is grossly biased towards Israel and sympathetic to the organised Jewish lobby. This is push, not pull. Extreme pro-Israel bias is not a true reflection of public opinion. Opinion polls show that despite incessant hasbara, the public is far less sympathetic to Israel than the mainstream media – and more supportive of the cause of Palestinians.
If the Australian media’s biased pro-Israel coverage is sustained and even increased, there’s a chance public disquiet over the pro-Israel bias of our two major political parties will not explode. Presumably that would be an acceptable result to the Israelis? It’s hard to think they could ask for much more from the Australian Government… except, maybe, for US Congress-style cash grants plus an unlimited supply of Aussie passports?
Last year I covered the politicians and other shysters who, as guests of the ‘Australia-Israel Leadership Forum’, trooped off on pilgrimage to the worse-than-Apartheid State of Israel .
In the spirit of Geoffrey Chaucer, who enjoyed a little vulgarity when chronicling the pilgrimages of his era in medieval England, I called the lot of them suckholes.
I was re-using Mark Latham’s memorable phrase and applying it to this distinctive, media-sanctioned form of sectarian sycophancy. I noted Julia Gillard (then Deputy Prime Minister) was on the bus – and expressed disappointment she’d chose to taint her reputation by toadying to the Zionist State at a time when more and more progressives worldwide are demanding boycott, divestment and sanctions. I also mentioned the delegation’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for visiting Palestinians to round out their Magical Hasbara Tour experience.
Two weeks ago, the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum was back in Israel again for the 2010 pilgrimage of suckholes, with a new crop of politicians from the major parties (along with some recidivists), businessfolk and a larger-than-before contingent of Australian journalists.
Judging by the output I’ve seen so far, putting more journalists on the bus was a smart investment. If they hadn’t seen the Zionist light before, they sure got it this time. Australia now has even more well-tutored pro-Israel propagandists. As though we didn’t already have enough…
Today I caught up with Lenore Taylor’s December 18th article in the Sydney Morning Herald: Decision time looms as Iran races for the bomb.
It’s so shitful I decided to award it the prestigious Hasbara Turd of Oz Award for 2010.
This may come as a disappointment to the likes of Greg Sheridan of ‘No Way to Treat a Precious Friend‘ fame, Andrew Bolt, the producers of all the ABC’s main current affairs programs – and many others in the Australian media who’ve laboured hard throughout the year to present one-sided pro-Israel bias in the most trying circumstances. After all, would you care to defend the shooting of members of an unarmed aid convoy in international waters? It’s tough, really tough – but they managed it!
The USS Liberty after an 'Israeli welcome': with 34 dead, 174 wounded this was the most deadly assault on US naval personel since World War Two; it has been almost totally unreported by Australia's mass media
Lenore leads the field this year, in part, because she still has a tad more credibility than better-known hasbara hacks. Importantly, so does Fairfax, the media organisation that currently employs her.
If there’s one place in the Australian mainstream media where you may – every blue moon – stumble across something resembling unbiased coverage of the middle east, it’s in Fairfax broadsheet newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age.
For instance, those are the newspapers that published Tim Fisher’s 40th anniversary article about the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty: Six days of war, 40 years of secrecy. It remains, as far as I’m aware, the only time an article on this topic has ever appeared in a major Australian newspaper. You’d think Ozzie journalists might be more concerned when our staunch American ally is attacked in international waters by Israeli fighter planes and torpedoes. You’d think we wouldn’t like to see our mates bombed with napalm. But it obviously depends who’s doing the attacking…
Lenore’s coming out as a Zionist cyclops may therefore help plug a hole in the hasbara dyke. She’s working to make sure the Sydney intelligensia are just as terrified about the ‘Iranian threat’ as folk who buy tabloids. She portrays the demented paranoia of the Israeli Government as though it’s normal – to people who’d choke on their cappuccinos if they thought too much about what they’re reading. She ignores the anti-Zionist perspective as though it doesn’t exist. All this… and Ms Taylor would still not look out of place in a trendy coffee shop on Glebe Point Road.
Her nonsense starts with the headline: Decision time looms as Iran races for the bomb
Lenore Taylor: 'insider', suckhole & hasbara groupie
Unless Taylor overdosed on Kool-Aid while visiting the once-was-holy land, she must surely know the Iranian Government has clearly and repeatedly stated it does not have a current nuclear weapons program. Furthermore, no hard evidence has ever been forthcoming to the contrary (that’s despite constant attempts to find it; insinuation is constant and fake evidence has been reported from time to time – but none of it stuck).
Lenore might recall similar claims made by very similar people about Iraq’s alleged WMD program in the lead up to the US-led 2003 invasion. We now know those claims were totally false. But she thoughfully leaves out detail such as that, treating Israeli allegations about nations on their hit-list as facts to be taken at face value.
That’s Hasbara, Lenore – award-winning Hasbara!
True, the headline may not be the journalist’s choice. So let’s move the text, which is presumably her work entirely.
Almost every sentence invites red ink, but here’s a beauty:
Our guide, a former brigadier general who commanded troops in the north during the war with Lebanon in 2006, said that when the Iranian-backed Hezbollah operated freely in the area before the war it was as if Iran itself had been sitting right on Israel’s northern border.
How delicate of her not to mention some bits missing from the brigadier’s alarming history lesson. She might have noted, for instance, that Hezbollah came into existence only as a result of the 1980s Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon. Hezbollah is not an Iranian proxy army, what IDF PR-men say; it’s an authentic, home-grown Lebanese resistance movement. It would never have existed had it not been for Israel’s persistent, intrusive and violent meddling in the affairs of its hapless northern neighbour. But why should Lenore bother her readers about that? Her tour guides would disapprove.
Much of her disgraceful article is about the stalled ‘peace process’ (which, as many wits observe, continues to be ‘all process, no peace’). Given the Netanyahu Government’s rather rude rejection of compromise proposals tentatively advanced by the Zionist-dominated Obama Administration, one might think Israeli intransigence would feature in Ms Taylor’s account. After all, even the staunchly Zionist and Jewish-owned New York Times has recently raised eyebrows over the blunt rejectionism of the current Israeli Government.
But no, that’s for pinkos, softies and the feint-hearted. Lenore isn’t doing balance in this article. She’s doing hasbara. Israeli spin-doctors, she tells us, have found someone new to blame for the failure of the faux Israel-Palestine ‘peace process. They don’t blame the Palestinians any more. They’ve found an even scapegoat – Iran!
Iran, she tells us, is just about everyone’s no 1 worry. She cites Wikileaks report that the Saudi King (allegedly) wants Iran blatted (yes Lenore, we had heard that bit of harbara before; no need to get repetitive). She further informs us that although Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has some ideas about inspections for Israeli nuclear facilties, he soon dropped the topic and joined everyone else in the ‘overriding message’ that Iran is the ”core strategic challenge faced by us all”.
Taylor reports that that Mike Kelly MP, who represents the bell-weather seat of Eden-Monaro along with Zionist interests in the Federal Parliament, wants even stronger sanctions on Iran than the super-strength sanctions it’s already imposed. But she warns no-one really thinks that’s going to be sufficient. No-one on the bus, that is.
One gets the impression everyone on the bus thinks pretty much the same about everything. But no one asks why the Emperor has no clothes.
No-one seems to question, for example, why so many leading business people come on these annual love-fests in Israel – or why so many top politicians in Australia regularly attend Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce meetings back in Australia.
After all, total annual exports from Australia to Israel in 2009-10 were well under $300 million, with merchandise exports a paltry $176 million (that’s 0.1% share of total merchandise exports, ranking Israel Australia’s 49th most important export market – and declining rapidly!). All Australian commodities exports to Israel put together barely topped $100 million in the year. If Australian politicians, businesspeople and journalists ever invested equivalent effort into strengthening bonds of friendship with the other 99.9% of our export markets, just think what the returns might be!
Come to think of it, a new export push could kick-off in the huge, fast-growing and untapped Iranian market…
Here’s how Ms Taylor’s war-rationalising disquisition concludes:
“…most thought that at the very least sanctions have to be combined with the credible threat of a military strike to be effective.
“In fact, many senior figures argued that the only way to force Iran to halt the development of nuclear weapons was to convince the regime that the West had the stomach to launch a military strike.
“The questions are even tougher than those that have dogged the Arab-Israeli peace process for years, and there is far less time to find an answer.”
- Lenore Taylor travelled to Israel as a guest of the Australia Israel Leadership Forum.
Lenore Taylor's Golden 'Turd of Oz' Award
What? There’s less time than the ‘peace process’ has taken, Lenore? Not too urgent then? We must still have a decade or two!
But in all seriousness, this war-spruiking isn’t a laughing matter.
If, heaven forbid, the Israel Lobby gets its way and starts a hot war against Iran in the coming months or years (rationalised one presumes by yet another Zionist false-flag operation, causing worldwide economic dislocation and pain – and in the worst case triggering World War Three) then one-eyed hasbara groupies like Lenore Taylor will bear a significant share of the responsibility.
They have an alternative. They could say no.
Please take your Golden Turd Lenore. Position it where the sun doesn’t shine. Then do sit down.
You deserve it. You earnt it. You own it.