The Jenin You Thought You Knew

“Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

Isaiah 5:20

Unlike many investigative journalists, I’ve had considerable experience in the field of public relations. And, judging from the reaction toéthe spin on the bloodyéIsraeli reoccupation of theéOTs, many in the media could benefit from such experience.

Kudos go to the PR firm and/or anyone else involved in the Israeli propaganda blitz.é It is a masterpiece!

The first job of any good PR man is to put the best face possible on a bad situation in light of the facts.

“Massacre” is an interesting word, however it is also inexact.é For instance, civilians can be shot for attempting to get medical care or buried alive by bulldozers, but this is not necessarily a massacre.

For the purposes of the PR man, focusing the discussion on “massacre” rather than “war crimes” (which have a far more exact definition and, in fact, took place on a large scale) does a great deal for the client.é No longer doeséIsrael éhave to answer for using civilians in occupied territories as shields, making limited numbers of summary executions of civilians, taking reprisals against civilian properties, taking hostages, éforcing civilians to enter potentially mined areas, breaking the toes of civilians, starving civilians in occupied areas, desecrating religious sites, deliberately depriving civilians of water and emergency medical care, preventing emergency medical vehicles froméreaching the wounded, ad infinitum.

The next important task of the PR man in this situation is to limit the exposure of the client.é In this case the two-pronged approach was used: limit the area of investigation to Jenin Camp in this case AND limit the powers of those investigating the alleged massacre.

You say the client committed massacres at dozens of locations?é Well, let’s look at one in particular: Jenin.é Who can help it if many of the so-called massacred are crushed, buried or shipped to other destinations?é After all, didn’t the Israeli courts order the destruction of bodies to stop?é And, if a better case can be made for a “massacre” at another location, who will notice?é The media will all be focused on one sanitized location.é It will be like the boy who cried “wolf”…

The second part of the equation, of course, requires some high-powered governmental help.é Well, you’ve got it.ééYou don’t have to worry about a nasty international étribunal with all kinds of subpoena powers and the ability to impose varying degrees of sanctions for noncompliance.é No, all you’ve got is “an initiative oféthe UN Secretary General”.é So, if things start to unravel, you can simply ignore them and/or provide sanitized information.é “All they have is one side of the story,” can be the claim of the client who doesn’t want to fully cooperate.é (And, your media hounds canéclaim that theééinvestigators are anti-Semitic, biased, engaged in a “witch hunt”.é For good measure, you can claim (in Stalinesque fashion) that it waséthe civilianséTHEMSELVES whoécaused all the damage, for propaganda purposes.é This will make for some great press!)

For additional good measure, you can discredit the bumblingéold leader of the civiliansé (who was allowed to survive when the Israelis liquidated more competent potential successors).é Arafat, in this case, can be blamed for everything.é After all, no one will look too carefully at such claims. The Israeliéclient can say it confiscated papers proving he ordered the “homicide” bombings (no, don’t call them “suicide”, that implies some measure of desperation!)é The journalists will never think to ask why Arafat would order bombings at the very moments when the Israelis had to perform under the Oslo and earlier agreements?é (Why wouldn’t this paragon of evil simply have gotten everything he could out of the Israelis before he started the bombing?)é éOr why he would keep meticulous records incriminating him with the Israelis literally on his doorstep? Or how he could “stop terrorism” while surrounded by Israelis and havingéno police force?

One talk show host in America, Michael Savage, égives out what he calls the “Goebbels Award” to journalists who are critical of Israel.é The award rightly should go to the crafters of the Israeli spin.é Goebbels (from a strictly PR stance) would have been proud.