I really don’t want to get involved with this topic. It’s too emotional. And that could be a perfect description of a hegemonic effect. But the language of reporting Israel’s current attack on Gaza is so so very cautious that it demands attention. Take a short article from today’s RBB news website. I was looking for information on how many people attended the Solidarity with Palestine rally in Berlin today (7000 says RBB). After reporting on today’s rally, this final paragraph is printed:

Israel bombardiert seit einer Woche Ziele im Gazastreifen, damit die radikal-islamische Hamas ihre Raketenangriffe auf israelische Städte und Siedlungen einstellt. Bei den israelischen Angriffen kamen bisher mehrere hundert Menschen ums Leben.

(Translation: Israel has been bombarding targets in the Gaza strip for one week, so that radical-Islamic Hamas stops its rocket attacks on Israeli towns and settlements. During the Israeli attacks several hundred people have lost their lives so far.)

Brief analysis:

  • Israel has attacked “targets” in the Gaza strip (military sounding word; also sounds like careful aim). Hamas has attacks “towns and settlements” (sounds like civilians).
  • Israel is retailating (“so that” Hamas stops). Hamas seems to have initiated.
  • People have “lost their lives”. Not been killed.
  • “Several hundred”. Indefinite number; sounds like quite a lot. The radio tells me the strikes have resulted in the deaths of 820 people.

This analysis, as most discourse analysis, shouldn’t be seen as part of the commentariat on the issue. But to remind us to reflect on how these conflicts are constructed. My comparison is Russia. If the Russian military were currently doing what the Israeli military is doing, there would be an outcry (at the very least, talk of “excessive force”), no matter what its target had done to Russia previously. Compare the Chechen conflicts.


On the same conflict: Naomi Klein is urging us to “Boycott, Divest and Sanction” (BDS) Israel. She counters four commonly held arguments against BDS. The fourth spoke to something I’d been thinking about:

Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less.
This one I’ll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, including the wonderful writer John Berger, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus’s work, and none to me. In other words, I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.

Coming up with our modest publishing plan required dozens of phone calls, e-mails and instant messages, stretching from Tel Aviv to Ramallah to Paris to Toronto to Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start implementing a boycott strategy, dialogue increases dramatically. And why wouldn’t it? Building a movement requires endless communicating, as many in the antiapartheid struggle well recall. The argument that supporting boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at one another across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.

…via The Public Eye.

Update: I just saw Klein’s article is on The Guardian as well.
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2 Responses to “Israel-Gaza”

  1. Let us pray for the safety of Palestinian civilians who held hostages by Hamas and the safety of Israeli soldiers. May this campaign end swiftly and may Hamas be annihilated. May moderate Muslims emerge victorious in the struggle for Gaza!


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