In Propaganda and Persuasion, Garth Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell define the former as
the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.
Elaborates Richard Alan Nelson in A Chronology and Glossary of Propaganda in the United States,
Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels. A propaganda organization employs propagandists who engage in propagandism—the applied creation and distribution of such forms of persuasion.
The crucial distinction in these definitions between propaganda and the influential ambitions of persuasion are the notions of shaping (reconfiguring), manipulation, and one-sidedness. According to Nelson, propaganda “may or may not be factual.” How propagandistic, if factual? Well, if one includes some salient facts, but omits others – purposefully, tendentiously – that is one-sided. That is propaganda.
The Global Policy Forum, an NGO with consultative status at the UN is a voice of anti-Israeli propaganda. Since propaganda is inherently pernicious, why do I choose the emphatic redundancy of my title? Precisely because GPF is an NGO. NGO’s offer a patina of serious, scholarly, policy professionalism. They represent, particularly to the progressive international community, the high, moral pursuit of unbiased, non-parochial global solutions to the problems of our common humanity. Each is a denomination in the world-historical church of secularity.
Here is what GPF says of itself:
Global Policy Forum is an independent policy watchdog that monitors the work of the United Nations and scrutinizes global policymaking. GPF works particularly on the UN Security Council, the food and hunger crisis, and the global economy. We promote accountability and citizen participation in decisions on peace and security, social justice and international law.
GPF gathers information and circulates it through a comprehensive and heavily-visited website, as well as through frequent media interviews. We play an active role in NGO networks and other advocacy arenas. We organize meetings and conferences and we publish original research and policy papers.
GPF analyzes deep and persistent structures of power and dissects rapidly-emerging issues and crises. GPF’s work challenges mainstream thinking and questions conventional wisdom. We seek egalitarian, cooperative, peaceful and sustainable solutions to the world’s great problems.
Of course, we know – it has been demonstrated – that the NGO community at large can descend into gutless circles of promoting and pandering to demopathic and racist so-called anti-racism. Nonetheless, if you look at GPF’s home page, it is as impressive as the organization’s description of itself. The range of “areas of work” and “special topics” is striking. There is every reason, by subject matter, appearance, and tone, to think this an organization and website serious in purpose, scholarly and professional in its product, conscientious and responsible in its commitments. Any visitor would expect to be reliably informed and schooled in the subject matter, and perhaps in some areas that is so. Not on the subject of Israel.
On the subject of Israel, Global Policy Forum is a blatantly propagandistic instrument, distorting the issues and prejudicing the minds of those who have not the knowledge to recognize the gross manner in which their understanding is being manipulated and their trust violated.
GPF is especially pernicious in its propagandizing precisely because it is an NGO using its humanistic and intellectual cachet to prey on the minds and judgment of the unsuspecting.
Here is GPF’s introduction to the multiple pages it offers on “Israel, Palestine and the Occupied Territories”:
The question of Palestine and Israel has commanded the attention of the UN since the organization was founded. The UN General Assembly voted the original partition of the land in November 1947 and the UN deployed its first peacekeeping operation to monitor the ceasefire lines after the war of 1948. This site introduces readers to the key issues, with a special focus on UN involvement in the conflict.
For many years, successive Israeli governments refused to consider a Palestinian state, while most Arabs denied the legitimacy of Israel. In the 1970s both sides began to recognize the need for compromise.
What is missing? Though there is mention of a “partition” and a “ceasefire,” fundamental information about what the partition was and entailed and what happened that required a ceasefire is inexcusably withheld. The reader does not learn that the partition was into to two states, a Jewish and an Arab state and that the ceasefire was necessary because while the Jews accepted the partition and the creation of a new Arab state as well as their own, the Arabs did not and thus went to war. These would be among what constitute the declared “key issues,” but they are omitted. Deception is employed in suggesting that a “Palestinian” rather than an Arab state was part of the original partition. Then, too, nearly thirty years of history is omitted, including two wars provoked against Israel by the surrounding Arab states, including Palestinians. The claim that Israel “refused to consider a Palestinian state” again deceitfully omits that Israel accepted the proposed Arab state of 1948 and that all Arab peoples, including what came to be known as Palestinians refused to consider and accept the existence of Israel. This probably sets some kind of record, beyond Stalinist standards, for the magnitude of historical recreation accomplished in a mere four sentences.
Elsewhere on the introductory page, GPF writes,
Israel’s 1967 occupation of other territories complicated the matter. Israel seized Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights and set up settlements in both. Israel also invaded Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 and maintained a long-term occupation in the southern part of the country.
Apparently Israel just one day up and “occupied” and “seized” the Sinai, Golan, and other territories. Once again, an entire history-altering war, the product of unceasing transnational enmity toward Israel from all Arab nations, is excluded from the account. The “other territories” were what is now referred to as the West Bank, which had been under the control of Jordan prior to the omitted 1967 war, and which Jordan, during the years between 1948 and 1967 that Israel was supposedly rejecting a Palestinian state, never offered to the Palestinians for the creation of a state of their own. The account fails to mention that the Sinai was returned to Egypt in return for the peace treaty and national recognition that Syria and the Palestinians refused. Apparently, too, when GPF decides not to distort history by omitting any reference to wars, it nonetheless does not consider their causes worthy of mention, so why Israel invaded Lebanon is never explained. (One can only imagine what an explanation would be.) An undergraduate student not suspected of malicious intent would be found incompetent and warned of irresponsibility at such historical accounting.
The introduction closes by informing that
[k]ey issues that have plagued the stalled “peace process” include: Israel’s occupation, Israeli settlements and settlement-building, the Israeli wall, security for Israelis and Palestinians, shared sovereignty over Jerusalem, and the right of return of 3.7 million stateless Palestinian refugees.
All causes of the failure to achieve peace are Israeli causes. In GPF’ judgment, decades of Arab and Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel’s existence (and even now, as a Jewish state), as well as decades of refusing to trade peace for the land that could create a Palestinian state and of organizational terrorism against Israel and Jews worldwide are not “key issues.” Systematic culturally and religiously inculcated anti-Semitism in schools and media is not a key issue. The expressed anti-Semitic intent of Palestinian political parties to destroy Israel and public declarations by Palestinian officials that even a public acceptance of Israel would only be a cover for the long-term intent to eliminate Israel are not key issues.
Elsewhere GPF tells us,
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin negotiated the first meaningful agreement between Palestinians and Israelis at Oslo in 1993. The Oslo Accords called for mutual recognition and a five-year period during which Israel would remove its troops from major Palestinian population centers. However, the Oslo process failed to produce a definitive peace agreement. After seven years of disillusionment, the Palestinians began an uprising against the occupation in September 2000. Talks in the Red Sea town of Taba offered a moment of hope in late 2000, and when the talks ended the sides declared that they had “never been closer to reaching an agreement.”
Just by the way, GPF does not tell us of if Israel kept its commitment to “remove its troops from major Palestinian population centers.” If it had, referring to an “occupation” would be problematic. Nonetheless, after “seven years of disillusionment,” the Palestinians rise up against “occupation.” (What might Israelis have been feeling at this point, and for how long? Not a matter worth reporting on it seems. What was the nature of this “uprising”? What were its consequences? Ah, the joys of historicizing as one wants on one’s own webpage.) What happened to culminate this disillusionment? We read of peace talks in Taba that failed. (Why?) In addition to Taba, this page on the peace process also lists in reverse historical order the Annapolis Conference, the Geneva Accord, the Road Map, the Saudi Peace Plan, and the Oslo Accord, which, GPF opines, “failed to deliver its promises.” Those sensitive to language wonder at the depersonalized construction of that sentence, its absence of human agency. Then, if one knows the history that GPF hopes one doesn’t, that agency is brought to mind, and what it was that occurred before September 2000 other than Palestinian “disillusionment” that preceded the “uprising.” Among the list of significant peace process conferences, plans, and accords, only one, perhaps the most significant of all, is (do we detect a pattern) omitted: Camp David, 2000.
I’ll not seek to prejudice my reader’s mind on Camp David. Read about it, reader, yourself, including the disputes about what actually happened. Require yourself, though, as the rigorous thinker you are, to ponder, among all that, why it is that Global Policy Forum, so blatant in its bias, chose, systematically, to omit Camp David alone from its account of the peace process.
One could go on depressingly about “walls” that are not walls and the nature and number of refugees, but above all, there is the historically oppressive reality of this:
At the heart of the Israel/Palestine conflict lies the question of land and who rules it. The collision of Jewish nationalist colonisation and Palestian nationalism, both laying claim to the same territory, forms the basis of this long conflict….
We may recognize the Frankenstein within ourselves, but we need not objectify him as did the good doctor Frankenstein. One might study the structures of power without falling in love with that object of obsessive interest. Land and its rule are at the center of human conflict, but if we are ever to be able in any instance to overcome those monstrous instincts, might we not begin by framing the Israel-Palestine conflict as a question of land and not who will rule it, but who is willing to share it? But there is an ideology that prevents that framing, that objectifies the monster wherever it looks.
Jewish nationalist colonisation
Politically and historically speaking, a “colony “is a settlement of people from another state in new territory and who retain political ties to, under the control of, their land of origin. Jews, as Jews, have no land of origin but Israel, and modern day Israel was not settled by the citizens of, and under the direction of, another state – anymore that a Palestinian returning to his home, long ago lost, would be an active agent of nationalist colonization. Jewish nationalism, expressed in the recreation of Israel, has not the remotest likeness to the act of colonization. However, for the adherents of this ideology, Israel must be compulsively ideologized as a malevolent historical force activating timeless patterns of oppressive power and abuse. This in itself borders on anti-Semitism.
Further, however, to characterize the Jewish return to Israel as colonization is, by the very definition of that term, to deny the historical Jewish connection to the land of Israel. This is an adversarial pattern of argument pursued only by Israel’s most generally hateful foes and is inherently anti-Semitic. It conforms to one example of anti-Semitism from the EU working definition of anti-Semitism: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”
Agents of colonization from a foreign state colonizing the land of others have no right to self-determination on that land. (Perhaps in Montana? Maybe Bergen-Belsen?) To refer to the Jewish return to Israel as colonization is ipso facto a denial of the Jewish right to self-determination.
Global Policy Forum is a tax exempt organization. Tax exempt organizations in the United States can lose their exempt status for carrying on propaganda.
I leave that to lawyers to investigate.
- A Lesson in Slanting on Israel & the Palestinians (sadredearth.com)
- A Profile of Contemporary Antisemitism (sadredearth.com)
- Framing Israel (sadredearth.com)