Over the last week we’ve witnessed a heavy media bombardment, aimed at defaming the demonstrators at Balfour Street. TV newscasts on Friday night presented an orchestrated choir of mouthpieces, disseminating a reckless fabrication whereby protesters attempted to break into the prime minister’s official residence, forcing him to hide in a protected bunker. Every lie must contain a kernel of truth – in this case it was the well-known tendency of the prime minister to panic. You remember his missing the bus in Paris, or his being hustled offstage during a rocket attack on Ashkelon, right?
The news item was false, but the mouthpieces asked no questions. The news came from the prime minister and his close associates and no one bothered to check it. This is how Soviet propaganda used to work: The commissars knew that what was important was the initial news item. No one remembered the corrections.
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Can you see what I’ve done here? I’ve taken the right wing’s constant mantra, that “the media is Bolshevik,” and turned it against them. This is how one must view the way the right-wing’s consciousness-shaping works, as an attempt to project their traits onto the other side. And no, it really isn’t funny.
What we saw this week was a repeat, almost an exact one, of another exercise in consciousness-shaping. Netanyahu was in dire straits after U.S. President Donald Trump, compared by Netanyahu to Cyrus the Great, with a settlement named after him, led an attempted putsch, sending neo-Nazis to attack the Capitol. In response, Netanyahu fabricated an attack on Balfour Street. He has experience in such matters.
In November 1995, Netanyahu was under even greater distress. The right-wing rabble, which Netanyahu had been galvanizing for months, gave birth to an assassin who murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. This phenomenon is now called stochastic terror. A politician fires up a crowd knowing that statistically there is a good chance one person there will harm his rivals. One cannot establish a link between the politician and the murderer because there isn’t any, but without him there would be no murderer. Cast your terrorist upon the water. The demonstrators against Netanyahu experience stochastic terror on a weekly basis.
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In November 1995, Netanyahu found an ingenious solution to his problem. His mouthpieces rushed to disseminate the claim that “an entire public is being accused of murder.” They repeated this claim again and again in every possible media outlet, to the point an exercise in campaign spin was born, whereby there were two wrongs at play: one was the incitement against a prime minister, the other being the pointing out of that incitement.
In 1996 it worked for Netanyahu, but only barely. 0.4 percent of the vote and the terror campaign waged by Hamas gave him victory. Since then, he’s gotten better at this, with his main efforts devoted to planting his mouthpieces in various media outlets. Under the umbrella of labeling the media “leftist” – even though this never was the case, at most it was centrist – these mouthpieces are permitted anything. Remember how journalist Yinon Magal imitated the sound of a submachine gun on the air, while fantasizing about killing journalists? You don’t? Anyone insisting on reminding people of this has no place in Israeli media today.
If a right-wing coalition is formed here after the March election, it will already have a well-oiled machine. He who controls the present controls the past. Another year of two like the last ones and we’ll really believe that before Netanyahu there were only orange groves here, that without the Dear Leader there would be no Israel. The Yinon Magals will see to it that facts are what the regime wants them to be.
Reality also needs protection. On Election Day, stand beside it.