A few short words – “Razan al-Najjar isn’t an angel of mercy”– sum up the depths of Israeli propaganda. Avichay Edraee, the Israeli army’s Arabic-language spokesman, who also speaks in my name, is a representative of an army of mercy that has also now appointed itself the judge of the measure of mercy in a medic treating Palestinian wounded on Gaza’s border with Israel, and who Israeli army soldiers mercilessly killed. After killing her, it was also necessary to assassinate her character.
Propaganda is a tool that serves many countries. The less just their policies are, the more they expand their propaganda efforts. Sweden doesn’t need propaganda. North Korea does. In Israel, it’s called hasbara – public diplomacy – because why would it need propaganda? Recently its propaganda has sunk to such despicable lows that nothing can better prove that its justifications have run out, its excuses gone, that truth is the enemy and that all that’s left are lies and slander.
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It is directed mostly for domestic consumption. Around the world, few gaza people would buy it in any event. But as part of the desperate effort to persist in the psychological repression and denial, in the failure to tell ourselves the truth and the evasion of any responsibility – everything is acceptable when it comes to these efforts.
A medic in a nursing uniform has been shot to death by Israeli army snipers – as have journalists with press vests and an amputee in a wheelchair. If we rely on Israeli army snipers to know what they are doing, counting on them to be the most accurate in the world, then these people have been shot deliberately. Surely if the army had believed in the justice of the military campaign that it is waging in Gaza, it would have taken responsibility for these killings, apologizing, expressing regret and offering compensation.
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But when the earth is burning under our feet, when we know the truth and understand that shooting at demonstrators and killing more than 120 of them and rendering hundreds of others disabled is more akin to a massacre, one cannot apologize or express regret. And then the army spokesman’s aggressive, clumsy, embarrassing and shameful propaganda machine springs into action – a thunderous voice from the Defense Ministry that only compounds what has been done.
Maj. Edraee released a video on Thursday in which a nurse, perhaps Najjar, is seen from the back, flinging away a smoke grenade that soldiers had thrown at her. Edraee would have done the same himself, but when it comes to desperate propaganda, it’s a smoking gun: Najjar is a terrorist. She had also said that she was a human shield. Certainly a medic is a human defender.
An Israeli army investigation, based only on the testimony of the soldiers of course, showed that she had not been deliberately shot. Clearly. The propaganda machine went further and hinted that she may have been killed by Palestinian weapons fire, which has rarely been used over the past two months.
Maybe she shot herself? Anything is possible. And do we remember any Israeli army investigation showing otherwise? Israel’s ambassador in London, Mark Regev, who is another top, polished propagandist, was quick to tweet about the “medical volunteer” in quotation marks, as if a Palestinian could be a medical volunteer. Instead, he wrote, her death is “yet another reminder of Hamas’ brutality.”
The Israeli army kills a medic in a white uniform, in an outrageous violation of international law, which provides protection for medical personnel in combat zones. And that’s despite the fact that the Gaza border does not constitute a combat zone. But it’s Hamas that is the brutal one.
Kill me, Mr. Ambassador, but who could possibly follow this twisted, sick logic? And who would buy such cheap propaganda other than some of the members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews -- the largest representative organization of U.K. Jewry – along with Merav Ben Ari, the Knesset member who was quick to take advantage of the opportunity and state: “It turns out that the medic, yes that one, wasn’t just a medic, as you see.” Yes, that one. As you see.
Israel should have been shocked by the killing of the medic. Najjar’s innocent face should have touched every Israeli’s heart. Medical organizations should have spoken out. Israelis should have hidden their faces in embarrassment. But that only could have happened if Israel had believed in the justice of its cause. When fairness is gone, all that is left is propaganda. And from that standpoint, maybe this new low is a herald of good news.