We’re seeing the western political/media class bleating the word “unprovoked” in unison again, this time in reference to the massive multi-pronged operation launched by Hamas against Israel on Saturday morning which reportedly killed hundreds of Israelis.
“The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians,” reads a statement from the White House.
“The loss of life in Israel as a result of the violent, calculated and unprovoked attack by Hamas is heartbreaking,” reads a statement by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
“The unprovoked terror attack today and the murders of innocent Israeli citizens are a stark reminder of the brutality of Hamas and Iran-backed extremists,” reads a statement by congressman and house speaker contender Jim Jordan.
“This ignominious, unprovoked, and barbaric attack on Israel must be met with world condemnation and unequivocal support for the Jewish state’s right to self-defense,” tweeted presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr.
“This is an ‘unprovoked attack on civilians’: Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg,” reads a recent Fox News report.
“Unprovoked aggression by Hamas terrorists,” reads a tweet by former secretary of state Mike Pompeo.
“I forcefully condemn these cowardly, horrifying, unprovoked attacks on Israel by Hamas,” tweeted congressman John Fetterman.
“These attacks by Hamas against Israel were heinous and unprovoked,” tweeted Senator Mark Kelly.
“As a steadfast supporter and ally of Israel, I unequivocally condemn the unprovoked and unprecedented terrorist attack launched by Hamas and stand with the people of Israel as it rightly defends itself,” tweeted congressman Richie Torres.
“The unprovoked attacks on Israel by Hamas through Gaza and via air and sea, are absolutely a terrorist attack,” tweeted Democratic Party pundit Ed Krassenstein.
“I unequivocally condemn Hamas’ horrific, unprovoked attacks and call on all parties to take steps to prevent civilian harm,” tweeted congresswoman Sara Jacobs.
I could cite many, many more examples, but I think that’s enough to make the point I’m trying to make. Isn’t it strange seeing the same oddly specific word choice inserted over and over and over again about the same event in statements by politicians and pundits, regardless of their political affiliation? When you lay them all out together it starts to sound highly suspicious, like someone always referring to his car as “my car, which I did not steal,” or always introducing his spouse as “my wife, whom I do not beat.”
It’s clear by now that whenever you see the word “unprovoked” being forcefully repeated in a uniform way across the entire political/media class, whatever they’re talking about was definitely massively provoked.
We saw this exact same thing when Russia invaded Ukraine; from the very beginning western politics and media were saturated with the word “unprovoked”, bashing the western public in the face with that message over and over and over again despite the obvious and undeniable fact that the war in Ukraine was most definitely provoked.
As Noam Chomsky quipped last year, “Of course, it was provoked. Otherwise, they wouldn’t refer to it all the time as an unprovoked invasion.”
And the same is of course true of the latest Hamas offensive. There are all kinds of arguments you could legitimately make about it, but one argument you definitely cannot defend is that it was unprovoked. As Palestinian-American writer and comedian Amer Zahr put it on Twitter, “75 years of ethnic cleansing. 15 years of blockade. Confiscation of Palestinian lands. Pogroms on Palestinian towns. Desecration of Palestinian sacred sites. Daily raids into Palestinian homes. Constant humiliation of a entire people. Nothing about today is ‘unprovoked.’”
Calling Palestinian violence against Israel “unprovoked” is easily even more ridiculous than calling the Russian invasion unprovoked, because the abuses of Israeli apartheid are so well-known by the general public at this point. Multiple mainstream human rights organizations have accused Israel of administering an abusive apartheid regime which treats Palestinians as lesser people. Palestinians who live in the open-air prison known as Gaza are deliberately subjected to undrinkable water, food shortages, energy shortages and bombing campaigns. Those outside Gaza are subjected to racist, violent policing and land seizure and live under a different set of laws than Jewish Israelis. The entire people were forced out of their homes to make way for a new state for reasons that had nothing to do with them, and any attempt to resist this has seen them killed as “terrorists”.
Of course the attack was provoked.
Isn’t it odd that the western political/media class would begin uniformly asserting something so easily disprovable? So transparently false? Why would they keep choosing over and over and over again in each instance to make use of that specific word “unprovoked” in their condemnations of the attacks by Hamas?
The answer is that this choice is not so much something they are saying as something they are doing. They’re not attempting to communicate with their audiences, they’re attempting to circumvent the critical thinking of their audience and trick them into accepting a blatant falsehood as true.
Skillful manipulators make frequent use of a cognitive bias known as the illusory truth effect, a glitch in the way human minds tend to operate which makes it hard for us to differentiate between the experience of hearing a well-evidenced fact and the experience of hearing something that they’ve heard repeated multiple times. If you want the public to believe something false you won’t be able to use facts and evidence to make your case to them, so what you can do is just repeat something over and over again until it starts sounding like the truth. Repeat the lie enough times and boom, you’ve perception-managed westerners into viewing the world from an understanding that Israel did nothing to provoke Palestinians into their actions.
After the news broke about the Hamas offensive I tweeted, “Here come days and days of western news media slyly reversing the aggressor-defender relationship and reporting as though the violence began with the Hamas offensive, spontaneously out of nowhere.”
But even I wasn’t expecting the perception management to be this brazen.
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Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy