Sunday, April 4, 2010

“Sayyid Qutb hates Lady Gaga” as an Israel PR ploy

Framing the Arab-Israeli Conflict
“Sayyid Qutb hates lady Gaga” as an Israel PR ploy
Whose interest the focus serves?

Between Pat Buchanan and “I guess you could say I¹m trying to help Israel” Bret Stephens

On the Arab-Israeli conflict

The Arab-Israeli conflict is a conflict that receives a lot of attention in the international media for many reasons. Arabs focus on international law- the Israelis are occupying Arab lands, oppressing Arab people and violating a large number of international laws. Had it been any other country engaging in all the violations and crimes that Israel is involved with, that country would been an international pariah on its way to the trash bin of history.

International law vs. international boogey man

After 9/11, Islamist radicals, aided by a motley crew of odd bedfellows, have taken over the place of the leftist radicals as international boogey men. Israel loses an argument grounded in international law and human rights. But Israel can win an argument that appeals to hate, fear and prejudice against Islam, Arabs and Muslims. Here, the radical statements of radical Arab and Muslims, used in context and out of context, become a refuge for pro-Israel advocates who want to demonize Arabs and Muslims and take the focus away from crimes such as those documented by the Zionist Jewish judge Goldstone.

The Wall Street Journal and Bret Stephens

The Wall Street Journal editorial pages have offered solid support to Israeli policies that its own reporters have put in a negative light in their reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict. One of the writers of the Journal, Bret Stephens, a former editor of the right-wing Jerusalem Post, has a regular column in the paper that is used to demonize Islam and promote Israel. This public relations campaign for Israel is focused on framing the Arab-Israeli conflict as an intractable civilizational conflict rather than a territorial/international law conflict that international law offers tools to deal with. According to international law, the refugees have the right of return, the Syrian Golan Heights is occupied/stolen land, the settlements are illegal, etc. However, instead of focusing on these real issues that are manageable and that Israel cannot win, Stephens and the Wall Street Journal campaign serves its readers Lady Gaga and Sayyid Qutb.

Why focus on Lady Gaga and Sayyid Qutb? Because this frame serves Israeli interests best, Mr. Stephens admits. He does not admit this in the column of course. He admits this to a group he assumes thinks like him.

Bret Stephens:
Sharon Fan, Israel PR man at UJA Celebration

The website of the Toronto Jewish Federation helpfully posted the comments of Mr. Stephens who was their keynote speaker at their UJA Federation's Top Gifts Closing Celebration:

‘“As for the much-talked about PR battle between the Israel and Palestinian sides, Stephens feels that it's important for Israel to avoid getting into a "victimhood competition," to gain more sympathy from the worldwide press. He was referring to Israel's video release of scenes of the recent Jerusalem bus bombing that killed 11 people including former Torontonian Chezi Goldberg.
"As for releasing graphic footage of terror attacks, I think the efforts misplaced," he says. "Israel doesn't need better images or spokesmen. Israel needs rhetorical strategies to confront key Palestinian arguments about what this conflict is all about (my emphasis). The PR battle has several fronts. In Europe, Israel has lost it; in the United States, it has won it. In both cases, the outcomes have at least as much to do with existing popular prejudices as they do with the effectiveness of this or that PR battle."
Although Stephens does not see himself as a PR agent for Israel, he believes that Israel's story does not receive a fair hearing in other media.
"One of the reasons I left The Wall Street Journal for the Post was because I felt the Western media was getting the story wrong," says Stephens. "I do not think Israel is the aggressor here. Insofar as getting the story right helps Israel, I guess you could say I¹m trying to help Israel." (my emphasis)
“Stephens did little to hide his feelings about the current legal problems facing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his son, Gilad, involving allegations of financial contributions in exchange for political favours toward a large business development.
"It will be Israel's loss if the case against Sharon is proved," he says. "Sharon succeeded in uniting the country behind him in a way that no previous PM has since the days of Eshkol or even Ben Gurion. This was no mean achievement in a country so divided that it cashiered Sharon's three immediate predecessors early and saw another one cruelly assassinated. National unity is not just a political achievement; it is a moral and strategic one, against an enemy that sought, often successfully, to turn Israel against itself. I don't see any leaders on the horizon who could provide the same kind of leadership, Labor or Likud."’

Lady Gaga Versus Mideast Peace: between Pat Buchanan and Bret Stephens

In the Journal of Monday, March 29, 2010 Bret Stephens wrote “Lady Gaga Versus Mideast Peace .Are settlements more offensive than pop stars?” This column is a natural outcome of the PR strategy of painting the Arab-Israeli conflict as part of a grand intractable civilizational conflict: “Pop quiz—What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video? If your answer is (b) it means you probably have a grasp of the historical roots of modern jihadism. If, however, you answered (a), then congratulations: You are perfectly in synch with the new Beltway conventional wisdom, now jointly defined by Pat Buchanan and his strange bedfellows within the Obama administration.”

Outside the Israel PR Campaign: American voices echo Arab and Muslim concerns

A number of American public figures have drawn attention to what Israel does and how its actions affect the perception of America in the Arab and Muslim world and the interests of America. Stephens writes: “What is that wisdom? In a March 26 column in Human Events, Mr. Buchanan put the case with his usual subtlety: "Each new report of settlement expansion," he wrote, "each new seizure of Palestinian property, each new West Bank clash between Palestinians and Israeli troops inflames the Arab street, humiliates our Arab allies, exposes America as a weakling that cannot stand up to Israel, and imperils our troops and their mission in Afghanistan and Iraq."
Israel PR Campaign: Lady Gaga and Sayyid Qutb as soldiers in Stephens PR campaign’
In response to American voices that echo international law and politics, Mr. Stephens playbook summons the ghost of Sayyid Qutb and the very alive body of Lady Gaga: ‘Now consider Lady Gaga—or, if you prefer, Madonna, Farrah Fawcett, Marilyn Monroe, Josephine Baker or any other American woman who has, at one time or another, personified what the Egyptian Islamist writer Sayyid Qutb once called "the American Temptress." Qutb, for those unfamiliar with the name, is widely considered the intellectual godfather of al Qaeda; his 30-volume exegesis "In the Shade of the Quran" is canonical in jihadist circles. But Qutb, who spent time as a student in Colorado in the late 1940s, also decisively shaped jihadist views about the U.S.’
Stephens concludes: “[T]he settlements are merely the latest politically convenient cover behind which lies a universe of hatred. If the administration's aim is to appease our enemies, it will get more mileage out of banning Lady Gaga than by applying the screws on Israel. It should go without saying that it ought to do neither.”

Israel PR vs. American Policy

The U.S. position is that the radical Islamists' claim that America is engaged in a civilizational conflict with Islam is wrong and motivated by the Islamists’ campaign to radicalize the largest number of the almost 1.4 billion Muslims. We know whose interests Pat Buchanan has at heart, he is an American nationalist. We know that Mr. Stephens is serving the interests of PR for Israel. This PR of fanning the flames of civilizational conflict, in all practicality being in the same camp with radical Islamists but for Israeli reasons, can only harm American national interests. It is America’s position that the U.S. is not involved in a civilizational conflict with Islam. It is the radical Muslims’ view that Bret Stephens and his like-minded Israel supporters are promoting. We know who this position is designed to help and who it will not help.







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