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Propaganda or 'Politics' -- The Perils of Friendship In 2010

Propaganda, disguised as “politics,” has a way of inserting itself into one’s personal life in very unexpected and often unpleasant ways.

Some people cannot talk about Presidents Obama or Bush without getting into shouting matches and ending their friendships. Some families can only break bread together if they avoid talking about certain subjects.

The most incendiary topics of the day are Islam and Israel. These subjects are land-mines, always ready to explode.

Public attacks are one thing and are par for the course. Private attacks are something else entirely. Media censorship is one thing, social censorship is something else.

In the last seven years, I have attended funerals and been shunned by former feminist colleagues and friends. Their names would amaze you; then again, maybe not. I have attended lectures, parties, film screenings, and private dinners and been unexpectedly attacked in what was supposed to be “safe” or private space.

I recently described a particular landmine that blew up in my face over lunch. I wish to revisit this incident and take it a bit further.

I was having lunch with three old and very dear feminist friends. One, a former president of a NOW state chapter, had once publicly challenged me about America’s military presence in Iraq. Fair enough. We dueled it out, I think I “won,” I did not take this personally. 

Now, she first told me that I would “lose my feminist credibility if I continued to publish in the conservative media.” We managed to talk about this civilly. 

And then, she pushed some other buttons. Here’s what she said:

“How can you defend that country, Israel, when it sends its military to purposely blind young American activists?”

She asked this darkly, with enormously righteous rage.

At the time, I really had no idea what she was talking about. I asked her when this had happened, whether it had happened once, several times, many times; I asked for details. Of course, she had none. This did not matter. Her passionate disgust required no details, no data, no context.

Thus, a very sophisticated and well educated American feminist who knows very little, perhaps absolutely nothing about the matter at hand, nevertheless felt entitled to spew hatred towards Israel, the facts be damned. Afterwards, I went home and did my homework.

Yes, there had been an incident. A young Jewish-American activist and the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, had been brainwashed by the International Solidarity Movement into becoming a potential martyr or human shield for anti-Israel rioters. After Israeli soldiers had been attacked and seriously wounded by Turkish terrorists who had hidden themselves among the “activists” aboard the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, this activist joined an anti-Israel demonstration. As usual, the world media blamed Israel for daring to defend herself, and not Turkey, which had sent armed jihadists into battle on the ship.

In 2003, American-born Rachel Corrie was callously martyred by the same International Solidarity Movement (ISM). The Arab and therefore the world media claimed that Corrie was killed on purpose. The truth is that the ISM purposely put her in harm’s way and the Israeli bulldozer driver absolutely could not have seen her. In fact, the bulldozer never rolled over Corrie. She was accidentally killed when debris dislodged by the bulldozer struck her head.

As with Rachel Corrie, the ISM similarly misled young American-Israeli student activist Emily Henochowicz. Note how the New York Times covered this incident. Isabel Kershner wrote that Henochowicz “was injured on May 31, 2010 after she joined Palestinian and foreign activists protesting that morning’s “deadly raid by Israeli naval commandos on a Turkish boat trying to breach the blockade of Gaza. Israeli security forces fired tear gas to disperse the demonstration after a few Palestinian youths threw rocks.”

After a careful IDF inquiry which I choose to trust (clearly, Israel-haters choose not to do so), it was found that there was no malevolent intention, no purposeful blinding of young Henochowicz when a tear gas canister ricocheted and hit Henochowicz in the eye which, tragically, blinded her in that eye.

My friend of nearly a quarter-century knew none of these details (nor did I—I do so now).

I truly wonder where this enormously successful brainwashing will end, when it will stop, what will it take to inform people of the truth, which consists of both complicated and very simple realities. Where will the funding come from that will meet and raise this diabolical game of propaganda poker against America and specifically against the Jewish state? We need the equivalent of a series of stuxnet viruses in the war of ideas. Nothing less will do.

Phyllis Chesler is Emerita Professor of Psychology and the author of 14 books including “The New Anti-Semitism” and “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman.” She has written extensively about Islamic gender apartheid and may be reached through her website at www.phyllis-chesler.com.

Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, a Fellow at the Middle East Forum, the author of thousands of articles and of fifteen books, including "Women and Madness," and "An American Bride in Kabul." She archives her articles and may be reached through her website: www.phyllis-chesler.com