Manipulation 101: Narrative as a tool

This week started with Israeli Prime Minister and Defence Minister pushing for the bill to make it liberalise the process of sentencing arrested Palestinian terrorists to death.  The debate started three years ago, but now it was time to remind its existence and push for action in Knesset, Israeli governing body.

“We won’t relent or stop until completing the mission,” said Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Twitter.

The last death penalty in Israel was carried out to a Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, he was hanged in 1962.

As director of the Palestinian Society Prisoner’s Club Qadure Fares said, this bill is directly aiming at Palestinian political prisoners. The statement draws attention to the core term used by the Israeli government in the bill – terrorist, which, in the light of the capital sentence and it’s historical weight, brings the discussion back under Holocaust theme.

This almost strategical bringing back of the old discussion surrounding Palestinian prisoners was resurrected in a convenient time, when the Western media has turned away from Palestinian protests, which were in the news only few days ago, leaving the coverage to thematically focused news websites. The news did not reach a wider audience, it did not make the worldwide news because of other spectacle happening – the mid-term elections in the United States.

But this was not targetted to the Western audience or politicians in the first place – the news, as well as the bill itself, is directly focused to influence the morale of Palestinians, their authority and citizens. Putting Palestinian struggle and fight in parallel to the most devastating disaster and its masterminds by calling for capital punishment to prisoners is one of the oldest ways of psychological warfare, just transferred to the digital sphere of information.

Demoralisation was used in all possible wars and conflicts in the history of warfare, pushing the opposing side to surrender and lose faith in their goals. Demoralisation strategies are more known as shock and awe, or projecting repetitive and annoying sounds and music for long periods towards groups under siege and similar. Demoralisation strategies are more difficult to capture and recognise when it’s being used in digital and in the news – it’s hidden and covered by loads of information, quotes and legitimisation from the ones in power, but subconsciously it affects the target more than bullets or grenades.

In prolonged conflicts, such as Isreali-Palestinian conflict, based on multilayered disputes, questions and historical debates, demoralisation of fighting sides can lead to irreparable consequences locally and internationally.

Israel is known for its proficiency in intelligence services and psychological warfare, therefore it is not a surprise that they have been using the most devastating tactics of dehumanising and demoralising against Palestinians, aside from obvious military strength and blockades. What is significant in this particular case, is the use of capital punishment with a layer underneath it – narrative of the Holocaust, Nazism and subconscious correlations between the two completely different situations and professional usage of victimisation.

The latter being, unfortunately, an integral part of any Isreali international and regional strategy since the beginning.

But let’s not get deeper into this conversation.

That’s all I wanted to cover for this.

Stay awake, and keep away from trolls!


Cartoon @ David Pope

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