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The Other Weapon: Propaganda in the Israel-Palestine Conflict.



'Alphabet of Other' is a collection of essays tackling the specific prejudices and unique experiences faced by people of colour from my experiences as a biracial, East Asian woman. It explores what it feels like to be a minority or biracial person who often ticks 'other' than black or white. 'Othering' is a term that not only refers to racism (but ofcourse includes it) but bias, xenophobia, stereotypes, micro-aggressions, propaganda and anything otherwise considered innocuous that is actually extremely harmful and just shy of full-blown hate. The difference with 'othering' is that, unlike racism, it is perpetuated by and between people of colour too.


News reports flood my feed about the murder of a 6 year old Palestinian-American boy in the US at the hands of a 71 year old man. Wadea Al-Fayoume was stabbed to death by Joseph M Czuba in a hate crime no doubt incited by anti-Palestine, pro-Israel rhetoric being laid down thick in US mainstream media currently. This is a timeless and tired reminder that the power and integrity of media coverage cannot be undermined or overstated.


While the world goes head to head and eye for eye on human rights atrocity versus human rights atrocity, we forget that we are missing the point entirely. The real determinant of the outcome will not be technicality or the righteousness of the cause. It will be in the volume of bloodshed as determined by us- the public, the people, who excuse or encourage it from behind screens and borders. War in all forms understands this and makes use of the ultimate underrated weapon: misinformation. It’s time we understood we are complicit in how this weapon of words works.


COUNTING THE TACTICS


As with all conflict, it’s easy to spot propaganda when you know what to look out for. Propaganda is defined as: information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.


The function of propaganda is to gain popularity and support via public opinion. Old channels included radio, posters, leaflets and television. New age channels are the same but come with the added speed and impact of social media. Unchecked and nonfactual, social media is the ultimate breeding ground for propaganda tactics to thrive - and that is exactly what is happening now.


Here are three main tactics:


Black and white fallacy- A tactic where only two options are given although many might exist. For example: ‘you are either for this or against this’. Nuance does not serve the cause or gain sides, but oversimplification does, as well as give us a sense of scarcity and guilt which makes us feel forced to choose.


Cherry picking - Choosing which information to include and excluding information that does not serve the intended point. Ie: selecting information for personal gain. Comparing the actions of one to the actions of another involves leaving out a host of information that provides context, therefore the outcome will never be clear cut or absolute.


Dehumanization - This is when language is purposefully used in the media or by personalities to dehumanize the ‘enemy’. It has been witnessed in many conflicts, for example the referring of Vietcong soldiers as ‘gooks’. Anything that ‘others’ the others makes them less human than ‘us’.



DESENSITIZED AND DIVIDED


What propaganda does so well is distract us and divide us, the public. When we look at the current conflict, we fail to see the real danger we are causing when we justify violence on any nation or population as a whole. One can support a people without supporting the government killing of another's innocents. We have been brainwashed to think we can only choose one, hurt for one or stand for one. We have been desensitised to the death of innocent ‘others’.


It’s time we snap out of it.


FIGHT MISINFORMATION

  • Check the source: has the info been credited? Who was it shared by?

  • Read various sources on the topic: this will give a more balanced view.

  • Is the information ‘sensationalist’? Sensationalist wording uses exaggeration and aggressive language to incite a strong emotion.

  • Stick to accredited news sources who take journalistic integrity seriously: That means skip the news networks and sources that have clearly chosen a side.

  • Who is sharing it? A very clear indication of the leaning of the publisher and the sentiments attached. Are the people sharing it encouraging hate or violence?



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