The bewildering variety of names of the entity known as “Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL/The Caliphate/[insert new name]” is enough to worry paranoid survivalists and bloodthirsty neo-fascists alike. The people who invent these names are well aware of this. It’s as if each new word and phrase has been specifically crafted to strike a chord within the minds of a variety of constituents. For example, it is likely that Sun readers will respond more favourably to the simple phrase “Islamic State”, while classically educated people who are familiar with names like The Levant, the classical name for the Middle or Near East, will respond to the name “Islamic State in the Levant”. The British far-right has convinced itself that Muslims in general (never mind that Islam, in common with other mass religions, is far from being a homogeneous religious group) desire to carve out a caliphate and that this caliphate will challenge Western (often referred to as Judaeo-Christian) hegemony. Hence the word “caliphate” was used to appeal to this target group. Interestingly, the use of this word has slipped from media usage and has been superseded by ISIS/ISIL. It goes without saying that a gullible public can always be counted on to fall in line when the state dictates. Are you horrified enough yet?
The revelation in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph that the video of James Foley’s apparent execution may have been staged is reminiscent of the many atrocity stories that are produced on behalf of the state has been happening since time immemorial. The First Crusade, which took place before the advent of mass media, was prosecuted on rumours, innuendos and lies. A largely illiterate population was convinced, by those who controlled the production and flow of information, of the need to fight “the Saracen” by graphic stories of unspeakable horror. Crowds of people would be whipped into a frenzy by the plausible speeches of dubious characters like Peter the Hermit. As a bonus, those taking the cross were told that participation in the Crusade would achieve the remission of their sins. There is no remission of sins offered in these latest escapades.
In the weeks leading to Britain’s entry into the First World War, newspapers printed stories that were broadly referred to as “The Rape of Belgium“. The most memorable line from those stories was “Huns rape nuns”, this was joined by variations like “Huns eat babies”. The public fell for these stories to the extent that thousands of pals signed up to fight Germany, even though it was apparently Serbia that had started the war. European monarchs fearful of potential revolution at home, were eager to commit hundreds of thousands of working class people to fight for a war that only they wanted. For we must remember that in the years leading up to World War One, there was a great deal of industrial and social unrest that was marked by the Tonypandy and Llanelli riots, and the anchoring of gunboats in the Mersey and the Humber. The propagandists did their jobs and revolution was avoided.
But this is not the Crusades (in which thousands of Jews as well as Muslims and Orthodox Christians were also slaughtered by Western Christians) nor is this the First World War, but the basic intent of atrocity propaganda has stubbornly refused to change. It is designed to strike horror and fear into the minds of television viewers and readers. The apparent execution of James Foley is one in a long line of horror stories produced by propagandists to horrify otherwise sensible people and persuade them to hate others for no reason at all. Are you horrified enough yet?
Within hours of the video of the “execution” going live on the Internet, the British government informed us that viewing it would be a breach of national security and people watching it on YouTube could face arrest. Twitter and YouTube dutifully removed the video, even though they had no evidence of its veracity and complied with government diktat. On the BBC, security correspondent Frank Gardner, who himself has close ties to the intelligence services, offered his expert opinions on the video and what it signified. The subtext of this signification was adopted by Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond (who is also a member of Conservative Friends of Israel), who warned that “ISIS could strike on British soil”. To this, he added,
“[it is an] utter betrayal of our country, our values and everything the British people stand for”.
Hammond’s ideas of “British values” ignore the gross violations of human rights committed by British forces in Northern Ireland, India and Iraq over the course of its imperial history. Are you horrified enough yet?
You will also notice how quickly Binyamin Netanyahu latched onto the Foley story and, within hours, his office produced a series of propaganda graphics to claim Hamas is the same as ISIS (or whatever they’re calling themselves this week). Here’s one example that was produced within hours of Foley’s “execution” as it appeared on his Facebook page.
Netanyahu and his fellow Revisionist Zionists hope that the average person will be ignorant of the fact that Hamas and ISIS are ideologically opposed to one another. Furthermore, the name “Hamas” has been used by Israeli propagandists as a shorthand for all Gazans. You will recall that early into wittily titled “Operation Protective Edge” that Netanyahu and his propaganda minister, Mark Regev, insisted that because the Gazans (sic) had voted for Hamas, this was sufficient grounds for them to collectively punished. However in terms of their callous disregard for human life, one is tempted to argue that the Zionists and ISIS have much more in common than Netanyahu would care to admit.
Israel has also been known to employ agents provocateurs in the past and the current crisis in Gaza is no exception. Today we learned that Israel had staged the recent ceasefire violation in order to assassinate Commander-in-Chief of the Al Qassam Brigades, Muhammad Al-Daif.
The website of Makor Rishon newspaper said that Ben Yair, who also worked as a judge in the Israeli supreme court, tweeted on his twitter account the following: “There is no agreement and hostilities have been renewed, but who is the culprit? Hamas who wants an agreement with accomplishments or Israel who staged the breach of the ceasefire in order to justify the assassination of Muhammad Al-Daif?”
ISIS or whatever they’re being called this week is part truth and part fiction. The simple fact is that whatever is being reported about this group, and there appears to be some doubt as to its cohesiveness, much of it is gibberish. This is not say that the group called ISIS doesn’t exist and isn’t killing civilians. But the mass media’s hysterical reportage fits in with the Israeli state’s objectives and the murderous desires of Western warmongers, who can’t wait to start another war. Why? Because war is big business and as Major General Smedley Butler wrote “War is a racket”.
Are you horrified enough yet?
You won’t be, if you refuse to live in fear.