Are You Horrified Enough Yet?

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  Interestingly, the use of this word has slipped from media usage and has been superseded by ISIS/ISIL.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.


Filed under Media, Middle East, propaganda

32 responses to “Are You Horrified Enough Yet?

  1. Reblogged this on First Night History and commented:
    Then and now. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  2. A very good article indeed, and I am glad that it was re-blogged on FNH.
    I think it has to be seriously considered that much of the ‘myth’ surrounding ISIS has been engineered by the West, to the extent that these ‘fighters’ could even be infiltrated or led by US special forces, and British covert operators too. Strange how they knew how to drive tanks, operate complex weapons systems, and display considerable talent for military strategy, when they are supposed to be a rag-tag ensemble of foreign Jihadists. Perhaps this will be explained by blaming Syria, and give justification for the invasion of that country too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • For a bunch of rank amateurs, ISIS seem to have knowledge of sophisticated military hardware but what I also find intriguing is the way the Israeli state immediately seized on the Foley story. John McCain was also in Syria last year or the year before chatting up the ‘freedom fighters’ that were opposing Assad’s forces. Apparently a lot of the hardware destined to the ludicrously titled Free Syrian Army found its way into ISIS’s hands. Wherever McCain goes, death and destruction aren’t far behind.

  3. greggwh

    Israel’s government and military are the greatest Mid East terrorist groups today, if you define terrorism correctly as the killing of innocent civilians and non-military personnel to inspire terror, but in the parlance of governments only NGOs are terrorist groups, surprise surprise.

    • I agree. Israel’s terrorism is state sanctioned and, if you believe in fairies and unicorns, it also has divine sanction, though the Hasidim disagree with Zionism and view it as an affront to the Torah. Orwell must be spinning in his grave at the Israeli government’s use of Doublethink and euphemisms.

  4. The video of the beheading – doesn’t show a beheading at all. For some strange reason the knife is put to the neck and then a blackout,. Next comes a photo (not a video) of a strange hairless looking body with what looks like a photoshopped head on its back. SO my question – how do we know this is real? how do we know who it is? are there dental records? – is there actually any video at all of a beheading? No wonder it may be a crime to view it – it is totally unconvincing – I can’t see the authorities wanting you to view it – if this is what the next case for spending our money on war is going to be based on.
    One is reminded of the bogus declaration of Iraqi soldiers throwing babies out of incubators – acted out from a script by a relative of the Saudi Royals. Or Assad’s chemical weapons that UN inspectors confirm he never actually used, Or Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction we were all told about – that never existed.
    So now we have a bogey man with who is supposed to have cut a head off someone – unlike our Saudi allies who do it on a daily basis.

    We are being manipulated by lies and propaganda – to go to wars to make money for the banking and corporate elite – thats the way it looks to me – just sayin’.

    • Furthermore, it would take ages to decapitate someone with a knife. The cut wouldn’t be a clean one even if the knife was exceedingly sharp.

      There were plenty of stories about how Christians, in particular, had been beheaded. Then they turned to the Yazidis, who few people in the West had heard of (I’d heard of them because I spent a considerable amount of time researching the country), and declared that this minority group was being beheaded en masse and “we” had to do “something” to stop “them”.It was then discovered that the Yazidis who had been reportedly stranded on a mountain were never there in the first place.

      It’s also interesting how Iraq’s other minority groups are left out of the narrative. What about the Iraqi Armenians? The Turkmen?

      Propaganda tends to follow a more or less straight line. The propaganda that we’ve been treated to in the last few weeks is fragmented and inconsistent. It looks as though it’s been chucked together at the last minute.

      This is why Media Studies is so important. It’s also the reason the Right and their allies in the press continue to attack it.

  5. People will believe any shit the mainstream media prints – that is the problem

  6. Ah.. Peter the Hermit. Probably one of the most incorrectly named people in history. If only he’d stayed in.

  7. I’m not actually an anti-“interventionist” ….topple evil regimes like dominos I say … but be honest about the price.

    The truth is they cannot be honest about the price because no one wants to pay it so sales techniques double glazing salesmen would blush at have to be employed. With all the drivel about Jihad John …he’s left the country to go an fight abroad so must be an internal threat…? Pull the other one. I have recently been reminded of Tony Blair’s infamous quote that :

    “I would still have thought it right to remove him BUT you would have to deploy different arguments”.

    To the neo-cons of the world arguments have nothing to do with truth or logic – they are just another weapon to push around a map with a long stick. They know that they cannot deploy WMD again because it is dead amd lieing somewhere in nowhere land and cannot be found …so new more ridiculous twaddle must be meticulously manufactured.

    That said while Hamas and ISIS may be ideologically opposed there are certain ideological crossovers. They are both mainly staffed by Sunni organisations and there was certainly a lot of cooperation between Saddam and Hamas …they were both Sunni too. I know that’s a bit like saying most Zionists are Jews therefore most Jews are Zionists – a gross oversimplification… but my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Sometimes. If nothing else I’m sure they appropriate tactics from each other. Al Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden were ideologically opposed but they still had something in common and operated together when they wanted although the main thing connecting them was money – specifically bin Laden’s £200,000. The trouble with running a terrorist cell organisation is that it’s difficult to actually remain in control of what happens. The really big lie is that it is the IDEAS alone that make these people dangerous …whereas in fact it is, of course, the MONEY. Without his vast fortune provided via the West via the Saudi monarchy bin Laden would have been just another shouty madman. Contrary to popular belief running terror organisations isn’t cheap and easy. The sensible solution would be to follow the money and cut it off… but something tells me we’re not going for the sensible solution.

    • My point is this: the Israeli state makes a tenuous connection between ISIS and Hamas in order to claim that the latter sits to the right (or left) of Satan. ISIS aren’t known to look favourably on Hamas. Furthermore, and it’s a point that I made in the blog, is that the name “Hamas” is used by Fat Benny and his boys as a form of shorthand. Not all Palestinians support Hamas. Yet, this is what Netanyahu and Regev were claiming.

      • Well, it’s interesting that Ariel Sharon and George W went to such efforts to freeze Fatah and Yassa Arafat out the peace process before he fell off his perch. Then they wonder why they have to deal with Hamas. Well, it’s what they wanted. Perhaps Fatah were too moderate for them and didn’t fit their agenda… who knows?

      • The Zionists have never wanted to deal sincerely or honestly with the Palestinians. Before the rise of Hamas in Gaza, the Zionists refused to deal with Fatah. They’ve never really spoken to other members of the PLO like the Marxist PFLP, for example. Hamas provided a convenient excuse for the Zionists to prevaricate and obstruct. The only solution to this is political. Militarism will only continue the cycle of violence.

  8. The bottom line is Zionism is just wrong. Morally, politically, practially and even theologically. The only thing I can think of that’s similarly barmy in a parallel way is the back to Africa movement …which has sort of died out except for some of the Rastas… the great thing about modern religions is we can see just how potty old religions were when they started. Of course the function of all religions long term is to claim that they never change … when you look at their history they’ve all had more ret-cons than Spiderman. Zionism is just another ret-con of Judaism. Give it another century and hopefully it will go out of fashion.

    • It’s funny you should mention the ‘Back to Africa’ movement because I’ve been working on a blog about Liberia. Liberia and Israel were both seen as homelands by certain Jews and African Americans and both were viewed by the dominant culture (white Europeans) as solutions to a particular problem. I think there are many Jews who would disagree with you about Zionism being another form of Judaism. The Hasidim, for example, categorically reject Zionism. Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews. Some of the most fervent Zionists can be found in evangelical Christianity. Revisionist Zionism and its variants are political, not religious. Though they will claim the Torah as their foundation and this is what the Hasidim find so distasteful about Zionism.

  9. The position of the True Torah Jews can be found here. They’re not the same as the rather nutty Neturei Karta.

  10. greggwh

    This video by the way gives the starting point for that article. I have not even heard a mention of this in the North American MSM. Perhaps the BBC or Channel 4?

  11. greggwh

    Sorry hit the button accidentally, here it is:

  12. greggwh

    One more thing. Remember when I asked you if the MSM in the UK including the BBC and Channel 4 had reported on Israel’s lately discovered eugenics program? Considering all the reports about the unfortunate increase of antisemitism in Europe, has anyone reported about this? :

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