The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged propaganda
General Sisi's kindersturm

There is plenty of vile propaganda going around Egypt these days, but this takes the prize for most vomit-inducing. Be sure to stick around till 2:20, when the Sisi voice-over kicks in, and the lead child singer ends the song with (in English) "I love you Sisi."

The parents of these kids should be ashamed of themselves.

Traffic, the antidote to propaganda

The army and the people are one hand. Egypt is above everyone. And everything. It is also more important than everyone. And everything. We would sacrifice everything for it. We make promises and fulfill them. We will build with honesty and something related to sincerity that I would have read if the car wasn’t traveling so fast.

A picture making the rounds on social media a few weeks back

A picture making the rounds on social media a few weeks back

These short poetic sentence can be found in blue-on-white signs hanging under street lights, so you can learn the value of the homeland even at night - if you squint. They are on the new and improved Misr-ismailia Road, courtesy of interim president Adly Mansour (in the presence of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi) and the armed forces.

As if having learned nothing from Titanic, I have, on one more than one occasion, bragged about how cars unfailingly maintained constant motion on this "unstoppable" road. Five lanes, I would boast -- it can comfortably take six cars and a motorcycle.

That was the case until the generals blocked it to tell us about how smooth traffic is on it and will continue to be now that they have fixed and peered over a map of it. (The very same map deposed president Morsi stood in front when he, too, was inaugurating the armed forces’ developments on the very same road with el-Sisi a few months ago.)

Sadly, the road improvements had been used too often for anyone to put another red ribbon on them now. So Mansour had to settle for inaugurating a never-before-used right turn.

Meanwhile hundreds of meters back, sullen truck drivers tried various approaches to get their vehicles past and beyond others, from caressing to punching their steering wheels. But the prevailing mood was one of resignation. Unspoken questions hung in the hot air, as people tried to choose which elbow to lean on and decide whether or not is it unpatriotic to huff and puff about waiting over an hour in the sun so that the man who saved the country from the MB can perform a useless formality. Yes, you caught the bad guys and that was very nice of you, but we really need to go -- the overstretched smiles they exchanged, and quickly dropped the second they broke eye contact, seemed to say.

Anyway, “wasn’t blocking the road a crime?” some driver with a sardonic smile wondered out loud, when news of el-Sisi’s presence reached us from the front lines. After a microbus driver reminded him that the world is sweaty and stuffy, he refocused his attention on taking a long drag from his cigarette. But once the exact purpose of el-Sisi’s presence became known, there was no shushing him or anyone else up.

“We always have to wait for the president to pass. Not once do we get a president who waits for us to pass,” a taxi driver in stripes told his new friends, impressing them with his articulation. “That's a nice one...But el-Sisi is not president --” an old man said, before forgetting or giving up on the rest of his sentence.  

As some decided to abandon the shade of their cars to sit on the baking sidewalk and bond over how awful the sun and the idea of blocking a road midday was, others began seeking pleasure in telling the new arrivals why they were all stuck there.

“El-Sisi is passing by, that’s why." A middle-aged man squeezed his big belly between cars to break the news to the newcomers with a hint of irony. The sentence is particularly reminiscent of Mubarak’s days, when traffic jams followed him around Cairo. “No, he is laying the foundation of something,” a female passenger stuck her head out to add. “But what’s that got to do with us?” the sunburnt and wrinkled newcomer inquired. He got the same defeated shrugs from every direction and a few paraphrased “Well, you know, it just had to be done now” replies.

Many felt that the belated inauguration was over the top and unnecessary. "Kind of like the Oct. 6 celebration. Why spend money on fuel for your helicopters to open an open road? Or on a million singers and dancers? I love (el-Sisi). He cleansed the state, but that money is better spent on the poor. I don't know why he does this,”  my driver said with a half-embarrassed smile before he was interrupted by the sound of slow clapping coming from old man on the deck of a red pick-up truck. He looked like a deflated Popeye and wouldn’t stop saying "It will never get better" over and over again. People tried to curb his pessimism by swearing it will if God's willing. He said they will see.

Although Cairo traffic is never fun to experience, this particular jam was not terrible. At least there was the knowledge that - despite our agitated beehive of a media - many still retain the ability to criticize the regime, however hesitantly.

 

"Egypt rejects American Satan"

Remember this headline, in the state-owned newspaper of a supposedly secular, US-friendly regime run by a military that receives $1.3bn in US aid per year.  Via:

And while we're at it: 

Dissecting the settlers' agitprop
Israel National News is a favorite news outlet of the Israeli right and the settler movement more generally. It now seems to be busy preparing a propaganda war. 

Israel National News: "First Arab 'September Attack': Convoy Approached Negohot; September attacks have begun: Arabs in 40-50 vehicles drove along Jewish community's fence, taunted and jeered."

Presumably, this will be used as evidence to suggest that the Arabs "started it," like how they "started" the Six Day War. But for a minor incident, it is rather illustrative of the settlement project as a whole:
  1. Hilltop (Double) Standards - The protesters did not, at least based on what INN has reported, attempt to enter Negohot, a West Bank settlement founded in 1982. Nor did they exit their vehicles or direct anything more than words and posters at the fenced-in settlement. Nevertheless, such actions constitute an attack (not a protest - an attack), according to the settlers. Whereas attacks against Palestinian property and lives are always acts of self-preservation: Remember the Alamo!
  2. The Spineless Security Forces - The IDF is criticized for not being more proactive, especially since they have declared there are "red lines" Palestinians must not be allowed to cross around the settlements. According to the article, IDF soldiers nearby simply stood by and watched the convoy slowly drive by. The article asserts that settlers must not rely on a supine IDF in the coming weeks, but rather, on themselves, because Palestinians are hopelessly foolish (but, at the same time, ingenious connivers). The IDF is a potential enemy in the eyes of the settlers, as is the PA. 
  3. The Arabs' Useful Idiots - The "anti-Jewish" Israeli Supreme Court is again castigated for a decision made in 2009 that reopened Israeli Route 443 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Palestinian drivers such as these. The road, built on "expropriated" Palestinian land located within the West Bank, was closed to Palestinian traffic during the Second Intifada because of attacks on Israeli motorists. With support fromIsraeli human rights groups, suits to reopen by Palestinian villages made it to the Supreme Court, which overturned the military ban on Palestinian traffic because a panel of 3 justices decided the ban was a form of collective punishment. But if the road was still closed to non-Israelis, this provocation would never have happened, it is suggested. The Arab-loving left throws away Jewish lives.
  4. The Opinion War: Essentially, "leftist" opinion is just as dangerous, if not more so, than any number of al Asqa Brigadists. It is an "enabler," even, and must be changed. "Being right isn't enough, selling it is" - and the main talking points must be the Holocaust and the Torah. Changing the way the government appoints Supreme Court justices and licenses Israeli NGOs activities was on the legislative agendas of far-right Israeli parties during this past Knesset session. Neither effort succeeded, but the far-right has vowed to keep trying to wrest humanitarianism in the West Bank away from a far-left minority (in favor of their own far-right minority, of course - parliamentarianism, everybody!).
So as Israel National News noted, Negohot is only the beginning this September.
Cheer up, Israel
The international community has imposed an “emotional blockade” on Israel that has prevented the world from sympathizing with Israeli citizens, according to France’s Ambassador for Human Rights Francois Zimeray.

“World compassion has not gone to Israel,” said Zimeray, noting that both Israelis and Palestinian have suffered as a result of the conflict. “The world does not realize how intense this [Israeli] suffering can be.”
Quick, quick, let's have something that'll cheer up those Israelis. I can only think of the following as adequate to the task — its sophistication and elegance mirrors that of the arguments of Israel's apologists:
Incidentally, having listened obsessively to the above masterpiece for the past week and done quite a lot of digging into the careers of the incomparable Delfin, the sultry Tigresa Del Oriente and undeniable prodigy that is La Pequena Wendy, I must report that this video is not their work alone. If you're a Spanish speaker you will have noticed that the video starts with Delfin's lament that Israel is not accurately portrayed on television. (As any Delfin afficionado will tell you, every Delfin video starts with an ugly truth revealed by the tube, like in his first hit, the tasteful commentary on 9/11 that is Torres Gemelas.) But the production quality of this song — En Tus Tierras Bailares, or "In Your Land I Will Dance" — is actually far above their previous hits. Yes, yes, that includes La Tigresa's unforgettable Anaconda and Wendy's classic ode to beer, Cerveza Cerveza.
The simple reason for this is that it is produced by the quite talented Gaby Kerpel, a Jewish Argentinian folk musician. Why did he decide to recruit Ecuadorian and Peruvian Indians specializing in Andean trucker music for this piece of hasbara? Who knows. I don't even know whether it's exploitative or actually deeply subversive. But I think we are all deeply in his debt.
More Israeli propaganda failures

Max Blumenthal shows that the IDF is quietly redacting its own press releases to remove allegations of links between the IHH members of the flotilla and al-Qaeda:

Not content to believe that night vision goggles signal membership in Al Qaeda, Israel-based freelance reporter Lia Tarachansky and I called the IDF press office to ask for more conclusive evidence. Tarachansky reached the IDF’s Israel desk, interviewing a spokesperson in Hebrew; I spoke with the North America desk, using English. We both received the same reply from Army spokespeople: “We don’t have any evidence. The press release was based on information from the [Israeli] National Security Council.” (The Israeli National Security Council is Netanyahu’s kitchen cabinet of advisors).

Today, the Israeli Army’s press office changed the headline of its press release (see below), basically retracting its claim about the flotilla’s Al Qaeda links.

We debunked the basis of previous al-Qaeda links here.

The Israelis can't even get propaganda right anymore

My friend Ibn Kafka has a wonderful post catching Israel in a propaganda f**k-up. The Israeli Ministry Foreign Affairs posted on its Flickr account pictures of the terrifying weapons they found on the IHH ship. You know, things like bulletproof vests for emergency services, pepper spray, kitchen knives, bits of wood and other weapons of mass destruction. Except that they did not realize that Flickr displays EXIF data, which is the information that cameras record when they take pictures: aperture, shutter speed, flash status... and the time the picture was taken.

Which, as Flickr commenters quickly pointed out, was sometime in 2006. 

So the Israeli MFA quickly changed the EXIF date, but not before I was able to take snapshots of before and after:

I don't know what's most ridiculous: calling these objects weapons or messing up your propaganda.

Links for 09.04.09 to 09.06.09
MEI Editor's Blog: Fun With Google Earth: Middle Eastern Airbase Recon | Middle Eastern airbases and Google Earth fun.
Middle East arms race deals will reach US$100 billion by 2014 - AL SHORFA | I'm always surprised by what comes up on this site, which is run (why? don't ask me) by CENTCOM. And what's with the name, referring to the family of the prophet?
Journalists interrogated over article on Moroccan king - Committee to Protect Journalists | "The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Moroccan authorities to end an investigation of two journalists who have already been interrogated for 40 hours over an article about the health of the king. Authorities have repeatedly pressed them to reveal their sources, according to their lawyer. Editor Ali Anouzla and journalist Bochra Daou of the independent daily Al-Jarida al-Oula ‎were detained on Tuesday and released Thursday night, the journalists' lawyer, Hassan Semlali‎, told CPJ. Semlali said the Rabat Prosecution Office accused them of publishing false news about King Mohamed VI's health in an August 27 article that reported he was ill with a virus."
Note the official story had been that he had suffered from a stomach bug and dehydration. There have been rumors lately that he is taking cortizone (hence the puffy look), which is often prescribed for respiratory troubles.
US citizen deported from Egypt - Yahoo! News | AP's Paul Schemm covers Travis Randall's unexplained deportation. This almost certainly has to do with his pro-Gaza activism, IMHO.
Affaire TelQuel (Suite) + Affaire Al Jarida Al Oula (New) - Comme une bouteille jetée à la mer! | Get the censored issue of Moroccan mag TelQuel via Larbi.

Links for 08.15.09 to 08.16.09
'Operation Cast Lead': A Statistical Analysis | "Al-Haq is pleased to present its report: ‘Operation Cast Lead: A Statistical Analysis‘,  prepared in conjunction with the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights. The report is a culmination of a thorough investigation of the offensive by field workers on the ground. It presents a selection of the data collected of the extent of the killing and the destruction perpetrated by Israeli forces during the attack."
Dan Halutz (danhalutz) on Twitter | How terrifying to receive an email that says, "Dan Halutz is following you on Twitter." But it's not the actual former chief of staff of the IDF who was behind the Dahiya Doctrine. It's actually someone who sees him as what he is: a war criminal.
Egyptians wonder how long aging leader can go on - The Boston Globe | Hosni just keeps on truckin'
How to Cover a Paranoid Regime from Your Laptop - Kelly Golnoush Niknejad | Foreign Policy | The story of tehranbureau.com
Middle East among world's top 10 confectionery markets | More important news brought to you by CENTCOM. WTF?
Somali Pirates vs. Egyptian Fisherman: guess who wins? | Go Egyptian fishermen!
Moroccans debate young people's taste for ready-made Ramadan dishes | This really important story was brought to you by the US taxpayer - this site (which is not altogether bad, but dodgy at times when covering terrorism) is financed by the US military.

Links for 07.22.09 to 07.23.09
Writer banned from ‘DailyKos’ after satirizing settlements | Shame!
More of the Worlds Worst Dictators | Parade.com | What, Hosni only at #20?
מגזין הכיבוש Occupation Magazine | How Israel is hiring students and demobilized soldiers to wage a propaganda war through comments across the web.
Israeli FM wants Hitler photo to mute world pressure - Yahoo! News | Pathetic.
Saudi Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing - WINEP | I hate to link to WINEP's fluff piece for Stuart Levey, but my hatred for the al-Sauds trumps all. Of course they tolerate individuals who donate to extremists, and we still don't know enough about their role in 9/11.
Mubarak invited to Washington in August | The Cable | Egyptian reports had put date at August 15, this says August 17. But will it not be a state visit? Nothing formal announced by White House yet.
Amnesty condemns Saudi anti-terror campaign | World news | The Guardian | This comes after years of hearing about how great the Saudi rehabilitation model is... but many of those arrested in anti-terror campaign are just dissidents.

Links for 07.09.09 to 07.12.09
Arab Reform Bulletin - Snapshot of the Economic Crisis | Intissar Fakir provides an overview of the state of economics in the Arab world in this special issue of ARB on the global economic crisis.
The Crisis of Arab Masculinities « the long slumber | Interesting post from a cool blog I didn't know.
Arab Reform Bulletin - The Current Crisis and Lessons of the 1980s | Steffen Hertog on how GCC countries learned from their 1980s recession and are handling the current crisis more easily.
Dar Al Hayat - Ayoon Wa Azan (The Dreams of the American Empire are Over) | Jihad al-Khazen: "Iran is not a threat to the United States (and nor do I find it to be a threat to Israel). As such, any American who calls to launch a military attack on Iran and destroy Iranian nuclear plants is an Israeli-aligned Likudnik, who is betraying his country to the extent that he would sacrifice young American lives for the sake of a country run by fascists."
Let's Welcome the Muslim Brotherhood! Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | Interesting article discusses information revealed from raids on MB offices, notably on discussion on strategy, debate on whether to have a satellite TV station, and more.
The Israel Project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary | TIP's guide to pro-Israel advocacy. Contains gems like "Americans want a team to cheer for. Let the public know GOOD things about Israel" and "freezing settlements is ethnic cleansing".
TelQuel : ENQUÊTE. Pourquoi et comment Hassan II a islamisé la société | "Why and how Hassan II Islamized society" - secular Moroccan mag looks at state policies of Islamization.

Israeli diplomats told to take offensive in PR war against Iran - Haaretz - Israel News
Israeli diplomats told to take offensive in PR war against Iran - Haaretz - Israel News
Israel prepares worldwide agitprop campaign against Iran, including the subversion of its poor human rights record to advance their agenda on the nuclear program. Then you wonder why human rights groups are easily discredited in countries like Iran: One specific recommendation is that diplomats organize "anti-Iranian events" opposite Iranian embassies worldwide. These could include mock hangings and stonings, since Iran still uses both methods to execute offenders - particularly homosexuals and women who violate its morality laws. "We decided to move from defense to offense," a senior Foreign Ministry official said, explaining the decision to broaden Israel's public diplomacy campaign against Iran to showcase other issues, such as human rights violations, instead of focusing solely on Iran's nuclear program. "We need to show the world who the real Iran is and make sure that the presidential election does not create the illusion that it is a Jeffersonian democracy."