Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hasbara drills deep

The funeral of princess Diana in 1997, the Chilean miners' rescue in 2010: Two events of death and life that were broadcasted worldwide, with a huge multi-cultural community gathering before the screens.
What is so fascinating about 33 miners in Chile being rescued one by one in a capsule pulled through a narrow tube? Why do people care more about miners from Chile than the 1.5 mio people stuck in Gaza, not for two months but for years or the 20 millions people in Pakistan who became homeless after the devastating floods this summer?

It's the distance, stupid! says Mario Gmuer, a media psychologist from Switzerland. Modern media - television, the internet - have removed space and distance and allow for a mass cheering, almost a mass hysteria, for events on the other side of the globe. The entire world is in a "we-state", in a collective feeling of global identity.

So what is it with Chile then? Chile has, again according to Mario Gmuer, the right distance, the medium distance if you want. It's not too close, so looking at it would hurt discretion, would make you a gawper, but also not too far away - culturally, politically -  so we are not touched anymore. It's the perfect case for a high value high on emotions show: South American rough guys using high tech gear to go up against the evils of nature. It's the real reality show where at the end you have two sorts of heroes: the saved and the savers.

And Gaza the 1.5 million people trapped by the Israeli siege? Is this not a reality that asks for our empathy, for actions to be taken? The world, it seems, has given up on it. They are guilty of being what they are: a people looking for a decent life, searching for the American dream, the pursuit of happiness, having voted for the wrong party, Hamas, in a world that made them believe that democracy means free choice.
How to continue with Gaza? Honestly I don't know. It seems that the powers in and outside the Middle East are happy with what they see and have. It seems that we also have reached some kind of end-state. Gaza under siege (and the people so besieged that they are suprisingly unrestless); West Bank slowly eaten up by Israeli settlements; Jerusalem the undivided capital of one part of the population of one state (the one part that will accept to swear the Jewish oath of shame); and in Syria and Egypt regimes built for eternity, justifying their endless grip on power, their never ending emergency rule, with the evergreen threat Israel is posing.

An end-state? Or rather a state at its end? Yes in the case of Israel: Gaza is trapped, but so is Israel. Political maneuvering, room for negotations and compromise is pratically impossible and absent. Israel is hostage to the orthodox settlers who occupy the place - the West Bank - where Lieberman and Ayalon would like to depose the Israeli Arabs to finally have their "rassenreiner" state, ethnically clean. (Sounds like Nazi to you? How come?) And removing the settlers from the West Bank to establish the "Lebensraum" for the Arabs, for the Palestinians, will lead to civil war, an end-state in itself.

And in Lebanon, the other wild card in the region? The state has not even started yet! President Sleiman had his hands full to press and trick Ahmadinejad not to throw stones at Israel when visiting the South of Lebanon last week. Well, the interest of Ahmadinejad in this propaganda stunt had somewhat dwindled after learning of his bad luck: the same day he visited Lebanon the miners visited the world again, like aliens from the underworld, monopolizing the TV screens, ousting Mahmoud the Conspirator. Ah yes, the Lebanese state: its capital is Damascus.

Now what is the connection between all of this. Just yesterday, the Israeli tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov (sic!) invited the saved Chilean miners to spend Christmas - navidad - in the holy land that is Israel. The Israeli hasbara is at a world class level, I admit. They never miss an opportunity to secure a piece of someone else's cake!