Israel exploits abused woman for propaganda

COGAT found propaganda opportunity in a Palestinian family’s plight.

Israeli propaganda would have you believe that its rule over the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not a belligerent military occupation, but a mechanism by which it is improving Palestinian lives.

And so would, apparently, the European ambassadors frequently seen smiling and shaking hands with the bureaucrats of Israel’s military occupation on social media.

On Thursday, COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation, posted a photo on Facebook said to show a Palestinian woman and her young children, their faces blurred out.

Accompanying the photo were a few paragraphs of text explaining that the woman had asked Israeli police at the Qalandiya military checkpoint (euphemistically called a “crossing” in the COGAT post) for relief from her abusive husband.

COGAT claims in the post that officers pooled money to buy new shoes for the children and gave the family food and a place to rest.

“We felt a duty to help a mother and her children in their distress. This is part of our work,” the post quotes an unnamed policeman as saying.

COGAT claims that the woman “was moved by the help of the Israeli policemen,” and quotes her as telling them: “Thank you very much, I knew that here we would be helped and feel safe.”

Shameless propaganda

It is not the only example of shameless propaganda on COGAT’s social media platforms.

COGAT has produced upbeat videos about the Palestinian olive harvest purporting to show how the body provides coordination so that farmers can access their land – never mind that it is Israel which hinders access in the first place.

COGAT publishes photos of ill Palestinian children, boasting about how it has facilitated their medical treatment in Israeli hospitals or abroad – omitting mention that children in Gaza have died awaiting permission from Israel to access treatment outside the territory.

The exploitation of an apparently abused woman and her children to manicure its image is crude by even Israel’s low standards.

Decades of colonization, displacement and military occupation have undermined and weakened the very foundations of Palestinian society.

Resulting socio-economic instability, “coupled with the loss of many male members of Palestinian society to Israeli detention or violence, has contributed to the stresses of family life and created conditions rife for domestic violence,” according to the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq.

Israel’s occupation has a particular impact on women and girls. It’s among the reasons why ending Zionism is a feminist issue.

“The restrictive measures imposed under occupation have condemned Palestinian women to one of the lowest participation rates and the highest unemployment rates in the world,” according to a recent United Nations report.

“Palestinian women cannot have the same access as men to employment in Israel and settlements, while Israeli barriers to movement and closure policies make it particularly unsafe for women to search for work away from their immediate localities,” the report adds.

“State of fear and horror”

Israel’s occupation threatens Palestinian women’s right to life.

A pregnant Palestinian woman, Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, and her 16-year-old brother, Ibrahim Salih Hassan Taha, were gunned down by Israeli guards at Qalandiya checkpoint last year.

In 2015 a coalition of Palestinian women in Jerusalem called “for the protection of our bodily safety and security” after several women were slain by Israeli soldiers.

They said they live in a “state of fear and horror” as Israel “regularly executes Palestinians in the streets.”

No one should fall for COGAT’s clumsy claims to protect Palestinian women’s safety.

But credit where credit is due. One finds a little more honesty about COGAT’s activities on its Arabic-language page.

In August, it openly threatened the lives of a Palestinian family, including four women and 12 children, living in an apartment building in Gaza.

COGAT said – in contradiction to international law – that the building could be considered a legitimate military target because, it claimed, a tunnel had been built in the vicinity.

Palestinian rights groups Adalah and Al-Mezan said that Israel’s threats against the family and their home and attacks on civilians in general “constitute overt violations of international law.”

The everyday reality of home demolitions, night raids and other rights violations tend not to be highlighted by COGAT on social media.

There is nothing benign about Israel’s military rule over millions of Palestinians – despite COGAT’s efforts to rebrand it otherwise.

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Israeli propaganda scrapes right through the bottom of the barrel, only to reveal another brimming barrel underneath. The U.S. occupation forces have long been promoted in the American media as liberators of Afghan women and girls. Countless women and girls have died in that war launched and sustained from Washington, just as Palestinian women and girls have their lives plagued and ruined under Israel's reign of terror. Colonizers and their imperialist brethren always pose as morally superior beings whose aim is altruistic, devoted to the relief of suffering among "less civilized" peoples. To this end, they jail, shoot, torture, rob, degrade, starve, expel and besiege the beneficiaries of their humanitarian concern. And that always includes women and children.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.