“George Orwell in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” called the Big Lie “doublethink”. Doublethink uses “logic against logic” and “repudiate[s] morality while laying claim to it.” The Big Lie abolishes nuances, ambiguities and contradictions that can plague conscience. It is designed to create cognitive dissonance. It permits no gray zones. The world is black and white, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous. The Big Lie allows believers to take comfort — a comfort they are desperately seeking — in their own moral superiority even as they abrogate all morality. It feeds, what Edward Bernays called, the “logic-proof compartment of dogmatic adherence.” All effective propaganda, Bernays writes, targets and builds upon these irrational “psychological habits.”
Israeli supporters thirst for these lies. They do not want to know the truth. The truth would force them to examine their racism, self-delusion and complicity in oppression, murder and genocide.
Most importantly, the Big Lie sends an ominous message to the Palestinians. The Big Lie states that Israel will wage a campaign of mass terror and genocide and never take responsibility for its crimes. The Big Lie obliterates the truth. It obliterates the dignity of human thought and human action. It obliterates facts. It obliterates history. It obliterates comprehension. It obliterates hope. It reduces all communication to the language of violence. When oppressors speak to the oppressed exclusively through indiscriminate violence, the oppressed answer through indiscriminate violence.
The cartoonist Joe Sacco and I watched Israeli soldiers taunt and shoot small boys in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza. We interviewed the boys and their parents afterwards in the hospital. In a few cases we attended their funerals. We had their names. We had the dates and locations of the shootings.
Israel’s response was to say that we were not in Gaza. We had made it up.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Defense Minister and Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokesperson immediately blamed the killing of the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in 2022, on Palestinian gunmen. Israel disseminated footage of a Palestinian fighter they said shot and killed the journalist, who was wearing a flak jacket and helmet marked “PRESS.”
Benny Gantz, who was at the time Defense Minister, stated that “no [Israeli] gunfire was directed at the journalist,” and that the Israeli army had “seen footage of indiscriminate shooting by Palestinian terrorists”.
This lie was peddled until video footage examined by B’Tselem, The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, identified the location of the Palestinian gunman depicted in the video. The video, the human rights organization found, was taken in a different location from where Shireen was killed.
When Israel is caught lying, as it was with the murder of Shireen, it promises an investigation. But these investigations are a sham. Impartial investigations into the hundreds of killings by soldiers and Jewish settlers of Palestinians are rarely carried out. Perpetrators are almost never brought to trial or held accountable. The pattern of Israeli obfuscation is predictable. So is the collusion of nearly all of the corporate media along with Republican and Democratic politicians. U.S. politicians decried the murder of Shireen and dutifully repeated the old mantra, calling for a “thorough investigation” by the army that carried out the crime.
A few months later, Israel admitted that there was a “high possibility” that an Israeli soldier killed the journalist by accident, but by then the eruption of street protests and rage over the killing of the journalist was over and her murder largely forgotten. “