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A Critique of Pure Hasbara

by | Jun 13, 2024

A Critique of Pure Hasbara

by | Jun 13, 2024

depositphotos 271758114 s

Hasbara is a central feature of genocidal Zionism:

“Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has successfully created a new illogic of its own; an illogic that has made the illegal seem legal, the immoral appear moral and the undemocratic sound democratic. It has masterfully marketed a number of myths that have become a part of the political and mainstream media.”

As the marketing of Israel’s mythology, “hasbara” has been charitably characterized as “public diplomacy,” less charitably viewed as “propaganda,” and roughly translated as “explanation” or “explaining.”

Familiarity with the historian of reason Mark Ajita’s work might suggest that hasbara is Zionism’s version of Foucault’s “pli,” Deleuze’s “fold,” Heidegger’s “dasein,” Schopenhauer’s “will,” Hegel’s “spirit,” Hume’s “self,” Descartes’ “cogito,” or Kant’s “pure reason.”

Hasbara can certainly be viewed as the rational cognition of the Israeli state. Such a view requires us to relinquish the rationalist delusion. As the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt put it in his book, The Righteous Mind:

“Western philosophy has been worshipping reason and distrusting the passions for thousands of years. There’s a direct line running from Plato through Immanuel Kant to Lawrence Kohlberg. I’ll refer to this worshipful attitude throughout this book as the rationalist delusion.”

It’s this “worshipful attitude” that led people to deify reason during the French Revolution, to fetishize reason during the Objectivist defense of individualism—unless the U.S. empire needed to kill some individuals—and to (now this is really sick) name a magazine after it.

By the way, if you lean conservative and you find yourself at an academic soiree and you’re imbibing whisky and you feel compelled to reference a Jordan Peterson book, don’t do that. Reference The Righteous Mind instead. You’re welcome.

Hasbara is Israel’s rational cognition; the state’s reason. Which is not a renunciation of reason. Reason is an inherent part of our humanity. (For Kant, rational autonomy is what’s human about us. A clever Kantian could make the case that in addition to legally killing children, the IDF hasn’t even been killing humans because their rational autonomy has not yet developed).

There is good reason to recognize reason’s reality and its worth. As Steven Pinker said in Rationality (a book that respects but doesn’t worship reason):

“As long as people are arguing and persuading and then evaluating and accepting or rejecting the arguments—as opposed to, say, bribing or threatening each other into mouthing some words—it’s too late to ask about the value of reason. They’re already reasoning, and have tacitly accepted its value. When it comes to arguing against reason, as soon as you show up, you lose.” [Link Added]

There is, however, good reason to avoid worshipping reason. Haidt explored this within the domain of morality:

“Moral intuitions arise automatically and almost instantaneously, long before moral reasoning has a chance to get started, and those first intuitions tend to drive our later reasoning. If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you’ll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you. But if you think about moral reasoning as a skill we humans evolved to further our social agendas—to justify our own actions and to defend the teams we belong to—then things will make a lot more sense.” [Emphasis Added]

Haidt deployed powerful metaphors to depict the relationship between intuitive cognition and rational cognition. Intuitive cognition is an elephant and rational cognition is its rider. That’s a good one. An even better one for us is intuitive cognition is the state policy and rational cognition is the state spokesperson. Haidt said:

“If you want to see post hoc reasoning in action, just watch the press secretary of a president or prime minister take questions from reporters. No matter how bad the policy, the secretary will find some way to praise or defend it. Reporters then challenge assertions and bring up contradictory quotes from the politician, or even quotes straight from the press secretary on previous days. Sometimes you’ll hear an awkward pause as the secretary searches for the right words, but what you’ll never hear is: ‘Hey, that’s a great point! Maybe we should rethink this policy.’ Press secretaries can’t say that because they have no power to make or revise policy. They’re told what the policy is, and their job is to find evidence and arguments that will justify the policy to the public. And that’s one of the rider’s main jobs: to be the full-time in-house press secretary for the elephant.”

The elephant in the room, of course, is Zionism. Hasbara is its rider, its press secretary. Once we understand this, folks like John Kirby, Matthew Miller, and Karine Jean-Pierre make a lot more sense. More specifically, their jobs make a lot more sense.

Zionism wages a genocidal campaign of mass murder. Hasbara says Israel has a right to defend itself.

Zionism weaponizes starvation against a civilian population. Hasbara says vital food aid is getting into Gaza.

Zionism bans antibiotics and anesthesia from entering Gaza so as to more sadistically torture and torment cute, little babies recently born into the Zionist engineered hellscape. Hasbara says those are “dual use” items that could provide aid to the terrorists.

Zionism incinerates women and children and men of all ages in an area designated “safe” by Zionism. Hasbara says mistakes were made. Or Hamas commanders were meeting at a “command and control center” amidst “human shields.” Or those civilians deserved it. Take your pick. And there’s also (my personal favorite) we did it, too!

Hasbara exists to explain how the Zionist project, born in violence and ethnic cleansing, maintained by a military occupation that features colonization, rape, torture, assassinations, military courts for children, thousands of hostages, and the control of resources (like clean water and medicine) is a logical, moral, and democratic beacon of light that stands as America’s greatest ally.

As the kids say, they is tricking us.

John Weeks

John Weeks

John focuses on the application of “Corporate Agent Theory” to the State. He argues that, despite their lack of phenomenal consciousness, states have their own beliefs, desires and intentions. Above all, states desire war.

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