For the duration of its existence, Israel has busied itself with creating “facts on the ground”—for the ultimate purpose of masking its violent usurpation of Palestinian land and supplanting reality with a cheerier narrative of justice, democracy, and other good stuff.
In one crucial preliminary stage of the disappearing act, the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 entailed the eradication of some 500 Palestinian villages—in addition to 10,000 or so Palestinian lives—and the expulsion from Palestine of approximately three-quarters of a million people.
And ethnic cleansing is hardly a thing of the past: now, nearly seven decades later, Palestinians continue to be slaughtered at regular intervals, as their remaining bits of territory compete with the proliferation of Israeli facts on the ground.
Meanwhile, Israel’s perverse interpretation of the “right of return” boils down to a situation in which Palestinians from Palestine can’t go back but any Jew in the world can settle in Israel (granted, Jews with black skin have a fantastically tougher time).
With the advent of the internet era a whole new terrain opened up for conquest and exploitation—and Israel’s valiant propagandists have wasted no time in disseminating what we might call “facts on the net.”
Google “capital of Israel,” for example, and you’re presented with the answer “Jerusalem” along with a mini-photo collage, map, and the invitation to “plan a trip and points of interest.”
This despite the fact that not a single country in the world—Israel notwithstanding—recognizes Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Of course, there’s also plenty of anti-Israeli material that pops up on the internet—which is why the Israeli entity is fortunate to have on hand squadrons of web-savvy politicians and other defenders ready to pounce at the slightest affront.
This past June, Armageddon was narrowly averted when the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) advertised a job opening in “Jerusalem, Palestine (State of).” Following a brief panic, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon reassured the world via Twitter that the location description had been rectified—to simply “Jerusalem”—and warned UNOPS that the organisation “must ensure that such inappropriate behaviour not occur again.”
And while the internet has obviously granted greater visibility to the Palestinian side of the story for those internet users open to processing reality, the technology has also made it extremely easy to verify just how overly committed the western establishment media is to the notion of Israel’s “right to defend itself”—an arrangement that often seems to translate into a carte blanche for mass murder.
News and politics aside, the internet offers plenty of opportunities for even apolitical navigators of the web to encounter and absorb information that subtly normalises the Israeli occupation while whitewashing its brutality.
To pick one of a bazillion examples, Expedia’s UK website offers “gay holidays” in Tel Aviv complete with the exuberant description: “Israel has long championed equal rights and Tel Aviv has a reputation as its coolest city, so the LGBT scene has found a natural home in this stylish metropolis.”
To be sure, apartheid is super-compatible with equal rights, in addition to being very stylish.
Israel is also habitually lauded as a pioneer in all sorts of neat technological fields; see Business Insider’s tribute to “the 21 coolest tech startups in Israel,” or all of the hullaballoo over the Israeli firm that’s going to solve global thirst by turning air into water (as Israel continues to hijack Palestinian aquifers and otherwise usurp water supplies), or the copious disinformation tied up in Israel’s marketed image as green-tech mecca.
Also check out the Google Careers listings for Tel Aviv and Haifa, where “in keeping with Israel’s position as ‘Start-up Nation,’ you’ll… find an incubator for innovative, entrepreneurial businesses” and Google offices with “unique perks” like a “music room for jamming and a rooftop deck with gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea.”
Of course, there’s also a lot to be said for Israeli technologies that obliterate Palestinians with impressive frequency and render existence for the non-dead decidedly unpleasant (try living under a swarm of drones for a day and rate that “unique perk” on a scale of one to ten).
Israel, it seems, has something for everyone: from entrepreneurs to tech people to hipsters to nature lovers to rollerbladers to beach bums to food enthusiasts to religious tourists to anti-terror fantasy camp attendees to participants in illegal settlement wine tours.
Something for everyone, that is, except for those whose very identity poses a threat to Israel’s version of history and its layers upon layers of facts on the ground.
The ground, after all, is Palestinian—and that’s a fact.