The Israel Narrative Is Crumbling Because Of Phone Cameras And The Internet

The Israel Narrative Is Crumbling Because Of Phone Cameras And The Internet

Written by Caitlin Johnstone

“Twenty-four people, including nine children, were killed in Gaza overnight, most of them in Israeli strikes,” reads a new report from AP.

Nine children, killed with the help of United States funding to the tune of $3.8 billion a year.

Remember kids, the US loves Muslims and just wants to protect their human rights.

The Monday night airstrikes were in response to rocket attacks by Gaza resistance groups which had reportedly injured six Israelis, and those rocket attacks were in turn were a response to a deluge of Israeli police brutality footage in Jerusalem in preceding days. Electronic Intifada reports:

This came at the end of a day of violence that began in occupied East Jerusalem, where Israeli forces assaulted worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, injuring hundreds.


Scenes of brutality in Jerusalem generated outrage and solidarity among Palestinians and around the world.


The military wing of the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas issued an ultimatum giving Israel an hour – until 6 pm local time – to withdraw its forces from al-Aqsa and the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and free detainees.


When the deadline passed, resistance groups in Gaza fired volleys of rockets towards Jerusalem for the first time since the summer 2014 war, prompting celebrations from some Palestinians.

Jennine | Save Sheikh Jarrah From Evictions


This is a Twitter bot that tracks changes and edits to stories in the New York Times. Take a look at this and tell me there isn’t systemic anti-Palestinian bias in media.

Before: The police entered the compound and fired rubber-tipped bullets. Anger was already building in response to the looming expulsion of several Palestinian families from their homes in the city.
After: Gaza militants fired rockets toward Jerusalem and the Israeli police fought with Palestinian protesters in an escalation of violence after a week of increasing tensions.


The mass media are working furiously to spin this in a way that rivals my satire piece from the other day. The New York Times has been cartoonishly re-writing its own reporting in a desperate attempt to make Israel look like an innocent victim of unprovoked attacks instead of the obvious aggressor against people protesting a brutal apartheid regime backed by an entire empire. The New York Post falsely reported that the deaths on Monday were caused by “Airstrikes from Hamas militants” (when did Hamas get an air force?) when sharing an article which falsely implied that those fatalities were inflicted by both sides. DW News framed its headline in a way that suggested the nine children killed had been involved in “fighting” against Israeli forces, and the word “clashes” is being thrown about willy nilly to describe a very one-sided assault.

But it isn’t working.

Social media is teeming with viral video footage of police assaulting peaceful worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, of Israelis cheering and chanting “Yimach shemam (may their names be erased)” at the sight of a fire near the mosque, of Israeli soldiers arresting Palestinian protesters using the signature knee-on-neck maneuver made famous by the murder of George Floyd, many of which have millions of views. Mainstream politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are putting out statements explicitly condemning Israel as the aggressor in these attacks, and the White House is facing some actual adversarial journalism for once regarding its refusal to denounce the killing of Palestinian children and its absurd position that Palestinians have no right to defend themselves.

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This is the most mainstream that criticism of Israeli apartheid oppression has ever been in my lifetime, and as more and more mainstream human rights groups begin acknowledging the reality of that oppression it’s only getting more so.

Whenever I say something critical of Israel I always get readers saying “Oh man, you’re going to get attacked so bad for this, dissent on Israel is not tolerated,” but quite honestly that hasn’t been my experience at all and I think it’s an outdated perception. In the few years I’ve been at this commentary gig I’ve found I get far more aggressive pushback when I criticize establishment narratives regarding Russia or China, or even Syria and Venezuela, than I do when I criticize Israel. The pushback is there of course, but it’s not nearly as virulent as what I’m used to.

There are a lot of factors contributing to the growing awareness of Israel’s brutality, but I think the main reason is very simple: there are only so many viral videos of unconscionable acts that can be dismissed with “Actually this is way more complicated than it looks.” It is not more complicated than it looks. Clearly. It looks bad because it is bad.

At a recent video appearance for the International Festival of Whistleblowing, Dissent and Accountability, Israel-based journalist Jonathan Cook described the changes he’s seen as smartphones and internet access made Palestinians less dependent on the work of sympathetic activists and gave them the ability to directly share footage of their own abuse. Cook says the following:

Sadly most corporate journalists paid little attention to the work of these activists. In any case, their role was quickly snuffed out. That was partly because Israel learnt that shooting a few of them served as a very effective deterrent, warning others to keep away.


But it was also because as technology became cheaper and more accessible – eventually ending up in mobile phones that everyone was expected to have – Palestinians could record their own suffering more immediately and without mediation.


Israel’s dismissal of the early, grainy images of the abuse of Palestinians by soldiers and settlers – as “Pallywood” (Palestinian Hollywood) – became ever less plausible, even to its own supporters. Soon Palestinians were recording their mistreatment in high definition and posting it directly to YouTube.

Seeing is believing, and a video is difficult to narrative manage. The dominant narrative is no longer solely in the hands of propaganda outlets like The New York Times which can spin everything that happens with a pro-Israel slant, it’s being spread all over the internet in a medium that is far more objective than print.

This is so effective because, unlike so many other ugly aspects of the US-centralized power alliance, Israeli apartheid is not some covert government operation being run by highly trained agents and manipulators. Those responsible for carrying out its day-to-day abuses are just ordinary civilians, police and soldiers who have not been trained on the sinister craft of perception management. Who aren’t acutely aware that it’s bad optics to tell a Palestinian family on camera that if you don’t steal their house then someone else will. Who don’t have bad PR at the forefront of their attention when they’re cheering as they shoot Palestinian protesters. Who just react to the racist nationalist propaganda they’ve been ingesting all their lives instead of considering how difficult it will be to narrative manage a video of them cheering and chanting “may their names be erased” at the sight of flames.

Awareness is spreading of Israeli apartheid brutality for the same reason awareness is spreading of US police brutality: the internet combined with smartphone cameras. Seeing is believing. Seeing brings change.

This is why the powerful are working so hard to censor the internet. If they can’t control what our dominant narratives are going to be, they will not be able to rule us.

Will they succeed? Jonathan Cook’s aforementioned speech concludes with some words of hope and encouragement:

The establishment are being forced into a game of whack-a-mole with us. Each time they bully or dismantle a platform we use, another one – like Substack – springs up to replace it. That is because there will always be journalists determined to find a way to peek behind the curtain to tell us what they found there. And there will always be audiences who want to learn what is behind the curtain. Supply and demand are on our side.


The constant acts of intimidation and violence by political and media elites to crush media pluralism in the name of “democratic values” will serve only to further expose the hypocrisy and bad faith of the corporate media and its hired hands.


We must keep struggling because the struggle itself is a form of victory.


Palestinian Infant Sustains Punching-Related Injury In Violent Clash With Israeli Police

Palestinian Infant Sustains Punching-Related Injury In Violent Clash With Israeli Police

Written by Caitlin Johnstone

Palestinian Infant Sustains Punching-Related Injury In Violent Clash With Israeli Police
Written by Caitlin Johnstone

Johnstone, May 8, 2021

Palestinian Infant Sustains Punching-Related Injury In Violent Clash With Israeli Police

JERUSALEM — A four-month old Palestinian infant has sustained fist-related injuries to the face on Saturday during a violent clash with Israeli police officers.

Early reports are unclear whether the violence was instigated by the police or the baby girl. Also unknown is whether the child’s injuries were incurred by being struck or by attacking the officers’ fists with her face.

The knuckle-associated trauma occurred when violence broke out between the infant and several officers in riot gear in East Jerusalem, where clashes have been occurring due to rising anger over evictions of Palestinian families on land claimed by Jewish settlers. Both sides lay claim to the disputed properties, with the families arguing that the houses are their homes that they live in, and the settlers arguing that they were given the houses by decree in ancient scriptures authored by an invisible omnipotent deity.

Video footage of the incident went viral on social media minutes before being deleted from all platforms, leading to calls for peace from US officials.

“Very concerned about this violent clash, both sides should have de-escalated,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a Twitter response to the video, adding, “Violence is never the answer, no matter your age.”

“We call on all babies to obey the rules-based international order,” added Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Asked for comment on the incident during a Saturday interview with NNC’s Ray Theon, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that “It’s not so much about the what of these happenings, but the how. Sometimes the how gets lost in the what, and then the what gets obscured by the why, and the why gets eaten by the who, and who even am I anyway? Who is anybody? Ultimately nobody knows. It’s a philosophical mystery, just like that incident with the baby.”

“Israel has a right to defend itself from terrorists of any developmental stage,” the Israel Police told NNC when asked for comment.

Les Overton, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank American-Israeli Center for Strategic Genocide, says both sides have been equally affected by this latest wave of violence, with Palestinians sustaining numerous fatalities and serious injuries and Israeli law enforcement suffering emotional discomfort and great inconvenience.

“It’s just a really perplexing situation,” Overton said. “On one hand you’ve got the Palestinians suffering under what more and more human rights groups are calling an ‘apartheid regime’, but on the other hand you’ve got the Israeli government and violent far-right extremists suffering from a desire to not have Palestinians living near them anymore. It’s hard to say who’s in the wrong here.”

“While Palestinians claim they have a right to live with basic human dignity in the homes they’ve spent their entire lives in, Israelis contend that those demands are invalidated by a religious text written thousands of years ago,” Overton added. “It’s a real pickle.”

“But let’s be real here,” Overton said. “Who among us, at some point in their lives, hasn’t needed to punch a baby in self-defense?”

The Holy Spirit: God at Work in the World by William Simerly

“William Simerly has attended King University since the Spring of 2019 obtaining a B.S. in Religious Studies. In addition to his course work, William is currently the Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Knoxville, TN. William is a postulant for the priesthood in the Episcopal Church and will begin his seminary studies in the fall of 2021.  William’s time at King has deeply impacted his discernment to ordained ministry and he is grateful for King University and the Bible and Religion Department for their role in his education.”

The Holy Spirit: God at Work in the World

Written by William Simerly, King University

            The Holy Spirit has been, since the beginning of Christianity, a source of deep affection and deep division.  The faithful have taken comfort from the beautiful descriptions of the Spirit found in the Bible throughout the millennia, while at the same time, theologians have debated what, who, and how the Spirit works among God’s people. Wars, schism, and more have been the result of these theological debates. In this paper, I hope not to cause a war or schism, but instead to shed light on how the Holy Spirit has moved and worked among God’s people and how it continues to do so to this day. There are two important ways of examining the Spirit: examining the nature of the Spirit, and the work of the Spirit.  I will start by examining the nature of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit, by its nature, is a “spirit.” It is not a concrete thing by its original nature. The Spirit is however a person of the Trinity. Karl Barth states, “…the spirit is himself God, the same one God who is also the Father and the Son; he acts both as Creator and as Reconciler, as the Lord of the covenant” (Barth). The Bible, when describing the Spirit, always uses non-living, physical means when describing the Spirits appearance or perception by humans. Genesis 1: 1-2 states, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” In this first depiction of the Spirit, it is portrayed as a, “wind from God,” hovering over the primal waters of creation. However, this is not the only place in scripture where the Spirit of God is described as a wind. In Acts 2:1-2 it sates, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” These two separate depiction of the Holy Spirit as a wind help to illustrate the fact that the Spirit found in Genesis is the same Spirit and God found in Acts with the birth of the Church on the day of Pentecost. By the Spirit being portrayed as a wind, it allows the reader to begin to understand the fluidity that it has by its very nature.

The Spirit is not only described as a wind in scripture, but also as the very breath of God. In Genesis 2:7 it states, “… then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”  This scene portraying God as breathing the very breath of life into Adam portrays the Spirit as the giver of life. In John 20:22-23 it says, “…he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” Both of these passages from scripture portray the first and second persons of the trinity breathing onto humans and imparting the Spirit to those humans. This shows ultimately the power of the Spirit: the power to give life to Adam, and power to the apostles to do the work that Jesus has given them to do.

The Holy Spirit is also most famously described in the Bible as a fire. Exodus 13:21-22 states, “The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” This depiction of God leading the people by day and night in a pillar of cloud and fire is one of the most recognizable depictions of God’s Spirit from the Old Testament. The Spirit is most famously depicted as fire in the Book of Acts. Acts 2:3-4 says, “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” This scene from the Day of Pentecost and the birth of the Church illustrates the Spirit as tongues of fire resting on the heads of the gathered disciples, and the Spirit allows them to speak in other languages and share the Good News with those gathered in Jerusalem.  These two separate biblical stories show the Spirit as an agent of renewal. The Spirit led the Israelites out of Egypt and into a new life, and in Acts the Spirit gave the apostles the ability to build the church and renew the faith of the whole world in the God of Abraham and Jesus.

The second way that the Holy Spirit can be examined is by its work throughout the scripture. Hildegard of Bingen, a church mystic and writer wrote the following about the work of the Holy Spirit:

“I, the highest and fiery power, have kindled every spark of life, and I emit                        nothing that is deadly. With my lofty wings I fly above the globe: With                              wisdom I have rightly put the universe in order. I, the fiery life of divine                            essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the                                waters, and I burn in the sun, moon and stars. With every breeze, as with                             invisible life that contains everything, I awake everything to life.”

This depiction of the Spirit helps to put a lens on the rest of the depictions of the work of the Spirit found in the Bible.

One of the very first actions the Holy Spirit does in the Bible is found in the Book of Genesis. As quoted earlier, the Spirit was with God at the beginning of creation. The Spirit was God’s agent of creation, hovering over the waters and bringing life to the world. The Gospel of Luke also portrays the Spirit as bringing life to the world, this time in the conception of Jesus, “The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God’” (Luke 1:35). Both of these biblical passages show the Holy Spirit to be the agent of creation and the incarnation. The Spirit brought life to the whole creation and also conceived new life in Jesus the Christ that would eventually renew the life of the world and bring about the Kingdom of God.

Another way that the Spirit works in the Bible and in our world today is that it leads us. In the Book of Exodus, the Spirit of God led the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt into a new life in a new land.  The Spirit did this by being a physical pillar of cloud and fire. John 14:12-13 states, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” As Jesus says in this quotation from John, the Spirit will lead the apostles in their teaching and will lead the church.  Jesus was not done teaching and God was not done revealing truths about himself, so the Spirit was sent to us to continue this revelation from God to this day.

Finally and most importantly, the Holy Spirit is the bearer of Good News. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus reads from a portion of the prophet Isaiah, “He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”” (Luke 4:17-21).  This episode from scripture illustrates how the Spirit is the bearer of Good News. The Spirit seeks out and finds those on the margins and calls the Church to invite them in and make the family of God broader and wider.  The Spirit gave Jesus the power to begin his ministry of reconciliation and sharing God’s love. That same Spirit calls us to the same ministry today.

In conclusion, the Holy Spirit is a complicated and compelling subject.  The third person of the trinity has been given many names and has done many things throughout time, but to me the greatest of these is “comforter.”  The Holy Spirit comforts and guides the Church on our mission of reconciliation; a mission of reconciliation to God and each other.

Works Cited

Barth, Karl. Evangelical Theology: an Introduction. W.B. Eerdmans, 1980.

The Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Version, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2001.