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A little more than two weeks ago Hamas launched their daring raid into Israel, killing many Israeli soldiers and civilians. The Arab – Israeli story has been on the back burner for a long time, due to relative calm between the various sides. The imperial wars in the region have ended, so the American political class has not had a reason to talk about how much they love Israel recently. This attack unleashed a great deal of pent-up Israel enthusiasm from the Cloud People.
Right after the raid, the Israel lobby in the United States swung into action, launching a massive public relations campaign in support of Israel. There was a contest between the chattering skulls over who could be the most extreme in their demands for vengeance on behalf of Israel. Like the response to the death of George Floyd, the reactions from all corners of the managerial class felt coordinated. The usual suspects were all using the same canned lines on social media.
That may explain why this massive public relations campaign has not had the effect the narrative writers expected. Two weeks on and most Americans are more interested in the NFL scores than Israel and Gaza. Then you have the large pro-Palestinian protests breaking out all over the West. Washington had about ten thousand people turn up to wave the Palestinian flag. Famous people like Dave Chappelle and Greta Thunberg have made anti-Zionism fashionable again.
When you look at the polling, support for Israel is just over fifty percent, but this is due to unwavering support from old white people. Outside of that group support ranges from “a pox on both sides” to mild opposition to Israel. Among the young and left-wing, the Palestinians are becoming the cool new victim group. College campuses are suddenly having to deal with students supporting the people their donors are trying to kill over in the Gaza strip. It is, as the cool kids say, problematic.
Clearly, the all-out media blitz has not had the expected result. The political class is still playing its role, as if the people are clamoring for it. Nikki Haley is running around promising to blow up the world if elected president. She wants to rename the Defense Department into the Offense Department. While she is clearly a psychopathic simpleton, her echolalic babbling is falling on deaf ears. It turns out that even the sorts of people who care about GOP politics are not moved by Israel.
One reason for this is that this media relations campaign looks like the public relations campaigns around previous moral panics. This looks like the George Floyd hoax or the Russian collusion hoax or the white nationalist hoax. It is the same actors playing the same roles with a new bogeyman. This style of gaslighting can only work so many times before gaslighting fatigue sets in with the public. These calls to arms over the latest bogeyman are becoming background noise.
There is also the fact that there is simply too much information and too many people skilled in peddling their own reality. The Israel lobby has billions of your money to spend on these campaigns, but there is a massive guerilla army of online volunteers working to counter them. The internet is full of pics showing bombed out buildings and dead Arab children, along with carefully constructed context. The misinformation war has been joined by this volunteer army supporting the Arabs.
Of course, there is the moral problem at the heart of it all. Yes, Hamas killing women and children in that raid is terrible. Yes, Israelis have a right to be angry and want retribution for the terrible act. No, revenge and retribution are not things Westerners have been conditioned to accept. Pulverizing Gaza as revenge for the raid strikes most Western people as barbaric. Appeals to our empathy is not going to change the fact that Israeli is blowing up hospitals now.
There may be another factor, something that underlies all of these other reasons for the failed media campaign. That is the reputation of all public people has collapsed due to their constant lying and tolerance of obvious lies. All the people chanting “Death to Gaza” are people who sat quietly while their fellows told outlandish whoppers about Trump, his voters, white people, Covid and many other topics. Many of these people have enthusiastically held abhorrent positions.
A good rule of life is to assume that people who lied to you in the past are lying to you in the present and they will lie to you in the future. The public square has been so polluted by official lies and people willing to repeat them in public that many people now assume everything is a lie. If Ben Shapiro was happy to lie about Covid, why would he be telling the truth about Israel? Why would anyone accept what the Biden administration has to say about anything at this point?
This is an underappreciated aspect of what happens to people when they transition from a high trust society to a low trust society. Send a middle-class man to prison and he will be victimized by the system until he gets smart. He then goes to the extreme, assuming that he can trust no one. In time, he figures out that he can trust certain people, but he can never trust the system. Low trust societies have the same sort of trust relationships that you will see in a high security prison.
That may be what we are seeing in America. For some people, it is assumed that everything from the system is a lie. Old people still trust the system, but young people have no faith in it. On the other hand, many people are learning to trust those who have earned their trust. All the highly choregraphed media in the world is no match for the word of that guy who has proven to be on the level. In fact, the media campaigns are creating the environment for this trust model to flourish.
This is not a novelty, as much of the world functions this way. In the Arab world, for example, not one accepts official sources at face value. It is assumed that the official story is cover for the real story. Arabs love conspiracy theories. In Eastern Europe, people treat politics as a separate sphere with separate rules. Seventy years of communism taught them to understand that the people in charge serve their own interests, not the interests of the people.
It is only in the West where people came to expect honesty from the ruling class and consistency in the rules of the system. The civic nationalist concept of good government is a WEIRD concept. The term WEIRD here means Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. It works as long as the societies and their ruling elites remain demographically Western. That is obviously no longer the case, so it is no wonder that the West is evolving a new model.
In the end, the aphorism credited to Lincoln, “You can fool all people some of the time and some people all the time. But you can never fool all people all the time” works better as a warning, rather than a description. A ruling class that keeps trying to fool most of the people most of the time ends up fooling themselves into thinking they are fooling everyone all the time. The end result is a ruling class that has the trust of no one and must rule by force until the end.
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