There are two wars going on simultaneously against Muslims: the military war and propaganda war. The imperialists and Zionists not only occupy Muslim lands but they also want to control their minds by manipulating the use of language.
Imperialists and Zionists not only occupy other peoples’ lands militarily but they also want to control their minds and thinking. Issues are framed in such a way as to present the victims as aggressors, and vice versa. The real aggressors — imperial America and Zionist Israel — are projected as paragons of virtue working to establish peace and security in the world even while they indulge in wanton killing of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people.
The Zionist state of Israel can do no wrong. When it kills Palestinians, one hears the refrain, “Israel has the right to defend itself.” Do the Palestinians have any right to defend themselves, protect their families and lands from the marauding Zionists? Why are the people of Syria not allowed to defend themselves and their country and why are so many countries involved in overthrowing a legitimately elected government? The list goes on.
There is a vast array of vocabulary that has been created to justify imperialist-Zionist aggression and violence against other people. Two stand out: the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians and the “will of the international community.” There is no peace for Palestinians but the “peace process” must continue. Closely related to this is the new concept created over the last few years: “the right to protect (R2P).” Who gave these predatory powers this right and what is the basis for determining who gets protection and who is denied?
The people of Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Afghan-istan — to name a few — would love to get some protection but perish the thought. They are targeted with missiles, rockets and bombs as well as by unleashing mercenary terrorists in the case of Syria and Iraq.
The notion of the “international community” needs further elaboration. Who precisely is included in this group: are the majority of countries in the world part of the “international community”? The simple answer is no. Generally speaking, the “international community” refers to the US, Britain, France, Zionist Israel and occasionally Germany and perhaps one or two more European states. Russia and China are included in this group only if they accept whatever the US and Zionist Israel demand. The rest of the world’s opinions and rights do not matter.
Equally serious is the matter of who is branded a terrorist. It is not the action of a person or a group that earns the label. It is specific to individuals and groups that oppose imperialist and Zionist policies. Thus, while Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad are branded as “terrorist organizations,” the Zionist army or the murderous Zionist thugs, aka “Jewish settlers,” are not. Similarly, the terrorists in Syria killing innocent civilians and forcibly trying to overthrow an elected government are not called terrorists. They are only referred to as “moderate rebels” — almost like being moderately pregnant!
Countries that refuse to kowtow to US-Zionist demands are branded as extremists and terrorists but those that surrender to them are moderates. Thus, Islamic Iran and Syria, for instance, are branded as extremists but Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other US-Zionist puppets are moderates. If Saudi Arabia is moderate, the earth must be flat.
The propaganda works in reverse as well. In fact, going back and forth is common depending on how any group is perceived by the US and its allies. When the Afghans were struggling against the Soviet Union, they were called mujahideen (freedom fighters). A group of them was even invited by then US President Ronald Reagan to the White House. Until December 1997, the Taliban were still not the bad guys that they became a little later. They were invited by Unocal executives on a tour of the US in hopes of luring them to agree to sign the pipeline deal from Turkmenistan through their territory into Pakistan. When they refused, they suddenly became extremists.
From 2001 onward, the Taliban were terrorists and the US and its so-called coalition of the willing fought a vicious war against them and the people of Afghanistan. The hope was that the massive bombing campaign and media propaganda to keep domestic support for such a war would eliminate the Taliban. It did not happen. In recent months, the American designation of the Taliban has changed: they are no longer referred to as terrorists; they are insurgents now. This label does not carry the negative connotation of extremist or terrorist.
Since there is no agreed upon definition of what constitutes terrorism — and, therefore, a terrorist — Muslims and all people of goodwill have to be very careful in not allowing their thinking to be manipulated by imperialists, Zionists and their corporate enablers. The corporate-owned media act as cheerleaders for such propaganda. Muslim media outlets in particular must be extra vigilant in not accepting the terminology of the Western corporate media. It is time to develop and implement our own terminology based on truth, fairness, and justice for all.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT).