One of the tactics that Israel uses to launder its image around the world could be termed “aidwashing” or perhaps “bluewashing”, after the blue used by the UN in its iconography.
This is the method by which Israel portrays itself as a “humanitarian” country in order to distract from the realities of its brutal system of oppression against the Palestinian people.
It does this through things like sending token amounts of aid to countries effected by natural or other humanitarian disasters, and then making a big song and dance about it in the media.
The latest attempt at such bluewashing is in California, where the IsraAID agency sent a grand total of four people to reportedly help with the wildfires.
The goals of such operations are usually two-fold.
Firstly, when trumpeted like this by Israel21c, they are cynical and transparent PR efforts. How to deal with a bad news story which makes you look bad? Change the subject. Never mind our system of apartheid in Palestine, such spin has it, look at how good and “humanitarian” we are.
There is also a secondary, deeper goal at work.
Key to Israel’s successes in the Western world in promoting the demonisation of its Palestinian and other Arab enemies are racist conceptions of “the other” and the “Clash of Civilisations” which has dominated much of western policy-making since the attacks on September 11 2001.
Such “humanitarian” work is intended to align Israel with “the West” – despite occupied Palestine’s physical location in the east. Israel is a settler-colonial outpost implanted by force in 1948 at the very heart of the Arab world. And it has always identified itself as such.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak described this conception as “a villa in the jungle” – a frontier of the Enlightened, White, Western world right up against the edge of the Savage, Dark, Eastern, Oriental world.
In other words, Israel has always sought for a global alliance of European, and Euro-American settlers. Such identification relies heavily on conceptions of White Supremacy, even when they are not outright fascists or Nazis.
Probably the best description of fascism, after all, is the application of the brutal, violent methods European colonialism used in its overseas colonies to domestic populations back in the European countries.
It is in this context which the bluewashing attempt to identify Israel with “civilised” western humanitarian aid must be understood.
But even within this already problematic context, the reality of how Israel operates on this front is very different.
The Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip which triggered the most recent round of hostilities very recklessness endangered the work of humanitarian aid workers.
The event which triggered the fighting was an Israeli commando unit’s incursion into Gaza. The undercover unit was found to have been planting spy devices, and was thought to have been aiming to murder commanders of Palestinian resistance units.
The Israeli commando unit used forged Palestinian ID cards to gain entry to Gaza. Even more disturbingly, their cover story was that they were working for a humanitarian aid agency.
Their names and the details of the story were censored in Israel’s media by the military authorities. But the Qasam Brigade, Hamas’ armed wing, released their photos, and details of how they were apprehended.
Such a reckless misuse of a humanitarian aid cover for an illegal act of aggressive war naturally puts all humanitarian aid agencies under a cloud of suspicion.
So Israel has been a humanitarian aid agency as a human shield. Ironically, Israel is guilty of the very same crime which is falsely accuses Palestinians of using.
That is why it is usually a war crime under international law to use civilian or humanitarian disguises as cover for military operations.
Yet Israel habitually uses such tactics without censure by the so-called “international community” (in reality, the Western, imperial powers). Not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank, where Israel uses “Arab” disguises to infiltrate Palestinian areas to carry out kidnappings and assassinations of Palestinian resistance fighters and unarmed activists alike.
Israel’s death squad regime needs to come to an end.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.