Is an Israel-centric, Zionist-manufactured propaganda thrust taking place in Russia’s media right now? Would this make sense given the state of Russia’s foreign policy and foreign relations? Are certain propaganda themes with their roots in partisan Zionist politics and a well-documented record of being carried by pro-Israel lobbyists in foreign states being followed by Russian media right now?
A look at recent reporting by premier Russian media, combined with historical context about these themes and how they are tailored to match Israel’s strategic and soft-power objectives reveals realities that may surprise Russian media’s burgeoning community of alternate media admirers.
Russian foreign policy toward Israel and the Middle East: does Zionist propaganda in Russian media fit in?
Given the deep strategic alliance Russia has maintained with Israel both pre and post its September 2015 Syrian intervention, the possibility of a largely Israel-centric propaganda thrust in Russian media is real. As outlined and documented in detail by the author in this 1 January 2019 article, Russia’s ties with Israel involve striving to prop up an unrelentingly aggressive Israel against what are commonly assumed to be Russia’s closest allies such as Iran and Syria. Taking real steps to contain Israel’s rivals (mainly Iran) while doing nothing regarding Israeli aggression, Russia’s pro-Israel bias has become impossible to ignore.
Promoting hatred of Muslims on behalf of Israel: historical context and Russian media’s current conduct
A detailed report on the Council of National Interest (CNI) website’s staff highlights prominent voices in the Western Islamophobia industry operating as part of a network of pro-Israel interests. CNI, whose Executive Director Philip Giraldi is a prolific writer on the working of the Israel Lobby within the US, pulls no punches in outlining how common themes of modern day Islamophobia (that Muslims are engaged in a secret Islamization of the West and that Israel is victim to radical Muslims and so on) find their origins in individuals who made it big thanks to the Israel Lobby. Names such as Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney and Rachel Abrams in the Islamophobia industry had more to do with promoting Israel’s supposed utility in ‘containing radical Muslims’ than they did in identifying a ‘Muslim threat’ to the West. They received ample reward from Israel and its lobbyists for their activities.
Decades ago, Norman Podhoretz, editor of the Commentary magazine from the 1960s to 1995 declared that ‘Islamofascism’ posed a deadly risk to the world and required a harsh response from the West. One of the earliest intellectual shapers of the band of Likudnik pro-Israel warhawks that came to dominate policy positions under Reagan and Bush Junior, Podhoretz’s career and work were dedicated to pushing for US militarism that achieved nothing for the US and everything for the Israelis. The fearmongering about a ‘Muslim threat’ was part and parcel of that objective.
Similar trends in the reporting style on Muslim-related events to those in the early 2000s Islamophobia surge can also be spotted in Sputnik and RT’s recent reporting. It is important to keep in mind that RT also shares a chief editor with Sputnik.
A notable theme in the Islamophobia industry was the portrayal of ‘Muslims’ as more or less a large homogenous group with a certain consistent, hostile stance toward the West. Given that it is ludicrous to suggest that ‘Muslims’ are anything remotely resembling a singular, coherent socio-political entity spanning all Muslim-majority states, the objective behind this crass generalization was fairly obvious: consider one Muslim state’s alleged crimes as those of all Muslims. Considering the speed with which the neoconservatives progressed from Iraq war hysteria to anti-Syria and anti-Iran hysteria, the benefit of this generalization paradigm to them and thus Israel’s geopolitics was obvious.
‘Illegal Muslim Migrant Jailed for BRUTALLY murdering His Christianised Wife’ went the title of a 6 April news report by Sputnik. The pointing out of the illegal immigrant status of the killer is relevant, since migrant crimes is a legitimate issue for discussion with socio-economic ramifications. However, the specific pointing out of the Muslim identity betrayed an ulterior motive similar to that behind the framing of the large ‘Muslim’ bogeyman by Zionists in the early 2000s Islamophobia surge discussed above.
Rather than use terminology which specified the source of the migrant crisis (NATO destroying Libya) and nudge the reader toward tracing Western aggression against Libya to its real roots, the usage of the ‘Muslim tag’ instead sought to give credence to the same fraudulent ‘Muslims attacking the West’ narrative spun by Israel Lobby-backed anti-Muslim activists and agitators.
Mentioning the ‘Christianization’ of the killer’s wife also clearly sought to play into the ‘Muslim vs Christian’ theme. The significance of this must not be missed, since portraying Muslims and Christians as each other’s enemies despite obvious religious commonalities (such as reverence of Jesus and Mary) has been a huge part of Zionist psychological warfare and propaganda. The ‘Judeo Christian values’ canard is used by the Zionists to this purpose to assure Christians in the West that it is their ally, not ‘the Muslims’. It also ties into the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ framework pioneered by pro-Israel partisan and Jewish Zionist scholar Bernard Lewis and incorporated fully into the early 2000s Islamophobia campaign.
Also aiming for this effect, clearly, was Sputnik’s 5 April report on a Russian family fleeing Sweden and seeking asylum in Poland due to Swedish authorities taking custody of their daughters. Emphasizing in the title that the family receiving custody of the children was Muslim and Lebanese, the report mentioned that the Russian father had no full employment and thus Swedish social services took his children to the Muslim family several hundreds of kilometres away.
It mentioned the Muslim foster father ‘admitting’ that social services paid for his trip to Poland to appear in the court which eventually granted the Russian family asylum, likely a subtle jab considering the ‘welfare leech’ narrative weaponized against Muslims since the migrant crisis took off. Despite mentioning the Russian father’s inadequate employment status at the start, Sputnik concluded the report by stating that the social services had ‘no specific reason’ for taking his daughters and did not speculate as to his own likely reliance on Swedish welfare for subsistence.
Postings on Jewish ‘victimhood’ related to Israel and Zionism have also begun to surface more gradually in Russian media.
Propagating ‘Jewish victimhood’ to whitewash Israel’s supremacist nature and forced Judaization of Occupied Palestine
A 28 April report by Sputnik following a synagogue shooting in the US described the backstory of a family of a survivor as having ‘fled rockets from Gaza’. Another report on 29 April described rising migration from Germany to Israel by Jews due to ‘rising anti-Semitism’. It quoted one Jew as saying she is afraid of ‘Muslim anti-Semitism’ in particular. It also described the harassment of a Jewish girl in Germany embarking upon the Israeli government-sponsored migration to Israel for ‘wearing a T-shirt with the words Israel Defense Forces (IDF)’.
The pointing out of a girl being harassed for idolizing the IDF, which oversees war crimes against Palestinians and enforces Israel’s apartheid, sets in the victim’s seat in this context the Israeli military and Jews. Similarly, the report chooses to ignore that Israel’s subsidization of the migration of anyone in the world belonging to the ‘Jewish race’ (as Israeli authorities verify) to Occupied Palestine is part and parcel of its racial exclusivist policies. The Israeli preference to Jews over non-Jews in terms of property rights, state-provided housing and degree of voting rights as well as the racial colonies (i.e ‘Jewish settlements’) programme across Occupied Palestine was, quite obviously, not explored.
In addition, the report also cited the German right-wing Alternate for Germany (AfD) party as a cause for worry for Jews, leaving out the fact AfD focused on anti-Muslim rhetoric and supported German state attempts to curb ‘anti-Semitism’. Incredulously, Sputnik also declined to mention that the AfD, in fact, adores Israel.
Raising the spectre of ‘rising anti-Semitism’ is part and parcel of Russian media’s pro-Zionist drive. Nothing else but a heavy pro-Zionist tilt would explain media outlets that have occupied the limelight for their ‘alternate media’ status giving momentum to such a heavily fraudulent, Orwellian and mainstream media narrative as the ‘rising anti-Semitism’ canard.
Talk of ‘rising anti-Semitism’ has a long history of being exaggerated to suit ongoing Israeli political agendas such as pushing legislation in the West to criminalize public criticism of it. Countries such as France have already declared anti-Zionism to be anti-Semitism while the US has even appointed a ‘Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism’ at the State Department to counter ‘anti-Semitism’ worldwide.
Zionists in high places in Russian media
The Islamophobia industry in the US as described above took off in the early 2000s as part of a highly coordinated campaign. It coincided with dominant parts of the George W Bush government becoming occupied by the clique Podhoretz and his kind helped form (the neoconservatives).
With the US being railroaded into wars in the Middle East to benefit Israel, the Islamophobia surge fit in perfectly into the broader geopolitical context. Considering Israel’s well-fleshed out objectives in the region the neoconservatives strove toward stay unchanged despite significant setbacks in recent wars and conflicts, and considering the increased reliance of Israel on the Russians to ‘contain’ Iran, the foundations exist for similar media operations to the early 2000s Israel Lobby-led promotion of Islamophobia.
Is Zionist manoeuvring taking place in Russian media right now thus explaining it following traditional Israeli propaganda themes such as ‘evil Muslims’ and ‘Jewish victimhood’?
RT’s Middle East Bureau Chief since 2005 has been the Jewish and Zionist Paula Slier, tasked with covering Libya, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Afghanistan events. Working as a foreign correspondent, anchor and news editor, her profile page on RT states she has been ‘twice been recognized by Russian President Vladimir Putin for her “colossal input into the development of Russian journalism”’.
According to this post by the Jerusalem Post from 2006, Slier was ‘discriminated against’ by the South African Broadcasting Corporation on account of being a Jew and blacklisted in 2004 from being used by the SABC to report on Middle East conflicts. Slier at that time was working as an Israel-based freelancer as well as reporting live from live conflict zones for Russia Today (RT’s old name). As narrated by the Jerusalem Post, she decried the decision by the state-run SABC’s news head to blacklist her on account of ‘assuming’ she was a Zionist simply for being Jewish and deciding she was not an impartial reporter for the SABC, a traditional sympathizer with the Palestinian cause, to use to cover her region of focus.
Articles by Slier such as a fairly recent one from March this year titled ‘Is BDS a real concern for Israel?’ affirm her apologism for Israeli apartheid and belief that the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, a popular grassroots activist-led international campaign to boycott Israel owing to its occupation of Palestinian territory, human rights violations and apartheid, ought to be combated since it rallies ‘attempts to de-legitimize Israel’. How a state built after a comprehensive, armed ethnic cleansing campaign of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine and which has carried out several territorial annexations throughout its history is ‘legitimate’ is not a question one may expect Zionists, whether ‘right-wing’ or ‘left-wing’ ones (tags Slier enjoys using) to ask themselves.
Slier still works out of Tel Aviv, Israel, at RT’s Middle East Bureau’s office building. Slier is also the CEO of Newshound Media, which according to a 15 March post to its Facebook page ‘arranged for’ Israeli Education Minister and Security Cabinet member Naftali Bennet to appear on RT and talk about ongoing hostilities with the Palestinians. This signifies Slier’s own personal connections to the Israeli state and, coupled with her Zionist disposition, makes her an odd choice to be RT’s main official in the Middle East unless one takes note of Russia’s preference for Israel over the anti-Zionist coalition led by Iran and involving Syria and Hezbollah.
The fact that Russia has long provided a platform for voices which have been strongly critical of Israel and Zionism adds a particularly deceptive angle to the overall tilt of its media. If anything, the recent incorporation of key facets of Zionist propaganda into Russian media reporting hint that not only is Russia extremely close to Israel, but also that ties are intimate enough for Israel to begin to recreate with Russian media what it pulled off spectacularly well in Western media following 9/11.