Posts Tagged ‘Israel’
Tags: crisis, Gaza, Israel, Palestine, violence
Tags: Iran, Israel, Palestine, storytelling, transmedia storytelling
I originally blogged this on Osocio.org here and wanted to add a little more about what it means to create a shared future with people that ultimately see each other as enemies. here is my original post, followed by some more thoughts.
Free For The Weekend? Israel-Loves-Iran Campagn
In the field of peacebuilding there is something called an “envisioned shared future.” It is when the opposing sides in any conflict stop for a minute and think. It’s a ceasefire of the mind, if you will. In the field of social advertising, few things show this better than two recent posters from the Israel-Loves-Iran campaign. Fellow blogger and creative mastermind Marc Van Gurp originally posted about this wonderfully positive campaign here and is worth a second and third look.
more after the break
The posters call to action is for viewers to use their moral imagination and envision peace. To imagine a time when one will travel from Tel Aviv to Tehran or from Gaza to Tel Aviv without flying thru many other airports and additional passports in hand. Not only inspirational but aspirational, these posters push viewers to look beyond the obstacles to peace and find opportunities. Next time, I hope I will see you all at Ben Gurion Airport standing in line waiting to board the first airplane bound for Tehran… get your passports ready.
A quick update on how the campaign is going… the Facebook page now has over 90,000 likes and in October 2012, the creators, Ronny Edry and Machil Tamir have begun the official established “The Peace Factory.” From the website it is “A non profit, non political organization promoting peace in the middle east by making connection between people, opening new communication line, making people get to know each other, re-humanize people from “the other side”. Iranians, Palestinians, Israelis, Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese,Turkish, Jordanians and more.”
By using this type of storytelling for conflict resolution and peacebuilding, the creators allow many narratives to be heard. The Israel-Loves-Iran facebook page is daily updated with images depicting regular people from Israel and Iran saying “I love you” ” This is not my war” etc. These powerful statements created by actors in the conflict fuel an unfolding “emergent peace endstory.”
Sadly, in conflicts like those of Israel and Palestine and the various proxy wars with Iran and others defending Palestine or Israel, one characteristic is true, they are fragmented societies. That is to say that there are few cohesive conflict narratives that abound or are held by any one majority. In such contexts there is a deep need for people to rally around an idea such as the campaign above does.
The emergent peace end-story allow for shared space and time to nudge thru other conflict narratives. This is to say it begins to paint the picture of what peace will look like when we actually have it. While a shared history is always taken into consideration it never determines the outcome. These stories can happen as Peace Factory is doing above, or thru portals such as experiential storytelling which allows participants to engage in multi-platform experience through technology or face to face such as text, Twitter, movie, audio, video dialog groups, co-mapping, alternative reality games or personalized storytelling, which are adaptive and in real time.
This exercise of imagining a different future may see futile at first as it has little to do with changing policy or immediately influencing decision makers and political actors. However it is based on sound theory of change. Because, when allowed to imagine a shared future, one needs to re-humanize the enemy and once again give the enemy a time and a place in the future. The conflict narrative often seeks to disappear the enemy. This can happen thru cultural, structural or real physical violence.
Cultural Violence, erases cultural products such as songs, language, clothing, monuments and history. Structural violence keeps “others” out of a shared “space” and “time” so walls are built, fences come up, roads are not constructed, trains do not run, jobs are not offered etc. And physical violence looks more like military-ethnic occupation, refugees and IDP’s and no man’s land. Sadly in the last 100 years we have also see the worst like ethnic cleansing, civil war or genocide. All seek to eliminate the enemy from tomorrow.
Developing a shared future begins the first stages of problem solving. It takes “isolation” off the table. It allows for cultural fusion or assimilation to occur. It does let anyone be more “pure” more human, more privileged than the other. In the end it makes the actors in a conflict have to consider that the enemy is here to stay and the only way thru the conflict is together.
Tags: censorship, conflict, Egypt, Hasbara, Hate-Media, Innocence of Muslims, Israel, libya, media literacy, peacebuilding, people-to-people peacebuilding, propaganda, Protests, violence, war
MEDIA: WEAPON OF WAR
In the last few days since the less than steller, low-budget video “Innocence of Muslims” was posted on YouTube many blog posts have been written to explain the way media was used to create the precipitating conflicts and outbreaks of violence against Western Embassies around the world. Since others have written about this specific event and the role social media has played – I won’t rehash the details however some of the most insightful and thorough posts I have found are:
1. The Protests Sweeping the Middle East and the Cultural Divide in Film Production Laws from the “Rule of Law” blog by Shabnam Mojtahedi about the difference in media laws in the US as opposed to the Middle East. It explains why most people on the ground in MENA can safely assume that the US gov. not only condoned the video “Innocence of Muslims” but most likely assisted in its production based on practices there.
2. Castrating Hate-Fueled Leaderless Web 2.0 Swarms? Monica of Cyberland writes a great condensed retelling of events and also adds good analysis on the role of social media in augmenting a low-budget and seemingly insignificant video on the worlds stage and the consequences it brings.
3. Some Reflections About Civil Society 2.0 and Why I’m Not On A Plane To Tunisia Right Now : Beth Kanter shares good insights on the role of civil society in such a crisis and how non-violent protests can be linked in.
There are more, and I may add to the list as they come – please also feel free to add in the comment section.
In my work and research I have found that media and now social media/communications are used both as channels and methods of social change. Both positive and negative social change. Media and communications have been vital tools to mobilize people towards peace, but it is also a double-edged sword, often used to escalate violent conflict. According to Allen and Stremlau in their writing “Media Policy, Peace and Reconstruction ”The capability of the media to inflame hatreds and promote violence has been relatively well documented from early studies such as the role of radio in Nazi propaganda campaigns to the more recent examples of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia” where media has been a tool used to promote propaganda, voice hate-speech and incite violence.
Further, experts of media in conflict like Vlado Bratic a communications professor at Hollins University and peace-media scholar has written, “Just like pro-war propaganda did not single-handedly cause the war, peace-oriented media cannot single-handedly end a conflict. Even a very successful media project may not be able to prevent violence if the formation of violence is caused by a combination of multiple factors and conditions out of the media’s control.” A conflict or act of violence such as those that took place in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed, or the precipitating violence at various Western Embassies around MENA was not simply caused by the posting of “The Innocence of Muslims” trailer on YouTUBE. Many of those protesting have admitted to not seeing the video. The truth is that the factors and reasons why such a film served as a flashpoint which sparked bouts of violence in an era of conflict between the West and vast populations in the Middle East is more complex and nuanced than simply cause and effect.
The website “PeaceBuilding Initiative” is an excellent source for research in media and conflict. It says that the media can be a “transformational tool, encouraging violence; that is, in its capacity to encourage populations (masses) to follow and act in a violent movement.” In addition there are many negative uses of media and communications, from Milosevic’s call against Bosnian Muslims to Hitler’s propaganda against Jews. The Iraq and Afghan war brought attention to journalist’s bias in support of US policy while reporting and embedding with soldiers. And more recently in 2011, the Arab Uprisings often featured Arab leaders, blocking social media platforms or using state media to distort facts on the ground.
Tacit or passive measures by governments or NGOs have also been detrimental. Whether due to the lack of media infrastructure, lack of government support for independent media, lack of donor funding, or lack of good media conflict intervention design and evaluation methodology, each has the capacity to bring about unintended consequences and increase violent conflict.
In the list below, I will provide examples in how media and communications have negatively influenced and impacted the behaviors of individuals and masses during conflicts.
1. HATE MEDIA
The radio station Mille Collines in Rwanda is often cited for its use of hate media and inciting Hutu’s to kill Tutsi’s and moderate Hutus’ during the 1994 genocide. Stories have been told of perpetrators holding a machete in one hand and a radio in the other. It is no doubt that the messages of cultural violence delivered through mass media affect behavior. According to Hieber “Content analysis has revealed that the radio station’s approach was particularly subtle. It was only when the genocide actually erupted that openly racist comments such as “stamp out the cockroaches” were aired. Although direct cause and effect has never been proven, Radio Mille Collines has played a crucial role in alerting the international community to the dangers of hate-media.”
Even during the Arab Spring or Uprising media was used by the government and other civil society religious leaders to incite violence. For example, on October 9, 2011, the day of the Maspero Massacre, thugs and government forces killed 27 Copt marchers in supposed retaliation for Copt attack of the Army. Social media sites were abuzz as accusations of incitement of violence by Egyptisn media were leveraged. The online newspaper Ahram Online (2011) reported that “During the night, TV anchors urged viewers to go defend the Egyptian army from Coptic “attacks,” leading to attacks on Christians throughout the night.”
The recent trailer mentioned above “The Innocence of Muslims” can also fall into this category as it seemingly was created to criticize Islam. My personal experience living and working in Southern California on media and communications for non-profits, including some that serve the Arab communities. This has brought me uncomfortably close to many of the groups that produced and condoned the video. The fact that there is an audience for such hate-media against another religious group in the USA is disturbing, however the fact that many of those causing the most harm are scrupulously entangled with more main stream populations is something we should think about.
I know of pastors from Southern California Mega-Evangelical Churches that have worked with the same “Media for Christ” that produced the video (now thankfully have taken the site offline – so no link) and support their “ministry” with finances and appearances on TV shows. I count as friends many Arab background civil society leaders here in Southern California that have over the years taken major steps to distance themselves from this sort of inflammatory media. Some have also spoken to me personally saying that this sort of content had been going on for several years and that when they they asked “Media For Christ” to stop producing its hateful content which could very well provoke blood shed, they were simply ignored.
2. SYSTEMATIC REPRESSIVE MEDIA CENSORSHIP AND REGULATIONS
Often where there is greater media openness there is also space for political dissent, advocacy and promotion of peaceful pro-social behaviors. In contrast the Reporters Without Borders 2012 Freedom of the Press map below shows that where there is repressive media censorship and regulations such as Iran, Burma, or Somalia then human rights atrocities are common as governments or rebel forces can function with nearly full impunity. Hieber and Botes note that in these environments it is difficult and almost impossible to conduct peace-oriented programming on an official media level.
In post-conflict countries such as Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina there has been hot debate on whether media censorship is necessary to curb renewed ethnic tensions and hate-media. Price states that because the conflicts were initially fueled by the media’s actions, then under this guise the government of Rwanda feels obliged to repress the development of free media. According to a BBC 2011 news article, in Rwanda, “Editor Agnes Nkusi was sentenced to 17 years, while reporter Saidath Mukakibibi was imprisoned for seven.” Further it states that “President Paul Kagame “has recently been accused of intolerance and harassing anyone who criticizes him. His government defends its tough media laws, pointing to the role of ‘hate media’ ahead of the 1994 genocide.”
3. TEMPORARY AND INTENTIONAL INTERNET BLACKOUTS
Free and open media activist Jillian York writes, that while the Egyptian Revolution began online through Facebook and Twitter, it soon was hampered by government Internet blackouts. She says “Egyptians were resourceful in defying the blackout. They took advantage of Small Message Service (SMS or texting) functions on sporadically available mobile telephone networks, and reverted to dial-up Internet connections on unaffected landlines. Their tweets were picked up by international media organizations such as the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian, CNN, and Al Jazeera, and thereby helped ensure that the voice of Egyptians would not be silenced.”
In the same article, Egyptian activist Hossam El-Hamalawy is quoted for blogging about an important observation he made in 2008. “The Internet is only a medium and a tool by which we can support our ‘off-line’ activities,” he said. “Our strength will always stem from the fact that we’ll have one foot in the cyberspace, and, more importantly, the other foot will be on the ground”
As media is increasingly become a multi-way experience and a mirror of face-to-face interactions, the internet is a key factor in allowing civic voice to participate in the political process, whether it be for protest or mobilization. Eric Shonfeld notes how during the Arab Spring it was ubiquitous in the way which the governments of Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Yemen began one by one to shut down social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as they were being used for activism and mobilization for protests. Without a channel of communication for citizens to report abuses many people feared the worst. In the same article mentioned above Jillian York states that “When the Egyptian government shut down the Internet on January 27, some feared a bloodbath. Without the Internet, without the ability to keep the world’s witnesses informed, they surmised, atrocities would go unrecorded, unseen until too late.” Interestingly, in contrast the trailer for “The Innocence of Muslims” was blocked from YouTube in Egypt, Libya and other MENA countries so as to stop the violence that it incited.
Propaganda is an important weapon of war. Usually used by a government to defend their actions and positions. Journalist Andrew Marshall writes that during the 2008 Cyclone Nargis the Burmese state-run media portrayed a “well-oiled state relief campaign: soldiers unloading relief supplies from helicopters, generals inspecting neat rows of refugee tents.” In response to the offer of foreign assistance (after throwing out every foreign aid worker) the state-run newspaper, “The New Light of Myanmar” widely considered a mouthpiece of the ruling junta said ‘However, they will not rely too much on international assistance and will reconstruct the nation on self-reliance.”
Controversially, propaganda has also been implemented in social media platforms. Recently, pro-Palestinian blogs “Electronic Intifada”and “Hasbara Buster” have used social media platforms such as twitter and blogs to “out” secretly paid Hasbara agents on Twitter, posing as “regular people.” According to the Guardian Newspaper “Hasbara” is a term used by the Israeli government and its supporters to describe efforts to explain government policies and promote Israel in the face of what they consider negative press about Israel around the world. However, The Guardian reports that it is also widely considered “information, spin, and propaganda.” The newspaper quotes Avital Leibovich, Israeli Military Spokesman stating:
The Hasbara directive also liaises over core messages with bodies such as friendship leagues, Jewish communities, bloggers and backers using online networks. Last week the directorate started a YouTube channel showing Israeli bombings in the Gaza strip. “New media is a new war zone within the media – we are planning to be relevant there,” said Leibovich.
Al-Queda has long used social media such as Youtube and websites to promote its ideology and spread its anti-western propaganda around the world. Ironically, with the release of the trailer “Innocence of Muslims” it became evident that like Al Queda, other small groups with strong ideologies can use social media and other media resources to find a huge audience for their propaganda. This sort of propaganda often incites violence either by followers or dissenters.
As mentioned before, rarely is the actual media content the root cause of a conflict, rather it serves to incite or confirm ideologies. This is especially true in the case of media which promotes and perpetuates cultural violence. Cultural violence is a form of violence that is used to justify and sustain direct and structural violence Cultural violence occurs within the symbolic sphere such as the use of religious symbols, flags, speeches, and hymns. I would add that the simple act of showing Mohammads face, as the “Innocence of Muslim” does, can be a form of cultural violence especially when it is directly against Islamic custom or law. In turn the burning the American flag in retaliation is also cultural violence.
John Galtung underscores the power of cultural violence as it “makes direct and structural violence look or feel ‘right,’ or at least not wrong.” Cultural violence includes hate speech, religious justification for war, the use of myths and legends about war heroes, etc. Hate speech is particularly divisive as it is usually the method in which cultural violence is communicated. When one group speaks of another group as unequal and unworthy of respect, or blames it for current problems and suggests violence to eliminate that group, that is hate-media.
What will counter such abuses of media and communications? Some strategies are to use equal (or more) amounts of good or true news to counter false propaganda or hate-media and therefore balance out the media environment. Training in media literacy and more education can also help those vulnerable to media manipulation as they learn how to detect it. Other strategies have been to increase regulation and ban the use of certain words or phrases in the media. All of these may have a place and a time, however I believe that the method which not only addresses the media but also the root causes of the violence will always be people-to-people peacebuilding. It is where groups across conflict lines begin to learn and work together for a better future. There have been many people-to-people interventions in the field of Peacebuilding, some have even used the media (traditional and new) to do this.
Watch for my next blog which will categorize and highlight how MEDIA is used as a TOOL FOR PEACE. It will also include various kinds of strategies, genres, NGO Planned intended outcome programming, and functions.
Tags: attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, blood, conference, conflict, conflict consumer, Georgetown University, intervention, Israel, Palestine, participatory, peace, peacebuilding, problem, product, solution, strategy
I really like the organization Parents Circle Families Forum – they do good work which mostly revolves around the stories and narratives of those that have had families killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recently at the Georgetown from Conflict to Peace conference where I was presenting a poster (which I will post here) and an essay on the subject “Selling Peace” applying social marketing and transmedia storytelling to the field – I chatted with Ms. Robi Damilin, head of PR and an international speaker. Her son was a victim in the conflict.
She stopped at my poster and was interested in my idea and said – here look we have a new initiative coming up on the 14th of September 2011…What kind of marketing plan would you do? She handed me a flyer with a flag and a bag of blood (you can see it on the website listed below)
The plan is highlighted here:
http://bloodrelations.org/#About it was the winning idea by Jean Christopher-Royer from Paris France in a “idea contest” called “The Impossible Brief” you can check out their web page here:http://www.theimpossiblebrief.com/ put on by the advertising company Saatchi and Saatchi Israel. The quest was to find a creative idea to solve the conflict in Israel and Palestine. So far so good, I love creativity and innovation and there is no better way than casting a wide net asking the people on the ground. Jean Christopher-Royer’s idea was to stage a huge blood drive in Israel and Palestine and do a major blood transfer. the “theory of change” if you will is asking “would you kill someone that has your blood running thru your veins?”
Well, my encounter with Robi got a bit awkward, you see when I started asking conflict analysis and social marketing questions, there were few real answers. The dilemma is that the idea came out of innovation, not at out of analysis of the conflict and situation on the ground – both important factors in gathering that formative research that is so vital to creating a solid participatory peacebuilding social marketing campaign. We were looking for a solution without saying exactly what the problem is. Solving conflict is a huge problem, and it cannot be solved with one initiative. We have to do the doable.
Anyway back at the conference…Although having traveled to Israel and Palestine and being very familiar with the conflict I wanted to know how she saw it. so i asked formative research questions to her (I had about 5 minutes to come up with the a genius plan that will be able to compete with a sleek advertising campaign (Robi’s joke, not mine)
is there a lack of blood in the blood banks in either Israel or Palestine? who’s the target group you are reaching? Who will donate blood? where will the blood go? Who are you partners? is this symbolic or a real initiative? well to be quite honest the answers were a bit disappointing. Actually I believe I annoyed Robi.
You see I wondered if besides a sleek marketing and advertising campaign, an awesome prezi website and the donation of blood from those in the “Parents Circle” (who all are highly involved participants) if the campaign would or could go any farther. I know that without direction as to who in this conflict you are trying to reach? (the general public is not a target audience – one can hope to reach all of them, but without segmenting them- a one hit wonder will not do it). I questioned what moves these targeted “conflict consumers? to act? what are their needs? wants? desires? are we trying to change their attitudes about the other? their beliefs? their behavior? Giving blood is painful, takes time, energy, good-will… for all these things there are competing behaviors… how will the campaign make sure that the benefits outweigh the costs? The campaign has to be ready to answer these questions: What will happen to the blood? Will it be given to an attempted suicide bomber? will it be given to that soldier or settler I see every day on my farm?
While I can see this is well intentioned, with the information I have (which may be limited) I found the project very superficial.
1. good conflict analysis
2. participatory formative research (what does the target group think about themselves, their needs, wants etc.)
3. target audience segmentation according to demographics- psycho graphics – age – religion etc., marketing strategy
what is the:
4. price: (cost of giving blood?)
5. product: (do you want the blood? do you want the target group to change their attitudes about the other) do you want your target group to change what they believe about the other?)
5. place: (where do you want them to get the product you are selling? if blood – where do they go to give it? if its an attitude or belief change – tell/show them what you want on a website, brochure, poster etc. give them safe space to practice the new beliefs and behaviors.)
6. Promotion: what are the offerings? what will they get with giving blood, changing beliefs, or attitudes – this must be a realistic benefit -(PEACE on earth and good will towards man is not a realistic benefit!) Perhaps a shirt, their name on the website, a chance to go and physically bring the blood to the other side- this is largely based on knowing your target conflict consumer and what moves them to action- hence the need for segmentation and formative research)
7. Partners: what groups are endorsing this intervention? can the targeted conflict consumers trust them?
And last but not least:
8. Continual monitoring and evaluation: how are your targeted conflict consumers reacting? have their needs, wants and desires been met? have they changed with the changing conflict dynamics? is your intervention reaching them? are they doing the desired behavioral change? Are they buying the PEACE your are selling?
Instead of casting a net into the sea and hoping and wishing that someone will bite, peacebuilding initiatives can and should be strategic, thoughtful and have greater breadth and depth in reaching their target group. This can be done with the most innovative ideas – like applying transmedia storytelling and truly making the whole experience participatory!
I don’t want to be too hard since some of the things mentioned above are done on the website – however without a strategy it is (to use another fishing analogy-there has not been enough in this post) like throwing out a line without knowing what your going to do once that fish latches on. Again, I want to highlight that i may not have all the details, my ideas are based on my conversation with Robi (PR person and speaker), the websites and what has been done so far. Please take a look at the website, even virtually donate blood…I DID! (still not sure if there was a point besides awareness/advertising the campaign) and tell me what you think!? I have added the Blood Relations video below for your viewing: