In his classic study, L'Amerique, the French Post-Modernist Jean Baudrillard highlights the eminently manupulable character of the mass-media, especially the internet. His basic point is that within the great wash of information with which we are inundated, it is ever more likely that we are subject to deception. This is not a paranoid rant. Few people, if any, are able to deal with, never mind critically process, so much information and so many opinions. I would add, that as the average person becones increasingly illiterate, and relies ever more upon sound bites and slogans, this situation will only intensify.
At least, that's how it feels here in the Holy Land. For example, in the past few days we've been inundated by campaigns to demonize the 6 day war: Amnesty International declares us to be collective war criminals. Dr. Yossi Beilin informs us that the Six Day War was the mother of all iniquity. (Funny, I thought that was the 1948 War.) Tom Segev's new study of the war blames Israel for the war, asserting that it was an act of manipulation by Eshkol to solve the domestic crisis that visited Israel in the mid-sixties ('Will the last person leaving Lod Airport, please turn out the lights?')
That's all we hear and see. Never mind that Amnesty couldn't give a damn about the people of Sederot. (Well, since Olmert, Livni, Peretz, the army and the Sheinkin crew don't; why should they?)
Never mind that Yossi Beilin is a bespectacled demagogue. (Can he really have forgotten that he government dug 10,000 graves during the period of waiting? Can he really have forgotten that the Arabs were aiming to finally wipe us off of the map?) Never mind that Tom Segev is a first rate propagandist with a PhD who's books have been excoriated by responsible historians. (Michael Oren, who wrote the critically acclaimed history of the war, told me last week that there are no Arabs in Segev's book. No Real Threat. No USSR. There are only Israeli machinations.)
To return to Baudrillard, all of this gives me pause and a chill.
Can we withstand this wave of de-moralizing propaganda? Can the anarchist, (self)-destructive elements in our society be prevented from eating away at the last bit of resolve and identity that remains ours?
I'm sad to say that I really don't know.