• 18 Jun, 2024

Why is Biden engaging in disinformation about Gaza?

The US government has long lied to justify its bloody adventures overseas.

Ahmed Moor
Palestinian-American writer

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, she gave me a book about prenatal development.

I also learned why premature babies need intubation because their lungs are one of the slowest developing organs. This fact came back to me eight weeks ago when I witnessed the Israeli terrorist attack at Al Shifa Hospital. I took care of 39 premature babies there. These babies were evacuated from the neonatal intensive care unit in two beds wrapped in foil. I imagined them suffocating and slowly dying.

Then came news that five nameless, decomposed babies had been found at the abandoned al-Nasr Children's Hospital after the Israeli army forcibly evacuated medical staff and patients. I imagined them dying alone, cold and scared.

There is no doubt that senior Biden administration officials have seen the photos and videos. I have to think most of them were shocked by what they saw. I also believe that their perception of fear and their active participation in producing it is partly due to the manipulation of intelligent assumptions and outright lies. But there is more to the Biden administration's efforts to spread Israeli fake news. Disinformation has been a powerful weapon in war and genocide. And in the modern media age, it has become widely used with diminishing effectiveness.

The US government is not very trustworthy when it comes to information. Consider Secretary of State Colin Powell's cheap move at the United Nations in 2003 when he accused Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction and presented vials containing white powder as evidence.

But in matters of war, polite and cool expressions are sometimes enough. Powell's prank fooled no one, but his announcement was enough to distract from the impending doom. Over time, I learned what I already knew. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. And the only yellow uranium cakes we know of were baked by British and American spies.

But the lies about Iraq were not new. Powell's effort was a memorable example of the disinformation efforts developed by the US government to shape public perception. Perhaps the most horrific incident occurred in 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of Vietnam.

At that time, the United States created a story about a battle with the North Vietnamese army. The purpose here was to expand the war in our country. It worked and millions of Vietnamese civilians died in a senseless conflict. Today, President Joe Biden and his advisers are lying to us. They claimed to have seen independent information indicating the presence of a Hamas military installation under Al Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip. "Hamas committed its first war crime by trapping its headquarters and troops under a hospital," former Vice President Biden said in an interview with reporters. This is true. That's what happened." But of course that didn't happen.

A lot of people didn't trust the president, but it didn't matter. Disinformation serves a useful purpose from the perspective of those who use it.

Propaganda hides awareness of what is happening. Our media must report breaking news, and government officials must speak with authority when they do so. Respect for the office of the president is deep-rooted, and the president's words are by definition news. This respect, combined with the president's reputation as a source of news, means that his lies are not debunked even when broadcast live.

If you question something unrealistic, your challenge is not considered news. By spreading misconceptions and misinformation, the president is undermining voters' ability to understand and resist violence. Disinformation is therefore used to separate political decisions from the normal accountability mechanisms of democracies. But there are early signs that disinformation isn't working as well as it used to. Today's news cycle is so fast-paced that the first lie is rarely exposed before the next.

Al Shifa was on our minds even as Israeli leaders tried to set the stage for more atrocities in the southern Gaza towns of Khan Younis and Rafah. They have now destroyed almost all 36 hospitals in Gaza, and Al Shifa and Al Nasr Children's Hospital remain in our hearts. As the world focuses on South Africa's credible allegations of genocide against Israel, the White House has decided to release new "information" that further supports al-Shifa's original lies. It's not clear why, but time will tell if the tired game still works.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the editorial position of Urdu Voice.