Given its previous experiences in war with the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza, Israel must choose between winning the public relations war or the military war. The best Israel can expect from the international, and especially from the western media is moral equivalency.
As the days drag on in operation “Protective Edge,” European and American streets will become focal points for Arab-Muslims and their radical supporters to spew their vile anti-Semitic messages. In Paris, just such a protest led to stones and bricks being hurled at a synagogue. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls issued a statement condemning the attempted synagogue storming “in the strongest possible terms such acts targeting places of worship are unacceptable.”
While the French premier may issue statements against anti-Israel violence in Paris, France 24-TV carried a story on July 13, 2014 which portrayed the suffering of the Palestinians through the lens of a 17-year old Arab-Palestinian boy. The story completely ignored the reasons for Israel’s retaliation. Since Israel’s pullout from Gaza in 2005, the people of Sderot have endured thousands of rocket attacks. However, no comparable human interest story has covered the life of an average Israeli child. In the past 8 days Hamas has fired 1,261 rockets at cities throughout Israel targeting civilians. Each rocket has the potential to kill.
The France 24 story continues with: “Standing in the Tuffah neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, the 17-year-old stares at the devastation left by an Israeli strike in which 18 people were killed on Saturday night. The target appears to have been a Hamas police chief, but the missile killed a significant number of his extended family, with two rockets slamming into the home of a cousin he was visiting shortly after Ramadan prayers. “It is a disaster,” says Abu Aisha, who lives two streets away. “The blast was so big that our house shook. All the dust and debris came in through our windows — we can’t close them because otherwise they shatter when there are air strikes.”
“…All around him is the detritus of the family killed in Saturday’s strike, one of more than 1,300 Israeli raids that have killed 166 people in just six days. The blast leveled the building and sheared the facade off a neighboring structure, exposing a kitchen and a fridge with its door ripped off, full of food and drink…”
A reputable and largely balanced newspaper as the Wall Street Journal was playing the numbers game, too. Nicholas Casey wrote “On Friday (July 11, 2014) afternoon the Palestinian death toll stood at 105 killed, with roughly 785 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The majority were women children, and the elderly, the ministry said.” Casey goes on to say, “In Israel, a man had his hand blown off after a rocket hit a gas station near the southern city of Ashdod, officials said. So far, there have been no Israeli deaths.”
Casey, it seems, wants to see a more even score in the death count. Casey and others fail to realize that this is not a football game but a war. In a war people die. Hamas has dragged the Palestinian people into a war without any regard to the harm faced by their own people. In WWII, the death toll ratio between Japan and the US was at least 7 to 1, but the American people and its media did not dwell on the ratio or lament any kind of an imbalance. People focused on the unmitigated Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; understanding without question that Japan had provoked the war. Hamas has provoked the last three wars with Israel by continually firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Americans did not feel sorry for the killed Japanese militarists, nor should one feel sorry for today’s Hamas terrorists. Naturally, innocent civilian casualties should always be avoided.
The media’s obsession with the body count helps to incite anti-Israel sentiments. Talk of “proportionality” and “cycle of violence” is also part of the common lingo used by the western media. What gets lost with such reporting is the truth about who began the hostilities, and the nature and goals of the aggressor – all of which is spelled out in the Hamas Charter. What is required is a clear moral stance; one which is not relativist or apologetic. If we are to teach our young the difference between right and wrong, we must abandon the meaningless game of moral relativism.
The media must make clear the fact that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish State. Hamas does not and will not negotiate with Israel nor recognize Palestinian Authority agreements with Israel. Hamas is not bashful about its aims. The Hamas Charter (Article Six) states: “The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”
Hamas spokespeople repeatedly regurgitate the lie about Israeli occupation and do so because they are not called on it. Fawzy Barhoom, Hamas spokesperson, said on July 7, 2014, “We blame the government of the Israeli occupation for igniting the situation with the Palestinian people as it continues its foolish crimes, violations and dangerous racist policies.” Despite Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August, 2005, Hamas can count on the deliberate amnesia of most reporters and talking heads.
Appearing on Fox News on Sunday, July 13, 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summarized the difference between the Israeli and Hamas value systems saying, “We are using missile defense to protect our civilians, they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
Any attempt at equivalency between the democratic government of Israel that is committed to protecting its citizens and a terrorist regime based on a deadly ideology that seeks to preserve its power at the expense of its citizens, is irresponsible and morally deficient.
In advance of retaliatory strikes, Israel has been making calls and dropping leaflets, advising the Gazans to evacuate the area. Sources reported that in Beit Lahiya (northern Gaza Strip) 17,000 Palestinians evacuated in defiance of Hamas, who urged them to remain. Israel’s military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal (July 14, 2014), “There are people who don’t want to be fodder.”
Israel is unlikely to win the public relations war. The media will seek and find enough photos of dead Palestinian women and children to sway public sentiments away from the facts pertaining to this conflict. The menace of rockets raining upon Israeli cities with red alert sirens that disrupt normal life and signal that they have 15 seconds to run for shelter will not be remembered or considered. Israel will then give in to western pressure for fear of a backlash against Jews and Israelis. Israel might end its campaign against Hamas prematurely. At some point, after degrading the Hamas arsenal of rockets, Hamas may consider adhering to a cease fire. It will only last as long as it takes Hamas to replenish its arsenal, and then it will be deja vu all over again!
To end the threat to its civilian population, Israel must decisively win the military war by totally destroying Hamas’ infrastructure, a campaign that might last for weeks or months, and will undoubtedly entail losing the P.R. war and engendering UN condemnations. This is the price Israel must pay.
Placing a terrorist/aggressor regime on the same moral scale as a democratic nation defending its citizens is morally repugnant, as is the media’s moral equivalency game.
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