Israel's Just Cause

The need for a professional and effective informational campaign.

Anti-Semitism, the undying virus that still infects millions in the Muslim world and beyond, found a pretext to once again show its poisonous venom. The anti-Semitic protests, in many European cities as well as Latin and North American communities, used the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas, (the Islamist terrorist group controlling Gaza), to malign the Jewish state with ugly obscenities such as an “apartheid state,” and characterizing Zionism (the Jewish national liberation movement) as Nazi-like. The slogans voiced in these protests didn’t match the facts that led to the conflict. Israel was seeking a long-term peace accommodation with Hamas, and instead got a barrage of rockets from Gaza aiming to kill Israeli civilians in its capital - Jerusalem, central Israel, including Tel Aviv, and particularly, in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. Israel, charged with the sacred duty to protect its civilian population, retaliated by destroying the sources of the rockets, cannons, and mortar fire. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) avoided many terrorist targets when innocent civilian bystanders were in the vicinity. Moreover, the IDF warned Gazan civilians to evacuate prior to bombing a Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) specific target. Hamas did the exact opposite, seeking to maximize Israeli civilian casualties. Yet, in world capitals, be it in Europe, America, or the Middle East, the truth and the facts are irrelevant. Anti-Semitism is irrational, as are these ugly protests.

Jews, having served as scapegoats in Christian Europe for almost 2,000 years, and a somewhat shorter period in the Muslim Middle East, became a convenient target for regimes to let their majority population vent their political, economic or social frustrations on the minority of Jews in their communities. Today however, the Jewish state – the collective Jewish body, has become a more convenient target, not that individual Jews in Europe or the Americas are immune as we have clearly seen in recent years. Some of the European governments, in seeking to appease their violent Muslim immigrants (Germany alone invited more than a million Muslim migrants into their country, who were brainwashed with pathological hatred for Jews and Israel) often criticize Israel, creating fertile ground of increased anti-Semitism. In the US, the Biden administration is being pressured by an anti-Semitic group of radical Democratic Party members in the US Congress, to disassociate the US from Israel. What we see in large portions of the West is moral equivalency, where actual right and wrong has become irrelevant. 

Demographics alone point to an unfair fight between Israel and the Palestinians. 1.6 billion Muslims, most of whom automatically support their fellow Muslim Palestinians, are arrayed against less than 16 million Jews worldwide, with a sizeable percentage being anti-Zionist. It means that Muslim voices on behalf of Palestinians will always be louder than Jewish voices, as well as violent and intimidating, whether it takes place in Berlin, London, Paris, Buenos Aires, Montreal, or Santiago de Chile. This is true for the social media as well.

Demographic disadvantage notwithstanding, Israel it seems rarely mounts on effective worldwide informational (hasbara in Hebrew) campaign to go along simultaneously with its far more effective military campaign. This anomaly is unfortunate since Israel has justice on its side. Hamas clearly and deliberately initiated this war, and its declared agenda is to destroy the Jewish state. One often hears those voices in the West who bemoan the fact that Gaza Palestinians have far more casualties than Israel does.  Consider therefore these simple facts. While Israel built shelters to shield its people from bombs, Hamas built attack tunnels to penetrate into Israel in order to murder and kidnap civilians in particular. They do not, though, build shelters for their people. Moreover, Israel cares enough for the Palestinian civilians to warn them of an impending attack, and canceling certain operations that might hurt innocent bystanders. Of course, there will always be unintended consequences, and civilians will get hurt. This however, has to do with the simple fact that Hamas uses civilians as human shields, and places their firepower in residential areas such as schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings. Hamas then uses children who died because of its own negligence, for its propaganda, to generate international sympathy.

Israel failed once again to win the informational (hasbara) campaign in the “Guardian of the Walls” operation. The Jewish state does not have a working national informational headquarters, nor does it employ effective professional spokespeople, or identify and target the social media platforms that influences, to a large extent, today’s public opinion. Instead of having a single coordinated and effective informational center, Israel has multiple informational outlets. There is the prime minister’s office, which disseminates information, in addition to the IDF spokesperson. There are also additional voices to explain the events, including the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the Defense Ministry, Police, and Mayors. There are plenty of “explainers,” but not a unified central outlet for information. This has created a lack of; coordination, specific areas of responsibility, and a common unified message.

While Israeli spokespeople deliver different messages at times, the Palestinians speak with one effective and sharp voice, and can turn their aggression into victimhood. The Palestinian informational apparatus reaches worldwide audiences with clear and dramatic messages. Their spokespeople speak with one coordinated voice. They effectively use and understand the power of the new communication platforms, such as YouTube and Tik Tok. Hamas propagandists connect with a wide range of supporters among the 1.6 billion Muslims. Within minutes, they stormed the media channels with videos and messages of support from celebrities (such as Manchester United footballer Paul Pogba). Hamas spokespeople are quick on the ball and have little hesitation about lying to the media as in the case of the Mark Stone Sky-TV interview with Mamoud Zahar, co-founder of Hamas. Zahar lied blatantly when he said to the interviewer “No single (Hamas) rocket was fired at Israeli civilians from civilian areas in Gaza. ” Fortunately, the interviewer didn’t let him get away with it.

To illustrate Israel’s informational shortcoming, there is the case of the IAF blowing up the Hamas Communications tower in Gaza city. The international media was quick to pounce on Israel for evidence that it housed Hamas facilities. Hidai Zilberman, the IDF spokesman, a superb former artillery officer, was hardly the ideal professional spokesperson. His response to questions about evidence of the tower being a Hamas facility was that “in due time” the evidence will be presented. Regrettably, in today’s mass communication world, there is no “due time,” but rather here and now. Minutes, not even hours, are required for effective responses. A spokesperson has to show, present, and persuades the press. Israel was late to respond effectively on the social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. It enabled Hamas to capture the main informational stage.

It is sad that the Israeli genius that was able to create the Iron Dome cannot find a way to win the informational war, particularly when justice is on Israel’s side.

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