A supporter of the Palestinian jihad against Israel tweeted Thursday: “Israel is now using white phosphorus on the city of Beit Hanoun in Palestine! It can burn human flesh until it reaches to the bones. White phosphorus is prohibited globally and it’s been considered as a war crime!” Included was a gruesome photo of a woman whose hair had been partially burned off and her face severely burned as well. There was just one minor detail that the tweet omitted to mention: the photo was not from Gaza in May 2021, but from Afghanistan in 2009.
If the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were really as brutal and inhumane as the international media and supporters of the Palestinian jihad (not that there is any significant difference between those two groups) claim, it ought to be easy to find evidence of Israeli atrocities. Instead, such enormities are so thin on the ground that they have to be manufactured in order to shore up the Palestinians’ tenuous (at best) claim to victim status.
Nor is this anything new. It has been going on for years. Israelly Cool reported in February 2020 that Palestinian “journalist” Mustafa Batnain tweeted a “heartbreaking photo from Gaza” depicting a baby inside a cardboard box, presumably the little one’s only shelter amid rampaging, savage, brutal IDF forces. Once again, there was a catch: the photo was actually not from Gaza at all, but from Idomeni, Greece. It’s all in a day’s work for the Palestinian factory of Israeli atrocities.
The photo was just the latest of innumerable examples of the deception that is perpetrated on an industrial scale by Palestinian propagandists in order to make Israel seem to be an oppressive occupying power. The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process details the breadth and sophistication of this deception.
Israelly Cool also reported a month before that about a supporter of the Palestinian jihad against Israel, Sarah Hassan, who posted a photo on Twitter of a boy crouched beneath a cart, surrounded by snow, trying to keep warm. “Gaza…poverty…cold!” wrote Hassan, but IsraellyCool noted that “never got lower than 6 degrees Celcius [sic] in Gaza over that time period” – that is, 43 degrees Fahrenheit, so there couldn’t have been snow piled up everywhere. What’s more, this photo, like Batnain’s, doesn’t really come from Gaza at all; it was taken in Afghanistan in 2006.
A cornerstone of the “Palestinian” cause in the court of world opinion is projection and deception on a massive scale. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, declared: “War is deceit.” (Bukhari, vol. 4, book 56, no. 3030) He also elucidated the conditions under which deceit was permissible: “It is not lawful to lie except in three cases: Something the man tells his wife to please her, to lie during war, and to lie in order to bring peace between the people.”
Palestinian leaders have refined lying during war into a fine art. Palestinian spokesmen set out to portray Israel as an outrageously repressive regime, routinely committing atrocities against the Palestinian people, who deserved aid from the international community as much as the Israelis warranted condemnation.
This initiative, too, has been wildly successful. The United Nations condemns Israel far more often than any other nation; many of these condemnations have been based on reports about Israeli atrocities that were entirely fabricated. World opinion has largely turned against Israel as well, as it has an international reputation today of being one of the world’s most unjust and repressive regimes.
Hamas was so anxious to have Palestinian civilian casualties that it could parade before the world in order to gain propaganda victories that in April 2018, as protests raged at the Gaza border, the terror group offered $500 to “Palestinians” for getting shot and wounded at the border, and $3,000 to the families of those who got themselves killed during the protests. This was too much for Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Islamic Affairs and Supreme Sharia Judge, who denounced Hamas on official Palestinian Authority TV: “The Palestinian people…doesn’t care about those [Hamas] with ‘the emotional stories of heroism,’ those with the slogans of heroism – slogans that when you hear them, you think that the people saying them are inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque after they liberated it. And afterwards you discover that they’re only selling illusions, trading in suffering and blood, trading in victims, [saying]: ‘You Palestinians, our people, go and die so that we’ll go to the TV and media with strong declarations.’ These [Hamas] acts of ‘heroism’ don’t fool anyone anymore. The Palestinian people…sides with the PLO.”
Whether it did or not, and there was considerable evidence that it did not, that Hamas was sending Palestinians to die in order to manipulate world opinion against Israel was certain.
This is a propaganda success that Josef Goebbels and the editors of Pravda would have envied, and it became the foundation for more. Having established the Palestinians as a tiny indigenous people whose land was stolen by rapacious, well-heeled, and oppressive foreigners, it was time to return to the negotiating table – not in order to achieve any genuine accord with Israel, but to exploit the victimhood status of the new tiny people they had invented in order to win valuable concessions from the Israelis.
And it worked. Today, as the Palestinian jihadis target Israeli civilians anew, it is working once again.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins―Revised and Expanded Edition. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.