Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Why Israel Is Losing the PR War Against Hamas

 

The shameful reaction of leading Democrat activists to the savage pogrom that Hamas unleashed upon the Jewish civilians living in southern Israel on October 7 revealed the moral abyss at the core of the socialist-inspired progressive movement.

Ignoring the vicious Hamas murders and kidnappings of defenseless women and children, many leading leftists at America’s top universities were quick to issue public statements blaming Israel for the violence and celebrating the carnage.

The same judgmental progressive liberal activists who have insisted that “words are weapons” and “silence is violence,” and who have routinely used the cancel culture to destroy the careers of anyone who refuses to publicly endorse their progressive narrative and policy agenda are now celebrating the genocidal attack by Hamas terrorists on innocent Israeli civilians as a victory for the oppressed Palestinian over their alleged Jewish “oppressors.”

THE EMBARRASSING SILENCE OF TRADITIONAL DEMOCRATS

The embarrassing silence of the more traditional liberal Democrats in reaction to the October 7 pogrom has also exposed their cowardice and moral bankruptcy. That includes those liberal Wall Street and corporate leaders who rushed to denounce the race-based 2017 clashes in Charlottesville Virginia and George Floyd’s death while in the custody of Minneapolis police in 2020. They, too, have remained largely silent in the face of the outrageous Hamas attack.

The same holds true for the Palestinian apologists in the mainstream news media whose response to the overt antisemitism and barbarous behavior of the Hamas terrorists has been a tortured effort to construct a false moral equivalency between the attackers and their Israeli victims.

The war crimes that Hamas committed by the brutal murder of 1400 Israeli citizens, including mostly defenseless women, children, and the elderly, have been made clear through the videos of the atrocities shot by the terrorists themselves to be posted on social media in order to demonstrate their bloodthirsty inhumanity before the eyes of the world.

Those videos and the first-person accounts by the survivors of that attack did produce an initial wave of disgust that, at least for a short time, led to widespread feelings of solidarity with the embattled Jewish people of Israel. But it is already clear that this initial sympathy has been short-lived, as antisemitic, leftist apologists for Hamas have crafted and promoted a new social media narrative to justify the outrageous October 7 attack.

TYING THE HANDS OF ISRAEL’S TROOPS

Even those on the left who still support Israel, including President Biden, and who say they realize that the elimination of Hamas as a threat to Israel’s existence is not only justified but absolutely necessary, are trying to tie the hands of Israeli troops as they go into battle by insisting that they must fight in strict accordance with the accepted “laws of war” for which Hamas has demonstrated nothing but contempt.

But even those “international laws,” put Israel under no specific legal or moral obligation to supply food, water, and fuel to Gaza, especially in light of Hamas’ long history of stealing the humanitarian aid meant for Gaza’s civilian population, and using it for their own military purposes. Nevertheless, the United Nations, the European Union, and Turkey have all suggested that Israel must supply Gaza with those essentials despite the very real risk that they will fall into Hamas’ hands. Even Egypt has made the same demands on Israel, at the same time that it has kept its own border crossing with Gaza at Rafiach tightly closed for fear of the Hamas threat.

THE OPPRESSORS VS. THE OPPRESSED

This extreme leftist ideology sees the world as divided into two groups: the oppressors and the oppressed. In addition to giving rise to such woke concepts as white privilege, systemic racism, and mixed gender identity theory, it insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, on unilaterally identifying all Jews and Israel as among the oppressors. That unfair and illogical characterization, in turn, has created the mindset which has excused the outrages of the October 7 attack, and justifies, in the eyes of the left, the cruel and inhumane behavior of Hamas terrorists towards their Jewish victims.

Like the Hamas terrorists they celebrate, many of the leading progressives on the left do not see the Israeli Jews who were mercilessly slaughtered on October 7 as victims of terrorism and antisemitism, but rather as agents of neo-colonialist evil who deserved to be ruthlessly exterminated. It is the same immoral mindset that the Nazis used to justify the mass murder of Jews during World War II, and many of today’s leaders of the progressive left have revealed their true colors by applauding Hamas for trying to re-enact it. Furthermore, these leaders will never change, because they are blinded by a dogmatic belief in their socialist, anti-American ideology.

A TEST OF CHARACTER FOR TRADITIONAL DEMOCRATS

But there may still be some hope for the more old-fashioned Democrat liberals, who still abide by the traditional values of tolerance that their extreme progressive leftist colleagues have abandoned. Their long-term reaction to the October 7 attack will be a revealing test of their character. Will they respond by continuing to condemn the outrageous war crimes committed by Hamas and fully justifying and supporting Israel’s military response to it, thereby confirming their place in our politics and culture? Or will they surrender to the bullying of their extreme leftist colleagues, thereby forfeiting their moral right to serve as leaders of American democracy?

Meanwhile, the priority of the Western diplomatic community, including the United States, as Israel prepares for its long-awaited confrontation with Hamas, is to keep the 2.3 million Palestinians stuck in the already uninhabitable Gaza Strip, even though doing so will perpetuate the conditions which have fostered the periodic outbursts of violence that have broken out ever since Israel voluntarily withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

There is a good reason why left-wing supporters of the Palestinians like to refer to Gaza as an “open-air prison,” but they are mistaken when they speak about an ongoing Israeli “occupation” of Gaza. In fact, Israel has gone to great lengths to separate itself from Gaza and its Palestinian population. In 2005, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon engineered Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza by ordering the forcible expulsion of its 8,000 Jewish residents from 21 thriving Jewish communities, and the total withdrawal of the Israeli military presence on the ground.

A BRIEF RECENT HISTORY OF GAZA

But the sad fact is that no one else wants Gaza, even the Arabs who have been living there for the past 75 years. The current Palestinian population of Gaza is a remnant of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The plight of the 200,000 Palestinian Arabs who were interned in Gaza during that war was deliberately perpetuated by Egypt and the other Arab states. UNRWA, the U.N.’s refugee relief agency which was created specifically to care for the Palestinians, has worked to perpetuate the Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish state to this day.

During the War of Independence, Egypt occupied Gaza and then placed it under military rule between 1948 and 1967, but it did not annex the territory and refused to grant its residents Egyptian citizenship. It is like an “open-air prison,” only because the Palestinians want to leave but are being kept there against their will.

The root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not an Israeli desire to drive the Palestinian population out of Gaza. Rather, it has been the refusal of the rest of the Arab world to allow the residents in Gaza’s refugee camp, and other Palestinian refugee camps across the region, to be permanently resettled in another Arab country, just like every other post-World War II refugee population. Israel and Egypt have closed their borders with Gaza to prevent nearly its entire population from pouring out.

THE LAND NOBODY WANTS

Most Gazans want to leave, and it is not hard to understand why. Even under the best of historical and economic circumstances, it would be hard for Gaza to support its current population density of nearly 17,000 per square mile. As long as its neighbors, Israel and Egypt keep their Gaza borders closed due to the constant Hamas terrorist threat to their national security, the long-term options for Gaza’s economic development and self-sufficiency are virtually nil.

Ever since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, its civilian population has been able to survive only because of welfare funding from the U.S., the European Union, and the United Nations. On the other hand, the hopelessness and misery of their existence is the main reason why Hamas’ message calling for the complete destruction of Israel remains so popular with Gaza’s residents.

The ongoing plight of the children and grandchildren of the Palestinian refugees who have been confined to Gaza since 1948 is an unpleasant reminder for the U.S. and its European allies that the crux of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has nothing to do with the status of the territories that Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six Day War.

A BREEDING GROUND FOR TERRORISM

As the Jewish people learned to our sorrow on October 7, Gaza is a much more serious threat to Israel’s existence than its military and political leaders ever imagined. For the 18 years since Israel voluntarily withdrew, Gaza has served as a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists, a rocket launching pad for attacks on Israel’s civilian population, and a serious obstacle to negotiating a viable long-term “two-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Whenever Hamas launched one of its periodic attacks on Israel, the greatest fear of the European Union was that it could precipitate a mass exodus of Palestinians from Gaza to Europe, similar to the mass migration as a result of the Syrian civil war. That also helps to explain why a virtual panic broke out in the international community after Hamas’ October 7 attack, when Israel called for the evacuation of the 1.1 million Palestinians living in north Gaza to clear the way for a ground offensive to eliminate the Hamas threat to Israel’s existence once and for all.

If the quality of life for Gaza’s residents has been intolerable until now, it will become even more difficult after the expected Israeli ground invasion. Even if Israel does achieve its goal of destroying Hamas, whoever winds up as Gaza’s new rulers will still be faced with its unsolvable economic and demographic challenges. When they inevitably fail, a successor terrorist organization like Hamas will likely reappear to feed on Gaza’s chronic grievances and resume the recurring cycle of Palestinian terrorism which has always been one of the obstacles to the effort to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

THE HOSPITAL ATTACK BLOOD LIBEL

The second round of the ongoing public relations battle between Israel and the progressive liberal supporters of Hamas was over the origin and scale of the Tuesday, October 17 blast in the parking lot of the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital killing the civilian Gaza residents who had been seeking safety there from the Israeli bombardment.

The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry was quick to tell the international news media that Israel was responsible for the blast, and to report an inflated casualty count of up to 500 killed in an effort to portray it as a major Israeli war crime against the Palestinian people.

After taking some time to look into the incident, the Israeli military quickly concluded that its forces had not been responsible for the blast, and soon found convincing video evidence that it was caused by a faulty long-range missile which been launched at Israel by Islamic Jihad and fell short.

But the Hamas lies and exaggerations regarding the explosion quickly achieved their immediate purpose. The false accusation against Israel was immediately accepted at face value by the mainstream media, and helped to shift the moral onus away from the Hamas terrorists who had brutally slaughtered 1400 Israelis on October 7 by charging Israel with an equally heinous atrocity, the deliberate bombing of a hospital.

RELYING ON THE WORD OF HAMAS

The New York Times took the lead by immediately running a large headline at the top of its website home page repeating the false Hamas claim that Israel had killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians by bombing the Gaza hospital.

In the initial version of the news story, the Times noted that the accusation that Israel was responsible was based upon an unverified claim by the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health and that the Israeli military initially said that it was still investigating the blast.

The Times updated the story as more information became available, including a statement from the Israeli military denying that it was responsible for the explosion, and citing evidence it had found that it was caused by an errant missile launched from Gaza by Islamic Jihad terrorists at Israel. It also reported evidence that the death toll from the explosion at the hospital was substantially lower than the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry had initially reported.

Nevertheless, as a published note from the Times editor later admitted, “the early versions of the coverage — and the prominence it received in a headline, news alert, and social media channels — relied too heavily on claims by Hamas, and did not make clear that those claims could not immediately be verified. The report left readers with an incorrect impression about what was known and how credible the account was.”

The note also admitted, without further apology, that, “given the sensitive nature of the news during a widening conflict, and the prominent promotion it received, Times editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation, and been more explicit about what information could be verified.”

The Times was not the only major news outlet that was too quick to accept and publish the Hamas version of the story without trying to check the facts from other sources, including the Israelis. So did Reuters and the Associated Press, but those outlets were much quicker to acknowledge their mistake as soon as new evidence made it clear that Palestinian Jihad and not Israel, was responsible for the blast, and that the actual number of people it killed was likely between 50 and 100, rather than Hamas’s deliberately inflated original estimate of 400-500 civilian casualties.

The U.S. intelligence community also looked into the blast and verified the Israeli claims. The day after the explosion, a spokesman for President Biden’s National Security Conference said, “Our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts, and open-source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza.”

VIDEO PROOF OF ISRAEL’S INNOCENCE

A video analysis by the Wall Street Journal, using the footage from four cameras in separate locations that recorded the explosion, shows in detail just how a faulty rocket launched at Israel from inside Gaza suddenly changed direction in midair and fell to earth, causing the deadly blast in the parking lot at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital.

At 6:59 local time, a surveillance camera located in Israel near the northern Gaza border looking south, and a live feed from a webcam looking south from Tel Aviv, showed the launching of a barrage of short-range rockets from west Gaza heading northeast towards Israel. The cameras also caught the launch, 20 seconds later, of a longer-range rocket launched northeast towards Israel which suddenly changed its trajectory 10 seconds into the flight accompanied by a tiny flash of light.

The flash was also caught on the live feed from an Al Jazeera news camera located in western Gaza facing east. According to weapons experts, it indicated an explosion due to the failure of the rocket’s motor in midflight.

The rocket is then seen veering to the west, towards the hospital and the Al Jazeera camera, accompanied by a trail of fire created by leaking rocket fuel. Five seconds later, the remnants of the rocket broke apart in midair, causing a small explosion on the ground below and a second, much larger explosion and fire in the courtyard parking lot of the hospital fueled by the ignition of the remaining rocket fuel. The explosion in the hospital courtyard was also caught on a cellphone video clip shot by a Gazan resident who lives nearby.

The Wall Street Journal video analysis also notes a still photo of the courtyard showing a very shallow impact crater and a shrapnel pattern much more consistent with a failed rocket launch rather than an Israeli airstrike and a much smaller number of civilian casualties than Hamas had originally reported.

The Wall Street Journal analysis also cited a U.N. report which said that during a 2022 flareup between Israel and Hamas, 20% of the rockets fired at Israel from Gaza fell short, resulting in large numbers of Palestinian casualties in three separate incidents.

CHOOSING TO BELIEVE THE LIE RATHER THAN THE TRUTH

Even though the original Hamas narrative explaining the blast in the hospital courtyard was quickly and thoroughly discredited as deliberate disinformation foisted upon an overly gullible news media, the outrage against Israel in the Arab street created by the initial reports quoting the false Hamas accusations swiftly sabotaged the diplomatic and strategic goals of President Biden’s trip to the region last week.

Even President Biden’s clear public statements that the deadly explosion at the hospital was caused by a malfunctioning Islamic Jihad rocket that had been launched toward Israel failed to defuse the fury and hatred towards Israel that the Hamas lies had unleashed around the world.

Palestinian supporters quickly organized angry, antisemitic public protests and angry demonstrations against Israel in Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Arab towns across the West Bank and Lebanon, as well as on liberal college campuses and media outlets across the United States and in Western Europe.

DESTROYING BIDEN’S PRO-ISRAEL AMMAN SUMMIT MEETING

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas seized on the false Hamas narrative as an excuse to boycott a planned meeting with Biden in Amman, Jordan, along with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Sissi, whose goal was to fashion a coordinated response in support of Israel and in reaction to the unprovoked Hamas attack on October 7.

Under pressure from the Arab street, King Abdullah and President Sissi also announced that they would not attend the planned Amman meeting with Biden, forcing its cancellation. Even though his physical presence and renewed promises of support for Israel’s upcoming ground invasion of Gaza were welcome, the fact that Biden was forced to cut his visit short and fly back to Washington without meeting with the leaders of Jordan and Egypt amounted to a serious setback for American prestige and diplomacy in the Middle East.

During his brief visit, President Biden declared publicly that Israel “was not responsible” for the explosion at the Arab hospital, which had been caused by a faulty terrorist rocket fired by the “other team.” Biden also said that his statement reflected the independent assessment of the U.S. Defense Department and the National Security Council based on their own sources.

Nevertheless, America’s other allies in the region chose to ignore the evidence the U.S. government had found exonerating Israel. For example, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on “all humanity to take action to stop this unprecedented brutality in Gaza” in a post on X, calling the blast at the hospital the “latest example of Israel’s attacks devoid of the most basic human values.”

CONGRESSWOMEN TLAIB AND OMAR REPEAT THE HAMAS BLOOD LIBEL

Similarly, progressive Democrat congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar accused Israel, ignoring the evidence, of carrying out the deadly attack on the Gaza hospital. In a tweet, Tlaib, who is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, falsely claimed, “Israel just bombed the Baptist Hospital killing 500 Palestinians (doctors, children, patients) just like that. @POTUS this is what happens when you refuse to facilitate a ceasefire & help de-escalate. Your war and destruction-only approach has opened my eyes and many Palestinian Americans and Muslim Americans like me. We will remember where you stood,” Tlaib warned ominously.

Congresswoman Omar, who has become notorious for her use of antisemitic slurs against American supporters of Israel, wrote, “Bombing a hospital is among the gravest of war crimes. The IDF reportedly blowing up one of the few places the injured and wounded can seek medical treatment and shelter during a war is horrific. @POTUS needs to push for an immediate ceasefire to end this slaughter.”

In response to the false accusations by the two congresswomen, Yinam Cohen, the Israeli Consul General to the Midwest, accused them of spreading Hamas propaganda and condemned their posts as “blood libel.”

“Elected officials should demonstrate responsibility, restraint, and sound judgment rather than echoing Hamas fake propaganda,” Cohen declared. “All indications show it was a misfired Islamic Jihad missile that hit Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. It’s time for @RepRashida and @Ilhan to retract their blood-libel tweets and offer apologies.”

By now it is clear that Israel was not responsible for the explosion in the parking lot of the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City. But for the enemies of Israel spreading antisemitic hatred on social media and in slanted “news” reports, the truth about who was actually responsible for that explosion and the number of people it killed was not important.

JOURNALISM POISONED BY THE MYTHS OF ANTISEMITISM

The important thing was to reinforce, at all costs, the progressive narrative that demonizes Israel and characterizes all Jews as colonialist “oppressors” rather than as the victims of many centuries of antisemitic hatred and discrimination.

When the hospital in Gaza was first hit, most of the 24-hour cable news channels quoted the initial Hamas report which immediately characterized it as a deliberate Israeli strike, without bothering to ask for any confirming evidence. Some outlets also reported that the Israeli army was still investigating the incident, but the widespread initial reaction of the mainstream media was to accept the Hamas claim at face value, despite its long track record of making false accusations against Israel.

For example, during the Israel-Hamas conflict in 2021, the New York Times ran a front-page story featuring the pictures of 64 alleged youthful Palestinian “victims” of Israeli violence. It later emerged that several of those pictured victims had actually been Palestinian terrorists in their late teens, who were killed in combat with Israeli security forces.

Several others were young terrorists who had been killed when the rockets they were trying to launch against Israel misfired, and one was a picture of an unidentified girl that had been circulating on the internet since 2015. But because of its longstanding bias against Israel, the New York Times abandoned its once high journalistic standards, expressed no remorse, and made no apology to its readers when the false and misleading reporting in this one-sided piece of pro-Palestinian propaganda was exposed.

The Times is only one example of the many mainstream news outlets whose anti-Israel bias has prompted them to treat Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups as heroic “freedom fighters.” Historically, Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood, one of the oldest Islamic terrorist groups in the Middle East, which became notorious during the World War II period for promoting a toxic blend of Nazi and radical fundamentalist Islamist ideology. Other groups that trace their roots to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood include Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. This should come as no surprise, given the brutal tendencies among members of all three. But when the victims are Jews, liberals give Hamas a free pass that they would never offer the other terrorist groups.

THE FALSE MORAL EQUIVALENCE BETWEEN TERRORISTS AND VICTIMS

After the initial shock due to the unspeakable brutality of the October 7 attack wore off, many of the American and international mainstream media news outlets quickly returned to form. Once again, they have been drawing a false moral equivalence between Israel, which is now reacting in self-defense, and its Hamas attackers, by deliberately seeking to sanitize, justify, and even glorify the most heinous and deadly mass attack on innocent Jewish victims since the Holocaust.

Many of the otherwise well-meaning liberal media reporters and progressive activists who have been supporting Hamas and its bloody jihad against Israeli Jews are serving as “useful idiots,” a term long-attributed to Soviet revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, which describes the many well-meaning liberals who were duped during the Great Depression and the Cold War by their own idealism into supported the international communist conspiracy.

THE RISE OF THE INTOLERANT AMERICAN LEFT

During the last decade, the socialist-inspired, anti-American liberals who have dominated college campuses across the country since the 1960s, completed their takeover of America’s secular, media-obsessed cultural landscape, as well as the mainstream news media, the liberal executives in corporate boardrooms and the leadership of the Democratic Party. At the same time, they have abandoned the traditional liberal worldview which called for an open-minded understanding that American democracy requires a mix of high-minded principles and pragmatic accommodations that enable the broad range of American citizens to live together in harmony despite their many differences in religious and moral principles, beliefs, and political opinion.

Instead, today’s narrow-minded advocates of the extreme left, convinced of their absolute own righteousness, have rejected that long American tradition of tolerance in order to further advance and impose their race-based secular/socialist ideology on the rest of the country, totally unaffected by inconvenient facts and never allowing incompatible realities to challenge their liberal vision.

Their rigid, race-based, anti-American worldview has once again labeled all Jews and other supporters of Israel with a classic antisemitic stereotype that gives terrorists like Hamas a free license to re-enact the Holocaust in our times.

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