From a Western point of view, especially a progressive Western point of view, Hamas is about the least attractive bunch of fanatics that you can find anyplace.
- They ignore the norms of civilized behavior, set up shop next to a legitimate state and try to kill its citizens at random.
- Their idea of dialogue with their political opponents is kneecapping, torture and murder.
- They are racist, antisemitic, sexist and homophobic; and their regime is totalitarian.
- They steal relief supplies sent to their own people and resell them., shooting Palestinian UN personnel in the bargain.
- They deliberately launch rockets and mortars from the midst of their population and hide arms and explosives in schools, mosques and hospitals.
It goes without saying that they lie and perform elaborate charades to create outrage in their fans around the world. For example, remember the story that the IDF shelled a school compound, killing 42, mostly civilians? Horrible, wasn’t it? But now that the dust is beginning to settle, we find that
The international community had been given a vastly distorted impression of the death toll because of “false reporting” by Hamas, said Col. Moshe Levi, the head of the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), which compiled the IDF figures.
As an example of such distortion, he cited the incident near a UN school in Jabalya on January 6, in which initial Palestinian reports falsely claimed IDF shells had hit the school and killed 40 or more people, many of them civilians.
In fact, he said, 12 Palestinians were killed in the incident – nine Hamas operatives and three noncombatants. Furthermore, as had since been acknowledged by the UN, the IDF was returning fire after coming under attack, and its shells did not hit the school compound. [Mortars were fired from the street in front of the school, and that is where IDF return fire was directed -- ed.]
“From the beginning, Hamas claimed that 42 people were killed, but we could see from our surveillance that only a few stretchers were brought in to evacuate people,” said Levi, adding that the CLA contacted the PA Health Ministry and asked for the names of the dead. “We were told that Hamas was hiding the number of dead.” — Jerusalem Post
Fine, they lie. They do much worse things, so what?
So why is the world prepared to believe them? Why when they tell their lies with the flimsiest or no supporting evidence are they almost universally believed, when statements such as the quotation from Col. Levi above are dismissed as ‘Israeli propaganda’?
What is so appealing about anti-Israel expressions that they evoke a total suspension of critical judgment, so that anything, no matter how objectively improbable, is immediately believed by so many people?
What is so compelling that makes progressive people put their ideals of justice and democracy aside and support the vile Hamas in its struggle with Israel?
What is so motivating about hating Israel that it causes college students to drop the veil of political correctness that is so universal in academia today and fall into crude antisemitism (“Die, Jew“)?
I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because the sheer volume of misinformation, lies and hateful material that has already been absorbed has succeeded in becoming part of many people’s bedrock assumptions, the basic principles that are used to make drawing everyday conclusions practical.
If so, it will be difficult to reverse the phenomenon by simply pointing out, for example, that Mohammed al-Dura was not hit by Israeli bullets in 2001, that there was no massacre in Jenin in 2002, that a Red Cross ambulance was not hit by Israeli missiles in Lebanon in 2006, that Israeli tanks did not kill the driver of a UN relief convoy near the Erez crossing in 2008, and of course the truth about the Jabalya school incident.
Unfortunately anti-Israel attitudes are beginning to be more than annoyances. They affect policy of nations, including powerful ones like the US, toward Israel. A misperception of civilian damage in Operation Cast Lead may have caused US pressure on Israel to terminate the operation. This could also be said of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The information war is at least as important as the military struggle, and we are not winning.
The only way to undo this is to use the same tools, to proactively flood the world’s perceptions with truth, and not only react to lies. Imagine if Israel operated several worldwide satellite channels providing news and entertainment in various languages. A Jewish-Israeli Aljazeera.
This would be enormously expensive and it would have to find a way to avoid the self-doubt, the penchant for hyper-critical analysis and yes, even the irrational self-hatred that sometimes seems to characterize Jews and Israelis. One would hope that Gideon Levy and Amira Hass of Ha’aretz would not appear on it.
Too hard? But Israel managed to make itself the preeminent military power in the Mideast because it was necessary for survival. Surely it would also be possible to become an information superpower.