Israel must become an information superpower

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.

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3 Responses to “Israel must become an information superpower”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    This is once again such a strong article. I am somewhat perplexed that these outstanding articles by Vic Rosenthal are not being picked up by other pro- Israel sites, such as ‘Daily Alert’.
    I would just add one point to the discussion of why so many people suspend their critical judgment when it comes to the enemies of Israel. It seems to me many people in the world ‘want to hate Jews’. They just do. There are many reasons for this but one I have come up with recently seems to me to not be given sufficient attention. The reason is what I call ‘Attention Resentment’. Many of the haters are people who feel the Jews are always in the center of things. They are always getting Attention perhaps the biggest Resource of all. Most of these people like most of us Jews in fact, are not very well- known, are frustrated for various reasons in regard to many different things.
    It seems to them that the Jews Are Priviliged while they are on the margins or less. This kind of Anti- Semitism is increasing these days with the World Economic Downturn.
    So while I support the idea of Israel trying to make its case through new media, through massive pouring of true information on the world I do not know that it would help that much.
    What is clear is that the present situation is worsening, and the fanatical haters are working to close down freedom of thought, everywhere they can.

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Yes, there are those who just want to hate Jews. I think that lately there are a lot more of them than in the past and part of the reason is the ceaseless flood of Israel-hatred, which I hear in every context, and which shades into antisemitism. It’s become part of everyone’s belief system that Israel commits war crimes, etc.

    The sheer volume has something to do with it. And it’s ‘viral’ to use a fashionable concept, in that people who don’t know any Palestinians or care about them pick up on the issue and push it because it feels good — I’m thinking about my local peaceniks, who tend to be uninformed. But this has a multiplying effect.

    Add to this the tepid or even negative response of so many Jews, whose responsibility it should be to oppose this, and — to use another fashionable concept — we may have reached a ‘tipping point’. It may be too late to change perceptions, in which case I don’t want to think about the consequences.

  3. ME says:

    I disagree that the information war is not achieving results or “winning.” If you think about the vast number of educated persons who make strides to become informed vs. the vast number of persons choosing to have information spoon fed to them in the form of outlandish statements of shock and awe, the spoon fed people might appear more populace.

    Your articles have a significant impact and reach.

    In the long run, more and more people with be forced to have accurate information rather than rest on the laurels of attention getting headlines and negative commentary.