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Why Hamas Is Winning the PR Battle in the Middle East

I watched the network news last night and the featured stories on multiple channels weren’t the 1,500 rockets that have been fired into Israel by Hamas, but the Palestinian casualties caused by the Israeli army. The reporters never asked why Hamas has refused to agree to three cease fire offers by Israel, or that Israel would cease fire if the Palestinians simply stopped blasting rockets into Israel. On every front, Hamas is breaking the rules and yet winning the PR battle.  Why?

They are willing to put their own people at risk.

This is something few armies have ever encountered and is even more insidious than the Japanese Kamikaze pilots of World War II. But Hamas actually tells Palestinians to stay at home despite Israeli warnings to evacuate. They hide bombs in schools and hospitals. As Hillik Bar wrote in The Guardian, “As Netanyahu remarked this week, Israel uses its missiles to protect citizens, whereas Hamas uses citizens to protect its missiles.” The Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are transporting themselves throughout Gaza in ambulances packed with children. Since Hamas has become the elected form of government, they have turned their own people into weapons.

As Thane Rosenbaum wrote in the Journal: “On some basic level, you forfeit your right to be called civilians when you freely elect members of a terrorist organization as statesmen, invite them to dinner with blood on their hands and allow them to set up shop in your living room as their base of operations. At that point you begin to look a lot more like conscripted soldiers than innocent civilians. And you have wittingly made yourself targets. It also calls your parenting skills into serious question. In the U.S. if a parent is found to have locked his or her child in a parked car on a summer day with the windows closed, a social worker takes the children away from the demonstrably unfit parent. In Gaza, parents who place their children in the direct line of fire are rewarded with an interview on MSNBC where they can call Israel a genocidal murderer.”

Certainly there are innocents in Gaza, especially children who have little say in the matter. But as long as Hamas values those children less than it’s weapons, Israel faces a public relation obstacle. Does it continue to let Hamas lob rockets into the country? When it fights back, Hamas places civilians and children into the line of fire to jack up the casualties. There is no moral basis for their actions – which is to be expected from a government that places the elimination of Israel as one of its core principles. Reason has been thrown out the window.

As long as the international networks see the surface conflict and don’t acknowledge the Palestinian strategy behind it, Israel will continue to lose the war in the media.

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17 Comments

  1. there are a lot of contradictions in the announced Israeli media perspective of the war ..; that is why they are losing ..

    1- Israel claims to have a “superior” iron dome to counter the Hamas “useless” rockets , yet, they justify the thousands of injuries and killings among Palestinians to stop these rockets ..

    2- The main reason for the war that Israel mentioned was the kidnap of 3 Israelis in west bank. Instead of investigating in west bank, Israel bombs Gaza.

    3- Israel says they warn people before bombing their houses. Well , that is just like when a robber threatens you with a pistol to either leave your car or lose your life. People have memories and histories in these houses and it does not make you moral , if you warn people before bombing their homes. Besides, Gazans are sieged from all directions and there is practically no place to flee to in this so called war.

    Even if Hamas or other fighters are among civilians, this does not give Israel the right to kill these civilians. There has been a lot of videos and pictures of civilian casualities with 0-proof from IDF of militants presence close to these kids. Like the civilians killed watching the world cup on a cafe on the beach. And the kids killed playing soccer on the same beach.

    You mentioned the US rules on dealing with bad parents ; a social worker takes care of the kids instead of them. Well, if I go with the same analogy, Israel KILLS and FIRES the kids of bad parents instead of taking care of them.

    1. It seems your suggestion is that Israel do nothing to stop the bombing which has just gotten worse. Anyone would defend their own when faced with an assault like that. If a robber with a baby strapped to himself comes into your home to kill you and your family, you’re supposed to let him have his way simply because he’s evil enough to use a baby as a shield? In the case between Israel and Hamas, I see that the people in Gaza are given fair warning that the cancer is about to be removed.

    2. Thanks for responding Moataz. I would argue with a few of your points. They don’t justify the killings of the Israeli with stopping rockets. They’re trying to eliminate the pockets of terrorists (and the terrorist just surround themselves with civilians). Also, the reason for the war isn’t just the kidnapped teens, it’s the much bigger and constant assault from Hamas rockets. On the morality of warning citizens – I don’t know of other governments that do that to such a significant extent. Hamas certainly doesn’t warn the Israelis… 🙂

  2. Is there also an unacknowledged sympathy toward the perceived “underdog”? Not that it’s accurate but is the perception one of the doomed Palestinians doggedly nipping at the heels of the stronger Israel? We news people love a simplistic dichotomy.

    1. That’s a significant point Anita. And I think it comes from a real lack of understanding from secular journalists of the role religion plays in the conflict.

  3. The other aspect of the so called “reporting” is the overt media bias that is against Israel to begin with. Just as there is here between the reporting of Democrats and Republican issues. Israel is usually made out to be the “bad” guy despite the actions of hamas and other similiar groups.

  4. The international community will do well to be even-handed in their intervention as much as it’s possible.

    Every effort made by the international bodies to quickly deescalate the waste of human lives, especially that of children and their mothers will be laudable.

    However, the annoying truth which nothing can be done against is this: Israel’s help comes from the almighty God, the Creator whom the world denies – including Israel.

    Although Israel may lose in the sphere of media propaganda and get less than adequate international support, Israel will and is getting more than enough support to win these kinds of wars always. Their support is more than that which super powers can give by infinite miles.

    Israel has Divine support! Seemingly ludicrous but true.

      1. Indeed, historical antecedence upholds this truth.

        However, this doesn’t make all of Israel’s actions right. Israel must make exceptional efforts to reduce the loss of civilian lives as hard as this may be.

        Also, the Palestinian government must task themselves very hard to talk hamas into reasonabilty because they know Hamas better than anyone else. Well, if they truly want hamony in the mid-east.

  5. You’re right of course. Additionally, however is the media and the administration being less than Israel friendly.

  6. A number of years ago I went to lunch with an individual that had come to my work place on a business trip. Somehow we got on the Hamas vs Israel discussion. He went straight to high order about how Israel was the aggressor and needed to be stopped. I laid out the facts as I saw them which he agreed with (they were very similar to what is happening today) but refused to give Israel any credit for anything period! I was shocked and quickly changed the subject. Later, in prayer, I asked for guidance on how to approach this subject to allow the truth to come out. I was quickly reminded about Ephesians 6:12 “…spiritual wickedness in high places” and instructed that this is not my battle alone. What? It is God’s battle so sit down, relax, and have confidence in God’s Word. The seeds were planted with that individual, even though I saw no indication of that at all. So by spending time in the Word daily, which strengthens my faith and teaches me His will, and by improving my craft I march on in peace trusting the seed I plant by the Spirit will produce for God’s Kingdom.

    I hope I haven’t communicated some etherial mindset that somehow all will work out. I hope I am communicating how to have confidence that God is ultimately in control. If our job is to counter the misinformation, then trust we will be given the resources we need to do that job, on time and on budget. Our responsibility must be to have a solid aggressive mindset to learn God’s ways by serious Bible study and put as much effort into learning our craft so we will be the benchmark example for our industry.

    Should we be surprised when the world doesn’t get God’s business correct? We will at times, be lost for words or direction, which isn’t so bad when you know your source. Just keep moving in faith so you can be used by our Source and reside in peaceful confidence. We can be sure that God has Israel no matter what is going on in the world.

  7. As a Messianic Jew, I admit, I have completely ignored the response of Christians at this time, as I am immersed in dialogue with my own people, both in Israel and the diaspora. I’m not surprised to read a mix of responses below. It’s very true that Gazans are suffering horrifically, as one would expect in light of the very poor judgement of Palestinian leaders throughout the history of Israel. My heart breaks in a million pieces when I think of them, and lately I’m thinking of them all the time. But my allegiance to Israel never wavers. They are my flesh and blood. There is plenty of sin and wrongdoing on both sides. The question you as Christians should ask yourselves is where do you believe this is going? Where exactly do you think your religion comes from? From which tribe comes your savior? If you are looking for human righteousness to determine which side you’re on, you’ve already blown it. There is no human righteousness. Still want to cheer for the underdog? Well, we all do. But let me remind you that without 2000 years of Christian anti-semitism, including attempts at genocide, Israel probably never would have gained enough support from Jews to create a nation in the first place. So on behalf of my people, thanks. Christians tend to think they have nothing to do with us. But whether you like it or not, your fate is woven into ours. And if the world hates us, I assure you, they’re coming for you next. My advice to you, Christians – get your house in order.

  8. The discussion in British media is largely one-sided. It’s hard not to be moved by human suffering – it’s wrong, but you’re also right that this is a PR war.

    I am troubled by the outright aggression (on Twitter and other Social Media) toward Israel. Palestinians are largely Sunni Muslim and while the world is focusing on that, about 800 miles away in Iraq, Sunni Muslims (ie ISIS) are wiping out Christians, burning churches and rampaging through a war-torn country. Where is the public outrage for that? There’s been very little news coverage on this and a somewhat subdued response on Twitter. Part of me wonders if the disproportionate dislike of Israel on Twitter is actually just plain old anti-Semitism.

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