Creating new perspectives since 2009

On psychological warfare and political propaganda

October 18, 2023 at 5:56 pm

US President Joe Biden is welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 18, 2023. [GPO/ Handout – Anadolu Agency]

In a failed acting scene, Netanyahu appeared on the screen after rubbing his eyes with an onion to induce crocodile tears and appear as if he was affected and sad by what he claimed were brutal attacks, raping women, beheading children and burning Israelis alive. He claimed that these crimes were committed by the Al-Qassam fighters during their attack on the Gaza settlements.

Then the military leaders followed him with faces dripping with hatred and threatened to crush Hamas and erase it from existence, justifying this as a response to Hamas killing hundreds of civilians, describing it as ISIS.

US President Biden made hateful statements that were unusual in diplomatic custom, to the point that the White House later retracted them and confirmed that neither Biden nor anyone else had seen any pictures showing rape, burning or beheading, and that Biden based his statements on Israeli media claims, without verifying them.

READ: Egypt FM: Israel’s bombing prevents Rafah Crossing being opened

What is very dangerous in the statements of the Israeli and American leaders is that they give the army full authority to continue killing the population and destroying Gaza over the heads of its citizens, without considering this as brutality and without classifying them as war crimes. This is because, firstly, Biden did not mention in his speeches any support for the Palestinians and, secondly, he did not address or give attention to their suffering and national aspirations. He just compared the Hamas attack to the hatred of Jews, using the phrase “pure evil”, which is a phrase usually used to describe Nazism.

Third, the statements by the Israeli Defence Minister that the army deals with the residents of Gaza as “human animals”, dehumanises and demonises them all, and considers them legitimate targets for bombing. This means that the Israelis can practice murder and criminality with a clear conscience. This is a statement that is not isolated from the Zionist ideology, which considers the Palestinians (and everyone who is not Jewish) as mere gentiles who do not deserve to live. It also is not far from some Israeli literature, which has always described the Palestinians as frightening beings who do not like life.

Fourthly, perhaps for the first time ever, Israeli discourse likened Hamas to ISIS, taking advantage of their statement, “We will execute a civilian hostage and we will broadcast this with audio and video.” While Hamas retracted the statement and realised it was a mistake, the Israeli mindset is always ready and prepared and, even before this statement was made, it sought with all its might to label he Palestinian struggle as terrorism, and it punished the Palestinian Authority which paid salaries to the families of martyrs and prisoners, claiming that by doing so, it was supporting terrorism. The American and European positions were consistent with these allegations, but they failed, and the Palestinian struggle remained in the global mindset as a national moral and legitimate struggle. Nowadays, Israel is not content merely with labelling the Palestinian struggle as terrorism but, rather, it will make it comparable to ISIS; and this is only the beginning to paving the way to describing the entire Palestinian nation as ISIS.

READ: Netanyahu applauds Biden for being first US president to visit Israel during war

Everyone knows that the label of “ISIS” in the global mindset is associated with brutality, cruelty, terrorism and barbarism, and this prepares world public opinion to accept Israel’s crimes, and even to treat iit as a victim of terrorism, and that it is fighting terrorism on behalf of the democratic world. It was not enough for the major powers of the world to give them an open mandate to do whatever they want with ISIS (the Palestinians), and Netanyahu said, “Hamas is ISIS and just as ISIS was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed”. He has even pushed Gaza’s residents towards Sinai and, if he succeeds in doing so, no one will deter him from continuing his crimes in the West Bank.

Hamas acted well when it immediately published a video recording showing Al-Qassam fighters releasing an Israeli woman and her two children, without harming them. It is also useful here to recall the speech by Muhammad Al-Deif, who advised his soldiers not to kill a child, a woman, or the elderly. Everyone must intensify media efforts to confront Israeli and American propaganda that is trying to demonise Hamas, dehumanise the Palestinians, associate the national struggle with ISIS, and emphasise the morality of the Palestinian struggle, the nobleness of its methods and the legitimacy of its national goals.

Israel wants to show the world that it is fighting Hamas alone, and that its problem is with Hamas only. This is misleading propaganda, which the Americans had previously used before their invasion of Iraq (2003), when Bush claimed that the goal of the American army was to remove Saddam and his two sons from power and rid the Iraqis of dictatorship. We all know that this was a lie and that it fell through, but it fell too late after many Iraqis had believed him.

No sane person can believe that the American aircraft carrier came for Hamas, or that Israel recruited half a million soldiers for Hamas. It is true that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are currently at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle. They are defending us all and we must realise that this war is targeting the entire Palestinian cause, as well as the entire Palestinian nation and the events in the West Bank are the biggest proof of this.

All of the above means and proves that the political and media front is as important as the military front in Gaza, and a conscious media and political discourse must be presented. Given the seriousness of the stage, any mistake or recklessness will lead to disaster.

READ: Head of Israel military intelligence admits ‘failure’

This article appeared in Arabic in Al  on 16 October, 2023

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.