Since Operation Protective Edge began, Israel has been winning the battle on the ground, and losing the public relations war across the globe. Sadly, this follows a trend established decades ago whenever a conventional military force fights a guerrilla war against opponents driven by a blood lust.
The USA learned this in Vietnam, the Rhodesians in their “Bush War”, the South African’s in their “Border War” in Namibia, The Sri Lankans in their battles against the Tamil Tigers, and the list goes on and on and on.
When sides are chosen, truth becomes a victim, and in any war, truth is always the first victim. The Gaza operation is no different. The stage of public opinion is easily swayed by graphic images of dead women and children. Nobody gives a rats ass about anything other than what their simple brains are fed by a media striving for rating and advertising dollars, a number boosted by viewership and readership numbers. Why do I refer to “simple brains”? Ask the average American, Brazilian, Chilean or European, what countries border on Israel, and you will get a blank stare. That is far too much depth of knowledge to expect arm chair and keyboard warriors to embrace. All that counts is the words of the reporter, standing with a flak jacket and a helmet, with rockets exploding in the distance. That, and the pictures of the “civilian casualties”.
It matters not to the viewer that civilians are being used by Hamas as human shields, that Hamas intimidates and threatens people into staying in “hot” zones, despite Israeli warnings to leave the area. It matters naught that Hamas has many videos on You-Tube where they embrace and admit the use of civilians as a part of their strategy. People are basically disinterested in digging further, to find out more, and the media follow the mantra espoused by the editorial management of whatever media outlet it is.
Early today an Italian reporter tweeted and I quote “
@gabrielebarbati Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris”. This reporter has not shown much bias in either direction, although has lent to the “big bad Israel” image that most TV and major world media outlets have been punting for weeks and months now. Not ONE main network has actively pursued this option, preferring to rather quote both sides playing a blame game.
Expecting the masses following this operation on TV or in their newspapers to stop for a minute and think above what they are seeing, is expecting too much. The masses are struggling to make mortgage payments, put the kids through school and college, worry about medical bills, job security, economic hardship and who won the game last night. If they did look a bit further than the canned goods being served as news, they might ask why when they see explosions from Israeli action, they are huge, and photos of the aftermath show massive craters, multi-story buildings being collapsed in piles of rubble, twisted steel and concrete, absolute demolition. Then they will look at the scenes of the hospital and school strikes of late, and notice a scrape on the concrete courtyard of a school, a hole in the wall at a hospital, much lower damage levels than the other Israeli strikes. And very few will find this odd, and raise the possibility that these are dud missiles from Hamas or one of the other groups, that fall short and cause “friendly fire” incidents.
When pictures such as the one below show multiple rocket launches from an urban area, nobody will ask what the consequences will be when that battery is taken out. Nobody really cares, except the people who live there, and the IDF troops who must eliminate that source of attack.
And when the IDF publish drone footage of launches from hospitals and schools and mosques…..yawn….nobody airs these, print media can’t show it, so it just goes unnoticed by the masses, the global audience that holds such a negative view of Israel, that the concept of self defence escapes them.
And now for the shocker. The propaganda war and public relations war is lost, voices of explanation and justification disappear into the blades of the turbines that drive world opinion. And that means nothing to Israel, nothing compared to the daily barrage of missiles from Gaza, fired randomly at Israel, without thought to civilians who live under the Iron Domes. So the military option to silence the rockets, close the tunnels will continue, until the objectives are attained. More civilians will die, so will Israeli soldiers, and Hamas will be hunted until the objectives are fulfilled.
The irony of the PR war is that Israel has spent millions of its own shekels, and American dollars in perfecting the Iron Dome system, that has definitely saved its people from carnage. Hamas has used aid to equip, arm and tunnel, for objectives enshrined in their 1988 Charter, the total annihilation of the State of Israel and the Jewish nation therein. And so their civilians die, and they score sympathy points across the globe. In doing so, the world speaks of “proportional response”, clamoring for it, as though it is possible in a war zone. It is not.Never has been, never will be.
Personal experience has taught me, that war is never about proportionality, its about targets, threats, risks, elimination of enemies and their infrastructure. And if that is woven into civilian populations, it is not going to impact in military planning to remove the targets. Clearly carpet bombing is not on the table, but the targets will be taken out, with as minimized a risk to own ground forces as possible. So air-strikes and drone hits will be chosen as first line attack choices, followed by artillery and tank shelling, and finally ground troops to do mop ups. Civilians will die, especially if the targets embed themselves into civilian areas. We must never forget, military strategists will always place limiting civilian casualties at a lesser priority than protecting their own troops, and way lower than eliminating the targets.
What every war has shown, is that the victors write the history books. Truth and objectivity drown in the quagmire of political expediency, and blatant lies, become truths in the minds of all who read about the conflict with a somewhat disinterested disposition, years after the event. In this regard, the issue of “occupied lands” in the Middle East ignores the realities of the “Six Day War” in 1967. Invading countries lost land to Israel when they were routed. Yet now, the cause of that loss is ignored, with the world, under the guidance of the United Nations, insist Israel has violated international law by holding onto the captured areas. No mention of reparations to Israel by the aggressor nations is ever mentioned, sort of “I am tired of playing now, give me my toys back, I am going home” childish thinking.
Israel and its citizens must accept that in any conflict, they will lose the war of world opinion. Antisemitism across the globe, bubbles and ferments, ready to pop-up in jealous anger at a nation of 8 million who in 66 years have turned desert scrub-land into a thriving economy, have lead in scientific advancements for decades, and have beaten those who wish their demise, soundly, each and every time they have tried to obliterate the tiny Jewish State. Whilst those neighbours languish in self-imposed poverty, deny basic human rights, laugh at the concept of democracy, Israel will be judged on negative sentiment only.
In closing, I pray that HaShem will extended his protective hands over the IDF men and women who place their lives in harms way, to ensure the safety and freedom of their families and friends at home in Israel, and also that HaShem take care of the innocents who will find themselves in the middle of this war.