Patterns and Propaganda

As I mentioned yesterday, part of the reason for this new site update is to provide better access to resources for those who might encounter an acceleration of BDS-related activity in the wake of the recent flare-up along the Israeli-Gaza border.

And how can I be so sure we’re going to see more calls for divestment and boycotts in the coming weeks and months? Well if there’s one thing we can predict not just from anti-Israel activists but from the Palestinian groups they support is a repetition of established patterns.

The latest war is a case in point, given how much it hews to a pattern we saw established during Israel’s Defensive Shield crackdown on West Bank terror in 2002, followed by the Lebanon War in 2006, Cast Lead in 2009, up to the present conflict.

In each of those cases, Palestinians (or in the case of Lebanon, Hezbollah) triggered a wider war by pushing their terror activity (whether in the form of suicide bombings, cross-border attacks and kidnappings, or missile attacks) past the level Israel could continue to tolerate.  At which point, a low-level war in which only one side was doing the shooting became a full-fledged, two-way border conflict.

Despite ever-increasing sophistication of their arms, groups like Hamas are no match for the more sophisticated and (more importantly) better-disciplined Israeli troops.  But in any conflict with Israel, groups like Hamas and Hezbollah have learned they could assume:

  • The “courageous” warriors who triggered the conflict could “go to ground” by hiding in bunkers while their “troops” stationed military hardware in schools, mosques and hospitals where they could fire at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Arab ones (and never be called out for activity that in any other context would be considered a war crime)
  • Political organizations masquerading as “peace groups,” which managed to stay somnambulant while missiles were firing into Israel, would suddenly roar to life when Israel responded, taking to the streets in various US and European cities to demand an immediate ceasefire
  • A credulous media would publish any images provided by their Palestinian handlers, especially ones that showed bloody children (or, preferably, blood-stained parents grasping and kissing a dead child)

All of this activity formed the propaganda arm of the overall war effort with the goal of limiting Israel’s military response just enough so that the political structures in places like Gaza and Lebanon would stay intact by the time the ceasefire was demanded and then implemented.  At which point the militants could celebrate their “holding out” against their Israeli foe, with “victory” defined as the leadership surviving the war they started (never mind the devastation that war caused to all around them).

These ceasefires always came with guarantees by the “international community” that the steps which led to the most recent war (such as militants arming themselves to the teeth and then using those arms to attack across the Israel border) would no longer be tolerated.   And these were deals groups like Hamas and Hezbollah could readily accept since they understand full well no UN agency (or other enforcement vehicle) would lift a finger as they rearmed for the next conflict.  Especially since such agencies would more likely be busy organizing kangaroo courts to condemn the Jewish state for “disproportionality” (or whatever other new crime they could invent), turning themselves into the final front in the war that just ended, responsible for generating the propaganda that could be used to justify the next one.

This time around, the pattern has been hewn to so closely it might make you think that Hamas was working off a checklist.  But strangely enough, the usual tricks don’t seem to be working as effectively as they once did.

Scores of journalists are still faithfully publishing Palestinian propaganda, which is also being pumped around the world via social media.  But this time the exposure of fraudulent images (which was a bit of a novelty act among pro-Israel activists in previous wars) has gone mainstream, to the point where every image of a bloody baby coming out of Gaza is now being subjected to scrutiny that the originators of this propaganda never anticipated (and don’t know how to handle).

Similarly, they hypocrisy of “peace activists” who only get active for peace when someone they don’t like returns fire seems to be being accepted by more than just those of us who know these groups all too well.

Finally, geopolitical winds seem to be blowing against immediate implementation of a ceasefire, partly due to American and European politicians no longer being willing to pay political capital to bail the Palestinians out of yet another self-created jam, and partly due to inter-Arab political rivalries that are playing themselves out in Gaza just as they are in Syria and beyond.

The civil war in Syria also plays an indirect role in why Hamas seems to be failing to make its usual traction, propaganda-wise, a factor that talks to the role the need for consistency plays in our human psyche, a topic I’ll continue on tomorrow.

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One Response to Patterns and Propaganda

  1. Mike Lumish November 20, 2012 at 5:36 am #

    Hi Jon,

    This is just a quick note to thank you for including Israel Thrives on your blogroll.

    That is much appreciated, good sir.

    And, yeah, the new look of this place is pretty terrific.

    Keep up the good fight.


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