Is Hamas Winning the Propaganda War in Gaza?

April 30 2018

The numbers attending the weekly demonstrations at the fence separating Gaza from Israel have declined from one Friday to the next, although over this past weekend the protests turned increasingly violent. Despite the likelihood that Israel will be able to restore order, writes Ben-Dror Yemini, Hamas has nevertheless managed to score a propaganda victory with the aid of the world’s media, which blithely continue to distort what is happening:

No one has placed cameras on the U.S.-Mexico border, although 412 infiltrators or migrants were killed there in 2017, and 498 in 2016, including children. But the border between Israel and Gaza, as well as the points of friction in Hebron, seem to have the highest number of cameras in the world.

Something [besides wounded Palestinians, however,] was caught on camera: many of the kites flown toward Israel were marked with a swastika, in addition to carrying explosives. . . . It’s not just the Hamas Covenant or the calls for Israel’s destruction, chanted by some of the protestors [that should be troubling to neutral parties]. It’s also the kites carrying the Nazi symbol. . . .

We shouldn’t make generalizations. It’s not that all of the Strip’s residents identify with the Nazi ideology. But Hamas and its supporters, and likely many of the protestors as well, carry a message of annihilation and anti-Semitism. The moderate ones settle for [merely] spreading the message of Israel’s destruction. . . .

[But] the global media, almost without exception, have ignored the protestors’ message. The swastikas didn’t appear in the New York Times or in Le Monde. [For its part,] the Guardian published a letter by three members of the [Israeli] Breaking the Silence organization, accusing the IDF of instructing snipers to shoot to kill unarmed demonstrators. They’re lying; there are no such orders. They didn’t bother, of course, to write a single word about the responsibility of Hamas and its supporters. On the contrary, they wrote that “harming innocent people in Gaza is part of what is needed to maintain the regime of occupation.” If former soldiers publish a letter which leads to the conclusion that IDF soldiers are murderers, how can we complain about those newspapers’ editorials?

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Hebron, Israel & Zionism, Media

A Better Syria Strategy Can Help Achieve the U.S. Goal of Countering Iran

While the Trump administration has reversed much of its predecessor’s effort to realign Washington with Tehran, and has effectively used sanctions to exert economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, Omar Hassino argues that these measures might not be enough:

Iran and its militias control more territory and natural resources in Syria and Iraq than before President Trump took office. . . . The U.S. should back the low-cost insurgency approach that has already shown potential in southwest Syria to bleed the Iranian forces and increase the costs of their expansion and [of Tehran’s] support for the Assad regime. It makes no sense that Iran can fund low-cost insurgencies to bleed American allies in the region, but the United States cannot counter with the same. The administration should also consider expanding support to the proxy forces that it currently works with—such as the Revolution Commandos near the [U.S.] al-Tanf garrison in southwest Syria—for the purpose of fighting and eliminating Iranian-backed militias. This limited escalation can curb Iranian expansion and put pressure on the Assad regime in the long term.

Furthermore, in this vein, the U.S. should empower peaceful Syrian civil-society groups and local councils operating outside Assad-regime control. Last year, the Trump administration eliminated assistance for stabilization in Syria, including funding going to secular anti-Assad civil-society groups that were also combating al-Qaeda’s ideology, as well as the Syrian [medical and civil-defense group known as] the White Helmets, before quickly [restoring] some of this funding. Yet the funding has still not completely been resumed, and if this administration takes an approach similar to its predecessor’s in relying on regional powers such as Turkey, these powers will instead fund groups aligned ideologically with Muslim Brotherhood. This is already happening in Idlib.

The United States must [also] jettison the Obama-era [strategy of establishing] “de-escalation zones.” These zones were from the start largely a Russian ruse to help the Assad regime conquer opposition areas, and they succeeded. Now that the regime controls most of Syria and Iranian proxies are dominant within the regime side, support for de-escalation is tantamount to support for Iranian expansion. The United States must [instead] prevent further expansion by the Assad regime and Iran in parts of the country that they still do not control.

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy