Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We're In, is now available.
The Spanish government on Monday announced that it had “provisionally suspended” sales of weapons to Israel because of its supposed targeting of civilians in Gaza. This came a day after the Obama Administration declared that it was “appalled” by Israel’s “disgraceful” shelling of a UN school in Gaza. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called the shellinga “moral outrage” and a “criminal act.” The only problem with all this moral indignation is that it is wrongly placed on the victim rather than the perpetrator, and bears witness to the success of Hamas’s propaganda barrage.
These are just two of the most recent examples of the success of Hamas’s skillful manipulation of the mainstream media, and the eagerness of the media to be manipulated – an eagerness so great that amid the frenzy to demonize Israel in the court of world opinion, Hamas’s oft-reiterated genocidal bloodlust and brazen breaking of ceasefire agreements goes unreported and ignored.
The U.S. condemnation of the Israeli shelling of the UN school was a particular victory. Jeff Dunetz reported in Truth Revolt Monday that “evidence is emerging that the Israeli strike hit outside of the school and the bodies were moved into the courtyard to make it look like Israel hit the school.” This wouldn’t be remotely close to the first time that Palestinian jihadis have been caught faking Israeli “atrocities” – recently they even billed a still from a horror movie as a fresh Israeli killing of a Palestinian civilian.
Meanwhile, Hamas is cheerfully above-board about how it manipulates the mainstream media. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported in July that “in light of the recent round of fighting in Gaza, the Hamas interior ministry has issued guidelines to Gaza Strip social media users for reporting events and discussing them with outsiders.” These guidelines included this unabashedly Orwellian instruction: “Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don’t forget to always add ‘innocent civilian’ or ‘innocent citizen’ in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.”
But the international media has been almost unanimously indifferent to how it is being played. Nor does it show much interest in the numerous reports of Hamas launching attacks against Israel from civilian areas, so as to provoke retaliatory strikes that can be used for propaganda purposes. The Indian network NDTV reported Tuesday that they had witnessed Hamas constructing a rocket silo “under a tent right next to the hotel where our team was staying. Minutes later, we saw the rocket being fired, just before the 72-hour ceasefire came into effect.” NDTV noted that they were publishing their report “after our team left the Gaza strip – Hamas has not taken very kindly to any reporting of its rockets being fired.” The network, which is no friend of Israel, concluded: “But just as we reported the devastating consequences of Israel’s offensive on Gaza’s civilians, it is equally important to report on how Hamas places those very civilians at risk by firing rockets deep from the heart of civilian zones.”
Likewise generally unfit to print have been Hamas’s own avowals that it puts civilians in harm’s way because of their value for jihad propaganda. A newly-discovered Hamas manual that, according to the Jerusalem Post, has been characterized by the Israeli Defense Force as revealing “that Hamas knows or recognizes the IDF is committed to minimizing harm to civilians,” and explaining “how the civilian population can be used against IDF forces. Based on these two points, the IDF stated that Hamas’ callous and systematic use of the Gazan population as ‘human shields’ was intentional and preplanned.”
But there is no need to take the IDF’s word for it. An interviewer on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV asked the jihad terror group’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in July: “Are people still going up to the rooftops?” After a reporter observed that Palestinians were going up onto the roof of a family home “in order to prevent the Zionist occupation’s warplanes from targeting it,” Abu Zuhri answered: “This attests to the character of our noble, Jihad-fighting people, who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood. The policy of people confronting the Israeli warplanes with their bare chests in order to protect their homes has proven effective against the occupation. Also, this policy reflects the character of our brave, courageous people. We in Hamas call upon our people to adopt this policy, in order to protect the Palestinian homes.”
And then there are the numerous calls from Hamas leaders and supporters for genocide of the Jews. On July 25, Al-Aqsa TV, broadcast a Friday sermon in which the imam addressed the Jews: “We will not leave a single one of you alive. Our doctrine in fighting you is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries.”
Then in early August, Hamas rebroadcast on Al-Aqsa TV a speech by Muslim Brotherhood leader Tareq Al-Suwaidan, in which he said: “Every mother – especially the mothers in Palestine, but every mother in the [Islamic] Nation, not just Palestine – must nurse her children on hatred of the sons of Zion. We hate them and they are our enemies. We will plant this in their [our children’s] souls, so that a new generation will grow among us, which will erase them from the face of the earth.”
In the midst of all this genocidal bloodlust, CNN hosted a debate on the Israel-Hamas conflict featuring not a supporter of Israel and a supporter of Hamas, but two venomous foes of Israel, Reza Aslan and Peter Beinart. With the slender space between the positions of Aslan and Beinart being the only spectrum of opinion allowed a mainstream hearing, it is a wonder that Israel enjoys the support that it does. Yet support for Israel among Americans remains high: like blades of grass poking through the concrete, some truths withstand even the most virulent propaganda barrage.
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