Posted by on December 04, 2012 in Blog

Michael Oren knows something about Hamas that the rest of us don’t: apparently it has one of the most media-savvy public relations teams in the world. That’s what it would take to dupe the American media, which is a claim Oren made in the wake of Israel’s Gaza offensive. 

The Daily Beast posted this from Oren last week: 

“Hamas also has a media strategy. Its purpose is to portray Israel’s unparalleled efforts to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza as indiscriminate firing at women and children, to pervert Israel’s rightful acts of self-defense into war crimes…

“During this operation, The Post published multiple front-page photographs of Palestinian suffering. The New York Times even juxtaposed a photograph of the funeral of Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari, who was responsible for the slaughter of dozens of innocent Israelis, with that of a pregnant Israeli mother murdered by Hamas. Other photos, supplied by the terrorists and picked up by the press, identified children killed by Syrian forces or even by Hamas itself as victims of Israeli strikes…

“As in Israel’s last campaign against Hamas in 2008-09, the word “disproportionality” has been frequently used to characterize Israeli military strikes. In fact, during Operation Pillar of Defense this year, Hamas fired more than 1,500 missiles at Israel and the Israeli Air Force responded with 1,500 sorties…

Read the full post

As far as the American media is concerned, Hamas pretty much enjoys the same level of PR astuteness as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What Oren, and Israeli Government Spokesman Mark Regev for that matter, don’t seem to understand is that the unfavorable coverage Israel’s actions have garnered surrounding the assault on Gaza had absolutely nothing to do with Hamas. It had everything to do with Israel itself and the way they handled their offensive which ultimately resulted in the deaths of over 160 Palestinians and 4 of its own citizens. Claiming that Hamas is some sort of media-savvy entity is silly. Moreover, the outpouring of pro-Palestinian sentiment on Twitter (hashtag #GazaUnderAttack) and Facebook was not a product of Hamas, but a generally engaged group of people around the world who wanted to speak up and prevent the unnecessary deaths of civilians on both sides.   

The bottom line over the past few weeks has been that Israel, as former Leader of Israel’s Kadima party Tzipi Livni has been arguing for some time now, is ruining its own image in the eyes of just about every country’s media. And rebuttals issued by Oren and other spokespeople are not fooling anyone especially in regard to the disproportionality of Israel’s military offensive during Operation Pillar of Defense. Hamas’ firing rockets indiscriminately at civilians is deplorable, but Israel’s high-powered bombardment of civilian populated areas in Gaza is hardly proportional. There is really no viable case for Israel’s actions of late, including the recently announced and internationally criticized E-1 settlement project in the West Bank following the PLO’s bid for statehood at the UN. This is not about public relations, it’s about Israel’s indefensible actions.

Yesterday, William Saletan in Slate argued that the Israeli government has to “get real” if it wants to win the PR battle and prevent itself from losing friends, its leaders need to “Stop insulting our intelligence.” Saletan’s article refers to how Israel has handled the UN vote, but it deals with many of the same points articulated about the offensive in Gaza.

Read related article: Patrick B. Pexton, "Photo of dead baby in Gaza holds part of the ‘truth’", Washington Post, November 23, 2012, Ombudsman.

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