Information wars, again

I have commented before about the nature of “information warfare,” and I think the ongoing tragedy on the Gaza/Israel border is a good illustration.

1522423945_10001421+Palestinians+IsraelLet me be clear: I am saddened by the massive, one-sided casualties which are enough to make many quite reasonable people doubt that Israel has all the “right” on its side.

But let us also be clear: this is a well thought out “operation” that is designed by cynical Hamas leaders, to sacrifice (no other word) young men and, quite literally children, in order to achieve a highly visible public relations victory. The real war is not being “fought” on the border between Gaza and Israel, it is being fought PALESTINIAN-GAZA-ISRAEL-UNREST-CONFLICTon our TV screens and front pages and on social media … and Hamas is winning it. It is being defined as a sort of David vs Goliath struggle in which brutal Israel is killing innocent young Arab children for doing nothing more than protesting on their own side of the border. And, of course, there is just enough truth to make a good story … yes the Palestinians are protesting on their side of the border but they are also both charging the border, thus requiring an Israeli presence, and then using their slingshots to send firebombs into the Israeli ranks inviting retaliation. Part of the fence between Gaza and Israel is a large, concrete barrier but most of that fence is just a wire fence, sometimes single stage an often a two stage wire fence …

The Israelis, apparently, start off using rubbed bullets against stone throwers but escalate to live ammunition (deadly force) when the Arabs charge the fence and use fire-bombs or Molotov cocktails.

Now you might ask, shouldn’t they shoot over the heads of the demonstrators or shoot to wound? Those are the questions that people who have never been in a “fire fight” might well ask, and the answers are “no and No!” Firing warning shots warns, of course, but it does not deter, not enough anyway, and “shooting to wound” is a fairy tale.

The Israeli soldiers have only two choices: deadly force or allow thousands of rioting young men into Israel to loot, burn, rape and murder. But that discussion is too contemplative and too nuanced for most media, especially for TV and social media where Hamas will win big. But even Hamas, The Economist, says, fears that “even they cannot control the tiger. The group’s own cadres are angry that Hamas has not tried to avenge weeks of bloodshed. On a radio station run by Islamic Jihad, a rival militant group, hosts urged their comrades to retaliate. Israeli jets carried out at least one airstrike against a Hamas outpost. An army spokesman threatened more if the protests continued—which they will.

Arabs rage at the very existence of Israel and, for that mater, of Jews. They dream of a (mythical) time, 1,000 years ago, when Arabs ruled much of the West …

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… and they yearn for a new Muslim caliphate stretching from Southern Europe all the way to China …

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… that is, by the way, a graphical representation of a 21st century Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS “plan” which remains very popular in some circles.

Hamas has more limited aims: it wants to first isolate and then defeat Israel … it wants a wholly Arab, Muslim state “from the (Jordan) river to the sea” where Islam will be the only religion and the Jews will be gone.

Israel, understandably, doesn’t agree …

The result needs to be more and more and more of this …

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… and this …

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So that there will be less and less of this …

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… and this:

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Hamas is winning the current, short term propaganda war, which includes a popular, well organized and well funded Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, but Israel remains dominant in the mid to long term influence war. Israeli Jews, and Jews around the world ~ most of whom are remarkably productive, sophisticated and politically adept people ~ are well aware of Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s strategic aims, and they are, equally, well aware that virulent, murderous, even genocidal anti-semitism alive and well in the Muslim world is buried only in the  shallowest of graves in much of the West …

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… so when young Israeli men and women say “never again” …

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… they are looking not at a thousand year old myth but at a reality that confronted their grandparents and which, they are determined, should not happen to them or their children or grandchildren. Israel and world Jewry are waging a more subtle campaign in more confined spaces …

… and it is a campaign in which they remind world leaders, including many (often friendly) Arab leaders that Israel is a sophisticated, advanced, and nuclear armed democracy that is determined to survive and prosper in what it regards as its historic homeland, and that it is prepared to fight against all comers, using all of its considerable power. Israel is a major regional power and, in its own way, an important, if frequently problematical world actor.

Israel stirs some deep emotions … some people hate Israel and Jews, others, especially some, actually many social and religious (Christian) conservatives seem willing to forgive Israel every transgression. As a general rule I think that the Liberal Party of Canada, as currently led, has more than just a whiff of anti-semitism in its foreign polices, while the Conservative Party is too unconditionally supportive of Israel. That Israel has a right to exist and, therefore, a right to defend itself is ~ must be ~ beyond question; that Hamas and Hezbollah are vile, murderous, terrorists organizations that richly deserve every bad thing that happens to them is also beyond question; but Israel is not 100% right all the time and it is both naive and wrong to pretend otherwise.

Canada’s foreign policy should be based, in the main, on principles (values) which many Canadians accept as valid and on self interest. Of course political calculations matter, including gaining or keeping the “loyalty” of certain groups ~ including Jews and social conservatives and, just for example, members of the large Ukrainian-Canadian community or, just as another example, the fast growing Muslim-Canadian community. That may mean that we will, from time to time, temper our support for Israel, especially when what Israel is doing is difficult to justify … but it should never mean that we take the side of terrorist groups like e.g. Hamas or Hezbollah.

Canadian foreign policy should not be made as a knee-jerk response to a terrorist group’s propaganda campaign … no matter how clever.

 

 

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