November 14, 2018

When Good PR Means Dead Jews

The stubborn refusal of Jews to go to their slaughter is hurting Israel’s image. Had Israel allowed Palestinian rioters to breach the Gaza border and murder a few Israelis, instead of seeing headlines about Israel killing Palestinians, we might have seen headlines such as this one:

“Palestinians Kill 17 Israelis After Breaching Border”

Now that would have been a resounding PR victory for Israel.

First, the world would have seen with their own eyes that when Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said on April 6 that the goal of the protests was to “take down the border [with Israel] and we will tear their hearts from their bodies,” he wasn’t kidding.

Second, the world would better have appreciated that the protests were not against an Israeli “occupation” but against the very existence of the Jewish state. The Gaza rioters were fighting the borders of 1948, not the borders of 1967.

Finally, the world would have seen how difficult it was to stop thousands of rioters who were determined to invade an enemy country.

Of course, the fence was not breached. No Jews died. Israel held its ground and successfully defended its sovereign border and its citizens.

It always amazes me that Israel’s critics completely overlook that it’s not in Israel’s interest to kill Palestinians and lose the war of public opinion.

From the horrified reaction of Israel’s critics, you would think they’re upset that no Jews died, as if this accomplishment merits punishment and is proof of Israel’s guilt. This has been a recurring problem for Israel every time it defends itself — the country’s reputation takes a beating because it doesn’t suffer enough casualties.

It’s the opposite with terror groups like Hamas: The more they can get their people killed, the more media attention and prestige they earn. Hamas has figured out that the mainstream media worships victims, especially Third World victims who are up against successful, Western-style democracies.

It works like magic. While Hamas leaders stay safe in their bunkers, they send violent militants who create havoc and hide behind women and children. In this perverted worldview, the tragedy of just one child dying in a cloud of tear gas is seen as a PR bonanza. The global media run with it, the United Nations calls for hearings and critics jump to condemn yet another “Israeli war crime.”

Alan Dershowitz calls this the “dead baby strategy.” In a recent piece in the Washington Examiner, he wrote: “Hamas’s goal is to have Israel kill as many Gazans as possible so the headlines always begin, and often end, with the body count. Hamas deliberately sends women and children to the front line while their own fighters hide behind these human shields.”

By blaming only Israel for Palestinian deaths and ignoring the Hamas cowards who send them to their deaths, the media empower the terrorists and prolong the misery of the Palestinian people.

What’s crazy is that Hamas doesn’t even deny this strategy. Dershowitz quotes Fathi Hammad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who stated as far back as 2008:

“For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahedin and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahedin, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine.”

Even the revelation that most of the Palestinians killed were members of Hamas hasn’t reduced the media bias against Israel. As long as the only dead victims are Palestinians, that is enough to carry the well-worn, off-the-shelf narrative of big, bad Israel killing poor, helpless Palestinians.

The real tragedy here is one we rarely discuss: By blaming only Israel for Palestinian deaths and ignoring the Hamas cowards who send them to their deaths, the media empower the terrorists and prolong the misery of the Palestinian people.

Palestinians must know that you can’t feed a family with media victories. A media victory won’t generate jobs or clean water or better health care. After the headlines die out, the Palestinians are back in their living hell while their leaders are back in their beachfront villas, knowing they’ve bought themselves more time by sucking the world media into blaming the Jews for Palestinian misery.

Israelis seem to have figured this game out. The media are effectively offering them a deal they find repulsive: “You want better headlines? Then we need more Israeli casualties.”

For lovers of life, this is an unacceptable bargain. As much as Israelis would love to have better PR, and as much as they strive to make themselves better understood, if the price of PR victories is more Israeli casualties, they much prefer to stay alive.

It always amazes me that Israel’s critics completely overlook that it’s not in Israel’s interest to kill Palestinians and lose the war of public opinion. After all, if killing Palestinians leads to a PR disaster and the prospect of being dragged into international criminal courts, why would Israel do it if not as an absolute necessity to protect its citizens?

Maybe that is the disconnect right there — for people biased against Israel, protecting Israeli lives is simply not a high priority. But for the extended families and friends of Israeli soldiers, which represents most of Israeli society, I can assure you that it is.