Can Israel Win the Information War?

The IDF is winning the war on the ground, but Israel is losing the war for hearts and minds.
April 10, 2024
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Watch any knowledgeable political pundit on TV and they will likely say was horrific to see Israelis savagely slaughtered on Oct. 7 by Hamas and it is also horrific that Palestinian civilians have been killed in the subsequent war. This makes sense. Every innocent person killed is a tragedy.

What Douglas Murray, Ben Shapiro and Hillel Fuld explained early on is that intent matters, understanding that Hamas was banking on the international media showing a moral equivalence between a terrorist attack and an army defending itself. When one Hamas leader was asked why he did not build bomb shelters for Palestinians, his response was that it was the responsibility of the UN. While another said they would do an Oct. 7 attack again and again.

Can Israel possibly win the information war, which will not be over even when the current military one is?

“Absolutely,” Fuld told the Journal. “We need to unify our narrative. Our enemies have a very clear concise and easy to digest narrative. ‘You’re oppressing us. Free Palestine.’ Very easy. Our narrative is completely fragmented. Some bring up antisemitism, some talk about the war, some talk about double standards. We need to unify under one narrative. And that narrative should be that the world we live in is a very dark world and the Jewish people have been nothing but a source of light to the world.”

Fuld, an Israeli tech guru and marketing expert, stopped what he was doing after Oct. 7 to focus on defending Israel. He was personally touched by tragedy when his brother, Ari was stabbed in the back by a 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist in September of 2018.

When questioned about Hamas, anti-Israel pundits have attempted to shift the blame to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. According to Fuld, however divided Israel had been on judicial reform, Israel is united in realizing they have to win this. “Media tricks are not effective at all but it’s all they have” because there is no moral way to defend the brutal attack of Hamas. Fuld added that while the Israeli Army is currently being castigated, when all the facts come to light, it will be clear that the Israeli Army is not only more moral than other armies, but their urban warfare tactics will be studied by other armies.

Irina Tsukerman, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and geopolitical analyst told the Journal she is aware many say Israel can’t win the information war.

“I think that is a lazy argument for people who don’t know what they are doing and have failed,” Irina Tsukerman said. “Unfortunately, people don’t really think about what strategies will be effective … There is a great to need to galvanize young Americans, Jewish and not Jewish. That will not happen only by showing the Jew only as the victim. It will happen by showing Jews as impactful people while celebrating the pluralistic voices and experiences. It will happen by showing the new generation that big parts of the story are being hidden from them. Show them the Hamas leaders who have billions of dollars and live abroad in luxury while their people are starving and left to die. When they talk of ceasefire, show them the clips of the Hamas leader who admits said he wants to do October 7 again and again.” She added that effective commercials, articulate speakers, events and social media campaigns pointing out facts were among several things that should be done.

Coleman Hughes Tells Joe Rogan It’s Not a Genocide and the Numbers are False

On “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, host Joe Rogan repeated the Gaza Health Ministry’s report of 32,000 dead. (In late October President Joe Biden said he did no confidence in the numbers of the Gaza Health Ministry.)

 Author Coleman Hughes said that he believes Israel has killed 13,000 Hamas members and 19,000 civilians have died. He believed the ratio was similar to American soldiers who fought ISIS in Mosul. Referring to Hamas, he said it would make “no sense at this point to stop before you’ve cut out the last 20% of the cancer …  It’s very, very, distinct from genocide, cause genocide is when you’re trying to maximize civilian casualties. I think Israel, however imperfectly, is trying to minimize civilian casualties.”

While he agreed the deaths of Palestinians are tragic he blamed Hamas for embedding itself among civilians.

“We can say one of two things, we can say ‘well Israel doesn’t have a clean shot. And so, they have to let Hamas get away with it because it’s too much to bear. But then we are essentially creating a situation where terrorists have found the perfect solution, which is that you can cross the border, go house top house slaughtering your enemies, and then hide behind your own people and they can do nothing about it. It’s a perfect strategy. Can we live in a world where we allow that to be an acceptable strategy? I don’t think so and it’s very ugly to watch. It’s heartbreaking to watch and I completely understand why people don’t think the way I think when they see the videos …”

“(Hamas) can hide behind or inside a hospital and make Israel look like it’s going after innocent people, and when the truth comes out, it’s on page 48. When Israel does something, it’s on page 1. That’s not changing.” – Aaron Meyer

Jordan Chanofsky, founder of Fusion PR in Manhattan, said most people watching  the images on TV will not get past the deaths of civilians.

“The narrative that Israel are the good guys and Hamas are the bad guys might have worked for a short time,” Chanofsky told the Journal. “When people see images of Palestinians dying, it is natural as a human to see suffering and want it to stop. Most won’t be thinking about how Hamas is responsible for the deaths they only will think about how the loss of life is of course terrible. They will believe Israel wants to take over because they are unaware that Israel gave up Gaza in 2005 and doesn’t want it. The point should be made that Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran consider Israel the little Satan and America the big Satan and would destroy both if they could.”

Hamas Doesn’t Need Articulate Spokespeople

Author, attorney and Middle East analyst Aaron Meyer pointed out that even after Oct. 7, the world media believed Hamas’ claim that Israel destroyed the al-Shifa Hospital and killed 500 people, only for all evidence to point to it being a misfire by Islamic Jihad, with a projectile hitting the parking lot and not the hospital.

“Hamas is operating off of a playbook,” Meyer told the Journal. “They can hide behind or inside a hospital and make Israel look like it’s going after innocent people, and when the truth comes out, it’s on page 48. When Israel does something, it’s on page 1. That’s not changing.”

In one interview, Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said it would repeat Oct. 7 again and again and thatHamas was ready to pay the price of civilian casualties. Speaking to Karan Thapar of The Wire, Moussa Abu Marzouk, head of the Hamas International Relations Office, said taking a nine-month-old baby and an 85-year-old woman were mistakes that happen in the chaos of war and that those taken are “guests.”

“They don’t need articulate spokespeople,” Meyer said. “The reporting will follow the script that it’s Israel’s fault and minimize Hamas’ actions. He argues that Israeli messaging needs to be stronger.

“The first thing should always be the hostages,” he said. “We need them back. The second thing is Iran, who is behind everything. I’m not sure why Israel isn’t getting that out every day.” Hamas’ strategy, he said,is to make it seem like Israel is “fighting the weakest opponent possible. It’s fighting Iran, which is a major threat. But you barely hear that. The narrative crafted is that Israel is not even fighting Hamas, it’s Israel vs. Gaza.”

Ami Kozak, host of the podcast “Ami’s House” is a comedian, singer and musician who has delved into politics appearing on “The Candace Owens Show” (where he corrected her, explaining that Muslims are not forced to live only in The Muslim Quarter).

“Israel cannot be responsible for defending itself while at the same time defending its right to do so,” Kozak told the Journal. “To the extent that Israel capitulates to pressure or tries to make apologies for defending itself against barbarism and savagery, it loses. To the extent that Israel asserts itself and remains committed and resolute in defeating its enemies, in the long run, it will win on all fronts, maintaining its moral superiority and those who respect her, and even those who do not.”

Why Optics Are Against Israel

Newsweek communist and I24 correspondent Marc Schulman has sent out an e-mail newsletter every day since the Oct. 7 attack. He told the Journal that many years ago  he realized college campuses assigned certain books that defined Israel as an evil colonizer. Schulman said he thinks Israel has lost the PR war.

“People like the underdog,” he told the Journal. “It looks bad to see people helpless and bombed from the sky and killed. It’s a powerful visual that can overwhelm everything else.”

Political strategist Hank Sheinkopf, founder of Sheinkopf Communications, has advised political candidates, including former President Bill Clinton and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and corporations such as Verizon and Home Depot.

“The PR battle today is being won by the enemies of the Jewish State,” Sheinkopf told the Journal. “Democratic Party leadership public discussions chiding Israel — (President Joe) Biden, (New York Senator Chuck) Schumer, (Vice President Kamala) Harris — are political with desired effect of helping to reelect the Biden Harris ticket …”

Schrader and Austin on Piers Morgan’s Show

Journalist and lecturer Emily Schrader, who recently appeared on “Piers Morgan Uncensored” thinks social media has added a new challenge.

“Israel cannot win the PR war alone,” Schrader wrote the Journal in an email. “There are many factors that impact the spread of disinformation today and social media being abused by authoritarian state actors like China, Russia and the Islamic Republic, is a direct threat not only to Israel but to all Western democracies. In order to win the PR war, we need governments and social media companies to crack down on disinformation and change algorithms to stop rewarding extremism and hate. What is within Israel’s control, however, is being active in the fight and ensuring the truth is at least representative, even if it is not the loudest voice in the media and social media. That is why it’s important to be active online, even if we are outnumbered.”

Abby Martin, an anti-Zionist journalist who debated with Schrader on “Uncensored,” said she condemned all deaths of civilians but refused to specifically condemn Hamas, leaving Schrader surprised.

“Abby Martin’s repeated failure to condemn Hamas in her debate with me on Piers Morgan simply proves what we already know – that the anti-Israel mob has no problem with the slaughter, torture, mutilation, kidnapping, and mass rape of innocent Israeli civilians on Oct. 7,” Schrader said via e-mail.

In a segment from Dr. Phil McGraw’s talk show that has gone viral, journalist Emily Austinargued with a student at Michigan University who would not condemn Hamas. In an earlier interview with the Journal, Austin said that “when someone is honest in admitting they are okay with terrorism, you learn a lot about them.”

Shapiro and Murray

Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew and co-founder of The Daily Wire, shifted his podcast to focus on Israel after the terrorist attacks. He argued that the response by Israel should be disproportionate in that great force should be used against terrorists, but opponents tried to take his statement and claim he meant violence against all Palestinians, which is not what he said. In a speaking engagement fr at Cambridge University, he said Israel didn’t not want mass casualties of civilians.

“The death is civilians here is unjustifiable across the board but is blameworthy on Hamas’ part,” Shapiro said. “There’s a difference between death being justifiable in the circumstances in the sense that it’s ever morally praiseworthy or good, and where you place the blame for that death … to suggest that it’s somehow a celebration of the death of civilians to point out that Hamas is hiding beneath them is to piss the point entirely, the entire point is it’s horrifying what Hamas is doing. If Hamas wants to end this all today, all they have to do is surrender …”

Douglas Murray, who is not Jewish, traveled to Israel to see the carnage, who work appears in The New York Post and reports for other outlets, cited Russian Jewish writer Vasily Grossman who in “Life and Faith” wrote” “Show me what you accuse the Jews of, and I’ll show you what you’re guilty of.”

What About The Narrative of Destroying Hamas?

Israel’s chief concern is its own security. When the higher-ups said Hamas would be destroyed, it was never clear if that was meant to be taken literally and meant every Hamas terrorist. While many leaders were killed, Yahya Sinwar is alive, and others are free to relax at posh hotels in Qatar.  Who is to say Hamas would not regroup?

The hostages are still not returned, and Israel announced it will have fewer soldiers remaining in Gaza.

The deaths of the World Central Kitchen aid workers drew an apology from Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, who said it was a mistake that followed a misidentification, and it took place at night. Israel announced two officers were fired but that will likely do little to help the narrative that Israel was careless.

“Democracies investigate and admit when they are wrong,” Aaron Meyer said. “Hamas doesn’t. This doesn’t mean it’s okay that people are killed by accident. It’s not. The media pushes to make them equal. Hamas wants civilian deaths and Israel seeks to avoid them. The decision to ignore this fact for those who know it, and to ignore this fact in media reports for those who don’t, is immoral. Israel faces an asymmetrical information war because, just like Hamas hides in their tunnels, they hide behind the biased media. A person who questions if an Israeli baby was beheaded or simply shot is or says Israeli women were not raped is a person of good character in this backwards media, but a person who questions to death numbers of the Gaza Health Ministry is portrayed as someone who doesn’t care about Palestinian lives and decency.”

More Bark Than Bite

“The ones protesting in the streets are the loudest and they have a bark, but they don’t have a bite,” Hillel Fuld said. “If you look at what anti-Israel folks are saying on the Internet, I’ve posted on the hatefulness I get, not one of them has any substance. It’s name calling. With Hamas and the Israeli Army, there is right and there is wrong. There is truth and there are lies. The amount of noise they make is not any indication of the people who are actually pro-Israel.”

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