Many people who are informed about what’s actually happening in the Middle East constantly wonder why Israel fares so badly in the information wars. The following example gives us a pretty good idea why.
Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a Palestinian “activist,” died on January 1. Palestinian spokesmouth Saeb Erekat, who once was the right fork of Yasir Arafat’s tongue, claimed she died during a demonstration in the Palestinian town of Bil’in, killed by “poison” contained in tear gas fired at the demonstration by Israeli soldiers after it deteriorated into what could best be termed a riot.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Abu Rahmah’s death a “new Israeli crime carried out by the occupation army against our helpless nation.” She was given a martyr’s funeral, with crowds of mourners, as a victim an Israeli “war crime.”
The story was almost instantaneously reported around the world as fact, with Time’s resident Israel basher Tony Karon getting off a piece celebrating it as the occasion of an alliance between Palestinian activists and Israeli leftists.
The real story? According to the IDF, there’s no evidence Abu Rahmah was even at the Bil’in demonstration, nor does she show up on any of the videos. There’s no evidence she died from inhaling tear gas (if it was in fact poisonous, why weren’t there other deaths?) and the death certificate shows the cause of death as “inhaling gas of an Israeli soldier according to the family.”
That’s an indication that no doctor actually examined Abu Rahmah but that the death certificate was simply filled out by a nurse or orderly. And the accounts of her actual state of health are contradictory.
Was Abu Rahmah the victim of an honor killing exploited by the PA? It certainly wouldn’t be the first Pallywood production we’ve seen.
And really, none of the facts matter at this point.
Run with me for a second. Let’s say evidence surfaces that Abu Rahmah was never at the demo, and that this was an honor killing rather than death by tear gas. What changes?
By the time the truth comes out, the Palestinian propaganda machine and its allies have already publicized their version, it’s gone around the world and the media have already moved on to the next story. The Muslim world will certainly never hear the truth, and Israel’s enemies in the West will simply take the Palestinian version as factual.
And that’s the core of the problem.
Jews culturally are geared toward parsing facts and evidence, which is one reason so many of them are attracted to the legal profession. Anyone studying the Talmud essentially receives a legal education in miniature.
But what happens when you’re up against people who care nothing for facts and everything about impact and propaganda? What happens when you fight an information war against people who care nothing for the truth and merely want to consume your flesh?
In today’s media climate, you’re left foundering, trying to decipher the facts while the other side has already made its impact.
This is the sort of thing that happens when you play defense instead of offense -the other side controls the game and you’re limited to reacting.
That’s why Israel has been losing the information war.
Israel would be far better off going on offense by publicizing the Palestinian Authority’s inherent corruption, its official endorsements of terrorism against Israeli civilians, and its refusal to make a single concession in any negotiations.
Instead of constantly reacting to the “Palestinian narrative” with frantic attempts to dredge up facts, Israel would be far better off simply calling out people like Erekat and Abbas for lying, challenging them to prove their vicious allegations, and reminding the world of all the other fairy tales the Palestinians have spun over the years.
Rob Miller blogs at JoshuaPundit (www.joshuapundit.blogspot.com).