The pictures coming out of Gaza look familiar. Palestinians are grieving for their family members lost to Israeli bombs, and armor. In the so-called International PR war, it’s no contest. Israel once again looks like Goliath, and the people inhabiting one of the poorest places on earth, Gaza, are Davids. Israeli explanations for the military operation, and for their deep respect for civilians, and their strategy for minimizing civilian deaths, all fall on deaf ears. The world doesn’t hear explanations. They see pictures on TV, computer and mobile phone screens. No amount of explanations offering context compete in real time with the dead baby pictures.
The story is headlined on many international news sites as "terror in Gaza." Words matter. If what is going on now in Gaza is identified as terror, than Israel is seen as the terrorist. When Hamas succeeds in getting the international media to identify the government of Israel as an agent of terror, the public relations victory for Hamas is beyond our ability to quantify.
Israel didn’t go into Gaza to win a public relations war. The majority of Israelis, who support this mission, are painfully aware that words and pictures matter and that they will be judged on the wrong side of the current news cycle. They feel that cannot afford the luxury of fighting and winning PR wars.
Israel could "win" that war simply by flipping one policy switch. It could open the gates of Israel to Gaza and allow Hamas as much access to Jewish population centers as it would love to have, so that they could send their suicide bombers into coffee houses, buses, hotels. Is there any doubt that Israel would gain worldwide sympathy?
Israelis know their own history. Despite the ravings of Hamas’ best friend, Iran’s Ahmadinejad, facts are facts. Millions of Europen Jews were killed in an effort by Hamas hero, Adolf Hitler, to extinguish the Jewish people from the face of the earth.
The pictures that greeted the world after Auschwitz made worldwide Jewry a David on the world stage. There was international consensus that it made sense for Jews to have their own state, and Israel, the land of David was the obvious choice. In 1948, Israel was invaded by the armies of its Arab neighbors virtually at the same moment it was founded. While it was able to miraculously repel those attacks and build a thriving democracy in a very tough neighborhood, the price of progress was surrendering David status on the world stage.
The only way for Israel to get it back is to allow Hamas to meet its stated objectives, the destruction of Israel. If Israel chose national suicide, it could once again be David. While the price of that prize is too high for Israel, isn’t it clear that is precisely the price Hamas is willing to pay to win the news cycle public relations war?
By sending thousands of rockets into Israel over the last eight years, by inviting the Israelis to send in their Goliath machinery, by starving their own people of economic opportunity, and any sense of personal or national security, hasn’t Hamas made it crystal clear that they are prepared to pay the price for becoming David? Hasn’t Hamas made it obvious that suicide is the name of their game?
The same organization that targeted Israelis for years with suicide bombings has turned Gaza into a target for bombings. When a man takes children hostage in any country, he is inviting the local SWAT team to do what is necessary. And sometimes it is necessary for the SWAT team to kill the hostage taker by lethal force. Hundreds of thousands of people in Southern Israel have been hostages to the rocket fire of Hamas. The pictures from Gaza show dead innocents. The blood you don’t see is on the hands of their hostage taker, Hamas.
Less than two weeks ago, an American military camera in Afghanistan was able to show with great accuracy the sight of fourteen little Afghan children, aged eight to ten, on their way to their final day of class. It was the day they were to find out whether or not they were to be advanced to their next grade.
But they never did find out. The video showed a truck approaching within only a few yards of the children and there was a flash of light. For those children, that’s when the lights of their lives were turned off by the ideological cousins of Hamas.
The war being fought in Afghanistan by the Americans and Canadians and Brits under the NATO banner is no different than the one being fought in Gaza by the Israelis.
Pictures deceive, but the facts don’t lie.