In early December Israel announced it was opening investigations into eight incidents from the 50 day war with Hamas in July and August. These incidents were cited by Palestinians as Israeli war crimes. Many Palestinians cannot accept the fact that they fired thousands of rockets into Israel and deployed thousands of gunmen against a smaller force of Israeli troops who entered Gaza yet at the end of it all there were over 2,000 dead Palestinians (most of them Hamas members) and only 73 dead on the Israeli side (six of them civilians and one of those a foreign worker). To Palestinians this is clear evidence that the Israelis must have done something really, really evil to achieve such an outcome and whatever they did must be a war crime. The Israelis have learned two things about such accusations; they are almost always false and they fall apart on close examination. The Palestinians are not dismayed by these failures and often come to believe their own lies. But the Israelis continue to win by investigating the war crimes accusations and uncovering more Palestinian deceit and self-delusion.
An example of this occurred in September when Palestinians in Australia were perplexed when they were criticized for using a photo of children killed in Syria to represent Palestinian children killed by Israeli bombs in Gaza during the 50 day war. To Palestinians the truth is clear; Israel is evil, Palestinians are innocent victims and any other interpretation of this means the critic is working for the Israelis. Moreover many Moslem activists like to cite passages in their scripture (the Koran) that justifies lying to kaffirs (non-Moslems) in the defense of Islam. Since Palestinians are striving to remove many kaffirs (the Jews) from Israel they are defending Islam and anything goes. Why don’t those dumb kaffirs understand this? The response of non-Moslem Australians to a deliberate Palestinian deception mystified many Palestinians.
The Australia incident was not exceptional but was typical of long-held Palestinian attitudes. Earlier in 2014 there was a similar example of this much closer to Israel. In this instance the Palestinians thought they had scored another media triumph when they released a video of an Israeli soldier, guarding an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, being harassed by several young Palestinian men. The soldier eventually puts a magazine of ammo into his rifle and points it at the most threatening of the Palestinians and tells him to back off or else. Nothing happens except that the Palestinian men retreat. The video was meant to show the brutality of Israeli security measures against Palestinians but, much to the consternation and disappointment of the Palestinians many (including a lot of Israelis) saw it as further evidence that the Palestinians do not want peace and only want to cause trouble.
The reaction to this incident on the Internet was surprising to Israeli military leaders. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers left comments on sites where the video appeared and pointed out that it is the Palestinians who are the aggressors and that Israeli soldiers operate under a growing list of rules about what they can (very little) and cannot do in response to Palestinian threats and violence. Equally disturbing was the fact that soldiers were often breaking rules by discussing these matters on the Internet. But it was also obvious that there was a lot of anger and frustration among the soldiers who are reservists and regularly called up to spend a month or so providing security in the West Bank. Those for and against the Israeli presence in the West Bank used the incident to support their views, but the soldiers were mostly frustrated at being caught in the middle of a dispute that the Palestinians and Arabs have refused to settle for decades and blame everyone but themselves for their predicament.
These are not isolated incidents. Another example occurred in January 2014 when Hamas (the Palestinian terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip) had its Twitter accounts suspended several times for violating the Twitter terms of service. Hamas was constantly advocating genocide and the use of terrorism against civilians. Hamas makes no secret about its desire to destroy Israel and kill any Jews who did not leave the region. Twitter points out that since Hamas has been designated (since 1997) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization it is against U.S. law for American firms to provide it with any kind of support. This is not always enforced, unless the terrorists seem to be making effective use of something and then the company in question is reminded of the law by the U.S. government.
Hamas has long been using the Internet to get its message out, as well as to raise money and seek out recruits. Apparently they were becoming too blatant about describing their essential message (terror and genocide) and using accounts operated by Hamas. At the same time there were more and more non-Moslem media monitoring groups that were publicizing what Arab language media (of Hamas and other Islamic radical groups) were saying about their goals and methods. While these groups moderate their message in English, they are more blunt and scary in Arabic. This is not a translation issue, Hamas leaders want to kill lots of Jews and are not happy about their lack of success.
In response to decades of this sort of anti-Israel propaganda the Israeli government have become more active in countering Palestinian efforts. This even more urgent as the Palestinians have succeeded in gaining the support of many in the West. The Palestinians have, as far as many Westerners are concerned, turned themselves into the persecuted and oppressed underdog with Israel depicted as the bad guy. This despite the fact that it is the Palestinians who have more often acted in bad faith and have been quite openly waging a terror campaign against Israel for over a decade. In response to this the Israeli government is feeding the foreign media more and more embarrassing details of Palestinian deceptions. Despite this, it’s been slow going, if only because most journalists are reluctant to admit they have been played by the Palestinians.
A major part of this new Israeli Information War strategy is collect lots of evidence of Palestinian duplicity. Much of this is made possible by the growing use of digital security cameras and UAVs over Palestinian area. For several years now Israel has been placing more cameras (either fixed or in vehicles or aircraft) in areas where its forces confront angry, or armed, Palestinians. This is to get a video of what actually happened in situations where Palestinians get killed and then accuse the Israelis of war crimes. Often Israeli troops are being ambushed or otherwise on the defensive when they open fire. No matter, if Palestinians get hurt the Palestinians have learned that the media is willing to believe some outrageous lies and blame everything on the Israelis. All these videos, aggressively distributed by the Israelis, are becoming a real problem for Palestinian propagandists.
Since 2000 Israel and the Palestinians have been fighting an Information War over who is doing the most damage to each other’s civilians. Both sides take a markedly different approach to how they deal with documenting and publicizing casualties. The Israelis photograph and record any available data on anyone killed in areas they control. In addition, the Israeli press (which includes pro and anti-government outlets) scrutinizes the deaths for possible headlines. So the Israeli count of who died, and whether or not they were fighters or unarmed civilians, is generally considered accurate. The Palestinians, on the other hand, severely restrict media access to combat areas they control. The Israelis do this as well, but not as consistently, persistently and deceptively as the Palestinians.
Palestinians also play with the numbers and have even been caught staging funerals using "corpses" that were actually live people pretending to be dead and representing fake fatalities. In at least one case an Israeli UAV camera caught one of these phony funerals in which the corpse fell off the stretcher, got up and got back under the shroud. The video of this went viral and from that the Israelis realized that they had lots of similar video evidence of Palestinian efforts to deceive the media. So now the Israelis are turning that around with energetic searches for such video or photographic evidence of Palestinian deceptions, and then getting that rebuttal out there in a big way.
This has hurt the Palestinians in other ways. The Palestinians will claim as high a number of dead as Palestinians believe they can get away with. In cases where a third party was able to double check, the Palestinians were found to be exaggerating the number of their dead by five to ten times. Now, after years of having their deceptions revealed, the exaggeration is a lot less. That is considered preferable to being shamed by another exaggerated count being exposed as a lie.
Palestinian leaders are also getting into trouble with many of their Western donors over public statements by Palestinian officials made in Arabic that got translated by Israeli activists and distributed. One example of this occurred in early 2012 after a Palestinian civilian stabbed a Jewish civilian to death in the West Bank. Palestinian officials promptly went on local electronic media praising the killer as a heroic fighter for Palestinian freedom. Another official praised the enterprise of the killer and urged more such killings. He gushed that, "If we had a nuke, we'd have used it this very morning." That official was also heard discussing how peace negotiations with Israel are only a tactical ploy, to weaken Israel until Palestinians are strong enough to kill all the Jews.
All this inflammatory stuff was said in Arabic, because the Palestinian officials know that this sort of thing is very popular with Arabs and hard to explain to Westerners. All this is because of some advice they took from their former Soviet patrons, who urged the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) to reform their educational system so that after a few decades all the children going through it would be adults with a very different view of Israel and the world. That worked and the result is that, in this fantasy world employed by most Palestinians, Israel does not exist. Oh, Israel is there for all to see, but in Palestinian schools the maps of Israel are not labeled Israel. What is Israel is labeled as Palestinian, with perhaps a footnote to mention that Zionist oppressors temporarily occupy a lot of Palestinian territory. The Israelis are depicted as bad people, who steal from the virtuous Palestinians and are assisted by other evil people, like the Americans. Everything bad that happens, including the rampant corruption of Palestinian politicians, is blamed on Israel. At the same time, Palestinian terrorists who have killed Israeli women and children are hailed as heroes and children are encouraged to be terrorists, especially suicidal ones. It’s not just the terrorists who get this treatment. Yasser Arafat, who led the effort to create the Palestine people and the fantasy Palestine taught in schools, died of apparent natural causes in 2010. Soon Palestinian children were being taught that Arafat was poisoned by Israelis.
The basic problem is that, for the last two generations, it has been Palestinian policy to teach their children, and anyone that will listen to these Arab language screeds that Israel has no right to exist. The kids get indoctrinated with anti-Semitic propaganda at a young age and as adults they continue to be bombarded by anti-Semitic rants. Thus most Palestinians (unless they were educated outside of the Middle East) take it for granted that any peace deal with Israel is just a tactical move in the effort to eventually destroy Israel and drive all Jews from the Middle East. People outside the Middle East have a hard time comprehending this attitude. But it is very real, and can be seen on Palestinian web sites (not so much on the non-Arabic language ones, although even there the anti-Semitic line is leaking through more and more). Israel goes through the motions of negotiating, to keep its Western allies and trading partners happy, but few Jews in Israel see any chance of real peace with the Palestinians, given the current attitudes within the Palestinian community.
Palestinian attitudes towards the non-existence of Israel goes beyond teaching their kids that Israel doesn’t even exist. While Arabs love to call Israelis "Nazis", it is the Arab world that is the true heir to the Adolph Hitler's vision of how the world should be. A major weapon in the Palestinian arsenal is anti-Semitism. For a long time, even before World War II, the racial hatred tactic was particularly popular in the Arab world. This was partly the result of Islamic radicalism, which pushed hatred of all non-Moslems, not just Jews. But as more Jews began moving into Jerusalem and surrounding areas in the late 19th century, more of the Moslem racial animosity was concentrated on Jews. This way the Palestinians could still solicit the West for charitable donations while still having some non-Moslems they could hate intensely.
This is not the usual ethnic animosity found in Europe, but something more in line with the extreme violence of the Nazis. In fact, during World War II, the Nazis were very popular in the Arab world (and still are). Translations of Hitler’s “how to” book (Mein Kampf) are best sellers in the Arab world. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (the highest Islamic official in the area) spent most of World War II in Berlin to avoid arrest by the British. Iraq, which had become independent during the 1930s, declared itself a German ally in 1941 and was promptly invaded and re-conquered by three British divisions, before the Germans could get many troops into the territory of their new ally. After World War II, the Arab language media continued Nazi-grade anti-Semitism. The Arabs had enough sense to tone down this race hatred, and pro-Nazi, line in their non-Arab language media. But in Arabic, it’s all hate all the time.
Over the last few decades, and especially since the end of the Cold War, many Westerners have adopted the anti-Semitic angle in denouncing Israeli attempts to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism. Such self-defense measures are now seriously discussed as "war crimes" in the West. To the Arabs, the very existence of Israel is a "war crime," but the Arabs have been unable to do much beyond fanaticizing about destroying Israel while at the same time teaching a new generation that even the historical facts of Jews in the Middle East are lies. Now they have many political activists and progressive thinkers in the West fanaticizing along with them. Tangible gains from this ethnic hatred strategy have been scant so far. Many in the West are appalled by it, and the leadership in most Western nations does not buy into it. But much of the popular media does, and incidents of anti-Semitism, including assault and murder, are on the increase in Europe. Arabs see their anti-Semitism strategy as a success, as Arabs tend to take solace in symbolism, given their lack of substantial progress in destroying Israel. So every anti-Semitic attack in Europe is a victory, as is every European politician who denounces Israel for non-existent war crimes, or ignores the very real atrocities that the Arabs commit against each other. To many Arabs, living the fantasy is easier than dealing with reality.
The Palestinians believe that time, and God, are on their side. Meanwhile, they use negotiations to gain whatever small advantages they can. The ultimate goal, as is plainly displayed on official Palestinian web sites and official documents, is the expulsion of all Jews from what the United Nations erroneously calls “Israel.” While not all Palestinian students believe the lies, enough do to keep the others quiet or succeeding in fleeing to the West.