Antisemitism

How Hamas uses Western ignorance of the Middle East to gain support


How is it possible that deceitful information from antidemocratic entities, like the new Hamas manifest, is permitted to massively spread on American social media?

This week, I got an awkward message from one of my Instagram followers in Canada.

“After seeing so many ‘colonizer’ and ‘settler’ statements and thinking this was regarding Palestinians and settlers in the West Bank, and after seeing some of the footage from those ‘reporters’ that came along on October 7 and were posting videos bragging and laughing while terrorists were raping and murdering people in their homes inside Israeli territory, I noticed instances of calling Israeli kidnapped females ‘settlers.’

It’s now finally sinking in that what Hamas really means is that all of the land Israel exists on right now is supposedly ‘occupied’ and all Israelis are ‘settlers.’ This is the craziest thing that makes it all even more horrifying. Am I getting this right?”

This follower is not Jewish, just someone interested in current world events, and, yes, she’s getting it right. Not only that – what many people still do not get right is not a coincidental misunderstanding. Creating confusion about the situation is all part of the Hamas tactic of constant deceit, backed by Iran.

Pro-Palestinian protesters attend ”Flood Brooklyn for Gaza” demonstration, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas continues, in New York, US, October 28, 2023. (credit: CAITLIN OCHS/REUTERS)

These two fundamentalist entities know very well that if Western people would know the truth, no one would support them. So instead of calling for the annihilation of Israel (which is something that both Hamas and Iran constantly do in Arabic and Persian), they put a great deal of effort into creating confusion about the facts, in English.

Using Western ignorance 

Since most English-speakers don’t know that “settlers” (those who live in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria) actually constitute less than 5% of Israelis, and since “settlers” is a word with a negative image, they refer to all Israelis as settlers.

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Since most people in English-speaking countries don’t know that the region of Palestine was never an independent country but an occupied “no-man’s-land” populated by Jews, Arabs, Christians, Bedouin and others through many centuries, they claim that it has always been theirs.

Since most people aren’t familiar with Middle Eastern history, they say that the Jews don’t belong in Israel, although Jews have been residing there since biblical times. Since many don’t even bother to Google it, they say that Palestine was a country, although Arabs only began to identify themselves as Palestinians after 1967.

They use words such as “colonizers” or “oppressors” because they know these are trigger words, sensitive words, meant to create an impression that has nothing to do with the reality in the Middle East. Throwing these words at Israel is meant to hide the fact that Israel is the only anti-colonial project in the Middle East, a democracy with equal rights for all citizens, whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim (20% of Israelis are Muslim). It is also meant to hide the fact that both Iran and Hamas run autocratic, cruel, religiously primitive, and oppressive regimes.

Everything I’ve written here is basic knowledge for every Israeli and also for most Jews around the world. Still, it’s important to state this clearly for those who are not personally involved but kind of “join the crowds,” cheering for one of the sides. It’s important because without confusion, Hamas and Iran would get zero support for their side. It is the confusion that allows them to sell a narrative based only on bits and pieces of the story and padded with lies.

The new manifest issued by Hamas this week is part of the same confusion scheme. When Israelis saw it on social media like X (formerly Twitter), they rolled their eyes. The denial of the mass murder of civilians on October 7 seemed too delusional to bother to react to. But the manifest isn’t directed at Israelis. It is directed at Arab and Muslim audiences, and also at audiences like my Canadian follower, who is neither Jewish nor an expert on the subject and is therefore easy to confuse.

Iran and Hamas will probably keep exploiting democratic freedom in order to spread their antidemocratic narratives, wrapped in a cloud of confusion. The real question is – how is it possible that American social media permit such materials, which are owned by designated foreign terrorist groups, to be wildly spread on their platforms?

The writer is a senior analyst for Maariv.







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