The most amazing thing about western media coverage of the standoff at the Gaza border, Ben Shapiro notes, is that Hamas isn’t trying to hide the ball this time. A typical “Pallywood” propaganda production would insist that all victims of the IDF were civilians, guilty of nothing more than exercising their right to protest. Not here.
Hamas Political Bureau Member Salah Al-Bardawil: 50 of the Martyrs Killed in Gaza were from Hamas, 12 Regular People pic.twitter.com/etPPGrsQo7
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) May 16, 2018
It’s not just him. I posted this yesterday but watch it now if you missed it:
Senior Hamas Official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar on Gaza Protests: This Is Not Peaceful Resistance, It Is Supported by Our Weapons pic.twitter.com/aut0Q7SPD9
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) May 15, 2018
Why would Hamas blow up the narrative of peaceful resistance in this case? It could be because they know their Arab-speaking audience is different from their English-speaking one. Among Muslims, they want to be seen as the tip of the spear of “resistance.” That means taking credit for the Gaza operation in Arab media.
But that may be too pat. Surely Hamas is savvy enough to know by now that admissions made on Arab TV will be picked up in Israeli media and some parts of U.S. and European media. Although not all parts, of course:
Is Hamas paying ppl to riot?
NBC reporter: “Netanyahu continues to throw out conspiracy theories to US media. Reporters must push back against these types of baseless claims with zero evidence to support”
Telegraph reporter: here are photos of rioters cashing their Hamas checks pic.twitter.com/J9BlJt57sy
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) May 16, 2018
Hamas may have concluded that the death toll among actual civilians last weekend was sufficiently high, and the balance of opinion in western media so overwhelmingly in the Palestinians’ favor, that acknowledging their own violent intentions won’t spoil the PR victory in this case. We may have reached a point where a jihadist outfit dedicated to the elimination of its enemy launching a cross-border assault will enjoy the balance of press sympathy even when it admits what it’s up to. To some extent, this may mark the end of “Pallywood.” There’s no need for Palestinian leaders to try to fool the media anymore about what’s happening. Journalists are going to report what they want to see whether or not it’s playing out in front of them.
But don’t take my word for it. Hamas won the PR war according to the IDF itself:
Westerners who side with the Palestinians seem completely indifferent this week as to who the specific casualties were. Hamas, civilian — they’re all just meat in the IDF’s grinder. Maybe Hamas is being candid because it too has come to understand that being a member of the group carries little stigma anymore among western sympathizers, assuming it ever really did. E.g.:
When people on both sides die, it’s a battle. When people on only one side die, it’s a massacre. Even when Jews do it. https://t.co/895X4hc59f
— Damon Linker (@DamonLinker) May 16, 2018
Linker isn’t a radical leftist. He’s a centrist commentator for The Week, as mainstream a political magazine as exists in America. But even he waves away the fact that this was an assault organized by a terrorist group with violent intentions to focus instead on how lopsided the death toll was. That point is often made about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and it always carries a hint of menace: Would the confrontation have been more tolerable if Hamas had managed to suicide-bomb a few Israeli soldiers? If Al Qaeda were to stage an assault on a U.S. border outpost, how many Americans would need to die in repelling the attack to avoid being accused of perpetrating a “massacre”?
Exit question: If the IDF had let a few thousand Palestinians through the fence and into Israel to do whatever it is they planned to do once inside, what would the death toll on both sides look like today?