Whether the ceasefire in Gaza holds or not, one war will go on unabated. This ‘other war’ is often more vindictive than the one that has claimed more than a thousand lives in less than a month. In the long run, it’s this other war that will cause more damage.
I am talking of the PR blitzkrieg — the war over hearts and minds — that’s being waged over all channels of communication.
Make no mistake: both the warring sides are dead serious about the PR war. Israel has always minded its hasbara, a Hebrew word that literally means ‘explanation’, and has a committee to oversee it. No wonder it blamed the ‘failure’ of its previous campaign — Lebanon, 2006 — on bad press.
This time, the Jewish state planned harder. The blunt end of it was keeping almost all journalists out of Gaza and littering the Strip with propaganda leaflets. The more sophisticated side involved sending text messages to Gaza residents, and calling them up posing as long-lost friends and then asking for information on Hamas. Then there are operatives who try to steer opinion on Internet forums such as YouTube and Twitter.
Despite this, Israel is losing the PR war. If the images of dead children haven’t been enough to convince you, here are four clips that will.