Israel’s Further Adventures in Social Media

Israel continues and escalates its efforts to use social media to press its case in the global court of public opinion.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the once and perhaps future Prime Minister, is pulling out all the stops to explain Israel’s position in the war with Hamas. In addition to an excellent op-ed in the Wednesday Wall Street Journal, Bibi’s Likud Party has a trilingual blog and social media site (in Hebrew, English and Russian), with an oddly cheery-looking Flash animation showing which towns in Israel are within various ranges of the Gaza Strip.

From the op-ed:

In launching precision strikes against Hamas rocket launchers, headquarters, weapons depots, smuggling tunnels and training camps, Israel is trying to minimize civilian casualties. But Hamas deliberately attacks Israeli civilians and deliberately hides behind Palestinian civilians — a double war crime. Responsible governments do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties, but they do not grant immunity to terrorists who use civilians as human shields.

The international community may occasionally condemn Hamas for putting Palestinian civilians in harm’s way, but if it ultimately holds Israel responsible for the casualties that ensue, then Hamas and other terror organizations will employ this abominable tactic again and again.

The charge that Israel is using disproportionate force is equally baseless. Does proportionality demand that Israel fire 6,000 rockets indiscriminately back at Gaza?

4 thoughts on “Israel’s Further Adventures in Social Media

  1. Finally someone addresses the silly and incoherent ‘proportionality’ argument!

    Rockets would be one measurement.. perhaps the Israelis should, on the other hand, kill exactly the same number that the rockets have killed.. chosen at random, for real proportionality. And wounds, too, on children.. match blood for blood.

    Does anyone think this moronic line of thinking will result in better press for Israel and fewer protests?

    Me neither.

  2. Israel has mounted assassinations in the past. They could easily have used this options to take out specific targets. That said, if they really wanted to minimize or limit casualties on Hamas, they could have declared Gaza as an Open City. This would allow the civilians to be evacuated to a neutral country complete out of the area of fighting. By closing the borders, Israel’s real intention is to annihilate all the people in Gaza.

  3. Schumey, thank you for stopping by to comment, but your argument has a variety of logical and logistical flaws.

    If Israel wanted to “annihilate all the people in Gaza,” the Gazans would already be annihilated.

    They HAVE “taken out specific targets,” although if by “assassination” you mean taking out one specific person with a sniper rifle, that’s not feasible in an urban war zone. And evacuating Gaza is a non-starter because no neutral (or non-neutral) country would accept the refugees. What country is going to welcome a million-plus unemployed, disaffected, armed people with a history of making terrorist attacks on their neighbors?

    Anonymous, I agree. “Proportionality” is not an appropriate goal in asymmetric warfare. Israel needs to destroy terrorist infrastructure and kill as many terrorists as possible. It’s unfortunate that non-combatants inevitably will be killed as well, despite Israel’s best efforts to limit civilian casualties. But if Gazans want to avoid conflict, they need to refrain from electing terrorists to “govern” them.

  4. Hi Kirk,

    Thanks for the post (and the comment on FearlessHistory). I’d like to jump into the discussion a little:
    @ Anonymous: I am surprised at “Anonymous”‘s bloodthirst; yes, let’s kill children, then, shall we? Oh, a Bad guy did it? Well, then it’s okay for us (or Israel) to do it! They started it! It’s their fault! Nevermind that it erases the moral, legal, and ethical distinction between an upright military operation and terrorism. Anonymous’ remark was just a stupid, ignorant remark in the extreme, particularly since 0 Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets since 16 December 2008 and over 700 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in the past 2 weeks alone (11 killed in combat).

    @ Schumey: Yes, Israel could have handled this much, much – vastly – better, especially since Israeli tank commanders have been firing on Red Cross/Red Crescent and UNRWA relief convoys AFTER they received the green light and “all clear” to deliver relief supplies; yesterday a convoy truckdriver delivering food and medical supplies was fired upon and killed by TWO Israeli tank shells (two others were wounded).

    TO Kirk; how, I wonder, will Israel’s happy-go-lucky interactive flash map deal with the recent attacks on UN and other relief agency convoys, schools and non-combatants. According to UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, the UN received “real time” authorization to proceed into Gaza at the start of Israel’s 3-hour long cease-fire and within minutes, the tanks fired upon the UN convoy. Additionally, this is not the first incident of Israeli attacks on non-combat UN and other relief convoys; the Red Cross/Red Crescent has also stopped shipments because of similar incidents, though no lives were lost in those instances.
    Finally, while you are right, an open military operation is no place for assassinations, the military operation is entirely of Israel’s choosing and the timing is set to coincide with the latter days of the Bush administration’s relatively free hand and silent support of Israeli aggression before the unknown quantity that is Obama gets into office and possibly reproaches them for acting like cock-sure bullies. Israel could very easily have used Mossad commandos to retaliate for the rocket attacks, but chose instead “shock and awe,” to borrow a phrase, and now are caught up in a cycle that will only result in MORE people flocking to Hamas and other militant groups.

    Thanks again for the post and the opportunity to discuss it on your Blog.

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