As of dawn, November 19, 2012, Israel time, a state of war exists between Hamas in Gaza and the state of Israel. The fighting began on November 14, after Hamas fired more than 250 rockets at civilian targets in Israel, over a thirteen day period beginning November 1.
So far, a pattern emerges. As Israel and Hamas pound each other, exchanging perhaps 1,750 rockets and bombs over the first 100 hours of fighting, journalists, political commentators and world opinion-makers rush to publish. Much of what they write is anti-Israel. To one who supports Israel, such reporting is not new. It may actually be today’s norm.
But there is something new. Consumers of news are changing the tenor and, possibly, the impact of news and political commentary.
As Israel appears to prepare a ground assault into Gaza, we see a second war unfolding—on the internet. It is a war for the hearts and minds of news consumers, and pro-Israel forces are aggressive. On CNN, NBC News, CBS News, Al Jazeera English, Yahoo!News and the Guardian (to name just a few internet news sources), anti-Israel references get hammered almost the instant they get published. Read the ‘reader comment’ sections of these outlets. According to an informal scan of these news sources for days number 2-4 of the fighting, a strong pro-Israel voice has emerged in those comments. The Israel narrative is being told. The Hamas narrative does not go unanswered.
Hamas—and its supporters--attack Israel on the internet because its war against Israel is both actual and verbal. To demonize Israel, they re-invent language, history and Western morality. At times one suspects this is done specifically to keep you from remembering that Hamas is an outlawed terror organization.
The pro-Israel voice reminds us that Hamas are killers--who lie.
For example, after just two days of fighting, readers and internet watchdogs (and then readers again, as they pick up on watchdog observations) hammer home the accusation that two Hamas anti-Israel pictures have been proven false, an anti-Israel news video was faked, and news reports of ‘civilian’ injuries in Gaza are being exaggerated.
These observations appear at the bottom of essays that support the Hamas narrative, thereby undercutting that narrative. The presence of this readership voice reveals Hamas’ criminal underbelly.
Until fighting broke out on November 14, Hamas had reason to believe that its version of history had become accepted tradition; they seemed the darling of the world’s media. But a vigilant pro-Israel readership fights back. Here are some comments:
-you say it is misleading that Israel uses ‘precision’ bombing to protect civilians? Well, with 1,000 air strikes and only 24 civilian deaths [to date], I would call that pretty damn precise, especially since Hamas uses heavily populated areas to fight from;
-do Gazan authorities provide sufficient and effective air-raid shelters for their citizens? Did Gaza put any of its money into safe infrastructure, or do they use their money to kill Israelis?
-What gives Gaza the right to terrorize Israeli civilians?
-the world protests 51 deaths in Gaza—half of which are terrorists. Meanwhile, the death toll in Syria for defenceless children is 2,300 and counting. The world should protest the real horror—in Syria.
-There is a saying, ‘if Arabs put down their weapons, there’d be peace; if Israel put down her weapons, there’d be no more Israel.’
-stop your claims that Israelis murder civilians. If Hamas stopped using human shields, civilian death would [plummet].
-you say Israel must negotiate, not fight? How do you negotiate with people who say you have no right to exist—and whose goal is to destroy the country you live in?
-you want peace? Give Palestinians hope by building within your own Arab societies more freedom and opportunity than Israel offers Arabs.
-the people who live in Gaza voted for Hamas. They chose terror over peace. After Israeli disengagement [in 2005], Hamas could have made an example of Gaza as a thriving peaceful region. Instead, Hamas turned Gaza into a military base to attack Israeli civilians.
-iron dome—and Israeli intelligence services—are the real winners in this conflict. Israel has now re-established its deterrence capability.
Finally, a comment that quotes writer Jeffrey Goldberg: the media is biased against Israel…probably 300 people in Syria have been murdered since the Gaza [attacks began]…a Syrian acquaintance [has complained] that Syria gets very little attention in international press…Mr Goldberg’s advice is to get killed by Jews.
On the most anti-Israel sites, readers defend Israel in comment after comment, sustaining their arguments, point-by-point, against those who attack Israel.
This strong pro-Israel defense is neither random nor accidental. Readers believe in Israel. They go to battle for Israel. Consumers of news are no longer passive. Media might malign Israel. But readers now come to the rescue.
Suddenly, a war for Israel has begun online.