Arab World AWOL in Israel-Hamas violence escalation
By Ray Hanania
Violence between Hamas and Israel has been escalating since the beginning of the year but took center stage internationally when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and later found murdered, followed by a Palestinian teenager who was kidnapped and burned to death. On July 8th, Israel began a massive “retaliation” against alleged Hamas targets that not surprisingly has taken more civilian lives than the lives of Hamas militants.
Israel’s military response to dramatic violence has always been capricious and widespread. Although Israeli leaders claim they are not targeting civilians, civilians seem to always end up dead after Israeli bombings. More than 210 Palestinians have been killed since July 8 and more than 40 have been children. The numbers change quickly.
But Arab World reaction to the violence between Israel and Hamas has not been so quick.
In fact, you have to wonder where the Arab World is? The Arab World is AWOL (a common American military term that means Absent Without Leave).
We know where America is, the land of the “free” and home of the “brave.” They are under the massive public relations thumb of the Israeli propaganda machine which spends hundreds of millions everyday to “spin” the facts to place all blame on Palestinians and especially Hamas.
The truth is that the violence has been ongoing long before the deaths of the Israeli and Palestinian teenagers, and in many cases the violence was by Israel or Israeli settler terrorists against palestinian civilians, acts that received no coverage at all when they happen. (Click here to read an overview of Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians going back to January 1, 2014.)
Israel has been on a frenzied PR Offensive, supported by PR from several major American Jewish Organizations such as the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The Israeli PR offensive is on Facebook, Twitter and in the mainstream media, with Israel aggressively pitching their stories to the mainstream American journalists and quickly responding to any pro-Palestinian spin that infrequently rises to a level that threatens the one-sided Israeli narrative.
The Palestinians are not very good at stating their case, but do a great job of channeling their suffering and frustration into intense emotions, unbridled anger, illogical hatred and spasmodic swings from crying about the tragedy of dead babies to screams for Israel’s destruction and hatred of “the Jews.”
It’s not very good PR at all, from the Arab side. Very ineffective and almost makes you wonder why Israel bothers to spend so much on professional strategic public relations and communications messaging at all. They could save their money and allow the Arab hysteria to make the Israelis look good. They don’t need a hand from CNN’s Israeli talk show host Wolf Blitzer who has allowed Israelis to repeatedly assert on his show that they do “everything to avoid killing civilians” even though the numbers of civilians overshadows the number of militants killed in their near-one-sided bombardment of the helpless residents of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli media effort has managed to prevent most major news media in the United States, where the future of Palestine and Israel really sits securely, from publishing the horrific images of the dead Palestinian children. Our photographer Mohammed Asad has been shooting the scenes of destruction in Gaza that many American media have refused to cover in detail. In fact, in one telling moment about media bias for Israel last week, ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer used an image of Palestinians being destroyed to depict a story about how Israelis were fleeing the rockets that Hamas was firing in retaliation against Israel’s onslaught.
Yet, where are the Arab countries? Not a peep. Several non-Arab countries have issued press releases denouncing the violence and urging an end to the killing. One release was issued by the Republic of South Africa on July 11 which expressed concern about the killings but paid special note to the fact that the main victims are Palestinian civilians being killed by the Israeli military. On July 17, the African Union Commission issued a press release from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia also denouncing the violence and condemning Israel’s brutality against the Palestinians.
But the fact is that most of the Arab World is not sympathetic with Hamas, the radical Islamic movement based in Gaza that has done everything in its power over the past two decades to prevent a regional peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Hamas is a protege of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which was ousted in a military coup after its leader, Mohammed Morsi, won the presidency in an unprecedented Democratic election in the Arab World. The coup leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, ran and won election as Morsi’s replacement.
The silence of the Arab World doesn’t reflect their acquiescence to Israel’s brutality, even though the Arab World has been quietly and steadily cozying up to Israel in exchange for increased foreign aid from the United States. Instead, it reflects their disdain for Hamas, which along with Hezbollah, represents that vanguard of Islamic extremism that parallels the American war-inspired rise of al-Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq.
Not one major statement from any Arab country condemning Israel’s brutality which continues to take Palestinian civilian lives. Not one word demanding restraint from Israel in the face of Hamas retaliatory rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians that have been unsuccessful save for the killing of one Israel this week. Israel’s “iron dome” has been credited with preventing Hamas rockets from killing Israelis but that begs the question, then why be so brutal in attacking Hamas militants that end up killing civilians?
The absence of professional media strategy on the part of the Palestinians and the silence of the Arab World has given Israel carte blanche to promote its one-sided narrative that blames Hamas for starting the conflict, a claim that is false. But it’s easy to believe because Hamas is an extremist group that has engaged in some of the most pernicious terrorist attacks targeting civilians, intended mainly to disrupt and block the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.
Much of the online media is publishing old photos of past battles with Hamas showing Hamas rockets that have struck Israeli schools and an Israeli school bus, but very few photos, save those from photographer Mohammed Asad, have made it to American public visibility right here at The Arab Daily News.
The Arab World has decided that this is step two in the process of destroying the Muslim Brotherhood, something that clearly needs to be done. Eliminating Hamas will change the dynamics and possibly open the road to a new round of peace between Israel and the Palestine National Authority, although Israel has been as much of a stumbling block against peace as has been Hamas.
The last remaining obstacle, one more difficult to address, is the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon. So far, Hezbollah, which is engaged in a battle to defend Syria’s besieged dictator Bashar al-Assad, has remained aloof from the Israel-Hamas battle, but that could be due in part to the deterioration of relations between Hamas and the Asad regime.
Although the Arab World believes this might help undermine religious and secular extremism, which dominates the Arab activist movements especially in the United States where Arab Americans have no real effective voice at all, the truth is that the excessive Israeli violence against Hamas resulting in the mass murder of hundreds of civilians including a growing number of children, is igniting a public anger that could backfire against the Arab World and against Israel.
It might even spark a violent backlash against the United States, which provides Israel with most of the weapons used to kill the Palestinian civilians and babies.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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