With the ground war in Gaza growing in force each day, the battle for hearts and minds becomes a vital strategic battleground. The side that wins public support for its cause is better positioned to determine the length and intensity of the fighting.
And thanks to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which translated a Hamas guide for social activists, we now know how Hamas tells its supporters to promote its propaganda.
The guide, titled Be Aware – Social Media Activist Awareness Campaign, gives a wide range of tips on how to push the Hamas viewpoint. Tips include comparing Israel to the Nazis and ensuring that all casualties are viewed as “innocent civilians” who are victims of Israeli aggression.
The guide also encourages different messages to the Arab world and to the West:
The narrative of life vs. the narrative of blood: [When speaking] to an Arab friend, start with the number of martyrs. [But when speaking] to a Western friend, start with the number of wounded and dead. Be sure to humanize the Palestinian suffering. Try to paint a picture of the suffering of the civilians in Gaza and the West Bank during the occupation’s operations and its bombings of cities and villages.
Clearly, from the Hamas point of view, Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge provide great propaganda value. Hamas exploits the dead to project an image of victimhood to the West and simultaneously an image of strength and sacrifice to the Arab world.
Elements of the propaganda campaign have hit their mark in the West. We’ve seen the media turn the conflict into a “game of numbers” revolving around Palestinian casualty figures. How long before we see the media compare the IDF to Nazi storm troopers?