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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How Hamas Talks out of Three Sides of Their Mouth

Hamas sends a different message to each of three different groups, to three bodies of public opinion or audiences that it wants to influence. It tells the Arabs and the Muslim world that it won the war, that it was victorious and triumphant, that it caused great losses to Israel, great losses among both Israeli soldiers and civilians, that it is a movement of mighty heroes.
It tells the West, the self-styled "Left", the Liberals and the would-be humanitarians that the victims on its side in the war were nearly all civilians, that its martyrs were women and children, that Israel targeted civilians, woman and children, as well as UN facilities. It pretended to be weak and helpless and innocuous and innocent. This was of course in direct contradiction and contrast to its messages to the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Lastly, in youtube messages to Israelis it  threatened that it would slaughter them. It was trying to terrorize them with pix of death and destruction in Israel and threats in Hebrew, usually poor Hebrew, that they were going to be killed, slaughtered, massacred. When Israelis were aware of this terror propaganda they usually laughed at it.

It's a three-way media/propaganda strategy. Aaron Magid spells it out on Tablet:
. . . .  on Aug. 26, hours before the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire in Gaza began, Hamas’ military wing—Al-Qassam Brigades—launched its final attacks on Israel. In addition to the dozens of rockets shot by Al-Qassam Brigades, @qassam_Arabic1, Al-Qassam’s official Arabic Twitter account, defiantly posted dozens of tweets declaring unconditional triumph. Sprinkling religious messaging on their Arabic Twitter page, Al-Qassam frequently utilized Quranic language to inspire its followers.

At the same time, in English, Al-Qassam was posting online messages employing terms such as “human rights” to attract a Western audience while emphasizing Palestinian suffering . . . . [emphasis added]
But the message sent to Israelis was altogether different from the other two:
 . . . . . While Al-Qassam’s English messaging was designed to show Hamas as the moral underdogs, the organization’s Hebrew social media team focused primarily on intimidating the Israeli public. One Tweet included an Al-Qassam fighter inside a tunnel aiming a rifle at the viewer with “see you later!” written in Hebrew. [emphasis added]
Intimidating is too mild a term for the Hamas message to Israelis. They were trying to terrorize  us with pictures of death and destruction inside Israeli cities. However, one of the videos was taken over by Israelis who used it to ridicule the Hamas. It featured mighty Hamas warriors --at least in their own eyes-- in battle on land, sea and air, and featured headlines coming out of the screen such as Mavet l'Yisrael [death to Israel]. It also featured films and still pix from Hamas mass murder terrorist attacks on Israelis from the past 15 years, like the neon sign outside Café Moment in Jerusalem where a dozen Israelis were murdered about 13 years ago and ambulances at scenes of terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, the Hebrew language  facet of Hamas propaganda did not work as well as the distinct  messages aimed at the Arab & Muslim worlds and at the West/the Liberals/would-be humanitarians, etc.

Speaking to a Western audience, Khalid Mesh`al was at his oily, hypocritical best:
When Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal was interviewed by Western media outlets, as happened repeatedly throughout and after the war, he shifted Hamas’ messaging away from Hamas’ more combative Arabic tweets toward the kind of language that Western audiences would receive as more moderate and reasonable. On BBC, Meshal twice mentioned that “our Palestinian people have a right to their own state in the West Bank and Gaza”—as though Hamas was fighting for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Yet, Hamas TV consistently called all Israelis, including those who lived in pre-1967 Israel, “settlers,” in consonance with the organization’s charter and repeated public declarations laying claim to “all of Palestine.” In a separate interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose, Meshal stated that “we do not fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We fight the occupiers. I’m ready to coexist with the Jews”—again suggesting, to Western listeners who were willing or eager to hear him talk that way, a potential willingness to recognize an Israeli state within the 1967 lines. At the same time in Arabic, Al-Qassam was celebrating the death of a 4-year-old Israeli “settler” from Nahal Oz, who lived far away from any West Bank settlement.
. The Hamas whining about its own Gaza civilians being killed was especially hypocritical since it was trying to get its own civilians killed by firing from civilian areas, including UN compounds, including even areas where the foreign press was staying, In this vein, it built underground bunkers to protect its leadership and its rockets but not bomb shelters to protect its civilians. Under international law, Israel would be in its rights to shoot at a military target, such as a rocket launcher, located in a civilian area and surrounded by civilians.
[Geneva Convention, adopted 12 August 1949,
Article 28 The presence of a protected person {= civilian} may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations]
However, Hamas would use the civilian deaths from such an Israeli counterattack as an illustration of its claim that Israel commits war crimes, whereas one of Hamas' purposes stated purposes in its charter is the genocide of Jews [see especially Article 7 of the Hamas charter]. Furthermore, Hamas has made clear that it does not believe that Israeli civilians can be truly civilians. In fact it described a  four-year old Israeli boy killed by a Hamas mortar as a violator [see Magid's article http://tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/186373/hamas-twitter-messaging]. Hamas and other Arab terrorist factions and parties argue that there are no Israeli civilians, only settlers and soldiers and occupiers and what Hamas calls violators, even if they are only four-years old.

What is important to bear in mind is that skillful propaganda aims different messages at different groups. Thus the message has to be tailored to fit the preexisting beliefs and attitudes of the target audience. Hamas failed to intimidate Israelis, however its propaganda focused on Western/liberal/would-be humanitarian/ audiences was a tremendous hit, highly effective, although obviously deceitful and fraudulent.

See Magid's article here.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Muslim Ottoman Subjects Resented the Equality Granted to Dhimmis, Non-Muslim Subjects of the Empire in 1856

The Ottoman Empire became clearly dependent on the military strength of the two main Western powers, Britain and France, in the mid-19th century. The Ottomans were threatened by rising Russian power to their northeast. Russia coveted Ottoman  territories and aspired to give the eastern Orthodox churches primacy over the Christian holy places in the Land of Israel. In this case, Russia would support the Greek Orthodox church of which the Russian Orthodox Church was an offshoot or branch.

Russia had already taken over vast territories under Ottoman suzerainty in the 18th century around 1774. These lands comprise the Crimea and  most of southern Ukraine of today. The effective rulers before the Russian conquest were the Crimean Tartars, under Ottoman suzerainty and loyal to the Ottoman sultan, who was also the Caliph of Islam.

The Crimean war of 1854-1855 focused on control of the Christian holy places, foremost among them the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, with Russia supporting Greek Orthodox dominance and  France supporting Roman Catholic claims to the same holy places. British policy was to prevent Russia from taking more land from the Ottoman Empire and thereby becoming a stronger rival empire to the British.

British and French forces defeated the Russians, preserving Ottoman territory for the Sultan and his government. Of course the British and French wanted to be rewarded. They were, and this caused the Sultan's government, called The Sublime Porte, to violate long-standing Islamic principles. One reward was to allow the building of new churches, a definitely forbidden act since the Arab-Muslim conquests of the 7th century. France was, inter alia given back the location where a Catholic church had stood during the Crusader period.

Most importantly, the Sublime Porte  issued a decree, the Hatt-i-Humayun, which 

"granted equality of civil status to Christian subjects, guaranteeing freedom of conscience and speech." [Tibawi, p 115]

This equality of dhimmis was a radical departure from past Islamic law and practice. Hence, it is no surprise that we are told by the Arab historian, A L Tibawi that

". . . the proclamation of the Hatti Humayun caused much resentment at Nabulus and Gaza ." [Tibawi, p 130]

Not only at Nablus and Gaza but among Ottoman Muslims generally. The Arab and other  Muslims [Tibawi was apparently a Christian] in the Empire hated this decree mightily. Sixty years later, during WW One, Ottoman Muslims slaughtered Armenians, fellow Ottoman subjects, some of whom were calling for Armenian autonomy or independence.  Muslims resented the demands for independence or merely autonomy among the non-Muslim subject   peoples.

Does this account, these facts, tell us any lessons for Israel.? Isn't Israel seen as an "uppity Jew" by the Arabs and other Muslims?

By the way, you can be sure that this decree was often honored more in the breach than in the observance.

A L Tibawi, British Interests in Palestine, 1800-1901 (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1961)

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