If this were not the age of communication boom, in all probability, manufactured “news” and excessive dependence on western media would have had greater part of the world “believe” that Israel has had its way as desired by Tel Aviv in Gaza as well as West Bank. But whatever be agenda of US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this is not the case. Despite their best diplomatic efforts and usage of western media as extensively as possible to “justify” continuance of Israel’s war, they have failed to convince people in their own countries and in most other countries. Their defeat is partly marked by participation of thousands of people in demonstrations strongly criticizing Israel’s genocide in Gaza.
In addition, the sharp note being take of bias being displayed by western media in coverage of this war stands out quite markedly. This is also suggestive of media in greater part of the world apparently giving substantial importance to not rely on what is being said by western and Israeli governments and as the same is carried by their respective outlets of media. What does this imply? First, western media – with specific reference to Israel’s war- is certainly not viewed as the primary source of news. Undeniably, the role being played by various outlets of Arab, African as well as Asian media and a few western countries, cannot be sidelined here. In fact, these – along with Arab diplomacy- seem to be playing a prominent role in exposing impact of Israel war.
Clearly, Netanyahu seems not at all inclined to even consider a ceasefire. His faction and western allies seem hardly moved by inhumane nature of their strikes. And these may not have been exposed if Arab media had not used their resources to let their people and others concerned as well as interested know about what is happening because of continuance of this war.
Paradoxically, Netanyahu and his allies seem bent on “justifying” the war in “self-defense” and to “wipe out Hamas,” irrespective of the fact that hospitals and civilians are being targeted. His “war-ego” is probably receiving a major boost with headlines and diplomatic moves from US-camp favoring him. But here is where he and his supporters have erred as they have only placed themselves as the “guilty”- party before rest of the world. The latter include the majority who have learned the hard way that United States and western media cannot be totally relied upon for presenting an unbiased approach regarding “news.” Rather, they are now viewed as experts in spreading or rather trying to spread “manufactured news” in line with what they want the world to believe as well as be guided by. It is as yet too early to forget the hype raised about Arab Spring in the name of democratic revolution while the real motive was not this. Besides, then, blinded by dependency on western media, little importance was given to pointing out that democracy cannot be imposed by external forces nor can war be used for this.
This is no longer the case. If it were so, demonstrations against Washington’s support of Israel and Netanyahu would not have not been taking place in United States as well as in several European countries despite their governments favoring Tel Aviv. Israel has been exposed and so has been its supporters. In the process, western media and leaders have pushed their former concern for Ukraine to the sidelines. The war is still continuing. Not too long ago, Biden had committed himself to continuous support of Ukraine. Ironically, against his favoring Israel, Ukraine despite still being engaged in a war with Russia – a key rival of USA – appears to have lost the significance that it earlier appeared to have. But, that is not history as yet at least not for Russia and Ukraine.
Cards of Washington, however, are now being played as apparently desired by Netanyahu. It would be erroneous to assume that all Jews, within and outside Israel, are in favor of this war’s continuity. But with Netanyahu having taken the center-stage in Israel, they appear to have no option but to either remain quiet and/or as desired by the government take up arms. At the same time, the rising anger among those demanding release of hostages held by Hamas conveys its own message. The anger is directed at Netanyahu’s failure to apparently take the necessary steps to facilitate release of these hostages. They are angry, as reports indicate, at his priority being military moves.
More than 40 days have passed since Israel began war following October 7 attack of Hamas. From day one, numerous questions have been raised about where did intelligence and security services of Israel err in not anticipating and thwarting this attack? Now, each hour, each day the war continues to last, from one angle, outrage against inhumane nature of its impact is increasing. From another, anger of Israelis desperate because of their relatives remaining in hostage cannot be expected to calm down.
Equally significant is the reality, continuity of the war – notwithstanding all “claims” made by Netanyahu – does not mark success of Israel. The same may be said about “support” being displayed as well as given by US and its allies to Israel. Elementarily speaking what kind of victory and where has it been gained so far? With each passing day, “news”- manufactured, manipulated as well as being spread – is losing its relevance for recipients, whose access to media is not confined to that being controlled by those supporting Netanyahu’s claims.
If perhaps even a grain of importance was given to diplomatic ethics, some attention would have been paid to negative criticism being earned by Israel’s genocide. Choosing to be mute regarding this and preferring encouragement of the same is hardly suggestive of wise diplomacy being exercised by White House. Rather, when only and only war-moves are engaged in, to a degree, this is not simply suggestive of diplomacy as well as shrewd politicking being thrown to winds, but also perhaps of not being considered deliberately. Give a thought, didn’t October 7- Hamas attack demand an investigation into where did Israel err in it taking place? But immediate indulgence in war is also suggestive of probably Israel trying to delay probe into it and also shying away from answering related questions. The world cannot remain blinded by continuance of war. And yes, communication boom is playing its part in raising similar questions while exposing impact of Israel’s war crimes with aid of US and its allies. It is not simply the question of Netanyahu’s refusal to agree to a “ceasefire.” But more precisely of his and probably his supporters also not being willing to accord at least some importance to diplomacy guided if nothing else but by humane values and that of “victory” in essence being a mirage for Israel. Genocide and/or continuity of the war is least likely to reverse this trend. In the long run, the role being played by communication strategies at various levels, hardly spells any gains for Netanyahu or his supporters. It’s already a lost deal for him, politically and diplomatically!
Nilofar Suhrawardy is a senior journalist and writer with specialization in communication studies and nuclear diplomacy. She has come out with several books. These include:– Modi’s Victory, A Lesson for the Congress…? (2019); Arab Spring, Not Just a Mirage! (2019), Image and Substance, Modi’s First Year in Office (2015) and Ayodhya Without the Communal Stamp, In the Name of Indian Secularism (2006).