The One War Israel Cannot Win
The Palestinians' "war on reality" turns factual truths into "social facts" which appeal to emotions and personal beliefs in much more powerful, persuasive ways than do appeals to objective facts.
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“The Palestinian people (are) subjected to collective punishment with too little humanitarian aid allowed in. The clock is ticking fast towards famine.”1
These were the recent words of Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, which was established in 1949, but still exists today with an annual operating budget in excess of $1 billion. In other words, they’ve done the exact opposite of what refugee agencies are supposed to do: resettle people and end their refugee status.
The Israeli government had something to say about Lazzarini’s explosive claims: “You can’t keep avoiding the facts: There is no collective punishment. Two crossings are open. You said you can transfer 200 trucks a day in Kerem Shalom (one of the crossings), yet you’re not scraping 100. Over the last 80 days, we’ve adjusted ourselves, all you’ve been doing is stalling.”2
One of the reasons why the UN and so many of its agencies — the World Health Organization, UN Women, and others — have been so desperately and perversely calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war (which would be of game-changing benefit to Hamas and Hamas only) is because, if the terror group loses control, many dirty secrets from these organizations will be exposed. I’m talking about secrets that could very well end the careers and even lead to criminal indictments of hundreds of their employees.
But what many people don’t know or realize is that such desperate and perverse tactics have long been a feature of the Palestinians. They (or at least their leadership and partners) have mastered the “war of information” — an ever-changing and filthy game of propaganda designed to hide their transgressions and miscalculations, and cause devastating damages and effects on public opinion. Thus, the “war of information” is the only war that Israel cannot, despite its most noble efforts, win.
Anti-Jewish propaganda is, of course, just another day in Jewish history. We’ve witnessed it for centuries, a disgusting scourge that finds a way to reopen time and again. But Palestinian propaganda, historically and still today, is not just propaganda for propaganda’s sake, and it’s not just to push an agenda. It is designed to debilitate critical thinking and obliterate truth.
If reality doesn’t serve you, as it doesn’t the Palestinians, then there’s only two options: accept reality and go on your way (which conflicts with the lauded Arab and Muslim values of honor and shame), or wage war against this very reality. The Palestinians, historically propped up by anti-Israel Arab states and communists like the Soviets, have elected the latter.
Through endless, baseless accusations that Israel is an oppressive, ethnic-cleansing, colonizing, warmongering, human rights violating regime, the Palestinians and their supporters are able to achieve two objectives. The first is to simply persuade other marginalized groups, as well as progressive-minded folks who blindly sympathize with their perceived suffering, that they are the victims of Zionist tyranny. The second is to muddy the waters so that it is almost impossible for the media and now social media to keep track of all the Palestinian lies.
Among social media channels, TikTok in particular has been dominated by “pro-Palestinian” content. For every pro-Israel post on TikTok, there have been 36 pro-Palestinian posts, according to an analysis of hashtags by statistician Anthony Goldbloom.3
Hence why the Israeli government has invested in WhatsApp and Telegram groups to disseminate on social media more accurate, reality-based content and combat disinformation and hate speech directed toward Israel, since Hamas’ October 7th terror attacks.
Even then, it is virtually impossible to keep pace with all the “pro-Palestinian” content. And the more information (both accurate and otherwise) grows, the more knowledge retreats. As French philosopher Roland Barthes used to say, in a context where information is “pulverized, non-hierarchized, dealing with everything, nothing is protected from information and at the same time nothing is open to reflection.”4
This vacuum is filled with exponential amounts of hate speech, hoaxes, and so-called fake news. And emotions matter more than facts. To be fair, there was probably never a time when appeals to emotion and personal belief were less powerful than appeals to objective fact. That people’s opinions are moved by their hopes and fears is something psychoanalytic theory discovered decades ago, and of course literature long before that. To neatly separate “personal belief” from “objective fact” is hard work that requires far more time and energy than most of us are keen on dedicating to it.
This is why the waterfall of constant, largely unfounded criticism of Israel and Jews means that the Palestinians and their supporters have become ultra-successful at distancing international discourse from the bedrock of factual truth, toward a semi-fascist ideology in which truth is what the Palestinians and their supporters say — and facts do not matter.
The Palestinians and their supporters might be delusional, or they might simply be asserting the power to callously override truth, which is the ultimate privilege, far more powerful and even beneficial than statehood and self-sovereignty. (Hence why they still don’t have these two things.)
“Why should they bother with arduous negotiations leading to compromise over two noncontiguous plots of land when they already have something far greater and much rarer? Empire.”
“The ongoing marches around the world to ‘flood’ Western cities, college campuses, and government office buildings, and halt traffic on major arteries and thoroughfares in support of Hamas, are evidence that the Palestinians have managed to create something much loftier than a mere political arrangement of institutions and offices that would make them no different from the 193 members of the United Nations,” wrote author Lee Smith.5
The protesters’ goal, much like Hamas and Fatah (which runs the Palestinian Authority) is anything but a two-state solution, or any other accords likely to bring peace to both Israelis and Palestinians. Rather, the ceasefire they’re shouting for is a tactic to beset Israel’s response to Hamas’ October 7th attacks and make Jews feel increasingly unsafe in the Jewish homeland, such that more and more of them decide to leave, and fewer and fewer Jews across the world choose to make Israel their home.
The Palestinians claim that their story is one of a deeply historical and profound connection to the land, of perseverance and faith in ceasing to let go of this connection. They use buzzwords of the day to embolden this claim and gullible reporters to disseminate it, but the reality is their society celebrates death — martyrdom and Jewish death — as one of its highest values.
To overshadow this reality, the Palestinians have reconstructed their story many times, including with the help of the Soviets and their communist allies, who in the 1960s encouraged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to abandon his open desire to annihilate the Jews in Israel, in favor of “liberating the Palestinian People” in Israel.
It was a brilliant communications strategy, and the first step in reframing the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews from religious jihad to secular nationalism, in a quest for political self-determination, a posture far less offensive to the West, especially in the wake of overwhelming guilt following the Holocaust.
Under the Palestinians’ endless changes to their story, reality is losing ground, and their assault on Zionism goes hand-in-glove with their assault on truth. This, of course, presents a real, even existential, danger to Israel: If truth becomes hypothetical and conditional, it becomes harder to resist the anti-Israel (really, the anti-Jewish) agenda that the Palestinians and their supporters have been pursuing for decades.
Some sympathize with the Palestinians’ plight and claim they are just deeply traumatized by the “Nakba” — their term for Israel’s War of Independence, which the Arabs started. But the Palestinians aren’t so stupid; they might just be playing a strategic long game of disinformation and chaos to entrench themselves in an easy-to-sell forever-state of victimhood.
“All the wretched of the earth have attached their hopes and grievances to the Palestinians not because Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and others are indigenous underdogs resisting the colonialist war machine, or stalwart subalterns on a campaign for universal liberty,” wrote Lee Smith.
“Rather: Terrorists, criminals, psychopaths, and fantasists from every part of the globe have grafted themselves on to the Palestinian cause because the most basic laws of nature have been revised to accommodate it. The Palestinian cause gives hope to each of these groups — hope that their own nihilistic and murderous ambitions could win world favor as well. And they have,” Smith continued.
“Under the rules set by great powers to govern the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, anything is possible. Losing is winning. Crime is justice. Rape is love. Death is life. These are the slogans of the new spirit of the age, the dawning of the Empire of Palestine.”
In this context, you can make the case that they have adopted a Putin-esque strategy of “dramaturgia” — the staging of deliberate provocations to destabilize Israel and other countries’ relationships with it, in order to take political and financial advantage of the subsequent confusion.
While the Palestinians may not have state-controlled social media at their disposal to serve as 24/7 propaganda organs both domestically and abroad (like the Chinese do), the Palestinians are shrewdly approximating Chinese strategy to shape narratives and create alternative realities.
Take, for example, a narrative that Palestinians have long peddled: that they, not the Jews, are indigenous to the Levant. They are not, and their very language ironically proves it beyond any shadow of a doubt. The Arabic word for Jew is “yahud” because Jews are the people of ancient Yahuda (Judea), presently called Israel.
But factual truths have never been the name of the Palestinian game. Instead, they have built their society to thrive on “social facts” — a term coined by world-renowned sociologist Emile Durkheim to illustrate “category of facts with very distinctive characteristics: it consists of ways of acting, thinking, and feeling, external to the individual, and endowed with a power of coercion, by reason of which they control him.”6
In doing so, Palestinian leaders have been able to, time and again, break out of their doomed cycle of internal conflicts to internationalize the “Palestinian plight” and make “Palestine” everyone’s favorite cause.
“They disguise their true ambitions for power, wealth, and notoriety behind ideology, using terms like ‘social justice’ which are vague enough to convey the righting of wrongs, to animate social movements united by grievance,” wrote Lee Smith. “Inside these movements, genuine psychopaths and those who adapt most easily to a pathological order rise to positions of power and influence.”
Furthermore, what is true, factual, and evidence-based gets degraded and even criminalized. To those who take things at face-value and others who still do not discern the nature of these pathologies, it can seem perplexing to see so many educated, good-hearted, and well-intentioned people root for Hamas to survive Israel’s campaign to eradicate it from Gaza.
How could these people not possibly care about Hamas’ doctrines and actions toward women, children, non-Muslims, homosexuals, peaceful protestors, and political opponents in Gaza? Yet this question misses the point.
To embrace the Palestinian plight is to never acknowledge any Palestinian wrongdoings and be intoxicated by a mystic force which convinces believers that history is irrelevant (or just written by “the bad guys”), reality is reality only when it aligns with pro-Palestinian viewpoints, and evidence-based truth is some conspiracy carried about by elitist White men whose forefathers most definitely owned dark-skinned slaves and stole indigenous peoples’ lands.
A generation after Nazi Germany reached its peak, historian Hannah Arendt continued to worry about the difficulty of “factual truth surviving the onslaught of power” because the powerful, in exercising their interests and “right of dominion,” not only dispute and suppress certain facts but also actively “transform” “unwelcome factual truths into opinions,” as though “the fact of Germany’s support of Hitler” was not a “matter of historical record but a matter of opinion.”7
Because disputes over truth and facts are typically shaped by power and politics, Arendt recognized both the importance of holding onto the “common and commonly recognized reality” that helps to frame and structure “our bearings in the real world” and the problem of making false equivalences and the decontextualized substitution of lies for truth. She warned, however, that “since the liar is free to fashion his ‘facts’ to fit the profit and pleasure, or even the mere expectations, of his audience, the chances are that he will be more persuasive than the truth-teller.”
Perhaps even more crucially, Arendt realized that what is at stake in these powerful inversions of reality driven by the “interests of men” (you know, the Palestinian kleptocrats) is that they can become “so big that they require a complete rearrangement of the whole factual texture — the making of another reality.”
In other words, “organized lying” and the “modern manipulation of facts” require the bending of the very social and historical context to fit the lie, therefore upending the larger historical and factual fabric in which evidence-based truths are supposed to live. Ultimately, this renders such a fabric difficult to make the necessary distinctions between lies and facts, between opinions and larger historical records and social contexts.
Thus, the “Palestinian plight” pits “the people” against both a particular elite and a scapegoated and often foreign but always dangerous Other (“the Zionists”) which countries like the United States, Germany, and the UK are accused of coddling. This model of populism, then, configures “reality” to constantly conform to “non-facts.”
Simultaneously, the propagation of uneven power relations (the mighty Zionists against the “defenseless” Palestinians) becomes too murky to ascertain as the “rearrangement of the whole factual texture” unravels the ability to locate, situate, and analyze both knowledge and power.
What and who is dangerous, criminal, or even powerful becomes difficult to assess, and easily upended. Hence the widespread support for Hamas, the world’s third-richest and fifth-most active terror group, in many places and among many societies throughout the globe.
Arendt’s seemingly dystopian analysis well describes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and points to the urgency with which we and others might want to approach facts and truth. While knowledge is always shaped in some way by society, and the very notion of truth is a complex one, it is also crucial not to let go of what’s at stake in reality, truth, politics, and geopolitics given that some facts — particularly those that make Israel and the Jews appear to be, at least some of the time, “the good guys” — are particularly vulnerable.
Suffice it to say, the cautionary tale that not all facts (whether “social facts” or “factual truths” or “alternative facts”) are created equal, which is why the “war of information” is the one war that Israel will never be able to win.
Philippe Lazzarini on X
COGAT on X
“Inside the Israel-Hamas Information War.” TIME.
Barthes, Roland. “The Neutral.” New York: Columbia University Press.
“The Global Empire of Palestine.” Tablet.
Durkheim, Emile. “What Is a Social Fact?” In The Rules of Sociological Method. New York: The Free Press.
“Truth and Politics.” The New Yorker.