Since the onslaught of Israeli genocidal attack on Gaza, Israeli authorities have relied on strategic information warfare to hoist its operations on the global theatre. In short, propaganda, or in Hebrew, ‘hasbara’. Hasbara is a Hebrew term translating to ‘explanation’, referring to Israel’s efforts to shape public and international opinion in Zionist favour. The word Hasbara was popularised in the early 20th century by the Polish Zionist activist and journalist Nahum Sokolow, who explained it as a communication strategy that, “seeks to explain actions, whether or not they are justified”. Hasbara is a multi-pronged operation which approaches public relations through the methods of traditional media, social media and education initiatives. In practice, this looks like instances where Israeli media or authorities employ the discrediting of truth, whereby the output is that Israelis are perceived as perfect victims and Palestinians perfect perpetrators, the reductionism of truth, whereby information is grossly trimmed in such a way it is no longer true but favours Israeli self-image, or the total warping of truth, through false information campaigns.

First to mind might be the memorable claim that 40 Israeli babies were beheaded by Hamas during their October 7th attack, a claim that was disproved and later dropped in the following weeks. In this warp of truth, the damage was done instantaneously, it almost didn’t matter whether it was true or not. The barbarity of false claims needed to match the barbarity of Israel’s intended assault on Gazans, in order to excuse it with no chance of reprisal. And it did just that. Despite Western governments walking back on its support of the claim due to lack of verifiable evidence, Israel’s invasion and indiscriminate attack on Gaza was well on its way. Another example, Israel’s claim that UNRWA employees were involved in the October 7th attacks, triggering 10 Western countries to withdraw their funding to the agency, and stunting the support of 6 million Palestinians overnight. The political and humanitarian effects of these claims were instantaneous, regardless of ‘truth’. These paint a simple picture of propaganda. However, what makes Hasbara uniquely programmed is its meticulous manipulation of every arena to which information is shared.

Israel As 'Puppet Master' On Global Stage

It is public knowledge that Israel pumps tens of millions of dollars into preserving its state image, with its national intelligence agency, Mossad, and other private intelligence companies covertly advancing information campaigns against any attempts at delegitimizing the Israeli state. At top-level, Israeli authorities falsify information as a means of shifting blame, painting Israelis as victims, and permitting atrocities on Palestinians without reprisal. One primary objective of Hasbara since October 7th is to justify its targeting of civilian spaces, collective punishment of civilian populations, and consequent senseless murder of more than 35,000 Palestinians. Israeli authorities accusing Hamas of using civilian infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, residential buildings as so-called “human shields” grants it permission to ravage civilian spaces. Interrogation videos of Hamas leaders confessing to using Gazan civilians as shields, despite not being independently verified, are accepted as evidence by Zionist sympathisers.

In other instances, Israeli authorities will digitally manipulate evidence to shift narrative in their favour. On October 17, the Al-Ahli Hospital was bombed and totally destroyed, massacring Palestinian civilians inside. Israel claimed it was due to a failed Hamas rocket firing. Despite makeshift rockets used by in Palestinian resistance not having the capability to inflict the scale of damage and injury as sustained in the Al-Ahli bombing, Israel fabricated evidence to prove their claim, such as videos of a rocket being fired to the hospital, and voice recording of two Hamas fighters discussing the misfiring. Both the video and the voice recordings were proved to be false evidence, from the video of the Hamas rocket not matching the timestamp of the hospital attack, to forensic sound analysis revealing the voice recordings were recorded independently and edited together.

Pro-Israeli media houses in service of State ambitions share falsified information to their audiences, that is consequently parroted by US and Western media houses with little question. The 40 beheaded babies claim was sourced by Pres. Biden himself, only making international headlines due to his blind trust of Israel and global authority over public opinion. There is undeniable media bias in the West in favour of Pro-Israeli information, as Western media also operate in service of their own governments, and foreign interests with Israel. In a quantitative analysis of media coverage by US media houses between October 7 and November 28th, major newspapers like The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times showed a consistent bias against Palestinians, “disproportionately [emphasising] Israeli deaths” through use of emotive language to describe the killings of Israelis, but not Palestinians. This again can be presently seen with how US-college encampments are being reported, with clear bias towards the treatment and experience of Zionist students, and lack of scrutiny over violent Pro-Israel rioters, or the doxing and subsequent death threats of Pro-Palestinian supporters. Israel and Zionist sympathisers rely on the blurring between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Any foreign criticism of Israeli violence or its government is often labelled as anti-Semitic. We see this parroted in in new US legislation aimed at expanding the definition of antisemitism due to the rise of Pro-Palestinian support.

Fake News By Israel

While it can be argued that Israel has kept a tight grip on its image and on countering anti-Israel narratives, Hasbara, and Israel’s flaws are seen and known. Despite Israel’s tactful use of the fabrication and reductionism of truth, Palestinian self reporting cuts through their disguise. Twitter in particular has given rise for Palestinian journalists on the ground in Gaza, facilitating communication with the world to show us what is really happening. Palestinian reality is publicly available for all of us to see, with little research, and it is clear who the true perpetrators are. This is the first time that people have had such direct access to information on the ground during a live genocide, making it extremely hard for Israel to control the narrative. Alongside this, pro-Palestinian sentiment has risen hugely since October 7th, with a rise in social media campaigns, grassroots activism and international solidarity movements. Social media has played a huge role in anti-Zionism sentiment, as information is easily accessible and first-hand footage of Israel’s attacks on Gaza are readily available. The BDS movement has also gained huge support worldwide, meaning regardless of Hasbara, people are increasingly self-aware of Israel's genocidal regime.

While Hasbara plays a crucial role in global perspectives of Israel, it is too flawed for people to fall for. No amount of propaganda can blind us from what Palestinians are going through, and our movement is only growing.

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