Israel lost the 'public opinion' battlefield to Palestinians

May 18, 2021 - 23:5

TEHRAN – Israel is facing a full-blown campaign of criticism over the atrocities it is committing against civilians in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine, and this is partly because Palestinians, along with other freedom-loving activists across the globe, are doing their utmost to present a clear picture of what’s happening on the ground.

“Why do we deserve this? What did we do for this?” asked a 10-year-old grieving girl in front of the rubble of a building demolished by an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip. “It’s not fair,” she said in a video that went viral on social media platforms while shedding heartbreaking tears. The short video, published by Middle East Eye on Twitter, was viewed more than 12.8 million times, reflecting a widespread sympathy with the Palestinian people. 

The video was only one piece in the multi-pronged campaign of the Palestinian people, who seem to have broken with their traditional political leaders in the West Bank.

Since the early days of the holy month of Ramadan, Palestinians began to peacefully push back against Israel after it imposed new bans on public activities in occupied East Jerusalem in what appeared to be a preparatory measure to pave the way for evicting Palestinian families from the homes in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.  However, Israel moved ahead with its controversial, inhumane decision to evict the Palestinian families and replace them with extremist Jews, something that enraged the Palestinians and hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Right from the start, Palestinians, especially the youth, showed a great deal of unity and sympathy with each other all over Palestine. In Gaza, people took to the streets to protest against the Israeli evictions and when their voice was not heard, they responded to the Israeli misconduct. Israel intensified its campaign of terror against the Palestinians without achieving any success. 

Israel’s continued bombardment and repression against the Palestinians did not prevent them from continuing their quest for freedom. On Tuesday, all Palestinians in Israel, occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank shuttered their shops and businesses in a first general strike in decades. The strike was particularly outstanding in Arab towns and cities inside Israel, which had been calm and silent in the not-so-distant past.

But the so-called Israeli Arabs are making it clear that they are an integral part of the Palestinian people and cause. Over the past weeks, Palestinians from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea have staged angry protests against Israeli racist policies. 

The Palestinian struggle for freedom reverberated across the globe, causing freedom-loving activists to hold huge demonstrations in almost all big Western cities. 

The overwhelming support for Palestine has put the Biden administration in a bind. It has called for de-escalation but did nothing to pressure Israel to stop its carnage campaign in Gaza. This was evident from the Biden administration’s decision to dispatch a low-ranking diplomat to the region. 

But the growing support for Palestine and criticism against Israel in the world pushed the Biden administration to do more to put an end to Israeli atrocities. President Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urged him to end strikes on Gaza for the first time since the Israeli air raids began. American news website Axios quoted an Israeli official as saying that the Biden administration hadn't given Israel a deadline for reaching a ceasefire but had been stressing on Monday that it was reaching the end of its ability to hold back international pressure on Israel over the Gaza operation.

The American turnabout came after Palestinians and their supporters mounted a campaign, both on social media and the streets, to shed light on the Israeli crimes and thereby pushing Israel to stop them.

The campaign has successfully made the Palestinian voice heard around the world.

“For the first time, mass media can’t control the narrative around Palestine. No one can hide the abuse from social media. Our phones have become our biggest weapons. The power is shifting right before our eyes,” tweeted Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, 29, the Palestinian-Jordanian-American founder of MuslimGirl.com, whose posts on the topic have been ubiquitous across social media over the past week, according to The New York Times. 

“It feels different this time, it definitely does,” she told the Times.

This happened because Israeli crimes can no longer be hidden. They are so egregious that no one can ignore them. For example, Israel failed to provide a shred of evidence that al-Jalaa tower was housing members of Hamas. 

That’s why Israel resorted to misinformation. Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Netanyahu, posted a video on Twitter purportedly showing militants launch rocket attacks at Israelis from densely populated civilian areas. But The New York Times said the video was neither from Gaza nor from this week. In fact, it was from 2018. 

The misinformation may explain why Israel is falling into disrepute even among Jews. A landmark study of U.S. Jews by the Pew Research Center has demonstrated that young American Jews are increasingly likely to say they have less emotional attachment to Israel. According to the study, the level of connection of U.S. Jews with Israel is on the decline among younger Jews.

The level of connection to Israel in 2020 is significantly lower for the younger generation, with only 48% of those aged 18-29 saying they have an emotional attachment to Israel, and 51% saying they have little or no such connection, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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