Twisting the oppressor/victim narrative

In every war with Hamas, news media becomes the Hamas mouthpiece, using Hamas’s images and skewed statistics in a propaganda war on Israel

Rhonda Wainshilbaum is an artisan and a civic volunteer, living and working in Massachusetts, just over the Vermont line.

LEYDEN, MASS.-Jews used to be called "Christ-killers."

The notion that all Jews collectively bared the responsibility for the death God's son stained Jews with lasting, incomparable guilt. Some used it as an excuse to murder Jews (even if Christ's death happened centuries before their births).

As a child I wondered: "How can God be killed?" and "Wasn't Jesus Jewish?"

I now realize that this slogan made no sense, but it was used to excuse Jew hatred.

* * *

I was in Israel during the war in 2014. I watched the news from Israel and the news from other countries. It was infuriating.

Israeli news showed evidence of massive tunnels loaded with weapons and United Nations schools and hospitals in Gaza being used as military bases and for rocket launching.

News reports outlined the precautions used to protect Gazan civilians. Instead of bombings, troops went house to house to fight, at great expense to Israeli lives, in order to protect Gazans.

For over 25 years, Arab and Muslim leaders have instituted a campaign, using money from wealthy Arab nations, to twist the oppressor/victim narrative to implicate Israel.

World news networks didn't explain the difficulty of fighting in Gaza and the ways the Israel Defense Forces minimized civilian casualties in order to go after Hamas.

Instead, they showed the ravaged faces of hurt children and damaged buildings in Gaza, juxtaposed against scenes of Israelis fleeing to bomb shelters in shopping malls, creating a sense of imbalance to manipulate a moral outrage.

In every war with Hamas, news media becomes the Hamas mouthpiece, using Hamas's images and skewed statistics in their propaganda war on Israel, covering action only when Israel retaliates from rocket barrages. This makes Israel look like the aggressor when, in fact, they are - in every case - responding to escalating violence from Hamas.

* * *

During the same conflict, The New York Times posted a picture of Israelis relaxing in chairs with martinis watching smoke plumes in Gaza, making it seem like killing was a universally enjoyable pastime for Israelis.

The Israelis I knew felt guilt for the inevitable innocent Gazans put in harm's way by Hamas. They worried for their children in the army and were stunned with horror over betrayal from a world, which is always ready to condemn Israel for defending itself.

In another war, the Times posted a special section with the names and faces of every dead Gazan child, insinuating that Israel was guilty for their deaths.

Hamas, which started the war and put their kids in the line of fire, was not implicated. No comparable stories about Israeli suffering were included.

These stories failed to explain that while Israel protects its citizens, there are no bomb shelters in Gaza - only hundreds of miles of tunnels for the protection of terrorists, not for civilians.

Only when Israel is at war is there an obsession about numbers of innocent civilians dead. Even using the false figures supplied by the Gaza Health Ministry, the civilian-to-combatant ratio is lower than in other urban conflicts.

* * *

Why don't we hear any blame placed on Hamas for: starting the war, refusing every ceasefire offer, refusing to release hostages, using human shields, killing Israeli soldiers who are trying to let food trucks into Gaza, stealing food and fuel from their own people, and teaching Gazans to sacrifice their children as martyrs and kill Jews? Why is there no blame for Egypt for building a wall to keep out their brethren?

Military experts attest to Israel's unparalleled efforts to protect civilians in Gaza. John Spencer of West Point has written that Israel "has implemented more measures to prevent civilian casualties than any other military in history." Israel has achieved one of the lowest combatant-to-civilian death tolls in modern warfare.

Despite these facts, all the blame is saved for Israel. Protesters shout, "Free Palestine," even though Israel left Gaza in 2005.

They advocate for the slaughter of Jews with calls to globalize the intifada, while denouncing coexistence.

They call for a ceasefire but celebrated when 300 missiles and drones hit Israel from Iran.

The word "Zionist" (the belief in a Jewish homeland) is now a slur, just as the word "Jew" has been used as a derogatory term.

In spite of the fact that the Palestinian population has doubled since 1948, we have been hearing for years that Israel commits genocide. Now, it is the world's mantra.

In no other war is that word being used, even though far more civilians have been killed, and for less provocation.

As Israel fights for survival, the Jewish people are again being shamed. Today, we are not Christ killers, we are supposedly the perpetrators of genocide.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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