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Opinion: Columnists

Hamas' propaganda victory

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Opinion,Linda Chavez,Columnists,Israel,Palestinians,Gaza,Hamas

The pictures are horrific: schoolroom walls covered in blood, parents running with injured children against a backdrop of bombed-out rubble, women with outstretched arms imploring Heaven. But they do not tell the full story of what is happening in Gaza any more than the casualty or rocket tallies printed daily in The New York Times and elsewhere do.

Midweek, the Times reported that 1,410 Palestinians have died and only 59 Israelis, while Israel had launched 3,577 rockets into Gaza compared to 2,753 fired by Hamas at Israel. But these figures are grotesquely dishonest, implying a moral equivalence that simply does not exist.

The escalating bloodshed could cease at any point. But Hamas chooses to keep the blood flowing, rivers of it meant to drown the resolve of Israel to dismantle the terrorist network that has impoverished Gaza and seeks to destroy the Jewish state.

Shedding innocent blood has always been the preferred tool of Hamas -- preferably the blood of Jews. But if it serves its propaganda purposes, Hamas is happy to sacrifice Muslim women and children by using them as human shields.

This point seems to be lost on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has blamed Israel for the deaths of 20 Palestinians at a U.N. school allegedly hit by Israeli rockets. Never mind that the U.N. has found weapons hidden in three of its own schools since the beginning of the conflict, and Israel Defense Forces have discovered weapons hidden in mosques and hospitals in Gaza, as well.

The technique seems to be working -- at least in rousing anti-Israel sentiment around the world, including among certain segments of the U.S. population. While more Americans believe Hamas is to blame for the bloodshed in Gaza, 40 percent to 19 percent, Democrats are nearly equally divided on the issue, with 29 percent blaming Hamas and 26 percent blaming Israel, according to a new Pew Research poll. Republicans, on the other hand, overwhelmingly say Hamas bears the burden of guilt for innocent lives lost, 60 to 13 percent.

Israel, which once enjoyed nearly universal respect and support in the West, has suddenly become the villain in all too many eyes. The shift in public opinion didn't begin with Operation Protective Edge, the Israel Defense Forces' move into Gaza earlier this month. As Joshua Muravchik outlines in his meticulously researched book Making David into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel (Encounter Books 2014), the tide began to turn decades ago, especially on the left.

Muravchik details the crumbling of support for Israel in Europe, which began early with French President Charles de Gaulle's infamous tirade against Jews as "an elite people, self-assured and domineering" after Israel's triumph in the 1967 Six-Day War. Anti-Semitic demonstrations and attacks in France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe have become commonplace today with the influx of Muslim immigrants to the continent. And the UN itself has become the favored forum for attacks on the legitimacy of Israel.

Muravchik's beautifully written book describes the confluence of events that helped undermine support for Israel, from the West's dependence on Arab oil to the left's adoption of a new paradigm that replaced class struggle with the conflict against "racism" that pitted "the rest against the West." Muravchik spends a whole chapter describing the ascendance of scholars in American universities whose worldview envisioned a perennial demographic conflict between young and old, male and female and, especially, white and non-white -- one in which Israel's very existence is seen as the triumph of "white people competing for land with people of color."

Muravchik details how these views have seeped in diluted form into the mainstream. He warns: "The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy."

It is little wonder that Hamas relishes the pictures of dead and wounded Palestinians. Hamas is willing to sacrifice countless Palestinian lives in the quest for a gullible audience in the West ready to blame Israel. Only in this way can Hamas win its war.

Muravchik's book sounds the alarm for why Americans cannot let this happen. "For all its might, Israel remains a David, struggling against the odds to secure its small foothold in a violent and hostile region," he says. We must stand with Israel if it is to survive.

LINDA CHAVEZ, a Washington Examiner columnist, is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate.
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Linda Chavez

Columnist
The Washington Examiner

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