A Palestinian man walks atop the remains of a house that witnesses said was destroyed by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war last summer, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 10.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Last summer’s war with Hamas in Gaza presented a case of dueling narratives that Israel is still fighting to this day, ambassador Dore Gold told a press briefing at his Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank on Monday.
Gold, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be temporarily leaving his post as the head of the JCPA as he assumes his role as the director-general of the Foreign Ministry.
“Part of Israel’s challenge in all these conflicts is when ideas and conclusions are asserted even though they can’t be checked, they become the lingua franca on the nature of the conflict,” he explained.
As an example, he cited unchecked figures from officials, such as then-UN commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay’s assertion that 74 percent of the casualties in the Gaza Strip were civilians.
“You can’t blame the whole UN. It’s one official who decided to go public with a figure that can’t possibly be true,” Gold said, adding that it was impossible to verify such a claim while the war raged and it could only be checked once the dust settled.
“These are the type of issues that helped form a narrative about the war that are certainly affecting Israel’s position up until this point in time.”
It was then-Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh’s claim on Al Jazeera in August 2014 where he boasted, “Our narrative has gained the upper hand,” which prompted Gold and his co-editor Hirsh Goodman to publish their monograph “The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster it Averted,” which was presented to reporters at the press conference in Jerusalem.
Hamas’s manipulation of the international media has “affected the perceptions of governments, international organizations and NGOs alike,” Gold wrote in the monograph.
“The real truth about what transpired during the war was superseded by a highly subjective presentation that suited the Hamas interest, and which it skillfully sold to international opinion-makers.”
Specifically, Hamas succeeded in persuading the international media to understate the danger Hamas posed to Israel and that it is a moderate force that can be negotiated with, and wildly skewed the figure for civilian casualties to create a sense of victimhood worldwide where Israel is portrayed as the asymmetric aggressor.
“The real way to defeat Hamas is not by military strength, because no matter the care taken there will always be collateral damage in conflict. It is by turning Hamas’s weapon on itself by making it accountable for its war crimes against humanity and by eventual democratic processes that will allow the people of Gaza to elect a better future for themselves than the reality now imposed by Hamas,” Goodman wrote, explaining what Israel should learn from its most recent conflict with the Islamist organization.