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OpinionIsrael at War

One war, two visions

One could be forgiven for concluding that the BBC and Iranian media are covering two different wars.

Israeli forces examining rocket parts in the largest weapons manufacturing site found since the start of the war against Hamas, in the Al-Bureij camp, central Gaza, Jan. 8, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Israeli forces examining rocket parts in the largest weapons manufacturing site found since the start of the war against Hamas, in the Al-Bureij camp, central Gaza, Jan. 8, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Amir Taheri
Amir Taheri

If you thought you knew all you needed to know about the war in Gaza, think again. Much depends on how you get your news, and from where. Last week I decided to do a little (obviously non-scientific) experiment by following the Gaza news through two channels: the BBC, one of Great Britain’s most adulated institutions, and in parallel with it, the various news outlets controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran.

A number of themes emerged.

The BBC has already sent Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack by Hamas to its dead archives, while the IRGC outlets keep mentioning it as “the battle that ended the myth of Zionist invincibility.” The fact that Oct. 7 was an ambush unleashed against unarmed people, including youths attending a concert, and not a battle, is beside the point; it must be constantly mentioned to justify Iran’s thinly disguised hope that the Gaza war continues “longer than any think.”

The BBC gives massive coverage to so-called diplomatic initiatives to bring about a ceasefire. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s “shuttle diplomacy” between Washington and the Middle East is presented as a serious enterprise rather than banal shadow-boxing. If there is no sign of a ceasefire, the reason is Israel’s obstinacy. Forgetting that fire is coming from both sides, even now, the Beeb wants only Israel to rein in its fury, never mentioning that Hamas, too, could help by stopping rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets.

BBC commentators imply that Israel is no longer in real danger from Gaza and thus should be magnanimous and accept a “humanitarian ceasefire” which, again according to the wise men of London, will encourage Hamas, too, to cease fighting.

IRGC propaganda, however, not only wants Hamas to stay in the game but also encourages other members of the queer club known as the “Resistance Front” to join in. In fact, it already claims that the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Yemeni Ansar Allah (Houthis) and the Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi militia are already dealing “deadly blows” not only to the “Zionist enemy” but also to its ultimate protector, “the American Great Satan.”

To back the claim that Israel is losing the war and that the “Resistance Front” must, well, resist, IRGC strategist Hassan Rashvand recalls that since Pearl Harbor, no foreign power has dared attack the United States. Even the mighty Soviet Union backed out of a confrontation with the United States at the last minute over the Cuban missile crisis. That gave the “Great Satan” the illusion of invincibility, which led to Washington’s global hegemony. “It ended when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard hit the American base at al-Assad [in Iraq] with 14 missiles, 108 kilometers inside Iraq.” The Americans had no alternative but to eat humble pie and prepare to leave the Middle East.

Even now the “Great Satan” dare not try to rescue the “Zionist state” because of “heroic” operations by the Houthis who, according to the daily Kayhan, now control the Red Sea and decide which ships can get through Bab al-Mandab Strait.

While the Beeb believes that Hezbollah does not intend to go beyond gesticulations, IRGC theorists claim the Lebanese militia has already launched “680 deadly attacks” on Israel and is mobilizing ground forces for an invasion of “usurped Palestine.”

Iran’s official news agency IRNA quotes retired Israeli General Yitzhak Brik as telling the Israeli daily Maariv that Hezbollah has the ability to just walk into Israel without encountering serious resistance. IRNA adds that Hezbollah attacks have already made 94 Israeli towns and kibbutzim “un-livable” and forced inhabitants to flee.

If you follow the Beeb, you may get the impression that the only victims in this war are unarmed people of Gaza, especially women and children, old men and journalists, and that Israelis are mainly bombing schools, hospitals shopping malls and cultural centers. That helps sustain the narrative of victimhood perpetuated by Hamas and its apologists. The narrative is backed by footage of ruins, often with a child, mostly a little girl, sitting among them and looking straight into the camera and saying “I want to be back in my home.”

Unwittingly perhaps, IRGC propaganda gives the impression that it is Israel that is the victim. The IRGC cannot tell its audience that those heroes of the “Resistance” have been unable to protect the people they have had under their rule for almost two decades. Thus, the IRGC offers no footage of “charred bodies of children” or heaps of rubble where once stood a Gazan village or town.

The ayatollahs greet the deaths of so many Gazans as an occasion for “both congratulation” (tabrikat) and “condolences” (tasliah).

Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi assures everyone that “martyrs” in Gaza have the good fortune of going straight to paradise.

Asked why some people wonder why the IRGC isn’t sending its “volunteers for martyrdom” to help Hamas, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s assistant for parliamentary affairs, Muhammad Hussaini, says “The question is why, instead of attacking the Islamic Republic of Iran, ISIS doesn’t go to Gaza to help the Resistance there.”

However, this month’s attacks by ISIS on a memorial procession in Kerman, that claimed at least 100 lives, and two days later in Bampour, also in southeast Iran, have not stopped questions about Tehran’s turning Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and now Gaza into battlegrounds against its real or imagined enemies by asking Arabs to pay the price with their blood.

For the Beeb, “Hamas” is synonymous with “Palestine,” while the IRGC tries to avoid both words, using instead the word “Resistance” (muqawimah) to imply that Gaza is on fire because of the war declared by “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Israel and the United States.

While the Beeb constantly warns of the Gaza war expanding into a regional conflict involving Iran, the Khomeinist leaders in Tehran pretend to be no more than interested observers, as if they were just watching the tragedy unfold on TV.

IRGC Quds Force chief Major-General Esmail Ghaani has put it succinctly: “We give our Arab brothers who join the Resistance Front everything they want, including arms and training. But we shall not fight on their behalf.”

A similar message comes from former Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi: “Resistance Front members are mature enough and take their own decisions. We support them and educate them on how to handle a crisis [i.e. war] but this is as far as we go.”

In other words, the glory of martyrdom is not for us, but for those we hire to die on our behalf.

Originally published by The Gatestone Institute.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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