It is not just Turkey’s Islamist strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who censors people. With big media brands in the “cradle of democracy” enthusiastically supporting terrorist thugocracies such as Hamas, the Western world is setting the wrong precedent for autocrats such as Erdoğan. He may well ask: If Israel is being crucified even by the West, what is wrong with our third-world anti-Semitism?
The recent Gaza war and subsequent pro-Hamas propaganda were no different from previous years.
In 2012, there was a video of a motorcade featuring about a dozen Palestinian terrorists on motorcycles, shooting in the air in victory, and dragging behind them the body of a man they had just killed on suspicion that he was a collaborator with Israel. The victim was one of six Palestinians the terrorists’ fellows had murdered. The video showed dozens of other Palestinians proudly filming the scene on their cell phones, and taking pictures of the historic moment.
A day or so later, the mood in the Gaza Strip was joyful once again: another hudna, or temporary truce, had been “won,” and the enemy had been “defeated again.”
Later that day in 2012, the international press reported celebratory bursts of gunfire, cheering and chanting minutes after the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came into effect. Terrorists from all corners of Gaza City emerged onto the streets to celebrate the “victory.” Some of the “victors” set off fireworks from rooftops. Along Gaza City’s waterfront, a mosque loudspeaker repeated over and over: “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”). A local, Adel Mansour, told The Guardian, “They bombed us, they killed our women and children, but they could not stop the resistance. So they had to surrender and agree to stop the assassinations. They learned we cannot be defeated by their bombs.”
When Mansour spoke those words nearly a decade ago, about 150 Palestinians and five Israelis had lost their lives. In that eight-day war, the Israeli military targeted more than 1,500 sites in Gaza with airstrikes and shelling. More than 1,000 rockets were fired at Israel and a bomb had ripped through a Tel Aviv bus, injuring 17 people.
This year, after Hamas sent more than 4,000 rockets and missiles into Israel over 11 days while Israel tried to defend itself by taking out the places from which the fire had initiated, one heard yet again from Gaza, “The enemy has been defeated!” As in past years, Israel did its utmost to avoid killing Palestinian civilians while Hamas deliberately targeted Israeli civilians and used its own civilians to try to protect its weapons, and then displayed its dead—the more the better, especially children—to television crews.
None of this is a shock, unfortunately. What is shocking is the way the Western media covered the war.
On May 24, Boston Globe cartoonist Christopher Weyant drew a tank with an Israeli flag on it, the implication being that it was driven by a Jewish soldier. A Palestinian man is being crushed beneath the tank, only his hand visible, holding a Palestinian flag. In the background, Israeli warplanes indiscriminately drop bombs. The caption is a note being read to the man by a Palestinian woman: “This is from Prime Minister Netanyahu. Please respect the right for the State of Israel to exist. We appreciate your cooperation while we build it on top of you. XO, Bibi”
Faith Quintero, the author of Loaded Blessings, a family saga that alternates between Inquisition-era Spain and modern-day Israel, responded via Twitter: “The Globe/Weyant cartoon has Jews literally killing Palestinians for a home just as Nazi propaganda has Jews counting money on the skulls of Germans, and instead of planes dropping bombs as in the Weyant image, there is an implication that Jews caused some type of destruction in the background of the Nazi image. I posted the Nazi propaganda image as a response to the Weyant propaganda and asked ‘What is the difference?’
In response, Twitter suspended Quintero.
“It’s wrong. I wouldn’t have minded someone on Twitter telling me my Nazi comparison isn’t fair, or why it’s wrong and very different from the Globe cartoon. But that isn’t what happened. They just removed my point,” said Quintero. “I don’t care about not being on Twitter. But it terrifies me to have my voice silenced—by a company based in the US.”
Meanwhile, The New York Times, which did not bother to recall the 85 schoolgirls recently killed in Afghanistan, published pictures of all the children allegedly killed during the latest clashes between Hamas and Israel.
The story did mention that “Hamas and other militant groups fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities indiscriminately.” It also correctly stated that the Israeli air defense system had managed to stop about 90 percent of the rockets.
The article also noted that at least two of the children may have been killed by Palestinian rockets that fell short, and that one of the children killed in Israel, Nadine Awad, was Palestinian. “The low toll on the Israeli side also reflected an imbalance in defensive capabilities,” concluded the Times.
All the same, the paper’s pro-Hamas propaganda was deeply problematic in its evasive language. The authors of the op-ed, in expressing their sorrow over the fact that “most of the children who died were Arabs,” in fact covertly confessed that they would have been happier if most of the children had been Israeli Jews.
Would the West’s underdog-nation romanticists feel better if Israel’s Iron Dome had failed, and Hamas rockets had killed 500 Israeli children instead of two? Is it really too hard to understand that 500 Israeli children were spared not because Hamas did not want to kill them, but because, as the Times article pointed out, there is an imbalance in defensive capabilities between Israel and Hamas? Is it Israel’s sin to have built the Iron Dome to minimize casualties?
If this is the precedent set by the “cradle of democracy,” the lesser democracies of the world will find it much easier to call for more Jewish blood.
Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist. He regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Defense News, and is a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is also a founder of, and associate editor at, the Ankara-based think tank Sigma.
This article was first published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.