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The Gaza War
The Media’s Role in Hamas’ War Strategy

Hamas’ PR strategy can only work if international news media follows the script, whether willingly or under coercion.

Published on: August 5, 2014
Richard Landes is a professor of history at Boston University. His book, Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience, includes a final chapter on "Global Jihad." He blogs at The Augean Stables.
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  • Breif2

    Ultimately, this behavior by the media harms not only Israel (and Jews throughout the world), but Palestinian Arabs themselves. “Comfort the afflicted” indeed!

  • Breif2

    By the way, while we have been graced with 24/7 coverage of Gaza, Hamas confrere Daesh (TJFKAISIS) have continued expanding, and have now occupied a city in Lebanon(!). Gaza coverage as circenses?

    • israel the matador, palestinians the bull, with the crowd roaring for the matador’s blood, all while europe and the rest of the world burn. the biggest winner in Op Protective Edge is global jihad.

      • Breif2

        Not only do we get the frisson of supporting the transgressive underdog, we even get the thrill of having a small influence on the result. And please don’t discomfort us with jeremiads about barbarians drawing ever closer.

        (By the way, it’s a pleasant change to have the author of a guest piece here interact with us lowly commenters.)

  • Corlyss

    This fact about the execrable Palestinians has been rather obvious for quite some time – I’d say at least since the first intifada, which looked like any other “Childrens’ Crusade” (there’s another in progress on the southern US border), i.e. children cynically used to make a case that their parents could not be credible making. It was obvious to anyone not still dazzled by the MSM’s phony credentials as impartial documentarians. The obvious became increasingly difficult to ignore when journalists like James Fallows were doing serious investigative journalism like resulted in his chilling account in June 2003 of Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura? { } The boy was clearly a prop, tho’ not dead, but many kids were dead while the repugnant and notorious trouble-makers the Palestinians manipulated world press to continue it’s blood libel against Israel. King Hussein had the right idea when he committed what is now fashionably knows as “ethnic cleansing” by militarily forcing the Palestinians out of his nation.

    • the media’s inability to acknowledge error in the al Durah case is a good example of how profoundly dishonest they are. have a blog post on this in the works: journos prefer public honor (deny intimidation, refuse to admit any serious errors) and private guilt (submit to intimidation, run lethal narratives as news) over public shame (admit intimidation, false news stories) and private integrity (live up to their professional code)>

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  • Jojo Jobxyzone

    Brilliant analysis

    But it covers only the first base of Hamas’ strategy.

    The second base is the money.

    The devastation and suffering in Gaza, as showcased by MSM is guaranteed to bring billions in foreign aid from the west and Qatar. And whom would distribute and funnel the money (in corrupt and rife with cronyism and nepotism Arab society)? well – that would be the ones with the power in Gaza – e.g. Hamas. By having the power to funnel the money – they can and do buy loyalty from all and sundry who may not necessarily like Hamas – but depend on them for sustenance.

    So the gullible west, the useful idiots, are perpetuating Hamas rule and the endless anguish of the Palestinians.

    • agreed. altho i think the foolish notion that throwing money at the pals will somehow solve it – that silly meme that poverty is the cause of terror – is systematically pushed by a media playing by the Palestinian Media Protocols. stopping the money to the worst is a step, but it’s nearly impossible to get western “liberals” to give up throwing money at problems. in the case of the ngos, and the govts who support them, it’s actually deliberate hostility.

  • The journalists are compromised? Thank God for the bloggers!

  • Anthony

    “By enlarging our vision through technology, we have actually surrendered control over much of our own sensory intake. Even those of us who are often critical of news distortions are inclined to accept what we see, hear, or read in the media.” The media free and independent…

    • this begins with print and newspapers, and free journalism is a critical dimension of getting relevant and accurate (as possible) info about places we can’t be. it’s an important dependency, which for the last 15 years at least, journalists from the middle east have betrayed and continue to betray on a large scale.

  • lhfry

    A recent video shows Hamas (presumably) fighters preparing a rocket under a UN blue tent. The Indian journalist who witnessed it, filmed the entire process right up through the firing of the rocket. He was chased away from the site afterwards because the Israelis might target that site (maybe). The tented rocket was set up adjacent to residential buildings, including the hotel in which the journalists were staying. So, if there is any doubt about the use of civilians, this video confirms it. Of course, I have not seen it mentioned in the Washington Post or the New York Times.

  • qet

    It will be for historians and sociologists of the 22nd century to explain the evolution of the mass psychosis that has gripped significant segments of Western populations and their so-called media and cultural elites in the late 20th/early 21st, as evidenced by, among many other things, the recurrent galvanic reflex response to every Israeli response to Palestinian aggression.

    I think it will go something like this: our educated classes staffing educational, media and cultural institutions have over the course of 4 decades trained themselves to believe, with the vehement, uncompromising faith of the converted, that Western Europe and its protégé America are the ultimate cause of every current injustice and unpleasantness going on anywhere throughout the world. The West and Western tradition are therefore morally disgraced, discredited, Bad, in all respects. Therefore in any conflict involving a Western–whether strictly, or only vaguely and ambiguously as in the case of Israel–people and an unarguably non-Western people, the latter occupy the moral high ground according to the tautological, propositional logic employed by these “elites,” as a matter solely of definitions. Therefore the facts are irrelevant, the non-Western people is in the right, Q.E.D. And these people then go around patting themselves on the back for being “rational” and inhabiting a “fact-based world.” HA!

    • Corlyss

      The greatest blindness of liberals/Progs is they believe man can be perfected by his own agency and that said perfectibility WILL be achieved in their lifetimes and they can die with their fondest dreams realized,like a Work Completed. They are incapable of thinking tragically, in spite of a constellation of stubborn facts that prove them naive, fatuous, and expensively disastrous. They NEVER learn from their consequences.

  • Ofer Imanuel

    The Hamas did “achieve” something this time around. Close to the end of the this round, Israel changed its Rules Of Engagement to automatically fire on any source of hostile fire, even if it generates Palestinian casualties.

  • Guy

    I believe when this article discusses the Hamas strategy of using human shields the mistake made is that it is not part of Hamas’s strategy in denying they are responsible to shift blame on Israel in the media.

    This is apparent because Hamas doesn’t have to do anything to get the media to tear Israel to pieces. The press’s bias is its own. Hamas has more important things to do.

    Hamas’s strategy is to lull critics of Hamas into “exposing Hamas’s strategy”. For it is a waste of time and focus. As the article recounts that “Hamas’ Khaled Mashaal officially denies that Hamas engages in such a heinous policy,”

    We had better understand that Khaled Mashaal is correct. And the purpose of their strategy – you thinking he is evil and lying is not to destroy Israel but to have Israel withdraw prematurely from Gaza. And its working.

    You might ask how could I be so stupid to say the Hamas leadership is right when they deny such a heinous strategy. Because what Hamas does would be heinous indeed only if the human shield didn’t want to be human shields.

    But the “civilian” population in Gaza love Hamas. When Khaled Mashaal talks he knows that in the deepest and simplest and strongest sense of the word he has the undying love, commitment and agreement of the civilian population in Gaza.

    In fact that bond between the people of Gaza and Hamas is the only strength that keeps Hamas going. Nor, by their lights, do they need anything else.

    The people of Gaza would and do willingly give their lives for Hamas in order to help put the nails into Israel’s coffin. We can try and educate the people of Gaza as to how they are wrong, even appeal to some interest they have to lead better lives without the bloodshed and sacrifice they suffer.

    We point out over and over how Hamas used the cement to build tunnels instead of schools, houses and hospitals. Like people in Gaza give a rat’s tail.They want Hamas to build the tunnels and not waste that money on schools and hospitals.

    The triangulation described in this article – or assumed by it – between Israel, Hamas/Gaza and the Press doesn’t exist. The dynamic is between Israel and the Media with the Media going full throttle to destroy Israel. The Media would do this if Hamas didn’t exist. The press would do this if Gaza didn’t exist. The press will do this as long as there is Israel. Until the press stops doing it.

    The strength of Hamas and the strength of Gaza is one and the same. It is that strength that enables Khaled Mashaal to say he follows no heinous strategies and tell no lie when he says so.

    His goal in doing so in this conflict is to affect an Israeli withdrawal as soon as possible. He will succeed. If the rumors I hears today that Israel has withdrawn from Gaza are true, he has won.

    And everyone can thank their obsession with why Hamas isn’t good for the people of Gaza, and how Hamas is pulling the strings of the Western Media that they will not have noticed it.

    Strategy working.

    • i don’t know how you feel you can speak for all gazans. while i agree that some gazans may feel as you say, my sense is, and the occasional reporter willing to break ranks, says many gazans hate and fear hamas, and would love to get rid of her.
      as for your idea of an israeli withdrawal – from Gaza? didn’t they do that?

      • Guy

        You are quite correct to ask how I know people in Gaza love Hamas. The fact is after daily coverage for a few years there has not been one instance where people used as shields had to be forced to in any way.

        In Gaza and in Hebron when Hamas rockets fall short and hit a Arab house on numerous occasions press coverage has shown that the only reaction the Arabs have are to feel relieved that at least Hamas has rockets.

        There have been periodic mass (truly huge) demonstrations against Israel and in favor of the war effort against Israel over and over again. In favor of every aspects of the war effort. When the three Israeli boys were captured the gruesome celebrations of the people of Gaza outpaced the sick propaganda on the Hamas and Fatah web sites.

        And finally one more question. Were those people who feel removed from Hamas – were they Muslim?

        Aside from one to two reporters stories, every known fact points to a true bonding between Hamas and almost everyone else in Gaza. The alliance between Abbas and Hamas is one of convenience because Abbas understands he is not popular – Hamas is.

  • Not Rick

    Mainstream media has no Journalists, they have PR agents.

  • EllenO

    Here’s a video from an Indian reporting crew in Gaza on how Hamas assembles and fires rockets from populated areas. It provides more objective information on what is going on in Gaza than all the verbiage spouted by the British Bias Network or the Catastrophe News Network (previously known as the BBC and CNN) who deliberately or inadvertently act, as the article suggests, as Hamas PR agents.

    Shocking when you get more impartial reporting from a developing country than the Western media outlets.

    • notice that they could film it because hamas didn’t know (from their hotel). and in his subsequent discussion of the decision to publish the (rare) testimony, he speaks specifically of his concerns about hamas retaliation. and he’s no friend of israel, but he is an honest journalist, which is, alas, not the case with the dominant peer group of western ones.

  • ljgude

    Seeing is believing and what we are shown on TV is intended to produce a predetermined emotional reaction. That is what news cinematographers and film editors are trained to produce and they use the same techniques as Hollywood movie directors to craft their ‘story’. We accept what we are shown too uncritically because it feels like we have experienced the depicted events. We have seen the dead babies and can’t get beyond it – which is precisely the intent of presenting drama as news. This approach preempts the intellect and diverts the mass audience from engaging in critical thinking and, as we have seen once again, can support highly distorted narratives. I thought that this time the Hamas story was wearing thin and the media really had to turn up the heat to make it stick. Its a lot harder to whip up universal condemnation of Israel when the Saudis and the Egyptians are conspicuously failing to pile on. The Middle East is changing radically and I expect that the narratives will too. Will the media side with ISIS against Israel should they come to blows for example?

  • Jerry L. Sherman

    These articles by Dr. Landes that I have just discovered are as pointed and convincing as anything out there, especially regarding the suicidal impact of the West’s bending over backward to accommodate the propaganda war against it. Yet even as the subterfuge of Hamas and the bloodthirstiness of ISIS are hanging out there for the world to see, the blame toward Israel and the West is mounting up more strongly than ever. Is this a total mystery? I think we need radical theory about this, starting here, with this clear view of the destructive tactics coming from the other side. But what is it that is coming from within? Why is there so much uneasy collusion on the part of moderates, and why is there the self-righteous blindness of the Left? I believe we need help: biblical ideas informing our analyses. I have been theorizing for a decade about “The Ishmael Factor” — the title of a book I have published myself. It is too philosophical for the Christians and too Christian for the intellectuals, so far. But see it it gets your interest. I also have a much shorter version, “The Religious Psychology of the Middle East Conflict.” It will be linked on this site soon or can be found now on

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