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The art of war

Zafar Anjum | Jan. 8, 2009
In the Israel-Gaza conflict, the Israeli side has embraced the new media to relay its viewpoint with great success.

Thats why when Israel launched its air assault on Gaza on 27 December to teach a rocket-throwing Hamas a severe lesson, it simultaneously launched a hasbara campaignhasbara meaning spin and propaganda in Hebrew, including in the cyberspace. It involved the Israel Defense Forces posting daily videos from a spokesperson on Google's YouTube video, holding a citizens press conference via Twitter, and other initiatives on MySpace, Facebook and blogs.

In terms of communicating our message, new media is the future, said Avi Benayahu, the chief spokesman of the Israeli army, in an interview. So far, they have been successful in their new media efforts.

Stop the press

Israels other part of the strategy has been to prevent the international media from entering the war zone. According to a report in Today, more 300 international reporters are waiting to enter Gaza but Israel is not allowing them to.

But no matter what, Israels diplomats know that if journalists are given a choice between covering death and covering context, death wins, writes Bronner in his report. So in a war that they consider necessary but poorly understood, they have decided to keep the news media far away from the death.

On the Palestinian side, however, some are braving the odds to keep the balance of the story in cyberspace. Bloggers such as a-mother-from-gaza are telling their stories of suffering. Interestingly, there is also a joint blog by an Israeli and a Palestinian in operation: Hope Man and Peace Man. They write about the daily fighting in Gaza and how they yearn for peace. One blogger even pleaded for her readers to pray for her.

Well, all we can do is hope and pray that the war and suffering in Gaza stops as soon as possible. The world wants both Israel and Palestine to co-exist as peaceful neighbours. Whatever the moral consequences of the war, Israel has definitely shown its new media savvy beyond compare. If there were a global award for it, Israel will win it hands down.

Zafar Anjum is the online editor of MIS Asia portal. 


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