On November 11, an Arabic-language Twitter account maintained by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a video purporting to be a selfie by a nurse in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, a major battlefield in the current conflict that was taken over by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) a few days later. In the startling video, as bombs went off in the background, the tearful nurse warned Gazans to heed the call of the IDF to flee to the south. She also affirmed many IDF talking points, notably that Hamas had taken over the hospital and were stealing morphine and fuel.
The video gained millions of views—but was also widely mocked by many, particularly Arabs, who questioned its authenticity. For one thing, none of the staff in the hospital knew who this supposed nurse was. For another, she spoke in English with an accent that resembled no known Arab lilt.
As Marc Owen Jones of The Daily Beast observed, “Everything about it smacked of high school theater—from the botched accent that sounded like it was straight out of an Israeli soap opera to the perfectly scripted IDF talking points rolling off her tongue.” Jones also noted “the pristine white lab coat looking like it had just come back from the dry cleaner, the audio track of bombs falling that sounded like samples from a late-’80s Casio keyboard, and the contrived stethoscope-waving you‘d expect from an extra on Grey’s Anatomy.”
Within a day, the tweet of the video was deleted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But of course, downloaded versions continue to circulate.
Lying and propaganda are endemic to warfare. Public opinion is always as much a battlefield as actual territory. But in the case of Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza—nominally against Hamas but actually devastating to the civilian population of the besieged territory—propaganda has taken a bizarre turn. This is propaganda that barely makes any effort to convince, instead offering ludicrous arguments in implausible forms. To pay attention to Israeli propaganda in recent weeks is like watching a magic trick done by an inept conjurer who constantly lets the audience see the mirrors and wires that are supposed to create optical illusions.
As Hussein Ibish, a resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute notes, “Israel’s propaganda has always been ham-handed and ridiculous, but during this Gaza war, it has been so pathetically bad and jumped the shark so terribly that it’s going to be very difficult to restore any credibility at all with a great many people in the US and Europe.” [Continue reading…]