Sunday, July 20, 2014

That "Don't Kill" Rule Was a Commandment, Not a Suggestion

I used to have a rule at this here blog that I'd never get into Israel's barney with the Palestinians, not least because 1) People who want that kind of thing can probably get it better and angrier elsewhere, 2) There are already far too many blogs going on and on about it from both sides and 3) About 80% of those who comment on the issue are just bloody awful human beings.

This rule inevitably fell foul of my own manias, since most of my output is basically me getting all pouty and annoyed by people who bullshit for political purposes.  Given the quantity of hilarious bullshit flying around right now, I feel like I don't have much choice but to go with one last bleat, and I'll not raise the topic again for a while.

So, the official IDF Spokesperson Twitter account is illuminating in all kinds of unexpected ways, isn't it?

Whichever PR team it is that are running it* appear to believe that they're landing blow after blow on the enemy in a series of astounding propaganda coups, and who knows?  Maybe they are, and it certainly never hurts to remind people that Hamas really are a bunch of godawful shits.

To me though, almost everything the IDF's PR team says just underscores the sheer lunacy of the entire situation.  When the IDF Spokesperson announces that they've killed some Hamas men who tunnelled out of Gaza, it reminds me that Hamas are basically incapable of mounting any kind of resistence of consequence.  It shows that Hamas's crack troops can literally spend months digging a damn tunnel out of Gaza, only to be immediately vapourised by insanely expensive weapons that might as well be fired from outer space the instant they poke their heads out of the other end.

The same goes for captured arms or photos of rockets being fired off, which only serve to remind the world that these theoretically frightening terrorists are hilariously outgunned and utterly incapable of inflicting any kind of disastrous cost upon their enemies, unless the IDF madly decide to put soldiers inside Gaza and have them wander around for snipers to take potshots at.

Similarly, when the spokesperson shows us neat infographics of rockets hidden in houses, mosques and hospitals, it merely emphasises that the IDF are bombing houses, mosques and hospitals.  When they tell everyone that they're very moral because they warn people to get out of houses that they're going to bomb, it announces clearly that they believe - inaccurately - that there's some kind of legal duty on civilians to get out of the way of their missiles, and that they can swerve culpability with a phone call or a dud rocket.  

In short, the laser-like focus on claims that Hamas is responsible for the deaths of all the civilians that the IDF is killing just reinforces the fact that, you know, the IDF is killing civilians.  And while that may annoy the thousands of Melanie Phillips types buzzing around the internet like angry wasps, I think any reasonable person is going to come away from the spokesperson's account with an impression that the IDF may not, in fact, be "the most moral army in the world"**, and that most of its problems stem directly from its habit of intentionally incarcerating and immiserating 1.7 million people...  And that this is, shall we say, not solely Hamas's fault.

Which makes me wonder what the purpose of the Spokesperson account actually is.  It's surely not aimed at winning over Israel's critics - the stridently lunatic tone and continual references to rubbing out civvies are huge, honking schoolboy errors, if it is.

In the end, I can only imagine that it exists in order to keep the thousands of Mel P/angry wasp social media types furious and on-message; to provide them with neat infographics and cool photos. I'm not certain that this achieves any concrete purpose at all, beyond making people who were already extremely pissed off even more so.

I know that Irn-Bru advertisers have an easier sales job but really, you have to ask if this is the best that the IDF can do, because if it is, they'd probably have made a better case by just keeping quiet and letting the right-wing press handle the apologia operation.  The Times, for instance, has managed to pull off almost exactly the same propaganda wheezes every day for two weeks without looking half as maniacal.

*I've no idea whether the IDF hires PR consultants or promotes from within the ranks, but I reckon the sheer ineptitude seems to indicate that it's the latter.

**Who does have "the the most moral army in the world"?  The Swiss one, perhaps - it seldom kills anyone.


Ken Eadie, the Prince of Strikers said...

Many thanks for the link to the IDF twitter account. It is a parody right?

One tweet:
IDF Chief of Staff: "There are no militaries like ours. There are no militaries that drop leaflets and telephone civilians before a strike."

This is quite correct, I don't ever remember the British Army in Northern Ireland or the US in Iraq winning hearts and minds by distributing pizza delivery flyers or giving the local population advance notice of impending industrial action. It's to the Palestinians eternal discredit that they appear to be completely thankless.

organic cheeseboard said...

I'm guessing it's there primarily for journalists right? To give them easy copy, the immediate IDF line, and some nice photos. Also for keyboard warriors.

What I find weirdest about it is the obvious lying. So when someone fired a mortar and broke a ceasefire, the Spokesperson immediately said it was 'Hamas', when it could have been anyone with a mortar - it;s widely accepted that Hamas aren't the only organisation firing rockets - usually even the IDF line is that Hamas 'allow it to happen'.

I'm assuming this is part of their trying to demonstrate how good their 'intelligence' is, but that kind of thing is put into context by e.g. redirecting your guns so they're firing at children on a beach.

flyingrodent said...

I'm starting to think that it must be for a) domestic consumption and b) keyboard warriors. The IDF started tweeting photos purportedly showing rockets being fired from a hospital and what do you know, a mere half-hour later, news starts to come in of a missile strike on a hospital.

They've also released a video of exactly the scenario I was talking about in the post - a few Hamas gunmen sticking their heads out of a hole in the ground and being instantly vapourised. This no doubt has the home audience whooping and punching the air, and it probably makes Hamas look about as farcical as they are to the Palestinians, and both of these seem like useful goals. Outside the local bubble though, it just reinforces how farcical the imbalance is, and how weak the supposed threat by comparison.

BTW, that part where I said the Times was doing a better job of carrying water for the IDF than its own spokesperson? The Times leader today basically repeated almost every single point in far more florid and categorical language, with a couple of odour-eating comments along the lines of "But of course the Israelis shouldn't just blow shit up left, right and centre for no sane reason".

Once again - your sensible, centrist paper of record, Britain.