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Netanyahu Winning Battle, Losing War: Ravish Kumar

It is the first war of the 21st century where one-sided propaganda did not win general support and the voice of the weaker is reaching out all over, very fast.

 

 

 

 

By Mohammed Atherulla Shariff
Veteran journalist, author and Magsaysay awardee Ravish Kumar has taken stock of the situation in Gaza at the completion a month of the war. With due respect and credit to the stalwart, we carry a summary of his analysis here:

Benjamin Netanyahu is also avoiding to face the media like another popular leader elsewhere. But the Israeli media is criticizing him on daily basis and demanding him to step down. While going through media reports and opinion pieces, one may not be able to ignore the whispers in India. ‘Sturdy Government’ and ‘Mister Security’ are the narratives in both the countries. It is historically evident that the leaders who went to prove themselves very strong remained of no good to their countries. It is also a fact that the people take 20 to 30 years to arrive at this conclusion and of course after inflicting lots of destruction to themselves. People hardly realize this in a lesser time.

Palestine back on centre stage
Looking at the attack of Hamas and Israeli retaliation, one can see the destruction of Gaza undoubtedly but cannot miss the erosion of Israeli myths. The Palestine issue is no more an academic issue now. It has spilled out from the indigestible stand of many political observers. The world has begun to understand this issue now even without the opinion pieces of these observers. Moreover, the issue has now reached out to people across the world. The term ‘Occupation’ has now become a common chant of the people. Lend your ears to the slogan ‘one, two, three, four; occupation no more’ raised by thousands of people who marched on the streets of Glasgow in England and assembled before the BBC office too. People’s ire is not only against Israel but also against the British government, which is standing by the Zionist government.

Scottish National Party’s legislator Tommy Shepherd has said we have to fasten our endeavors to change the stand of not only our government but also of other European countries so that the human rights of Palestinians get recognized. Palestine was almost a forgotten issue before the Hamas attack, and Israeli attack on Gaza during Covid-19 had not drawn the world attention as much.

The world-wide protests against Israel were ignored in the beginning, branding them as pro-Palestine and Muslims’ voices but it proved false very soon. The Palestine issue has now moved from streets to the parliaments of many countries. Many parliamentarians are speaking vociferously in favour of Palestine. This is the significant impact of the conflict which has crossed 30 days.

Jews against Zionists
Until now the miserable lives of Gazans under Israeli occupation had gone unnoticed in the 21st century. The citizens of Israel are opposing attacks on Gaza and despite the police chief saying that ‘such people will be bundled in buses and sent to Gaza’, protests are going on in Israel regularly. Demonstrations held before the Liberty Statue in New York calling ‘free Palestine’ included more than 500 Jews.

It was a Jews-only demonstration in Grand Central Station in New York, demanding end to the war. Several of them were detained but they did not dither. Many elderly Jews also joined the protest rallies whose parents had suffered Hitler’s genocide to demand ‘no more genocide’.  It is reported that several Jews living in the vicinity of West Bank move out and spend night with Palestinians so that the Israeli army does not commit excesses and destroy their villages. They are speaking against Israeli occupation. This is the major change that has emerged from the ongoing war.

More than 30 journalists have laid down their lives in Gaza. It has put up a big challenge before Israel. They have burst the myth of slaying 40 Israeli children by Hamas.

All the old films and videos depicting the truth of Palestine issue are being revisited now. People are also relooking at the resolution passed in the UN General Assembly by 142 against 2 votes for the rights of Palestine on 7th November 25 years ago. The world wishes that Palestine should breathe in liberation and the open jail should be routed.

Propaganda defeated
It is the first war of the 21st century where one-sided propaganda did not win general support and the voice of the weaker is reaching out all over, very fast. South Africa, Türkiye and many other countries have called back their ambassadors from Israel.

The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu held a meeting with the ambassadors of about 80 supporting countries. He expects them to exert in their respective countries so that what occurred on 7th October would never be forgotten. Israel wants only 7th October to be remembered but it is not happening so.  Israel has realized that the governments of these countries though are on its side but their people aren’t. It indicates that things are not going as Israel wants. America is supporting Israel but the people are up against the government and questions are raised in the Senate. Israel wants these ambassadors to support its demand of releasing all the 250 captives unconditionally by Hamas. Until then no question of any ceasefire.

Netanyahu under fire
Netanyahu is wearing black apparels these days, which is a mark of condolence as per the Israeli traditions. But questions are raised that having moved away from the people, what is he displaying now? Contrary to Indian way of looking at Netanyahu, his own people view him differently. He is being criticized severely in the media of his country. There were lots of protests against him after the law to curtail the powers of Supreme Court was passed by his government. All sections of the society including retired army men were up against him. “Good people disobey bad laws” was the narrative that went around.  People are not standing by Netanyahu even after the Hamas attack. His popularity is declining even after dropping thousands of bombs on Gaza; he could not win people’s confidence.

What will be his fate after the war comes to an end is left to anybody’s imagination. As per a survey conducted by a media house, 80% of the people opine that Netanyahu must bear the responsibility of intelligence and military failures. As per several writers of Financial Times, he is reluctant to take the responsibility, scaring the backfire and losing the office. The daily Haaretz says that ‘Netanyahu is incapable of taking the responsibility’. But in India one would say, no criticism against the prime minister during the wartime. (And keep chanting Modi, Modi.)

Opinionmakers’ onslaught
The editorial of Haaretz on 7th Nov. asks ‘Just Leave, Netanyahu’. ‘My Family’s Blood Is on Netanyahu’s Hands,’ says writer Nehemia Shtrasler. ‘Not Tomorrow. Not Next Week. Netanyahu Must Go Now’ is the headline of another article of his. Again, he writes ‘Netanyahu Must Go. Preferably to Miami’. ‘Netanyahu’s Far-Right Ministers Are His Assets, and for Israel a Liability,’ writes another analyst. Analyst Gidi Weitz has written ‘Netanyahu Made Israel Fight for Its Democracy. Now He’s Making It Fight for Its Life’. Again, he writes, ‘At the Height of War with Hamas, Netanyahu Declared War on Israel’.

Just compare these opinions with media response in India after Pulwama incident. When the former Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Satyapal Malik spoke about Pulwama, the mainstream media simply ignored it. When somebody questions in India, the media keeps mum.

A plan to oust Al Jazeera from Israel is there from the beginning of the war but even after a month it could not be executed. Even after dropping thousands of bombs on Gaza, Israel is scared of the voices raising in America, the close friend. One has to take notice of the type of questions raised in press conference in the White House. Sam Husaini of Jordan questioned why the law of genocide is not being implemented against Israel?

Situation, Back Home
Can anybody imagine such questions will be allowed in the ‘mother of democracy’, India by the ‘father of power’? Can any journalist dare to question in this manner? None of the owners of the media houses has removed the daring journalists there and neither any ED raided and seized phones and laptops of the journalists. The Supreme Court of India has observed that the digital equipment of the media persons should not be seized. But be sure, it will have least effect on the investigative agencies.

Usually, a head of the state becomes hero during wartime. But we do not come across such a projection in Israel rather the prime minister is being taken to task in the media. Analyst Yossi Verter writes, ‘Negligent Netanyahu Battles for Political Survival, Refuses to Face Israeli Public’. Two days later Netanyahu faced the media but had nothing to express except that he met the family members of those who were killed in the Hamas attack.

Netanyahu had distanced from media since more than a year. Even the official TV channel of Israel was not given any interview by Netanyahu since 2019. Similarly, no interview was given to Channel 12, 13 and 14 after March 2021. Tal Schneider writes in The Times of Israel, ‘After blowing up ties with the media, Netanyahu now fears taking questions in wartime. The prime minster won’t interact with his nation’s media, and by extension with the Israeli people, even at this dark hour’. She mentions further that there is hardly any democratic country in the world whose leader avoids to face the press. Ravish Kumar points out that, it is a mistake of the writer, she should have looked at India where our prime minister has not faced the media openly since 2019.

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