Antony Blinken, Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliver statements to the press at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, May 25, 2021. Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem / Flickr (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Blinken suggests social media posts showing atrocities in Gaza are turning public opinion in favor of the Palestinians.

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In an extraordinarily frank yet largely overlooked exchange, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) discussed why Israel’s ability to control the narrative regarding its attack on Gaza has not been as effective as in the past. As it turns out, it’s not helpful for an attacking country to have images of the devastation and human suffering it is causing broadcast out into the world.

In a discussion on Saturday at the Sedona Forum of the McCain Institute, both of them mused about the potential causes for why Israel’s efforts to get its view of the conflict, i.e., that it is a necessary response to the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks, out to the public are not yielding the desired results.

“Typically, the Israelis are so good at PR,” Romney said when talking about why the world is blaming Israel for atrocities committed in Gaza instead of those for which the terrorist organization Hamas is responsible. 

“What’s happened here?” Romney asked. “How have they, and we, been so ineffective in communicating the realities there and our point of view.”

Blinken responded that there are two main reasons.

The first is that there is an “inescapable reality” of people in Gaza “who have and continue to suffer grievously,” and that this situation has to be addressed. 

The other is that the world is actually getting to witness this reality through the eyes of the Palestinian victims, who are using cell phone images and social media to get the word out. 

“The way this has played out on social media has dominated the narrative,” Blinken said.

With many people in the world mostly seeing (and focusing) on the images showing the human suffering of the Palestinian people, he suggested that they tell a compelling story but not the whole one. 

“You have a social media ecosystem … in which context, history, facts get lost,” Blinken added. “The emotion and impact of images dominates, and we can’t discount that.”

And that is why public opinion in places like the US and Europe is turning against Israel more than previously.

With regard to the US and its allies not being able to get its narrative in front of a global audience, Romney then noted that the images of the conflict on the China-based social media site TikTok, as opposed to other sites, overwhelmingly told the story of the Palestinians.

He then seems to suggest that this is one of the reasons why Congress recently passed legislation that would either ban TikTok in the US or force the company to be sold to an entity not connected to the Chinese state. 

And, with regard to not getting its story out and controlling the narrative of the conflict, it should be noted that, the day after the conversation between the two men about the public relations aspect of the conflict, Israel raided an office of the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera and took it off the air.


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