Propaganda and the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict

Julie Hotard
10 min readNov 19, 2023

Below is a basic article-length timeline of Israel and Palestine’s complicated history.

To understand the Israel-Hamas war, one needs to understand how we got here.

Here’s some more information.

The many, many times Israelis and Palestinians tried to make peace — and failed

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is an ideal breeding ground for propaganda. All sides of the conflict have taken advantage of that. And there are more than two sides.

In a Worldwide War of Words, Russia, China and Iran Back Hamas
Officials and researchers say the deluge of online propaganda and disinformation is larger than anything seen before.

It is a microcosm of what’s going on in the whole world. Most of what gets changed in human societies, gets changed through ideas — that is, marketing or propaganda. Military wars, while causing horrendous fatalities and casualties, often function mainly as an aid to get people to believe propaganda that is used to control governments.

Propaganda about this conflict is rampant and goes back more than 70 years. It’s extremely easy to cherry pick the many events and shade the telling of events — to paint whichever side you identify with as angels — and the other side as devils.

After the European Holocaust, Israel was given claim to the land they are on.

However, the Palestinians were legal owners of this same land. Documents conflict.

There have been Israeli governments in the past that have been much less Right Wing than the current one — much less inclined to throw Palestinians out of their houses and off of their land to form Jewish settlements. They pulled back on new settlements, tried to negotiate peace, and offered Palestinians their own state. The Palestinian government refused. And Israel kept getting suicide bombed by Palestinians.

Apparently the Israeli population decided that, since a softer kinder approach to Palestinians did not work, they should try a Right Wing “tough guy” approach instead. They elected Netanyahu.

What I have just recounted is an incomplete story that favors the Israelis. Part of the incomplete story that favors the students who protest in favor of Palestinians — is that in their idealistic world, actions have their desired results & no others results.

For example, cutting off aid to Israel — which would have to be done by Congress since they authorized it — would bring peace. In reality, it wouldn’t. It could even trigger Netanyahu into doing even more crazy things.

Here is one of the fuller but incomplete stories that favors the Palestinians themselves. They have had their land taken away from them by Jewish settlers for many decades. They’ve been dispossessed. They are the poor ones.

Yes, the terrorist organization Hamas is the party that dominates the government in Gaza. Palestinians have also chosen their own “tough mean guy” government who they expect to defend them— in their case, terrorists from Hamas.

When a group of people are involved in a conflict and they are too poor to afford a military — too poor to fight a war — what they do instead is often terrorism. It’s horrific — yet almost inevitable.

I can’t disagree with Israelis — or with Palestinians — or with MAGAs — who think their nation needs tough strong leaders. I do think people need to be more discerning as to what strength — on behalf of one’s nation — really is.

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Fear/hate/rage/grievance mongering propaganda can work people up into fits of rage, where they are blind to the fact that the “tough guys” they are electing are extremely corrupt, unfair and/or senselessly violent. Such “tough guys” care only about their own power — not about the population they govern.

It may be that most Israeli and Palestinian citizens want peace. But their governments don’t seem to. So don’t these people vote? Why do they have these governments?

Just like in the U.S. and in much of the rest of the world, many people don’t get what they want from government because

Most People Don’t Understand How Power Works

“Tough guy” propaganda controls both the Palestinians’ and the Israelis’ choice of governments — just as it took control of the U.S. for four years in 2016. In the U.S., it still controls the U.S. House of Representatives and almost half of the Senate.

Other propaganda plays its role too—for example, claims that people on the other side are subhuman animals who should be exterminated from the face of the earth.

See the video here of a Hamas representative, calling for extermination of the Jews. However, I disagree with the caption that says Hamas is THE obstacle to peace in the Middle East. There are many obstacles to peace in the Middle East.

Here’s an article with the unfortunate title: “The language being used to describe Palestinians is genocidal.” However I do not believe that the language being used in this conflict by the Israeli government is more genocidal than on the language used by Hamas against Jews. It’s hard to find articles and videos that are not one-sided about this conflict, so I often end up citing ones from each side, as I am doing here..

Here’s a quote from the article “When Israel’s defence minister, Yoav Gallant, ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip with “no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed”, he said: “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.”

Here is a tweet from Mehdi Hasan, journalist at MSNBC, that states “Galit Distel Atbaryan, a Likud Party member of parliament who served as minister for public diplomacy in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government until last month, calls today for a “cruel and vengeful” Israeli military to “erase” Gaza from “the face of the earth.”

Social media are also filled with quotes and statements about how Israel should turn Gaza into “a parking lot.” This includes a quote from Republican U.S. Congressman from Ohio, Max Miller.

Propaganda controls the Middle East — as it does much of the rest of the world. Wars end up being fuel for the propaganda — adding more fear, rage, hatred and grievances to situations — giving control of governments to the propagandists who use the fear, rage, hatred and grievances most effectively toward their goals.

Just as mass shootings in the U.S. scare many people into buying more guns — making propaganda from the NRA and Right Wing media work more effectively — violence in the Middle East influences people’s decisions. People hold tightly to leaders who are thought to be tough enough to destroy the other side.

However, in the 70 plus years of this conflict, neither side has been destroyed. The tough guys aren’t fulfilling that promise. They are also dropping the ball by not doing many of the constructive things leaders should be doing for their own nations.

The leaders often enact pretend solutions to the Middle East’s problems. All over the world we have this — Propaganda claiming that the world’s problems can be solved by violent extremists, and claiming that their violence is totally justified by the behavior of their opponents. Such propaganda — when successful — pulls power out of the hands of more reasonable people and puts it into the hands of extremists.

Just as Right Wing propaganda in the U.S. claims Jan. 6th was just a tourist visit, so does extremist propaganda in to the Middle East justify extremists on its own side.

The world over, we have this problem — Violence being used as propaganda to scare people into giving up their power to extremists, who claim to be the only ones tough enough to solve the problems — problems they themselves may have created, in order to enhance the effects of their propaganda.

The world seems to be full of nations ruled by propaganda lies and fear/hate/grievance mongering.

Not much has been done to fight propaganda in the U.S. — at least compared to the efforts that are needed. Perhaps some other nation will show the U.S. the way. Here’s my recommended solution for the U.S. It can be applied to other nations too.

Time to Solve Our Propaganda Problems as the Military Do during War

Perhaps Jews and/or Muslims will get concerned enough about hate crimes against members of their religions, to try to fight the propaganda that paints each group as subhuman. Perhaps some groups of people in Israel and/or Gaza will try to fight back against the propaganda coming from supposed tough guy propagandists, who are actually corrupt or violent extremists.

Let’s look at the nuance and context that can help us understand current events.

This can be hard to do, however. In the U.S. and many other places, we’ve got a news system dominated by both Right Wing propaganda from Right Wing media — and also by click bait infotainment and more subtle Right Wing bias from most mainstream media. We do have some good journalists too, whom we should support

It’s important to look at the larger international context. There are many nations that benefit from this conflict and so are creating and spreading pro-Hamas or pro-Netanyahu propaganda that contains lies and half truths.

Looking at the historical and regional contexts, many events in time and space are relevant. Going back in time to the Holocaust and World War II — the U.S., Britain and other nations supported a Jewish homeland and refuge state.

Going outward from the conflict area into the surrounding space, we see some nations in the area that would like to see Israel wiped off the map and would likely spring into action if Israel began to lose the support it now has from Western nations.

Americans are at least as easily influenced as people in other nations, by propaganda and infiltration. There is a long history of Right Wingers infiltrating progressive groups and organizations — pretending to be progressives themselves in order to influence progressives to act in self-destructive ways.

Propaganda works more through emotions than intellect. People’s emotions are triggered and intensified by fear/hate/rage/grievance mongering. That shuts down the critical thinking function of the brain. You can easily see this on Twitter, TikTok and other social media. Emotionally worked up people are immune to persuasion by facts, logic etc.

Propagandists from both the U.S. and foreign nations, appear to be flooding the U.S. with pro- propaganda. A lot of this fits a very common form of propaganda where Right Wingers — pretending to be Leftists, Democrats or centrists —claim that the Democratic president or other Dem officials are not Left or progressive enough and so don’t deserve one’s vote.

Both foreign & domestic Right Wingers helped to get Trump elected in 2016. They would love to help elect Trump in 2024. In the leadup to the 2016 election, they used many methods, some of which are detailed in Christopher Wylie’s book Mindf*ck.

Right now, it seems likely that Right Wingers are using the Middle East conflict to impersonate Leftists and to spread anti-Biden propaganda to Leftists on TikTok & elsewhere.

This may seem unlikely, unless one realizes that propagandists are goal oriented and efficiency oriented. If they can meet their goals of getting Trump elected, they don’t care if they have to pretend to believe things they don’t believe e.g. that Biden should be more Leftist. It’s the goal achieved that matters.

Also it’s more efficient to aim for a simpler more achievable goal —e.g. to get Leftists to be disillusioned with Biden and not to vote for him— rather than to take on the less achievable goal of getting Leftits to change in such a large way as to vote for Trump.

Propaganda makes strange bedfellows. For example, people who share no beliefs at all but have a desire for more power or money for themselves often band together to achieve that through lies and misrepresentations.

If the way to convince people not to vote for Biden is to claim he’s not far enough Left, they will do that — regardless of their own beliefs about Leftism.

At the same time, there is other propaganda — perhaps done by the same groups or nations — that aims to persuade people they shouldn’t vote for Biden because he is not pro-Israel enough. This can be done, regardless of whether the propagandists are pro-Israel or not — as long as they don’t want Biden to win the election.

It doesn’t matter that Palestinians and Leftists would be hurt by a Trump presidency and helped by a Biden one. It doesn’t matter that Israelis, like everyone else in the world, would be better off if Trump does not become president in 2024.

Why not? Because propagandists shut down the critical thinking functions of the brain through fear/hate/rage/grievance mongering. In this way, propagandists get people to act on emotion and to ignore their rational self-interests.

Logic, facts and reasoning don’t persuade people who are neck deep in propaganda, because their critical thinking functions — at least as far as this subject area is concerned — are overwhelmed by the triggering of fear, hate, rage or grievance due to propaganda.

The truth needs to be spread further than the lies, in Gaza, Israel and the U.S. — everywhere in the whole world, as a matter of fact. I wonder which nations are going to be the first to get a clue about this and put a substantial amount of money and effort behind it.

I later wrote this article below, for those who want to join me in contacting President Biden, in order to help him deal with this issue. This is important because dealing with this issue effectively can help him to get more of the votes he needs, in order to get re-elected. Here is that article, below.