Monday, May 31, 2010

The Great Word War: 4? 5? 6?

By Sandy Prisant

Don't look over there. Look over here. It's all going on over here.

Is it a World War Or a Word War? Or a Media Circus? It no longer seems to matter 

We seem to be answering one of the great questions in human relations through a real-life experiment, acted out by deadly serious people.

What happens when two sides are locked in a struggle to the death for decades, except one side is unable to kill off its adversary and the other side refuses to?  What happens?

Nothing definitive like The Charge of the Light Brigade or the Attack on Pearl Harbor; that's apparent.  What we're left with is two sides quibbling over land rights, media rights and most vitally, the Narrative:   The story each side tries to endlessly to sell its followers and the rest of the world about the sheer, heart-rending decency of their own position, and only their position.

The explosion of the digital age has trumped the explosion of C4 incendiary devices. In a conflict where one side's poor use of arms makes them look bad and the other side's very   efficient use of arms makes them look badder, both sides realized they need another way.

Hamas understood it had to stop looking like The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight. Israel realized it had to stop being accused of "disproportionate force", merely because it could hit targets and the other side couldn't. 

And then suddenly both sides realized the heavy lifting could be done in this war by simply turning it over to CNN, SkyNews and the Hindustani World Service.

As sad as each of these incidents are for all of us, they have merely become "starter pistols" for the next round of the Word War between Hamas--which never conducts itself like a state-in-waiting--and Israel.  

As the Media War has replaced the shooting kind. It's not at all about reality. Like much of life, Its always about perception and whose narrative is more compelling.

Hamas plays this the only way it can if you've been on  the losing side for 50 years--impishly firing off a sling shot when the teacher's not looking--and hoping she overreacts.

Why the Israeli's can't envision and better prepare for just this kind of game , the rather predictable result of all its military success,  is a bit of a mystery.

Does the Israeli Defense Force really want to be left with a narrative that says "100-plus misguided civilians, many school girls, left us with no option but to kill a dozen because ONE (1) stole a gun from our well-armed soldier? Oh and someone had a knife, maybe."

Where has the guile of Entebbe gone? Where has the shrewd 1967 downing of Egyptian MiGs without touching a single decoy, gone? How could Israel not have had
a military strategy for this and future media
battles, which is now what these incidents are ALWAYS about? In short, what the hell is going on in the planning bunkers of Jerusalem?

1 comment:

  1. I am an ex-South African living in Israel. Nice article.

    I'll tell you why Israel doesn't do something smart: because Israel cares too much what the world thinks about them. Entebbe, the Egyptians, all the wars we've been in (except for Lebanon 2 of course) we're acted upon with disregard for what the world thinks, and only regard for what Israel needs to do for herself as a country for survival. Simple.

    Until Israel learns to stop playing political games to try get world approval and just act like she needs to, we're gonna carry on being in this mess.

    Look at any time in history: whenever Israel acts in HER best interests, there has been quiet in the region. Whenever it's half-assed actions (or total lack therefore) just to please the world, there has been strife.