It was an attempt to win hearts and minds that definitely backfired.
On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces tweeted this photoshopped image of Britain’s Houses of Parliament under missile fire with a message that read “What would you do?”
The idea here was putting the British people in Israel’s shoes, so to speak — as they’ve been some of the most outspoken Western critics of Israel’s current offensive against Hamas.
The tweet in question came just days after this pro-Palestinian demonstration in London that thousands attended this past weekend. (Via YouTube / inminds)
As the conflict drags on, Israel — and Hamas, too, for that matter — are increasingly turning to social media to stir up their respective support bases. The IDF provides updates on the numbers of rockets fired by Hamas and its soldiers killed in combat.
Even uploading clips like this Hollywood-style, anti-Hamas propaganda video. (Via Israel Defense Forces)
But this latest tweet hardly helped Israel’s cause — generating a long list of angry responses on Twitter. One read: “You're really getting desperate aren't you? This would be funny if it weren't pitiful.” (Via Twitter /@_Schehrazade_)
A Labour MP and secretary of Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group seemed to agree, telling The Telegraph: "It seems crass at best. The Israelis are past masters at propaganda. This will bring it home to Members that they have lost all sense of perspective and are out of control."
Even if Israel is winning the ground war, it’s arguably losing the media war — as Twitter has been inundated with pictures of dead Palestinian children killed in Israeli airstrikes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said that's exactly what Hamas wants. "It’s gruesome — they use ‘telegenically dead Palestinians’ for their cause. They want the more dead the better." (Via CNN)
True or not, Channel 4's Paul Mason the optics aren't good: “[W]here Israel is losing the hearts and minds of the world is not via “tele” anything: it is in the JPEGs that stream into millions of people’s mobile phones every time they glance at the object in the palm of their hand.”
Perhaps the IDF should have known better than to tweet out the London image. As The Washington Post's Adam Taylor notes, "Last week the IDF Twitter account tweeted the following image of Paris; just a few days later French cities were in flames in anti-Semitic riots.” (Via Euronews)