The latest war in the Middle East has been going on for almost two weeks now and it might be appropriate now to look at what is currently going on and then try to make sense of it.
Changing media environment
As with the war in Ukraine, it is quite informative how wars are presented to us in the modern era; the public. I still vividly remember when the First Gulf War broke out in 1990 how we could watch CNN broadcasts 24 hours a day, which of course agreed 100% that the bad guys were the Iraqis (specifically Saddam Hussein); and the good guys the Americans. I recall that the American troops, led by “Stormin Norman” Schwarzkopf, achieved a resounding victory over Iraq.
However, Saddam continued to rule and was only overthrown years later in the Second Gulf War. Hussein apparently hid in a storm drain for months and was later executed. It was just after the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York and it was quite clear who was represented as good and bad in the (Western-dominated) media. How many millions of people died in the civil war in Iraq after that can only be estimated. The country has been unstable for years and is currently ruled by a government that is labeled as pro-Iranian.
Russia-Ukraineine-social media war
By 2022, however, war looked different after the Russians invaded Ukraine. We are now in the age of social media and there are literally thousands of “experts” who tell us daily how the Russians or Ukrainians are actually winning the battle. Social media sympathies were soon divided over reasons for the war.
What was clear is that Western media (which propagates the mantra of Vladimir Putin as the villain) is/was no longer so successful in convincing the public that the Russians are necessarily the bad guys.
There are/were now divergent opinions about the conflict. The war also exposed blatant lies on both sides and we were confronted with quite a few “fake” videos – even clips from video games taken from previous wars/battles in that part of the world that was “dusted off” for the latest war.
Now, 18 months later, the war is still going on, but actually somewhat forgotten. The West and especially the USA have already pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the war and there is not much talk of peace talks.
Nevertheless, the latest Israeli-Palestinian war is on everyone’s lips. The Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, sent hundreds of militants across the well-guarded border between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Saturday, October 7. For hours Israeli civilians were basically hunted down, tortured and killed in their homes, in their cars and also at a dance party. According to the Israelis, about 1,500 civilians were killed and about 200 more kidnapped to Gaza. Thousands of rockets have also been fired at Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas’ actions leave more questions than answers. How is it possible that the Israelis reacted so slowly and sluggishly and one of the most heavily guarded borders in the world was simply invaded? How is it possible that hundreds of Hamas terrorists could plan the operation for months (without the Israelis knowing about it) and simply invade Israel with motorbikes, Toyota vans and hang gliders?
As expected, Israel has mobilized and is threatening a full-scale troop invasion of the tiny Gaza Strip. They have also already blown hundreds of buildings in Gaza to shreds with deadly bombings. Hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of Palestinian civilians were killed in the process.
It appears that Hamas’ bold attack was aimed at putting the Palestinians’ long-standing struggle against the Israeli government back into the spotlight. After about 75 years of conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, most Muslim countries were fed up with the Palestinian issue and some even established ties with Israel.
Could the war escalate?
Hamas did manage to elicit sympathy everywhere after Israel bombed Gaza. It seems that Hamas’s old ally, Iran, is ready to attack Israel and that they can also count on help from Syria and even from Turkey, which is threatening to attack Israel. However, the Arab states (even the Palestinians in the West Bank) are standing by and watching what will happen, although their populations are fed up with Israel bombing their Arab “family” in Gaza like this.
On the other hand, the Western states almost as one immediately supported Israel’s right to self-defense. Israel’s great ally, the USA, also simply sent an aircraft carrier to the area and there is talk of enormous sums of money and more military aid that can be provided to Israel.
We are still waiting to see if the war will escalate. There are constant threats that if the pro-Iranian group, Hezbollah, were to attack Israel from Lebanon, Israel and even the US would have to attack Iran. Then there are also threats that, if Israel sends troops into Gaza, the “Muslim countries” will attack Israel.
Many of the social media experts also simply predict that Russia and China (both currently only spectators in the conflict) may also become involved and that Armageddon is just around the corner.
Such a scenario is theoretically possible, but since everyone is eager for a regional war, in my opinion, it will not just happen. It is not in any country’s interest to unleash an international war over the Palestinians.
West is losing propaganda war
However, the social and other media propaganda war is something to behold. Both parties’ supporters insist that the other be wiped out. However, the conflict is complex and there are no innocent parties – not after 75 years of sporadic wars between Israel and the Palestinians and their Arab allies.
What is becoming clear is that in the new world order we are entering, the American pro-Jewish propaganda machine is struggling to unilaterally portray the Palestinians as the bad guys, despite the slaughter of Israeli civilians. Millions of Muslims who have been emigrating to Western countries for decades are suddenly holding unprecedented pro-Palestinian protests.
The pro-Palestinian movement in Western states also gets generous support from the left – be it anti-capitalist left, anti-racist groups, even supporters of the pro-climate crisis groups and also left-leaning identity groups. Although most conservatives in the West (like here in SA) support Israel, there are now increasingly conservatives who are starting to support the Palestinians, which is also unexpected.
There has been anti-Israel support from the left in the past, but Western governments have been caught off guard by the pro-Palestinian growth at home. The result is increasing anti-Jewish rhetoric against the anti-Muslim rhetoric, which is of course a recipe for further eroding the social unity of the West from within.
Suddenly, the American propaganda machine is weaker than ever and the global South (aka Third World) is almost solidly pro-Palestinian.
ANC regime lê also an egg
It is quite informative that in South Africa, the pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups emerged very quickly. Parties in the so-called Multi-party pact (such as the DA, ACDP and FF+) is pro-Israel and the left ANC and ultra-left EFF are unashamedly pro-Palestinian.
However, it is clear what the ANC regime is trying to achieve by presenting Israel as a hateful “apartheid state”. The ANC/South Africa has very little international prestige these days and their saddle of the “apartheid” horse will hide their failures locally and be much more popular than the pro-Israeli horse of the Multiparty Pact.
It is also part of the ANC’s efforts to expand their anti-Western rhetoric. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s regime sees Brics as the future and seems to be doing its best to unravel ties that have strengthened with the West over the past 30 years.
It also did not go unnoticed that the Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima were insulted by anti-Western protesters over the weekend during a visit to the old slave colony in Cape Town. The Netherlands, which supported the ANC abroad in its fight against apartheid, was previously always well received in South Africa. Expect more anti-Western rhetoric in the future.
Either way, the ANC’s anti-Israel and anti-Ukrainian positions will have implications. It would not be surprising if Western companies start disinvesting one by one as we last experienced in the 1980s. In any case, Western companies are discouraged from doing business with South Africa by corruption, crime, BEE and lack of electricity.
Peace efforts needed
To return to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Hamas did manage to draw renewed attention to the Israeli occupation of so-called Palestinian territories. Hamas and the Palestinians’ grounds for their attacks in Israel are gaining ground as the West’s global politics lose steam.
Israel, which may have seen the conflict as a golden opportunity to expel the Palestinians from Gaza and finish playing with Hamas, also did not expect the opposition from the West itself.
A full-scale Israeli invasion of Gaza is now going to be a last option and only if the USA agrees (which currently does not seem possible). Peace efforts will be needed to calm tempers. The US/West’s support for Israel will certainly continue, but their monetary/military support for both Israel and Ukraine may accelerate the West’s decline in the long run.
However, the explosion of the influence of social media is the US/ West/ Israel’s biggest enemy. Alternative opinions are now increasingly gaining ground and the Western dominance of the propaganda war is over.