Point-blank: Naming the war

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 7 Nov 2023



 large part of conflicts in the age of social media rely on media warfare. Names and terms are among the most powerful weapons deployed in this arena, and the belligerents race to ensure theirs prevail since the words they use can thus shape world awareness and opinion on the war in question. One of the first tactics is to label the adversary the “forces of evil,” for who would oppose a war against evil?  In the war unfolding in Gaza today, Western media have clearly swallowed the Israeli line and all the terminology that comes with it. So, all the reportage and commentary come under the heading of the “Israel-Hamas war.” The obvious intent is to induce public opinion to side with Israel in its battle against Hamas which, as Western media are quick to remind us, is designated a terrorist organisation in the West.

What the realities on the ground say, however, is that Israel is prosecuting a war of genocide against the Palestinian people. Its bombs are targeting them all indiscriminately, not just a resistance organisation and its leaders. So, it would be more accurate to call this an Israeli-Palestinian war. This name should force the global conscience to choose between supporting an occupation power that has refused for decades to implement the UN resolutions calling for its withdrawal from the occupied territories and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state or supporting a people under occupation and under siege in Gaza which has been called the largest prison in the world. The oppressor would not fare well when the choice is framed in this way.

Not only do realities on the ground belie the claim that the war is just targeting a particular organisation, but also the realities inside Israel point to immense opposition to the extremist government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli newspapers are filled with articles attacking his policies, including the way he is conducting the current war against the Palestinians. So, to be more precise, we could term the current hostilities Netanyahu’s war against the Palestinian people. Naturally, such a term would never be uttered by Israel itself, because it is obvious which side it would make world opinion support, since never has world opinion hated an Israeli government as much as Netanyahu’s.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 9 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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