The MEMRI has translated Hamas’ social media guidelines that tell activists how to ensure the rest of the Arab world and the West is on its side by avoiding debate and hiding pictures of rockets shot from schools
If there is one thing Hamas is good at, its social media. The terrorist organization has used the internet to gain the world’s sympathy by launching a Twitter campaign #GazaUnderAttack which shows pictures from Syria and other wars and implies that they are current pictures of Gaza and by broadcasting fake news about what is going on in the Middle East.
And now more of Hamas’ attempts to invoke sympathy through social media has been exposed by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which recently translated guidelines from the Hamas Interior Ministry that detail just how social media activists should treat their current attacks on Israel. According to MEMRI, Hamas’ guidelines are called “Be Aware – Social Media Activist Awareness Campaign” and came with an instructional video telling people to always call the dead “innocent civilians” and to never post photos of rockets being fired from civilian population centers. The guidelines are meant to prevent the leaking of information that would be of value to the Israeli army, and to bolster propaganda efforts outside Gaza, mostly in the Arab world and the west. Social media must be used to cement perceptions that its actions are a response to Israeli aggression and that all casualties are innocent civilians.
The Hamas Interior Ministry website says: “The Information Department of the Ministry of the Interior and National Security has instructed activists on social media websites, particularly Facebook, to correct some of the commonly usedterms as they cover the aggression taking place in the Gaza Strip. The following Information Department video calls on all activists to use the proper terminology, in order to play their part in strengthening the home front and in properly conveying information worldwide.”
Some of the guidelines include:
- Anyone killed is called an “innocent civilian” or “innocent citizen regardless of his status in jihad or military rank.
- Reports should start “In response to the cruel Israeli attack” and conclude with “this many people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.”
- Beware of spreading rumors from Israeli spokesman. Don’t accept the occupation’s version of events, rather, cast doubt, disprove it and treat it as false.
- Avoid publishing pictures of rockets fired from city centers or other rocket launching sites.
- Don’t publish closeups of masked men with weapons, because pages that do will be shut down. Be sure to say weapons are “locally manufactured shells”
There are also suggestions for activists that speak to ‘Westerners’ on social media. The media said speaking with Westerners is different than speaking with Arabs, so conversations need to be altered accordinging by these guidelines:
- Use political, rational and persuasive discourse and avoid emotional discourse aimed at getting sympathy. There are elements with a conscience in the world, so you must activate them for Palestine’s benefit.
- Avoid political arguments on whether the Holocaust is a lie. Instead, equate it with what Israel is doing in Palestine.
- When speaking with Arabs, talk about martyrs, but with Westerners talk about the wounded or the dead to humanize the suffering.
- Do not publish photos of military commanders, or mention names and do not praise their achievements.
So, one thing is to be said for Hamas, they are very smart about how to control their image in social media and good at evoking sympathy from the rest of the world. They are even reportedly photoshopping images from the movie Final Destination to make it look like Gaza really is being terrorized. It seems to be working too, as anti Israel rallies have popped up around the world and people have retweeted and shared many fake pictures from Operation Protective Edge. It just goes to show how strong social media is at convincing people to do or feel things.
Of course, on the other side, the Israel Defense Forces are also using social media to show what is going on in Israel, and has been posting pictures and charts that show what it would be like if rockets were hitting other major cities like New York or Paris. But the IDF has not needed to put out special guidelines about how this war should be treated. Rather, they would prefer if people told it just like it is.