Reporters and citizen journalists on the ground posting directly on social media allows users unfiltered access to Gaza and has created unprecedented support and solidarity with Palestine—even in the West.
Israel announced that it officially closed all activities related to the hasbara after running out of budget, displaying yet another defeat in attempts to take control of the narrative of the atrocities in Gaza and the rest of Palestine.
Deputy Director-General of the Public Diplomacy Department Emanuel Nachshon told the Knesset’s Hasbara Committee on Tuesday that Tel Aviv ran out of budget for the hasbara apparatus.
However, the Israeli foreign ministry denied the claims, adding that it approved around $1.2 million for the hasbara, according to The Jerusalem Post reported. Despite this, Nachshon’s claims caused unrest among Israeli officials and the Civil Hasbara Headquarters, calling on the occupying state to not neglect the strategy.
The hasbara, Hebrew for “explanation,” is the Israeli propaganda strategy that has long attempted to promote the Zionist regime’s discourse by portraying a positive image of its occupation of Palestine to the world.
The strategy mainly targets the public through mass media and has expanded to social media platforms, a phenomenon labelled by scholar Miriyam Aouragh as “Hasbara 2.0.”
The news marks yet another Israeli failure in taking control over the narrative of the occupation of Palestine, with all of its crimes exposed to the world throughout its current aggression on Gaza.
Citizen journalists on the ground and the easy access to social media has created an unprecedented level of solidarity with Palestine, sparking new conversations and awareness of the Palestinian cause even in the West.
Since the start of the most brutal war on Gaza on October 7, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have killed more than 11,300 Palestinians, including 4,500 children.
The genocide of Palestinians and disturbing footage of children, toddlers, and babies being murdered daily have shown the world Israel’s true colours, discrediting its brand as “the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen admitted on Monday that Tel Aviv has come under more global pressure since last month and suggested it has lost its control of the narrative.
“We managed to draw the coverage of the massacre and the difficult images for over a month. But in recent days, the world media mainly shows images from Gaza,” Cohen said.
Data shared by The Economist last week showed a clear decline in sympathy for Israel online by analysing one million posts from Instagram, X, and YouTube between October 7 and 23.
Using DMR, an AI-technology firm, The Economist gathered posts with hashtags on social media that showed support for Israel and Palestine.
The AI technology found both sides had an equal number of support on October 7, but sharply decreased by October 19 when pro-Palestine support became 3.9% more common than support for Israel.
Seeking to prevent Israel’s PR crisis, billionaires in the United States, Israel’s biggest backer, reportedly joined efforts in hopes of gathering some $50 million donations for a pro-Israel media campaign called “Facts for Peace.”
The campaign was first reported by the news outlet Semafor, which cited a copy of an email by 50 billionaires who hopped on board of the information initiative. Some include former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Dell CEO Michael Dell and financier Michael Milken.
Some of the signatories even went above and beyond to target pro-Palestine supporters.
“Public opinion will surely shift as scenes, real or fabricated by Hamas, of civilian Palestinian suffering will surely erode [Israel’s] current empathy in the world community,” US billionaire Barry Sternlicht wrote in the email.
The US itself has also come under immense pressure in recent days from the general public and within the Joe Biden administration.
On Monday, a leaked five-page internal State Department memo accused US President Joe Biden of “spreading misinformation” on the war in Gaza while accusing Israel of committing “war crimes.”
The memo, first shared by Axios, was signed by 100 State Department and USAID employees and organised by “a junior diplomat” who told social media that the US support of Israel made him “complicit in genocide” in Gaza.
The signatories called on Biden to “advocate for the release of hostages by both Hamas and [Israel]” while noting that “thousands” of Palestinians” are also “being held in Israel” including some without charge.
There are at least 2,070 administrative detainees and 200 child prisoners behind Israeli bars, per figures shared by Palestine’s Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
Administrative detention refers to those detained and kept in Israeli prisons without charge and access to legal defence.
Meanwhile, Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are facing a federal complaint for failing to prevent but instead aiding what has been described as “genocide” in Gaza.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a New York civil liberties group, filed the complaint on Monday on behalf of Palestinian human rights organisations, Palestinians in Gaza, and U.S. citizens with relatives in the besieged enclave.
The lawsuit points out their “failure to prevent and complicity in the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide,” citing Washington’s extensive financial and military support to Israel.