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Israel-Hamas Conflict: New Psyop, Same Playbook
The newest military-style effort to achieve destabilization is using media as the vehicle in a quest to roll out new innovations from the tech sector.
As the Israel-Hamas conflict has progressed, social media has erupted with bickering, finger-pointing, and allegiances made to one side or the other. We’ve seen normally opposing sides of society bond together in support of either the Israeli people or Palestinians. Some have even switched sides mid-week, which has been interesting to see.
On October 10th, BLM Chicago posted the following on their 𝕏 account with the caption“That is all that is it!”:
This post was later deleted, and the next day the following post was published.
“Yesterday we sent out msgs that we aren’t proud of. We stand with Palestine & the people who will do what they must to live free. Our hearts are with, the grieving mothers, those rescuing babies from rubble, who are in danger of being wiped out completely.”
What’s interesting about the “parachute post” from BLM Chicago is while Hamas did use paragliders to get some fighters over the border, their post implies they’re referencing videos posted on social media that quickly went viral claiming to show the weekend-long Supernova Sukkot Gathering being attacked. What these clips actually showed was a sporting club from eastern Cairo at a festival in Egypt, more than a week prior to Israel being attacked. According to survivors of the massacre, the invasion of the music festival was by way of pickup trucks tagged with Hamas military markings, not paragliders.
BLM has never been subdued about its stance when it comes to Palestine. Some may recall in 2015 BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors spoke at the Human Rights panel at Harvard on the “eradication of Israel”:
“Palestine is our generation’s South Africa. If we don’t step up boldly and courageously to end the Imperialist project that’s called Israel, we’re doomed.”-Patrisse Cullors, BLM co-founder
Tugging on the General Public’s Heartstrings Using Weaponized Empathy
There always seems to be an empathetic character popping up in these polarizing events shown 24/7 in news programs and social media. In the summer of 2020, there was George Floyd, whom some media outlets labeled a “martyr”. For months after his death, cities nationwide were ravaged, and police vehicles and businesses burnt to the ground in his name.
On January 6th, there was Ashli Babbitt, shot and killed by Lieutenant Michael Byrd at the U.S. Capitol as she attempted to climb through a broken window into the House chamber. While this didn’t incite the same response as the death of George Floyd, Babbitt seemingly became the face of January 6th. On one side she was seen as a martyr, on the other, the villain. No matter where people landed on the political spectrum, people were able to connect with the image of her face and will forever link it to how they personally felt during the events on January 6th, 2021. Her image represents freedom and justice for some and absolute terror and disgust for others.
But before that, during the Gulf War, there was Nayirah Al-Ṣabaḥ. Fifteen-year-old Nayirah lied during the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990, saying she witnessed Iraqi soldiers taking babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital, and leaving the babies to die on the “cold floor”.
It was later revealed that Nayirah was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, Saud Al-Sabah. According to a 1992 New York Times article, authored by John R. MacArthur, “The chairmen of the Congressional group, Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, and John Edward Porter, an Illinois Republican, explained that Nayirah's identity would be kept secret to protect her family from reprisals in occupied Kuwait.”
MacArthur explained that not only did Lantos and Porter know who she was when they brought her to testify, but “both Congressmen have a close relationship with Hill and Knowlton, the public relations firm hired by Citizens for a Free Kuwait, the Kuwaiti-financed group that lobbied Congress for military intervention. A Hill and Knowlton vice president, Gary Hymel, helped organize the Congressional Human Rights Caucus hearing in meetings with Mr. Lantos and Mr. Porter and the chairman of Citizens for a Free Kuwait, Hassan al-Ebraheem. Mr. Hymel presented the witnesses, including Nayirah. (He later told me he knew who she was at the time.)
Her testimony was used countless times by American politicians, including then-President George H. W. Bush to further support Kuwait during the Gulf War.
Children being harmed, especially babies will forever pull on the heartstrings of most humans. The majority of the world’s population understands that children should never be harmed, and protected at all costs. That’s why this is always such a successful card to play in the psyops of war.
We saw the same card thrown out on the news this week, which later permeated social media, and was repeated by politicians.
Atrocity Propaganda and Disinformation
On October 10th a video clip began to circulate showing i24NEWS English correspondent Nicole Zedek claiming she had overheard Israeli soldiers discussing how they’d seen the remains of 40 children who had been beheaded.
“Babies, their heads cut off. That’s what they said,” Zedek claimed on live TV while reporting from Kibbutz Kfar Aza near the Israel-Gaza border.
Zedeck later quote posted the news clip saying, “Soldiers told me they believe 40 babies/children were killed. The exact death toll is still unknown as the military continues to go house to house and find more Israeli casualties.”
President Joe Biden also said on October 11th, “I never really thought that I would see, would have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children. I never thought that I would…anyway.”
Biden’s statement was questioned just a day later when the press asked Admiral John Kirby to clarify. Kirby explained, “He was referring to images I think many of you have seen, certainly your colleagues have reported on and obviously Israeli officials have spoken to as recently as today.” Kirby adds, “We all need to be prepared for the fact that there’s going to be more gruesome images coming out and there’s going to be some pretty tough reports for us all to swallow. This is not over.
Though the Israeli soldier’s comments supposedly overheard by Zedek were never verified, it’s been one of the main talking points on social media being used to defend much of the actions taken by Israel in response to the attack.
The official 𝕏 account for the State of Israel posted images along with a trigger warning on October 12th saying, “Those who deny these events are supporting the barbaric animals who are responsible for them. Babies. Toddlers. Infants.”
While no one is arguing that there have been innocent casualties on both sides of the conflict, one of the images above has been speculated as being a photoshopped image of a puppy. Some pundits who shared the images are now being considered no longer credible sources of information on the Israel-Hamas war.
The jury is still out on whether or not the image is legit. Considering the puppy image was published on the anonymous 4Chan message boards, it’s next to impossible to verify the image as being the original. It could just as easily be a photoshopped version of the above.
Mass confusion can currently be witnessed on most social media platforms, which isn’t helpful when you’re trying to determine facts. When those you trust as prime sources of information are sharing disinformation, you must rely on your own discernment and gather information firsthand, rather than be spoon-fed talking points from your favorite pundit or news anchor.
If you’ve been following the progress of the conflict, you’ve more than likely run across several posts of images or videos that are several years old from accounts that you trust. Some posts aren’t even from the region, some are manipulated using Photoshop, or AI, but even more are from different conflicts altogether. No retractions or corrections are offered from these personalities posting or reposting on social media platforms, even after some posts on 𝕏 get flagged with Community Notes. The original poster does nothing to correct the record and continues to post with no regard for the truth or accuracy.
𝕏 user Baba Rancho summed up the public’s disbelief regarding some of the propaganda that has been making the rounds the past 10 days in his post which reads, “The US lied about Iraq, The US lied about Syria, The US lied about Libya, The US lied about Kuwait, The US lied about Ukraine, The US lied about Afghanistan, But you think they’re telling the truth about Israel - Palestine & 40 beheaded babies? Give me a break.”
Most would argue, that this is healthy skepticism.
This type of propaganda is referred to as atrocity propaganda, built to shock audiences and evoke an emotional reaction, usually empathy and later rage, where many will demand revenge or call for some other form of brute force against those perceived to have created the atrocity. This propaganda comes in all forms from manipulated images, to rumors and repeated lies, and in this age, Artificial Intelligence (AI). Atrocity propaganda has been used since at least the Crusades, if not before.
The same tool, different vehicle.
moral outrage or indignation;
authorization of punitive measures;
mobilization of control efforts against the apparent perpetrators.
Atrocity propaganda, in addition to causing real-life responses that often result in lives lost, can also be used to discredit otherwise trustworthy pundits, news outlets, and even countries in some cases.
"So great are the psychological resistances to war in modern nations that every war must appear to be a war of defense against a menacing, murderous aggressor. There must be no ambiguity about who the public is to hate,” political scientist, and professor of law, Harold Lasswell once said.
However, this conflict is different. It’s riddled with confusion, dis, and misinformation, and the perceived enemy is unclear for many. Some are showing blind allegiance, regardless of facts, whereas others searching for the truth are more addled now than before they began analyzing.
War and/or Perceived Threats Used As the Catalyst To Introduce and Implement New Technology
Since the Gulf War was televised on news outlets, especially CNN, which was doing 24/7 coverage, the general public was instantly engaged and able to participate via voyeurism of real-time events as they played out across their 525-line and 625-line horizontal resolution TV screens. It became the topic of discussion around water coolers all over the nation. You could watch from the dinner table if you were lucky enough to have more than one TV in the home, or while you enjoyed a nightcap, ready to discuss last night’s events with co-workers when you went to work the next morning.
Arguably one of the most important things to have come from the Gulf War was the usage of Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Though started by the Department of Defense in 1973, GPS, (originally NavStar GPS) the full 24-satellite constellation was not operational until 1993. During the Gulf War (1990-1991) GPS was used widely by the U.S. military for the first time during a conflict to track the Iraqi army through sandstorms and as handheld devices (SLGR or “sluggers”). In addition, coalition forces were able to fire upon the enemy with accuracy not seen in wars past (SMART Stealth Technology). The Official United States Air Force website states:
“In May 2000, the discontinuance of the selective availability function, which formerly added error to the signal so non-military users got less accuracy on GPS, made the GPS signals in space a "global utility" more responsive to civil and commercial users worldwide.
The capabilities of GPS systems are used worldwide by billions of people in their consumer, professional and military devices. Whether paying at the gas pump, withdrawing money from an ATM, precision farming, international banking or international shipping, GPS enables our modern way of life. It is also a critical component of delivering precise combat power in support of joint and coalition warfighter objectives, as proven on the desert battlefields of Southwest Asia a quarter of a century ago.”
Though the Internet itself wasn’t made available to the public until 1991, it had been in development for several decades. Wikipedia notes 1969 as being the year ARPA awarded contracts under the development of ARPANET (later renamed DARPA in 1972) as a tool for national defense. It wasn’t until researchers at CERN expanded ARPANET’s capabilities in 1989-1990, resulting in the World Wide Web, that the potential use of the Internet was fully conceptualized.
RELATED: A Brief History of LifeLog, Facebook, DARPA’s, Information Awareness Office (IAO), and Why You Should Care About Any of It
Here’s a short rundown via Arlington County Government on YouTube on ARPANET’s use by the military:
One week after the events of 9/11, The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 or Patriot Act was swiftly passed with little to no opposition.
According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):
“The Patriot Act expanded surveillance for law enforcement by:
Expanding domestic and international wiretapping and pen register monitoring;
Expanding authority to access electronic communications;
Allowing secret ‘sneak and peek’ searches;
Removing privacy protections to allow federal agencies to share more information; and
Expanding funding to federal law enforcement agencies.”
What would normally be frowned upon by most U.S. citizens, was not only accepted but in some cases begged for in the name of safety.
Later in 2011, then-President Barack Obama ordered the first drone strike on a U.S. citizen targeted and killed by the U.S. government, Anwar Nasser Abdulla al-Awlaki, an Al-Qaeda operative. But this didn’t stop there, nor did other innocent civilian deaths in the drone strikes that would follow. According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, “There were ten times more air strikes in the covert war on terror during President Barack Obama’s presidency than under his predecessor, George W. Bush.”
“A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries, according to reports logged by the Bureau.”
Though mRNA has been around for decades, we didn’t see it deployed in a crisis situation until Covid-19. Yet again, another perceived threat to the population with a novel technology ready for the masses posed as the solution. There were instances of mRNA being used as a therapeutic tool to treat certain conditions in individual patients, but there was no widespread use until President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. Moderna and Pfizer-BioTech were both approved for emergency usage in December 2020.
This brings us up to speed with President Biden and the influx of Artificial Intelligence over the past several years. Pervasive AI (deep learning) is used in things such as ChatGPT, Alexa and Siri, self-driving cars, predictive text, etc.
Israel is the leader of technology, especially that of AI, earning the name “Silicon Wadi (Silicon Valley in Hebrew). Back in June, Reuters ran a report saying, “OpenAI is considering investment opportunities in Israel, Microsoft Israel R&D center quoted the company's CEO, Sam Altman, as saying during a visit to the country on Monday.” PM Netanyahu also announced over the summer Intel would invest $25 million in a new chip factory in Israel, the largest-ever international investment in the country.
Last May in a Market Insider report called “Israel: The New Silicon Valley,” one particular statement stood out among the others.
“The country desperately needs more people in IT and engineering. Because, as a matter of fact, only about 8 to 9% of the workforce is employed in tech and it’s not nearly enough. So, perhaps the tech boom could be even bigger if they involved more groups like the Palestinians. Right now, the government is testing this solution, involving not only Palestinians but potentially ultra-Orthodox Jews and people living in the peripheral areas.”
Israel’s role on the global technological stage is undeniable, so it should come as no surprise that some of this technology is being used by the military.
In 2021, The Jerusalem Post reported on Israel’s use of AI in an article whose headline read, “Israel's operation against Hamas was the world's first AI war”.
“‘For the first time, artificial intelligence was a key component and power multiplier in fighting the enemy,’ an IDF Intelligence Corps senior officer said. ‘This is a first-of-its-kind campaign for the IDF. We implemented new methods of operation and used technological developments that were a force multiplier for the entire IDF.’”
A recent FirstPost video discussed the ethical use of AI military weapon systems, challenged security measures, and noted there are no international laws currently set on the use of AI in battle. It has been argued that Israel uses Gaza as a testing ground for their newest military technology.
Business Standard reported back in July of this year:
“The Israel Defence Forces have started using artificial intelligence to select targets for air strikes and organize wartime logistics as tensions escalate in the occupied territories and with arch-rival Iran. Though the military won’t comment on specific operations, officials say that it now uses an AI recommendation system that can crunch huge amounts of data to select targets for air strikes. Ensuing raids can then be rapidly assembled with another artificial intelligence model called Fire Factory, which uses data about military-approved targets to calculate munition loads, prioritize and assign thousands of targets to aircraft and drones, and propose a schedule.”
And just two months ago, WION reported on Israel’s use of AI systems on the field of battle:
September 20th, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unveiled their new “Barak” AI-powered super tank, a mere 2 weeks before the conflict kicked off.
Israel is not alone in their use of AI on the battlefield. I recently reported on the U.S. military’s Replicator Initiative said to be implemented within the next 18 to 24 months in response to China’s immense military.
“The Replicator initiative comprises thousands of autonomous weapon systems capable of executing intricate military tasks devoid of human involvement. From clearing minefields to engaging in long-range surveillance, AI offers a level of flexibility and adaptability that can greatly benefit military operations. This includes autonomous drones, uncrewed aircraft, self-piloting ships, and more.”
Though war has been happening for centuries, it has changed in many ways over the years. What hasn’t changed is their playbook. It seems every few years they begin another cycle. The pattern is replicated over and over. The tools tend to change with time and adapt alongside technological advancements. In our current environment, where we’re logging on to 24-hour news streams and social media to get our news, the use of different media -especially that which will evoke a strong emotional response to sway the public is essential for narrative control.
The news is now a spectator sport. People feel connected in ways they never have in years past. When you’re constantly engulfed in the 24-hour news cycle and being updated every few minutes on the “situation” you may find yourself suddenly and inadvertently committed to learning what’s really going on. You’re seeing images and live footage as if you’re on the scene. You’re going through a flood of emotion as gruesome and unbelievable images flash across screens. Plugged in and easily convinced. This is relied upon to control the narrative and move the needle in the “right” direction.
Media has long been the vehicle used to drive society in one direction or the other. This includes your favorite talking heads, influencers, celebrities, and victims who become the face of a movement, permanently embossing their image on yet another operation run on the public that will soon be passed up for the next current thing. Profile pictures will continue to evolve with their infinite rotation of flags, faces, and symbols to show allegiance to whatever seems the most virtuous to them at the time. And then, another cycle will begin.