Photos by Kamal Moon

A protester’s sign at the Wisconsin All Out For Palestine March in Madison, intends that no one is fooled by the Biden administration’s propaganda machine or its agenda.

Editor’s note:  The Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine is a collection of esteemed, diverse activists from 60 local and statewide organizations.  Wisconsin Muslim Journal is inviting people from this group to share their perspective and voice on our pages.  Today’s guest editorial writer is Tom Hansen.  He represents the Party for Socialism and Liberation within the Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine.

For many in the West, the US-Israeli propaganda machine was lamentably effective in veiling the real workings of the Israeli apartheid State and its US underpinnings. Palestinians lived under brutal tyranny for generations, but most of the US populace was ignorant, while our tax dollars subsidized the savagery – more than a million Palestinian refugees, 2.3 million Gazans living in an open air prison, Jewish settlers killing Palestinians, separate legal systems for Jews and Palestinians. The injustices are endless. The daily indignities take their toll on every Palestinian family. Seventy-five years of oppression is too much. Palestinians have every right to resist and demand justice. 

Today, with more than 18,000 Palestinians murdered in a 21st century holocaust, the world is paying attention. But this time it’s different. The vaunted propaganda machine is thoroughly debunked, and Israeli lies are exposed for everyone to see. The real story of Palestine is emerging.

Initially, the “fog of war” provided cover for outrageous fabrications. Netanyahu claimed Hamas killed 1400 Israeli civilians, reducing the number to “around 1200” on November 10, and recently reducing it again to “around 1000.” Research by independent journalists reveals the IDF was responsible for many Israeli civilian deaths, using tanks and hellfire missiles to attack private homes, cars, and IDF military installations populated with civilian workers as well as soldiers. 

A cynical IDF policy may explain these attacks – Israeli authorities prefer to kill potential prisoners/hostages rather than negotiate their release. The Hannibal Directive, a military procedure established in 1986, followed a deal in which Israel traded 1150 Palestinian prisoners for three Israeli soldiers. After intense political backlash, the Israeli military drafted a field order to prevent similar situations. The last confirmed application of the Hannibal Directive took place on August 1, 2014, in Rafah, Gaza, when Hamas fighters captured an Israeli officer. The military unleashed a barrage of bombs, killing the soldier along with 100 Palestinian civilians. 

Fast forward to October 7, 2023 – different people, same scenario but on a grander scale. At Kibbutz Be’eri, a Hamas target adjacent to Gaza, the local security coordinator reports Israeli army commanders ordered the “shelling [of] houses on their occupants in order to eliminate the terrorists along with the hostages.” Charred civilian vehicles and burned out Israeli homes littered the Gaza border, evidence of weaponry not available to lightly armed Hamas fighters. The full toll may never be known, but every week first hand testimonies from Israeli civilians reveal the extent of the self-inflicted carnage. 

The lies continued, more spectacular – and desperate for attention. The IDF was apparently the source of a report from i24NEWS about Hamas soldiers beheading 40 babies. President Biden amplified the story in a speech from the White House, but no evidence supports the accusation. The IDF quietly dropped the fabrication and the Biden administration apologized – sort of. 

The IDF bombed the Al-Sharif hospital, a clear violation of international law, then planted a couple of rifles in the basement where news media took obligatory videos. The propaganda effort was so amateurish that even US media, accustomed to swallowing even the most outrageous stories if sourced to the Israeli government, wouldn’t buy the lie. To date, the IDF has produced no credible evidence that Hamas is using civilian medical or educational facilities for their activities, and the story quietly dropped from news cycles.

Over the next six weeks, the lies continued. Biden questioned official reports from Gaza on death totals, until the UN, the WHO and every other reputable organization supported the estimates. Apparently the IDF is familiar with TikTok, to the point where they started producing their own videos staging “events” with hired actors. But TikTokers are pretty sharp and quickly identified the actors. The IDF told Gazans to move south where they’d be safe – until they weren’t. They dropped leaflets outlining bombing plans, only to bomb areas previously declared safe. They claimed to be targeting Hamas while avoiding civilian casualties, then destroyed (to date) 60% of the buildings in Gaza, with the apparent intention of leveling the entire Strip.

Recently, after a short-lived ceasefire, Israel tried for a sort of reset in the propaganda war with lurid accusations of rape by Hamas militants. The Netanyahu administration may not be particularly agile, but their public relations department understands which buttons to push. No one in their right mind can defend rape under any circumstance. Making the accusation is half the battle, but then the Israelis face two problems. First, they’ve already lied so much that the world is justifiably skeptical. And second, they have to provide some modicum of proof. It’s here where the case falls apart. 

Both CNN and The Times of Israel report there are no eyewitnesses and no forensic evidence to support the rape accusations. The IDF circulated a 43-minute video to selected journalists to prove the rape accusations, and with the express purpose of motivating journalists to support IDF genocide in Gaza. Guardian reporter Owen Jones, a strident critic of the October 7 attacks, saw the video, which he described as gruesome and difficult to watch. We can assume the IDF put its strongest evidence forward, gleaned from thousands of hours of GoPro cameras worn by Hamas militants during the attacks, from CCTV cameras posted in communities, and from home surveillance cameras, but Owen reported the video contained no evidence of rapes. 

Of course, the biggest lie of all is a Biden invention. The US President claims there is “distance,” a “disagreement,” a “public rift” with Israel over military tactics. A CNN headline on Dec 14 is exemplary: “Biden’s national security adviser talked with Netanyahu about lowering the intensity of Israel’s operations in Gaza.” After “extremely serious conversations” with Israeli officials, “US officials expect the current phase of Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza targeting the southern end of the strip to last several weeks before Israel transitions, possibly by January, to a lower-intensity, hyper-localized strategy that narrowly targets specific Hamas militants and leaders.”

Biden claims concern for Palestinian lives, but it’s all façade. The war continues, while Biden attempts to burnish his political credentials in anticipation of next year’s elections. As many as a thousand civilians die every day under Israeli bombs provided by the US. Everyone knows Biden can stop the war on Gaza tomorrow by stopping US aid to Israel, but he won’t – yet. The fact that he has to publicly feign concern is an indication the US-Israeli propaganda machine is failing. Biden is biding time, trying to cover his political flanks with lots of talk, while the genocide continues. We need to turn up the pressure and force real policy changes. Biden will be in Milwaukee on December 20. Let’s turn out in mass and demand he stop the genocide and end all aid to Israel.

“The war continues, while Biden attempts to burnish his political credentials in anticipation of next year’s elections. Everyone knows Biden can stop the war on Gaza tomorrow by stopping US aid to Israel, but he won’t – yet.”  (Tom Hansen)