| Magazine Feature |

The Front Line in People’s Minds       

The battle for public opinion

Photos: Flash90

With a toxic welter of journalistic laziness, media outlets’ pro-Palestinian bias, and Israel’s limitations in both traditional and social media, it was only a matter of time before slaughtered Jewish babies would be replaced by cries of proportionality and Israeli aggression


With reporting by Sandy Eller

IT took ten days for the media to overcome its uncharacteristic bout of sympathy for dead Jews.

In the aftermath of Hamas’s Simchas Torah pogrom, a stunned world rallied around Israel’s right to self-defense, and the sheer horror of the assault temporarily checked left-leaning media organizations’ anti-Israel animus.

But from the moment jets started pounding Gaza’s terrorists in retaliation, the clock began ticking: it was only a question of time before the slaughtered Jewish babies would disappear from the headlines to be replaced by the familiar narrative of Israeli aggression.

Few expected such a quick triumph for Hamas propaganda, though. Hundreds of Israeli victims had yet to be identified, and the press corps was still touring the blasted kibbutzim where defenseless civilians had been massacred, when at 6:59 p.m. last Tuesday night, an explosion rocked the parking lot of the Al-Ahli hospital in the northern Gaza Strip.

Within minutes, Hamas reported that an Israeli airstrike had killed 500 people at the medical center. It was a wild claim that a moment of editorial reflection ought to have flagged. For one thing, the Gazan health authorities in question were merely an arm of the terror group’s administration — hardly a trustworthy source. There was also no way that hospital staff could have counted so many casualties within so short a time frame. And there was always the off-chance that the region’s only democracy might have a different version of events than Hamas’s.

Yet none of that prevented news editors at the world’s most prestigious outlets from publishing stories painting Israel in the most damning light.

“Palestinian health ministry says an estimated 200 to 300 people killed in Israeli strike on hospital in Gaza,” CNN headlined uncritically. “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinian Officials Say,” screamed the New York Times’s headline. “A massacre — Gaza hospital blast estimated to kill hundreds,” was NBC’s version. “Hundreds killed in Israeli strike on Gaza hospital,” the BBC reported.

The gusto with which much of the media establishment embraced the Hamas narrative was revealing of just how unnatural it had been for many of the journalists involved to report on Israel as the unqualified victim in the aftermath of October 7th.

On social media the results were even worse. In a widely-shared post on a bogus account purporting to be the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, there was an admission that Israeli forces had bombed the hospital to inflict “euthanasia due to a lack of equipment and personnel.”

By the next morning, Israel’s version — backed by hard evidence — emerged. The strike was actually an Islamic Jihad rocket that had fallen short and triggered a fire at the hospital. On a visit to Israel, President Joe Biden said that the Pentagon’s own sources supported the Israeli version.

But by then it was too late: In the days it took for the press corps to issue mealy-mouthed admissions that they’d got it wrong, a modern-day blood libel had been born, ushered into the world by the Western media.

National Review, a conservative website, put it well: “The media will never forgive Israel for not bombing that hospital,” because “reporters and pundits wanted it to be true.”

It didn’t much matter that an Islamic Jihad  rocket misfired and landed in the parking lot of Al-Ahli hospital — as soon as Hamas claimed an Israeli air strike killed hundreds at the medical center, fiction turned into fact for the world’s most prestigious media outlets

The Other Front Line

More than any democratic country, the term “media war” is accurate in Israel’s context. To an unusual degree, the public information arena is almost as critical for the country as what happens on the front lines.

In that context, the Al-Ahli hospital saga is a textbook case of the hostile media environment in which Israel operates. A toxic welter of journalistic laziness, media outlets’ pro-Palestinian bias, and Israel’s limitations in both traditional and social media led to a lie that will likely persist in the minds of the Palestinians and their supporters across the left.

The birth of the Big Lie about the Gaza hospital was a real-time demonstration of the enormous power that media wields to shape public opinion. In the wake of the flawed reporting, a summit that Joe Biden was meant to attend with Arab leaders was cancelled, and anti-Israel demonstrations broke out across the Muslim world.

In Jewish communities, there was a sharp, collective intake of breath as people waited for the all-too-familiar anti-Jewish violence to play out on their streets. A former BBC executive warned of the “dangerous, real-world consequences” for British Jews from the organization’s slanted coverage. On campuses from Harvard to Oxford, academics blamed Israel for Hamas’s actions, and large pro-Palestinian rallies left Jewish students feeling isolated and fearful.

But even as the IDF seeks to grapple with its adversaries in the narrow backstreets of Gaza, it’s not clear whether Israel is equipped to navigate the treacherous landscape of the media environment.

There may be no realistic way to communicate Israel’s message to media corporations so eager to serve as Hamas mouthpieces. And in a social media world where timing and emotive messaging are everything, Israel’s slow and fact-driven approach to the media battle look uncomfortably like the proverbial general fighting the last war — responding in mediums, terminology, and a lexicon that no longer speaks to the current generation.

Yet with Israel just beginning its reckoning with Hamas, hasbarah — the official term for the country’s public relations effort — matters more than ever. Public opinion may be formed and fomented far from the battlefield, but it holds the power to dictate whether Israel can sustain the vital political support in foreign capitals that it will need to sustain a long-haul military campaign.


False Equivalence

For German-born Major Arye Shalicar of the IDF Spokesman’s division, a recent conversation with a journalist for a major European TV channel was a troubling reminder of the bias that Israel contends with at many media organizations.

The reporter, whom Shalicar calls a “nice guy,” approached the spokesman and said, “Tell me Arye, just between us, can’t you see that there’s an ethical problem in what Israel is doing to Gaza civilians?”

When Shalicar responded that the IDF had repeatedly called on the civilians to leave northern Gaza and head south, and that moreover, many thousands of Israelis had had to flee their homes, the journalist said, “Yes, but the Israelis have friends to go to.”

Told that northern Gazans similarly had friends and relatives a few miles to the south, the TV reporter changed tack: “But still it’s not ethical to bomb Gaza, because there are thousands of civilians who haven’t left their homes in the north.”

“So you tell me,” countered Shalicar, “exactly what number of civilians left in the Gaza Strip would make it okay from your point of view to fire on Hamas — is it 50, or maybe less?”

For Shalicar, a multilingual representative of the IDF Spokesman’s unit who deals extensively with European media outlets, it’s this kind of unreasoning, reflexive opposition to Israel’s actions that makes Israel’s media environment uniquely difficult. Countering the kind of double standards that Israel is held to has been part of the job since he joined the unit in 2008 in time for Operation Cast Lead, the first round of Israel-Hamas fighting.

His previous experience primed him for the current reality. As he took in the details of the horrific Hamas attack this Simchas Torah, it was clear to him that as soon as the IDF began targeting terror infrastructure from the air, it was just a question of time until the Hamas narrative began to dominate.

And one of the reasons, he says, is the illogical credence given to Hamas sources. “There are many outlets, both in the Middle East and the Western world, who will publish whatever Hamas announce without demanding proof,” he says. “From an organization that butchers babies they don’t demand proof, yet from Israel they demand an extremely high burden of proof. It’s as if that for them, there are two terror groups fighting each other.”

That’s how Shalicar found himself, in the hours after the Gaza hospital incident, fielding questions from multiple media organizations, and reminding them of basic journalism practice: to double- and triple-check any information received from Hamas. “These reporters relate to information coming out of the Gaza health authorities as if they are independent, professional bodies, whereas in reality, they are subservient to a cruel terror organization.”

In the current news cycle, which is driven equally (if not primarily) by social media, the dynamic that governs coverage is speed. News organizations rush for a scoop, the IDF spokesman says, even at the expense of fact-checking — and once one of the big outlets publishes, the others fall into line.

Bias at the Beeb

In the media jungle, there is no bigger beast than the BBC. As the world’s leading news broadcaster — reaching almost half a billion people weekly in 43 languages — what the BBC says matters. Since the October 7th attacks, the BBC has stood out from other Western media outlets for its hostility to Israel’s cause. Where other outlets began referring to Hamas as “terrorists” in the wake of the group’s genocidal rampage on October 7th, the British broadcaster steadfastly refused to adopt the term, preferring “militants.”

“The BBC’s job is to place the facts before its audience and let them decide what they think, honestly and without ranting,” John Simpson, a veteran news editor tweeted, adding that describing Hamas as terrorists would be to “take sides” and threaten the corporation’s impartiality.

But those claims of adherence to long-standing journalistic practices were undermined a few days after the October 7th attacks, in reporting about a shooting at a sports game in Belgium. “Brussels shooting: Suspect at large after two Swedes killed in terror attack,” ran the BBC’s initial headline, which was later changed to remove the terror reference when social media users highlighted the discrepancy.

The BBC’s claims of impartiality, said the Daily Telegraph, were further undermined by a look at the historical record. From Al-Qaeda to the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and the shootings in New Zealand mosques in 2019, the broadcaster regularly used the term “terrorists.”

The corporation’s initial slanted reporting on the Gaza hospital incident led Israeli President Isaac Herzog to issue a rare rebuke for an organization of the BBC’s standing. “There has to be an outcry,” he told visiting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, urging the British government to intervene with the taxpayer-funded BBC. “What else do they need to see to understand that this is an atrocious terror organization?”

Perhaps most damning for the broadcasting behemoth was the withering criticism that came from an insider: Danny Cohen, a former director of the corporation’s television channels. Writing in the Telegraph, a prominent conservative broadsheet, Cohen said that the BBC’s “rush to judgment” over the hospital incident when it announced “without qualification that Israel was responsible for the explosion and the tragic loss of life,” exposed “bias and deep-rooted prejudice” at the organization.

The BBC’s failures in its reporting of the Israel-Hamas conflict, he continued, “have had “dangerous, real-world consequences” for Jews in Britain and beyond. “Other media organizations picked up their line. Across the world, people believed Israel was responsible for the bombing of a hospital. More anti-Semitic violence and anger followed.”

Cohen’s warning about the dangers posed by biased reporting to Jews everywhere are well-founded. In the last Israel-Hamas conflict in 2021, reports of Israeli brutality whipped up anti-Jewish sentiment in New York and London. In one incident, Joey Borgen was brutally beaten by Muslims as he walked to a pro-Israel rally in Manhattan. Over in London, a car with Islamists who’d driven hours to the capital cruised around Golders Green, a heavily Jewish area, as its passengers yelled violent anti-Semitic slurs. In the current conflict, anti-Semitism watchdogs on both sides of the Atlantic have recorded massive jumps in both online and offline expressions of Jew-hatred.


Laziness Meets Bigotry

A source with extensive knowledge of the British media world says that there are two dynamics at work in the distorted coverage like that of the Gaza hospital incident. The first, he says, is lazy journalism, which has been bred by the one-hour news cycle. “So, for example,” he explains, “the BBC reporter’s response to the images coming out of the hospital was that ‘these types of scenes couldn’t have come from anything other than an Israeli airstrike,’ — a lazy assumption by a journalist who couldn’t be bothered to verify. Similarly, the Palestinian report of ‘hundreds of casualties’ was reported as fact due to laziness — it couldn’t possibly have been substantiated so quickly.”

That type of sloppy reporting, says the source, is a reality everywhere. But a more disturbing aspect of the modern media world is bigotry. Bad journalism is more prevalent when it comes to Israel.

“There’s a body of opinion among journalists and among liberals in general that sees Israelis as wrong and Palestinians as victims. It’s partly anti-Semitism, and partly because for those imprisoned in the liberal intellectual straitjacket, brown people can never be oppressors, and Jews are part of the white majority. In that thinking, Hamas represents a legitimate right of resistance to Israeli occupation.”

The events of October 7th, which revealed Hamas in all its genocidal brutality, challenged that worldview. “Lots of pseudo-intellectuals were disturbed by the killings because they reflexively think of Israelis as brutal.” That kind of jolt to one’s worldview is very disconcerting and may have made them especially eager to embrace the narrative of the hospital bombing. “The events at the Gaza hospital were a fantastic opportunity to reinforce their existing prejudice. With the Israelis once again cast as the guilty party and Hamas as victims, they were able one again to dive happily into their worldview.”

Liel Leibovitz, Editor-at-Large at Tablet magazine, is less circumspect about the media’s mass fail surrounding the Al-Ahli incident.

“Even in the first two or three days after the Hamas attack, when there was some modicum of sympathy for Israel, there was no serious attempt to understand why it had happened — for example, how the support for the Iran deal had emboldened the world’s number one exporter of terror. I wasn’t surprised, because some media outlets are simply political messaging operations that promulgate a narrative that is hostile to Jews and Israel.”

Lazy journalism bred by the one-hour news cycle, sloppy reporting and little interest in factual verification is everywhere, but for Israel, there’s so much more at stake than a bit of bad coverage

Image Consultants

When the Islamic State terrorists rampaged across large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, burning and beheading their way to found their so-called “caliphate,” their mix of savagery and military acumen wasn’t their only innovation. The murderous group were also sophisticated social media users, utilizing slick digital campaigns to propagandize, recruit and fundraise.

According to Peter Singer and Emerson Brooking, authors of The Weaponization of Social Media, instead of hiding their brutality, ISIS tweeted about it, launching the #AllEyesOnISIS hashtag to share their messaging. The group was able to harness social media to create a climate of fear, and to recruit 30,000 fighters from over 100 countries.

Leveraging social media to drive a narrative is the natural evolution of a practice that has taken place for years — using traditional media outlets to shape public opinion in a particular direction.

Social media, which provides a megaphone with a potential reach of millions to anyone with an internet connection, has added a vast new dimension to the media war of the analogue era. On social media, says Eli Shapiro, director of the Digital Citizenship Project — which teaches parents, educators and students about avoiding the pitfalls of technology — it is typically the most extreme posts that draw the most engagement on social media, whose algorithms are designed to promote engagement.

“When the explosion happened at the hospital in Gaza, the moderate position is ‘let’s evaluate and see the data informs,’ ” says Shapiro. “But that isn’t going to be reposted. What will be reposted and rehashed is Rashida Tlaib blaming Israel and her heated, emotional response. People don’t respond to moderate or thoughtful posts. We see the most extreme views and that applies to any topic.”

Tablet editor Liel Leibovitz is familiar with Israel’s media battle both as a journalist and from his own service in the IDF Spokesman’s unit. One key dynamic that the messaging campaign must deal with in the social media era, he says, is the diffusion of audiences.

“Until fairly recently, there was something called The Media and another body called The Audience — both manageable and finite entities — for which a single slate of messages could be relayed. That is all over: Now, there are many separate audiences, and many different platforms for accessing them, from podcasts to Instagram and traditional media.” In this new environment, Leibovitz says, micro-messaging — meaning, tailoring a message to a particular platform and audience — is the way to go.

Just as important is content, he says, which in the language of social media isn’t a detailed refutation of the enemy’s claims, but rather simple emotional messages.

“Let’s imagine that you joined Instagram on the day after the hospital incident,” he says. “Immediately, you see your feed full of Palestinian flags and wounded kids, and so you think, ‘These must be the good guys.’ Meanwhile on the other side, the messaging is full of facts and figures.

“Here in America we don’t like homework, and asking a social media user to read through a 60-word statement is homework. We have to understand that this is a completely emotion-driven debate: People identify with a particular side. What we should be doing is far simpler than presenting data: We need to flood social media with powerful images highlighting every single life lost at the hands of Hamas’s killers.”

The most successful Israeli messaging has relied on such simple, powerful statements. One such came in response to the media’s hyper-focus on Gaza’s refugees, which entirely displaced any discussion of the Jewish victims. It was a meme that read “In Gaza, there’s no water to wash babies — in Kibbutz Be’eri, there’s no babies to wash.”

Another brand of messaging — adopted by Netanyahu and the IDF at the war’s outset — relied on linkage to horrors that both politicians and news consumers could readily identify with. “Hamas = ISIS” was readily understandable in light of the two groups’ similarity in ideology and barbarity.

The third dynamic, Leibovitz points out, is that the aspect of social media that is such a curse — an individual’s vast reach — is also a potential blessing in avoiding the biased gatekeepers at legacy media organizations.

“Israeli celebrities have been marching up and down the streets of Manhattan hanging up posters of the abducted and reaching tens of millions of people — all without recourse to any media outlets.”


Keyboard Warriors

While the IDF Spokesman’s division is the only body in the pro-Israel arena capable of mobilizing large-scale resources, some of the most effective advocacy for Israel comes from a cadre of individuals who use the power of their own digital savvy to argue Israel’s case in the public arena.

Among these, Chaskel Bennett, an Agudah trustee, has earned a reputation as being an articulate and fearless social media warrior, known for his biting commentary.

A Hatzalah first responder who was at Ground Zero on September 11th, Bennett first began sharing his post-terror attack thoughts by writing op-eds and letters to the editor in Jewish periodicals and secular newspapers. He joined Twitter in 2012.

“I would watch the lies and misrepresentations in the New York Post, the New York Times and the Jewish Daily Forward and think, how am I going to fight back with a single letter to the editor?” recalls Bennett, who encourages like-minded people who understand the power of public opinion to up their game and become more sophisticated and faster in their responses. “Public opinion is created in real time on social media, and if you’re not on the battlefield, your chance to mold crucial perspective on any issue is lost to adversaries who have already weighed in.

“The anti-Israel establishment mobilizes at a moment’s notice. Without debating the merits or toxicity of X, formerly Twitter, the fact is our detractors and antagonists are out here in force influencing policy makers, journalists, and elected officials. Old school thinking would have you believing that media wars are fought in the pages of newspapers and on television, which once held a captive audience,” says Bennett. “But in reality, with the advent of Twitter and Facebook, WhatsApp and other platforms, reporters and writers get the stories they cull, the information they source, and their direction from social media.”

With elected officials from left and right viewing public opinion through the prism of social media, the importance of pushing back against lies and advocating for vital communal causes is critical, particularly when it comes to Israel.

“Time and time again, we’ve seen that when America and international governments pressure Israel to soften their responses, to relax their checkpoints, to stand down when they need to stand up, that goes directly to the heart and safety of Jewish lives on the ground,” Bennett says. “That pressure gathers not at the UN, but on the keyboards and smartphones of activists on both sides of the PR battle.”

In addition to being a platform where they can share opinions, says Joel Petlin, superintendent of the Kiryas Joel School District and a prominent Orthodox Twitter user, people also view social media as a reliable news source — a scary prospect, considering its lack of accountability.

Petlin has been on Twitter since 2014, and like Bennett, his tweets have been quoted by news outlets such as Fox News, Yahoo News, The Times of Israel, The Daily Wire and the Daily Mail. He tends to be more active on social media when problematic situations arise, and was outraged to see the Black Lives Matter Chicago chapter supporting Hamas.

“We are seeing college campus rallies in favor of a terrorist organization,” says Petlin. “The idea that people can support institutions that are diametrically opposed to everything that is right is dangerous.”

Petlin has been spending more time on X since the war broke out in Israel, particularly after seeing members of the media and celebrities coming out with a steady stream of statements that are neutral at best, with others being openly pro-Hamas.

Following a broad range of people is important on X, explains Petlin, because it keeps users from becoming locked in a bubble filled with others of similar views. He tries to be polite and fair with those he disagrees with, and consumes news from multiple sources in an effort to get the most accurate information available. Still, even that proved to be futile in the aftermath of the October 17th explosion at the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza.

The fact that the Hamas’s narrative made instant headlines is due to the fast pace of social media, says Petlin, making it all the more important to have people in that space countering those false narratives.

“If you can’t rely on the New York Times to give Israel a fair hearing — which we know we can’t — we have to be out there to make sure the other side is amplified,” explains Petlin. “That is the only way to even the playing field.”


Actions Have Consequences

It isn’t just dedicated individuals who are fighting in the trenches in the social media battleground. StopAntisemitism, a US-based organization dedicated to the fight against anti-Semitism, has been working overtime on X, its feed filled with pictures and videos of those expressing their support for Hamas. That has had real-world consequences for some of the bigots.

Nozima Husainova, an employee of Citi and a Brooklyn College student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration, was featured in an October 18th StopAntisemitism post alongside a screenshot of one of her tweets addressing Israel’s response to the Gaza hospital bombing. “No wonder Hitler wanted to get rid of them,” tweeted Husainova. StopAntisemitism’s post sharing Husainova’s tweet and bearing the words “unbridled antisemitism” received over 825,000 views in two days, and was followed by another tagging Citi and asking, “Is this vile anti-Semite your employee?” Hours later, Husainova was out of a job, with StopAntisemitism sharing a quote from a Citi spokesman who described her comment as “revolting” and noting that hate speech was not allowed at the bank.

A Miami dentist also found himself unemployed after being outed by StopAntisemitism to its more than 131,000 Twitter followers. StopAntisemitism posted a video of two men tearing down posters of kidnapped Israelis in the Miami area on October 17th, tentatively identifying them as Dr. Ahmed ElKoussa and Xave Ramoul. Within 24 hours, an Instagram post by the CG Smile dental office in Miami announced that ElKoussa had been removed from their staff because of his actions.

The consequences have also gone beyond firings. A StopAntisemitism post of a man later identified as Jacob T. Reidy shouting obscenities at a Jewish home resulted in his arrest, with a second Twitter post adding that Reidy had been spotted hours after the October 7th massacre outside a synagogue parking lot telling passersby, “they should have killed more of you.” Similarly, corporate America has taken note of the social media posts and communal petitions, with both Marriott and Hilton cancelling events that had been previously scheduled by groups who expressed public support of Hamas after the October 7th terror spree.

While cancel culture hasn’t been a tactic typically employed in the Jewish community, all bets are off when it comes defending Jews and Israel in the social media wars, says Chaskel Bennett.

“If cancel culture is one of the tools being used by the opposition, it has to be a common tool for us, too,” says Bennett. “If you advertise and celebrate anti-Israel hate and violence against Jews, you certainly have a right to your opinion, but we have a right to ours, too.”


Time Trial

Two weeks after the horror perpetrated by Hamas, it’s business as usual when it comes to relations between Israel and the media. Any “credit” generated by the sight of murdered Jews went up in the smoke of the Al-Ahli hospital parking lot.

With observers hesitant to critique Israel’s hasbarah effort mid-war, there’s nevertheless ongoing frustration at long-term deficiencies in Israel’s PR strategy. One relates to the time lag in getting out the IDF’s version — in the hospital incident a delay measured in hours, which is an eon in social media terms.

But fact-based evidence by its very nature isn’t instantaneous, says IDF spokesman Arye Shalicar. The collection of hard evidence in the form of visual and signals intelligence from Hamas communications networks takes time.

And ultimately, with Hamas armed with thousands of human shields in a battle for a dense urban area and the media playing field skewed heavily against Israel, even an instantaneous Israeli response would struggle to win the day.

Still, Shalicar says, that’s no reason to give up. “In this sea of lies and fake news, everyone can push back. Whether it’s a letter to a newspaper highlighting biased coverage, or fighting online distortions, the media war is real when it comes to Israel, and every voice makes a difference.”


Stepping Up to the Plate
The media war can be toxic, but the battle raging on the various traditional and social media platforms is vital for Israel’s cause. How can the average person step up the fight?

“We walk a fine line in how we use social media and use it in a very constrained and very specific way,” explains Leah Zagelbaum, vice president of communications at Agudath Israel of America which uses social media only for advocacy purposes. “Twitter is where the reporters are, and that’s where you reach out to them to be included in the world of media.”

While there are those who go head-to-head with people who post hate messages on social media, others take a different approach. Motti Seligson, director of media at Chabad Lubavitch, finds that positive posts about the Jewish community and Israel go a long way towards combatting hate and bias. “Most people in the United States are decent people and they see through the evil and are able to recognize very clearly what is going on,” he observes. A video that Seligson posted to Twitter last week of a University of Pennsylvania student donning tefillin as a pro-Palestinian march took place behind him drew more than 760,000 views within just three days. Still, he admits that there are times when pushing back against negative messaging is the best course of action, albeit with a healthy dose of common sense. “It’s important that we don’t get dragged into the gutter with some of the people who are acting deplorably and supporting barbarism, savagery or misguided anti-Semitic perceptions,” counsels Seligson.

As a former reporter, Shlomo Schorr, associate director of Agudath Israel of New Jersey, takes a nonconfrontational approach to the digital war playing out on social media. Instead, he sends private messages to reporters whose stories contain inaccuracies related to Orthodox Jews, Judaism, or Israel. “When they aren’t called out in public, many of them are happy to learn and correct mistakes,” says Schorr. “Even those who might not be willing to correct an error might come back to me next time to verify information before they publish it.”

In recent days, Mishpacha correspondent Tzippy Yarom-Diskind has taken a different path on Twitter, posting videos and images that can be hard to watch. “We need to spread these because people don’t believe it really happened,” she says. “It’s not just the Jew-haters. Even the ordinary person on the street — how can they believe it if they don’t see it?”

Others have started translating Arabic messages on Twitter as well, to make them more accessible to the masses, including Jonathan Elkhoury, a Lebanese-Israeli Christian, who is translating social media posts into Arabic in an official capacity for the State of Israel. A tweet pinned to the top of Elkhoury’s Twitter feed explains how he overheard his mother describing the October 7th terror attacks as reminiscent of the savagery she saw during the early days of the Lebanese Civil War, with children shot in front of their parents and houses burnt down, their occupants still inside.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 983)

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