By Dustin Siggins
Recent headlines would have you believe Israel is losing ground in the domestic narrative war with Hamas. New polls indicate that the high level of support Israel enjoyed after the October 7 attacks has slowly eroded as military action in Gaza drags on and a humanitarian crisis emerges.
But digging beneath the headlines reveals a lot of good news for Israel’s long-term prospects in shoring up its support among the American people, and especially among critical policy, political and military leaders.
The polls in question come from NPR and Reuters. The former found that 38 percent believed Israel’s retaliation against Hamas had gone too far, an increase of 12 percentage points from October. The Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll found that only 32 percent of respondents agreed that “the U.S. should support Israel,” a 9-point decrease from October. But Reuters also found that only 4 percent of respondents believed that the United States should support Hamas instead of Israel — unchanged since last month.
This indicates that Israel has a high floor compared to a low Hamas ceiling. And the longer the war goes on, the more propaganda weapons Hamas keeps giving Israel to win the long game of public support.
Launching a brutal, unprovoked war? Check. Kidnappings, infant murders, and paragliders assaulting a music festival have been shown billions of times in the last six weeks.
Sacrificing its own people? Check. Hamas has a clear record of using Gaza’s citizens as human shields and cannon fodder, including building bases beneath hospitals. A Hamas spokesman justified this practice, saying, “We are called a nation of martyrs, and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs.” In contrast, Israel has made considerable investments in civilian safety systems like rocket attack alert apps, and the government launched a massive financial aid package to support businesses and individuals hurt by the conflict.
Targeting innocent civilians? Check. Hamas opened the war with an attack on celebrating civilians and has since taken hostages. Israel has warned Palestinians to evacuate and, despite the risk to its own military objectives, pauses attacks four hours a day to allow civilians a way out.
Telling the truth? In the initial stages of the military offensive in Gaza, Hamas said Israel attacked the Ahli Arab hospital … but later analyses showed that the explosion came from a rocket misfire by Hamas-affiliated militants. Hamas’ initial claims were quickly erased in the media that ran the initial storyline. Corrections were made.
Having reasonable supporters? One may disagree with law firms yanking Hamas supporters’ jobs, but nobody is calling for the execution of pro-Palestinian Americans … whereas anti-Semitic statements, attacks on Jews, and calls for Israel’s extermination abound.
Israel’s critics will undoubtedly point to online support for Hamas and a recent U.N. Security Council resolution backing a humanitarian ceasefire. But as CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out in 2018, the United Nations has routinely singled out Israel for years, so this resolution is nothing new. And an Economist analysis found that Hamas’ supporters are overrepresented in significant corners of the online world — but those social media backers are not translating into support from everyday people.
Israel appears confident that its military approach will be supported in the long run. And that confidence is well founded because Hamas has continuously shown itself to be an inhumane aggressor that (a) has made allies (against Hamas!) of corporations, colleges and members of Congress as liberal as John Fetterman and as conservative as Ted Cruz, and (b) given Israel a chance to show that it is the more compassionate, caring side of the war.
There is a messaging war, for sure, and not just in Gaza. But the appearance of a public opinion shift toward Hamas is misleading at best. The public isn’t buying it, and that’s why America’s leaders haven’t stopped providing vocal and financial support for Israel’s survival.
Dustin Siggins is the founder of Proven Media Solutions. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.