Unraveling Narratives on Gaza

Israel Palestine

Shortly after Israel began its invasion of Gaza, two female friends started posting content about it. The images of wounded citizens and children in Gaza are understandably upsetting. They are to most of us, I should hope. Their hearts, like those of many around the world ache. 

While I sympathized with their protective instincts and desire for peace, part of me found these posts and shares disturbing. Many labelled Israel’s invasion a “genocide”, and called their response “evil”. Some claimed that Israel was “targeting” innocents. They claimed outrage at the supposed Israeli bombing of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, yet the next morning we saw the hospital fully intact next to a crater in the adjacent parking lot with plenty of evidence to suggest it was a misfire by Islamic Jihad. Somehow new shares emerged doubling down on the story. 

I had questions for them. What about Hamas? Why aren’t you at least condemning them too? Don’t you want them to release the hostages? Didn’t Israel say they’d ceasefire if they did? Isn’t that what you want? These are intelligent, educated and accomplished women. I’ve known them both to be nothing but warm, positive, and graceful. In one case, only a few text messages were exchanged before she claimed my questions and objections were giving her anxiety. I was accused of being rude, unkind, and cruel. 

In the second case, we had a phone call, which started ok, but quickly disintegrated. Again, there was a genuine anxious response and what sounded like tears. “I have been accused of horrible things lately, like that I hate Jews. I don’t hate Jews, I don’t hate anyone, I was raised to believe that the Jews are our cousins…At this point, I don’t trust anyone, I don’t trust you,” she said. Before this, she was asking me if I was a Zionist. “What does that word mean to you?” I asked. That was an odd question to her. “You either are or you aren’t in the same way that I simply am a Muslim. Do you ascribe to that belief system or not?”. Back to this later.

After the call, I received a gracious text, essentially acknowledging sadness over it ending negatively, that “We clearly don’t agree”, and she wished my family well. I did my best to reciprocate a positive closure. I certainly share a sadness over it and on her (their) behalf. I do believe their pain is sincere. I did, however, get a glimpse of what she (maybe they) and presumably many others believe. This was even more heartbreaking to me.

Is “disagree” the right word here? We agree that human life is sacred and that all children are innocent. “If you have a problem with my loving and supporting kids then please complain to UNICEF” wrote the first woman. We agree (this is an extrapolation on my part) that this story represents the greatest hoax/propaganda/marketing campaign of all time, for perhaps one of the most popular products of all time: Hate

Where we are not aligned is the facts; What is actually happening as best one can deduce in the fog of war and what is the actual history which explains this situation? Which “side” is telling the truth (or at least the fewest lies)? Which narrative best reflects reality? Ultimately, one is correct, the other false.

So let me break down how I see these two narratives; Starting with what she told me while doing my best to steel-man her position (i.e. provide as fair a defence of it as I can): 

What she told me was that Hamas was created by Israel with aid from the CIA. To be fair, the CIA does have a long history of instigating coups, resistance movements and false-flag operations. The American Industrial Military Complex has been a long-standing and legitimate subject of concern as far as I’m concerned. And I would agree that the Middle East at large has very good reason to resent persistent foreign interference, especially from the West and most often in a way that prioritizes Petro-dollars over human lives. And it is not at all unreasonable to perceive Israel as one of the primary benefactors of that interference. According to her: “

  • The Palestinians had no choice but to elect Hamas. 
  • The beheadings did not happen (and Israel admitted as much).
  • Hamas offered to surrender the hostages but Israel refused.
  • Israel did bomb the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital.
  • Israel knew about the Oct. 7 attack in advance (and/or planned it).
  • It IS a genocide.”

From a strictly logical perspective, if the first part of what she believes is true (the CIA/Israel created Hamas), the rest of those beliefs are entirely plausible.

I’ll return to her beliefs but let me switch now to the narrative that remains most persuasive to me: Yes, there is plenty of blame to throw around! My lord, where do I start!?! The British? The French? The Babylonians? The Ottomans?… The UN? Let me start with David/Goliath and The Romans and fast forward from there. In roughly 1025 B.C. little 15-year-old David (a Jew) slung a rock at giant muscleman Goliath (a Philistine) which was regarded as a big victory over a big enemy. Forward to 604 BC, the Philistines were completely wiped out by King Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Forward again to 135 CE when Ancient Romans conquered the region (and killed a LOT of Jews by the way). The Romans renamed the region Syria Palaestina or “Palestinian Syria” after the Jew’s old Philistine enemy as a big FU/humiliation/punishment and to obliterate the Hebrew connection to the land. In other words, the first “Palestinians” were mostly Jews. Over the next 1900 years, the place was battered to pieces by a succession of empires as mentioned above to the point where it became a near wasteland. As Mark Twain wrote in 1867 during a visit to the region “… we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”. Around this time Jews were facing discrimination and persecution across Europe. And so 30 years after Twain’s visit, there began what I understand to be the “Zionist movement”. It is consistent (at least for now) with a Google or Britannica definition:

  Zi·on·ism  /ˈzīəˌnizəm/


  1. a movement for (originally) the re-establishment and (now) the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. It was established as a political organization in 1897 under Theodor Herzl and was later led by Chaim Weizmann.

From this perspective, the “Zionist movement” ended in 1948 after the UN adopted the “Partition Resolution” and the British mandate over the area came to an end. In doing so, they ended thousands of years of colonial rule, returning the land (at least in part(s)), to its indigenous peoples. But wait! I have skipped over two World Wars and the most important part I want to share with you. Let’s put aside for the moment how the UN carved these territories up (with special credit to the British). While I am no expert, from what I can tell, the only accomplishments of the United Nations in its now 78 years since inception in 1945, are (a) the Creation of the State of Israel and (b) an annual sanctioning of Israel on grounds that don’t get applied to any other nation. 

Do all the research you want about either World War, the part of the story I want to draw your attention to is that of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion“. This publication represents one of the greatest hoaxes/propaganda campaigns of all time. It is recognized as such by many credible sources. It was a book first published in Russia between 1903 and 1905, written to portray Jews as conspirators against the state. It is presented as minutes from meetings of Jewish elders, depicting a “secret plan” to rule the world by manipulating the economy and media, and by fostering religious conflict. Sound familiar?

The book was quickly translated into multiple languages and distributed around the world. “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was taught as a historical fact in Nazi Germany and it is referenced today in the Hamas Charter (The Hamas Covenant): 

“The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.”

For over 100 years now, this one book has kicked off a conspiracy theory that just keeps on giving. From Adolf Hitler to Kanye West, its lies are regurgitated over and over as faux facts from the vaults of faux-academia. 

So, now we’re all caught up to the Holocaust and 1948 with the UN two-state partition: Israel and Palestine. It was accepted by Israel but rejected by Palestinian Arab leaders and surrounding Arab countries. Arab states attacked one day after the British mandate ended. In Israel, it is referred to as the War of Independence and is considered the first thwarting of an attempted genocide. Palestinians and many others refer to it as Nakba, which means “catastrophe” in Arabic, due to the mass displacement of Palestinians. In the 75 years since there have been numerous wars (most notably the 6-day war in 1967), numerous redistributions of land, and I’ve counted 12 rounds of peace talks/opportunities (see the list below) where the Palestinians rejected a two-state solution.

For much of this time, Palestinian authorities and other enemies of Israel simply denied the Holocaust happened and they denied Israel’s historic claims to their land; which brings us to 1982, back to Russia, where Mahmoud Abbas (president of the State of Palestine since 2005) completed his graduate degree at Patrice Lumumba University with his thesis: “The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement”. The title should tell you all you need to know, but in a nutshell, Abbas stopped trying to deny the overwhelming historic and physical evidence of the Holocaust and instead suggested that the Zionist movement was a “fundamental partner” of the Nazis, equally responsible for it:

The Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule to arouse the government’s hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them and to expand the mass extermination… every racist in the world was given the green light, and first and foremost Hitler and the Nazis, to do with the Jews as they wish, as long as it ensures Jewish immigration to Palestine.” [1]

We see other passages in the Hamas Charter that reflect this thinking:

“The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him…There is no solution for the Palestine question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. Palestine is an Islamic land.

“Our enemies took control of the world media. They were behind the French Revolution and the Communist Revolution… They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they that instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without [them] having their finger in it.”

Returning to the beliefs of my friend, the above passages I assume would be deemed CIA/Israeli propaganda. Abbas I assume is regarded as a CIA or Mossad secret agent. These beliefs help explain the comments of the woman in this video tearing down posters of kidnapped Israeli children.

Based on a few basic assumptions (namely that Zionism rules everything yet seeks to rule more), you can dismiss any news from Israel and America as fake. I do now appreciate the consistency and logic, albeit circular. She does not think “From the River to the Sea…” is a call for genocide. To her it’s the only reasonable solution: A single state (I guess called Palestine) which would encompass their collective regions… but according to her, the Jews don’t have to die for this to happen. Everyone would live together peacefully because you know, no more Zionism.

Nothing I’m saying is intended to undermine the plight of the Palestinian people. I know these friends, like many others, have lost family and loved ones to these endless conflicts. They may well fear for the lives of current family and friends. The story of Palestine is nothing short of tragic. But consistent with the narrative I believe to be true, these poor and displaced people have been ruled by thugs for generations. These leaders hide in distant mansions while they steal foreign aid for their endless war effort and personal gain. In the case of Hamas, they terrorize their own people as well (as reflected by my friend’s comment that they HAD to elect Hamas). Other countries use them as disposable pawns. Just as much as I believe America is willing to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, I believe Iran is willing to fight Israel to the last Palestinian. 

Hamas is an outflow of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded by Hassan-al Banna. He was heavily involved in the Palestinian riots of the 1930s and was heavily financed by Nazi Germany.

To the extent that I have eyes and ears on the ground in Israel, I’m not sure anyone likes or trusts Benjamin Netanyahu. However, the majority of Israeli citizens (including a majority of the two million Arab citizens in Israel) support the IDF mission to eliminate Hamas and free Israeli hostages. It’s not as easy for me to gauge how much support Hamas has from non-combatant Palestinians. But the global support, protests, violence and tearing down of hostage posters have all been heartbreaking to watch.

If my understanding of the situation and the history that led up to this war is at least roughly accurate, then I cannot help but think my friends are experiencing cognitive dissonance. Their anxious and defensive responses would indicate as much. Cognitive dissonance essentially occurs when we are presented with facts that contradict our understanding of the world. It could be me that has it wrong, and on some level, I know I am experiencing cognitive dissonance because of their cognitive dissonance. I find it very hard to understand what these women are doing. I’m trying, but it feels very wrong to me. 

Language is a powerful tool that shapes perceptions. Terms like “genocide” and “targeted” carry weight. Blaming Israel without acknowledging the actions of Hamas strikes me as a form of modern-day Holocaust denial. It strikes me as cruel from the perspective of an Israeli parent grieving their child or waiting anxiously for news about their child held captive in a cave with rapists. If an Israeli missile kills an innocent child in Gaza, I have no problem acknowledging the tragedy of this, and you won’t hear me say “They didn’t fire it”. Yet you are inclined to insist that Hamas did not use that child as a human shield? You can’t acknowledge the tragedy of that? 

If you think the events of October 7 didn’t happen, or that Israel exaggerated how bad it was, or that they orchestrated it or allowed it to happen, I think you need to look closer. Own Hamas or disown them. You can’t have it both ways. They can’t be terrorists when they force Palestinians to vote for them but freedom fighters when they attack Israel. You need to consider and comprehend (if that’s even possible for any of us) just how vicious, barbaric and cruel a slaughter this was. You are free to hold Israel and the IDF to the highest standards of ethical conduct. On that I support you. But if you are also having trouble condemning Hamas, or you can’t bring yourself to call them terrorists, then you need to make peace with Israel in your heart. Zionism is not your problem, Zionology is. (Zionology is an anti-Zionist and pro-Arab doctrine promulgated in the Soviet Union during the Cold War) 

Historical narratives like that of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” have been weaponized to advance hate against Israel. No one should want to be a part of that. Understanding this is crucial in deciphering the cognitive dissonance concerning the Gaza conflict. We have all had instances where our lizard brains turn on while our rational brains take a back seat; “protect the child, burn the snakes”. In that frame of mind, it becomes easy to turn other people into snakes, especially if that’s where the threat is coming from. 

The risk of cognitive dissonance is that we become so averse to evidence that contradicts our narrative that we start to willfully refuse to look at or accept it. At this point, we risk becoming the snake ourselves, often in the disguise of compassion. Recognizing the agency and responsibility of all parties in the conflict is a crucial step toward promoting a more nuanced and empathetic discourse. 

List of Conferences:

  • 1937 – Peel Commission
  • 1947 – UN Partition Plan
  • 1967 – Khartoum Summit (Arab leaders met in Khartoum to declare the “Three No’s”: No peace, no recognition, no talks)
  • 1991 – The Madrid Conference
  • 2000 – Camp David Summit
  • 2001 – Arab Summit
  • 2005 – Disengagement from Gaza
  • 2007 – Annapolis Conference
  • 2008 – Joint Peace Talks
  • 2013 – Joint Peace Talks 
  • 2019 – Bahrain Workshop
  • 2020 – Trump Peace Plan


Tablet Magazine: Mahmoud Abbas’ Dissertation

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.