For a long time, war has not stopped at the events of confrontation in the field of fire, blood, destruction, and devastation, which are formulated in news broadcast by various media outlets, and stories told by the combatants. Rather, it extends to images that grow from the womb of reality, or engineered by skilled minds in love with propaganda and its creation.
In ancient centuries, before the invention of the camera, war generals would take painters with them to draw what was happening. If there was a victory, they would send the pictures for people in the country to see and be reassured that their army was victorious.
Image and victory industry
The presence of the image in war was strengthened with the invention of the camera, and it advanced to occupy a large part of defining or acknowledging victory. In fact, there were entire wars in which this victory was declared by the party capable of making the image, exporting it, and controlling its flow. The first of these was the Second Gulf War, which the coalition forces launched against… Iraq to expel it from Kuwait in 1991, during which CNN dominated minds and imaginations.
The image became part of the victory equation, or an element of its complex calculations, and its presence, whether spontaneous or planned, began to have an important impact on the conduct of battles, and then on the consequences resulting from them in the short and long term. Due to the image’s ability to remain embedded in the mind and its openness to multiple interpretations that benefit the one who makes it or the one who exploits it consciously and competently.
Of course, this matter was not hidden from the leaders of Israel, and those who run its ever-evolving propaganda apparatus, so on October 7th, they released a fictional image, through an oral narrative, when they spoke of beheaded Israeli children, and women with split chests and ruptured bellies.
US President John Biden himself said this, quoting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the international media competed to film what no one had seen.
People wondered about the image that was described without anyone showing it before their eyes, and this was not something that was palatable in a time of the invasion of images and the ease of their circulation, so it fell into Biden’s hands.
Biden returned his confusion to Netanyahu, and he had no choice but to continue lying, to present a different picture to the eyes. He said: It was of a charred child, but many people discredited it with what communication technologies enabled them to be able to verify, and then all of this was quickly swept away in the pictures. The painful rain that fell from Gaza like black rain.
In its hand, Israel lost the battle of image in its aggression against Gaza three times in a row, while the resistance won it twice, and its gain was doubled when what Tel Aviv failed in was added to it. This is an issue that has not been achieved for the Palestinians since the Stone Intifada that broke out in 1987. Rather, this time it is faster and more elegant. In light of the communications revolution, which turned the whole world into one room.
The image was abundantly present in the Israeli aggression on Gaza, and it was the most moving of feelings and minds. Because we are in the era of the image, it has become overwhelming, and because it alone, and in itself, crosses languages, dialects, and cultures. Pictures taken from the heart of Gaza have become prevalent, especially of martyred, wounded, or burned children. Followed by pictures of bombed hospitals, as well as schools, mosques, churches and homes.
These pictures have no need for millions of words that explain what is happening, and make those who have an eye to see, a mind to understand, and a conscience to judge, able to distinguish between things, and know where the aggressor is, and where the attacked is? Where is the owner of the right, and where is the one who digests it?
Then came the moment of the exchange of prisoners to completely distinguish between the two warring factions, and it revealed many things that are kept silent, or actively excluded from the ears and eyes of the world. The resistance, which is described as terrorism, treats its Israeli prisoners and others whom it has released in a manner with the utmost respect, humility and kindness, while the occupation treats those it forcibly removed from its prisons with the utmost cruelty, harshness and provocation, prevents their families from celebrating or celebrating them, and threatens them themselves with arrest and imprisonment.
The image of prisoners emerging from a raid is accompanied by waving hands, warm handshakes, smiles and grateful looks. Rather, we saw this woman writing a letter in Hebrew in which she said to the resistance: “Thank you for treating my daughter like a queen.”
We saw this woman accompanying her dog, which was detained with her, and how he also came out without anything missing from his body. Rather, the understanding people considered it evidence of the comfort and reassurance that the prisoners found, because it is not possible for a dog to represent relief or fake it temporarily to get through a difficult situation as humans do.
The picture of the prisoners released from Israeli prisons was the opposite. The children and women of Palestine came out of the cells with peace of mind, their faces exhausted, and even if they smiled in the face of their families, they were crying tears of sadness for their brothers whom they left behind to face types of terrible torture in prison.
Change in the Western mentality
The comparison between the two scenes led many in the east and west of the earth to form an impression not only about the conduct of the war, but also about the difference in character, and the difference in endurance, between the occupation forces and the resistance, and between the “settlers” and the “besieged.” We even found those wondering about religious belief. What makes a people be patient and bear such severe harm? This is what made an Irish girl link Islam with the strength of endurance, and an American woman saw that God is present among the Palestinians, and then said in excitement: If there was a God, the Palestinians and Muslims would be his chosen people.
The photographic and televised image carried by social media led to changing an aspect of the “mental image” of many citizens in the West, which had been perpetuated by Orientalist visions, Zionist and Israeli propaganda, and the traditional media that expressed the dominant political forces in Europe and the United States for a long time.
The Palestinians win
This change that came as a result of the “Al-Aqsa Flood” can deepen and expand if two basic conditions are met:
1 – The ability of the Palestinians to maintain the bright image that was created for them, an essential part of which was built on Israel’s excessive aggression, and another part on the behavior of the Palestinian people by showing endurance, patience and steadfastness, as we saw with the man who was bidding farewell to his granddaughter and described her as “the spirit of the soul,” or the behavior of resistance. Through condescension and tolerance, according to what happened at the moment the prisoners were handed over to the Red Cross.
At this point, we must pay attention to ensure that the Palestinians themselves do not commit any action in the future that harms this image, and creates an opportunity for Israel to insult it and regain the initiative in the battle of mental image.
2 – The ability of supporters of the Palestinian cause to dispel the propaganda rebound attack that Israel began to implement, and began to restrict the gatekeepers or platform owners, as happened with Elon Musk, owner of the “X” platform, and then go to academic, traditional and social media institutions, and recruit electronic flies, And content makers on the Internet, in order to improve the image, or restore the image that has been proven to be shiny due to fake paint.
The Palestinians have won the image battle, benefiting from the mistakes of their enemy, and from the efforts of their sympathizers on the six continents of the world, but for this momentum to remain strong and effective, it requires an organized effort over time, upon which an organized and cohesive institution or group is established, qualified to exercise this role in the best possible way. So that the image remains vibrant with the just cause of the Palestinians.