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Blinken blames social media for Israel’s failed PR on Gaza conflict

Facts get lost and emotions dominate on the internet, the US Secretary of State has said

Social media is partially responsible for the widespread international criticism of Israel’s conduct during its military campaign in Gaza, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has suggested.

The top American diplomat made the comment during an exchange with Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) at the McCain Institute’s 2024 Sedona Forum in Sedona, Arizona on Friday.

Romney asked Blinken why “the PR [has] been so awful” for Israel amid the conflict in Gaza. “Why has [Palestinian armed group] Hamas disappeared in terms of public perception? An offer is on the table to have a ceasefire, and yet the world is screaming about Israel,” he said. “Typically, the Israelis are good at PR. What’s happened here?” Romney said.

The Secretary of State recalled that when he started working in Washington in the early 1990s “everyone did the same thing,” which was reading newspapers like The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, and watching national news networks to get information about world events.

But now, in the 2020s, “we are on an intravenous feed of information with new impulses, inputs every millisecond” and social media “has dominated the narrative,” he said.

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“And you have a social media ecosystem environment in which context, history, facts get lost, and the emotion, the impact of images dominates. And we can’t – we can’t discount that, but I think it also has a very, very, very challenging effect on the narrative,” Blinken suggested.

However, he also stressed that another reason for Israel’s bad PR was the “the inescapable reality of people who have and continue to suffer grievously in Gaza. And that’s real and we have to… be focused on that and attentive to that.”

Israel has faced harsh criticism from the international community due to the high number of civilian casualties during its attacks in the enclave over the past seven months. In March, UN experts ruled that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe that “genocide” was being committed in the Palestinian enclave.

In recent weeks, colleges across the US have been gripped by pro-Palestinian protests, which have been marred by clashes with police and resulted in several thousand people being detained.


READ MORE: Pro-Palestine protesters disrupt college commencement ceremony (VIDEOS)

Israel launched its military operation in Gaza in response to a October 7 cross-border incursion by Hamas, in which at least 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage. According to the enclave’s health ministry, more than 34,683 Palestinians have so far been killed and 78,018 others wounded in the IDF’s airstrikes and ground offensive.

 

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