By Ali Abunimah
This article was published in The Electronic Intifada on Dec. 4.
Israel and its proxies have launched a new media blitz, reviving unverified claims that Hamas fighters perpetrated mass rapes of Israeli women during its Oct. 7 military operation.
Despite blanket coverage, Israel does not claim to have identified any specific victim of such crimes, nor produced any videos or forensic evidence corroborating that they took place.
On The Electronic Intifada livestream, we dissected this propaganda campaign and showed how it is being fronted by operatives close to the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(Watch the video at youtube.com/watch?v=pMqRK5LpGy4)
We explain how this is a deceptive campaign based not on evidence but emotional manipulation, outlandish claims, distortion and an appeal to racist notions that Palestinians are inherently violent and cruel.
It fits in with a long history of colonizers portraying colonized or enslaved people as savage brutes predisposed to sexual violence against white or settler women.
As the Jim Crow Museum observes, the longstanding “brute caricature portrays Black men as innately savage, animalistic, destructive and criminal — deserving punishment, maybe death. … The ‘terrible crime’ most often mentioned in connection with the Black brute was rape, specifically the rape of a white woman. At the beginning of the 20th century, much of the virulent, anti-Black propaganda that found its way into scientific journals, local newspapers and best-selling novels focused on the stereotype of the Black rapist.”
These stereotypes justified state violence against, and control of, Black people and “soothed white consciences.”
There’s a similar and equally sinister dynamic to Israeli propaganda now targeting Palestinians. Its purpose is to demonize them and soften up public opinion to tolerate or support Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza.
On Monday [Dec. 4], Hamas condemned Western media for going along with “misleading Zionist campaigns that promote lies and baseless allegations,” including the claims of rape and sexual assault by its fighters.
The resistance group added that the latest campaign is “part of a series of lies propagated by the Zionist propaganda machine” which has consistently made false claims such as “the beheading of children, the targeting of revelers at the concert in the settlement of Re’im and not the least of which is the lie of using al-Shifa hospital for military purposes.”
This article is slightly edited.