As is the case with most genocides and attempted genocides, conspiracy theories are rapidly gaining ground with regard to the 7 October massacre.
What is being alleged is that either Hamas’ 7 October attack did not happen, or the terrorists did not kill as many people as Israel reports, or not in the way claimed, or not on purpose. These absurd claims are compounded by
many even pointing the finger at the Israeli government and military, suggesting a false flag operation.
Similarly, right after 9/11, voices began to emerge blaming the US government for it, even though the terrorist attack was well documented. (Note: 7 October was the third largest terrorist attack ever in terms of loss of life. The first was 9/11, the second was the Islamic State’s massacre of an Iraqi recruit at Camp Speicher in June 2014). Holocaust denial is still a phenomenon today, even though the perpetrators have left a staggering amount of evidence that fills entire archives.
What is shocking about the denial of the massacre is that Hamas broadcast its atrocities live, sometimes even posting on the victims’ social media pages from their stolen smartphones, to send a message to Israel with the horrific images. Yet following the attack, Hamas’ political leadership denied that it had killed civilians, including children, in its attacks on Israel, with an official statement rejecting the ‘fabricated allegations’ and the ‘Zionist narrative’.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, a leading member of Hamas,
was even interviewed by The Economist, where he said that his organization had no plans to kill civilians.
Despite the fact that the atrocities were not denied at all by the terrorists themselves—only by Hamas’ political leadership—the phenomenon of denial has begun to take hold in the West.
On 28 October, Piers Corbyn—brother of former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn—denied in a statement that Hamas had committed atrocities: ‘It was a lie, a lie, a lie —and the Israeli government admits it was a lie…There’s no evidence of this stuff. The whole thing was a set-up from start to finish to justify an invasion and take the oil. And destroy Palestine and make an Israeli superstate.’ Corbyn even claimed the Israeli corpses were impersonated by actors.
Roger Waters, the co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd—and a notorious critic of Israel— refused to admit in an interview that the 7 October massacre by Hamas had taken place.
In the US, the Yale University student newspaper, Yale News, removed the sentence that Hamas had beheaded people from an article, saying it was not true.
Meanwhile, the Russian propaganda machine has also turned against Israel. They are pushing the narrative that Israel itself was responsible for the massacre. Again, the claim is utterly bizarre, since Hamas has left a sea of evidence against itself and proudly claimed responsibility for the attack, but the slogans and articles are obviously designed to confuse the uninformed. Particularly preposterous are the arguments that Hamas would not be capable of beheading children or adults—it should be added that Palestinian terrorists have killed or beheaded Israeli babies in the past, which the Hamas press has also celebrated, calling the killings ‘heroic’.
Twitter and TikTok have also been flooded with content denying Hamas’ actions.
The reason could be Twitter’s apparent lack of control and the presence of paid trolls, and TikTok’s suspected Chinese state influence. Several videos of protests in major Western cities have been posted, with anti-Israeli protesters shouting that Hamas has not killed civilians.
Meanwhile, polls show that almost half of young Americans agree with Hamas in this war, so one can suspect that the phenomenon of denial is having an effect. Obviously (or rather, hopefully?), if they were better informed, they would not support a terrorist organization in such proportions.
An interesting question is whether releasing all the footage and photos would make any difference. Benjamin Netanyahu himself has posted a partially blurred photo of the body of an Israeli baby on his official Twitter page. Israel has also created a website to document the massacre.
It is questionable whether this will convince those who are doubtful.
What it has achieved is that it has generated hateful comments. When US political commentator Ben Shapiro re-posted the photo published by Netanyahu, anti-Semites on Twitter started re-posting photos of well-done steaks, mocking the victims. The situation can be summed up like this: there is a group of people who will demand photos of Jewish victims and then, when they get them, rejoice in the fact of the killings.
Meanwhile, one cannot forget that there is obviously a benign, uninformed majority that can be persuaded by either side, and Israel must not give up the possibility of persuasion. In the meantime, it must also be seen that there are those who will never be persuaded: activists who are probably aware of Hamas’s actions but are nevertheless attacking Israel as part of the propaganda war that is currently being waged.