The images dominating the global media-political scene in November are no longer those of the Israeli victims of the Hamas terrorist attack of October 7. They are those of the immense devastation of Gaza after a month of Israeli aerial bombardments, those of the decimated Palestinian families, those of their hospitals which lack everything, those of the million displaced on the roads.
The number of civilian casualties in Gaza is now in five figures; UNWRA alone, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, lost more than a hundred agents in the bombings.
Faced with this spectacle, the countries of the global South are outraged and are up in arms against America, accused of having delivered bombs to Israel and letting its protégé give free rein to his desire for revenge.
In the Muslim world, Sunnis and Shiites, who had been at loggerheads for twenty years, have reconciled to defend the Palestinians and accuse Israel of “aggression in Gaza”, while ignoring the trigger from Hamas Islamists.
The President of Iran, leading country of the Shiite world, was, on November 11, in Saudi Arabia, leading country of the Sunni world, on the occasion of an extraordinary summit of the OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) dedicated to Gaza.
In Asia, on the morning of November 13, the blue and white flag of the United Nations was lowered in the main capitals (including in countries allied to America such as Japan and Thailand), the day after the announcement by the UN of a significant number of deaths and injuries in the bombing of the headquarters of the UN development program (UNDP) in Gaza.
Giving a bad image of itself is not in the long-term interest of Israel, an open democracy, committed to commercial and cultural exchanges with all civilisations on the planet, starting with the Arab-Muslim world around it.
Thanks to the Abraham Accords, the Jewish state had made considerable progress, which is now suspended.
But looking after Israel’s international image is not among the priorities of its current prime minister. Before the war, Netanyahu’s power hung by a thread, due to suspicions of corruption targeting him, and his attacks on the independence of the judiciary, which had provoked a large part of Israeli youth against him.
The objective interest of the Prime Minister, having made an alliance with the nationalist extreme right and the orthodox religious people, is for the war to last as long as possible. He lets extremist Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank humiliate its Arab inhabitants on a daily basis, because his hidden objective, by making their lives impossible, is to push them out towards Jordan.
But Netanyahu’s interest, which relates to his personal situation, is absolutely not that of America. Joe Biden does not seem to have understood this.
The American president seems not to have understood that, in contemporary conflicts, information warfare counts as much, if not more, than bombs. In the short term, the IDF will win its asymmetrical war against Hamas.
The Israeli army, through a well-thought-out envelopment movement over the northern half of the Gaza Strip, will destroy the tunnels and weapons stocks of the Islamic Resistance and kill some of its fighters. But the United States will lose the global information war.
The images of Gaza, because they fiercely resemble those of Mariupol, constitute so much ammunition for countries critical of the West, which reproach it for its hypocrisy and its policy of double standards in terms of international sanctions.
Unwittingly, out of sheer clumsiness, Joe Biden gave Vladimir Putin a magnificent gift.
The Russian president noted the stalling of his army in the Donbass and the running out of steam in his hybrid war against the West. The Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, which Russia did not see coming, was a blessing for the Kremlin.
This diverted world attention and derailed US aid to Ukraine. On November 2, the House of Representatives voted for military aid to Israel of $14.3 billion. But they refused to allocate four times more aid to Ukraine, which the White House also demanded.
Joe Biden, during his visit to Israel, should have advised his ally not to bomb a territory as populated as Gaza so intensely. Targeted ground incursions – which the IDF finally seems to favor – are much more effective militarily.
And, above all, they do not weaken the Western front in the global information war.
This post first appeared in Le Figaro in November.