About eleven years have passed since the Israeli raid on the “Mavi Marmara” fleet in the Mediterranean, which consisted of three ships carrying human rights activists (1) from different countries, aiming to deliver supplies to the Palestinians, and to achieve a symbolic victory by reaching the largest open prison In the world, the “Gaza Strip”, but the ships were surrounded by the Israeli occupation army in international waters, before it attacked them. Meanwhile, nine human rights activists were killed, and others were seriously injured, one of whom lost his life after a short period.
What was striking about this incident was Israel’s anger at the international criticism, which was originally very slight given the scale of violence it committed against peaceful activists, while the Israelis were portraying the bloody military attack against these civilians as a “legitimate act of self-defense”, Indeed, some Israeli newspapers – such as Yedioth Ahronoth – described the incident as “an ambush by the Israeli commando forces”, and it was said that these jihadist activists came to fight and be killed (2). But did you know that what happened was not unique or unprecedented? In fact, Israel is a very adept country at playing the victim, and it does so every time, to divert attention from its crimes.
The “victim complex” or “victim mentality” is a personality trait of those who believe that they are always victims of harmful actions by others, even when they are made aware of evidence to the contrary (3). The role of the victim in Israel derives much of its content from Jewish collective memory, especially the Holocaust or the Holocaust. But the victim mentality is not only a personality disorder, but also has social, political and legal aspects (4) that began to be recognized decades ago, and standards related to victimology, which studies the psychological effects of crime and the relationship between victims and the perpetrator (5), have been introduced into the international arenas (5). Studies of political conflicts.
The Israeli occupation uses the victim card brilliantly every time it is criticized, the role of the victim itself has many multiple tactics that are used in proportion to the situation, and there are many ways in which the mentality of the victim serves a nation or group of people, and groups involved in creating conflicts in particular ( 6), where the mentality of the victim provides an uninterrupted flow of explanations related to the conflict between them and the enemy, an Israeli child will not ask why they are fighting the Palestinians, for example, because he is aware that he is the victim of a brutal aggression from the intrusive Arabs who refuse to leave “the land of his fathers”.
On the other hand, victimhood provides a moral justification for acts of violence that are seen as “preventing further harm.” It contributes to the consolidation of group differentiation and superiority by portraying competitors as vile or violent, while making our own group perfect and flawless. The victim mentality strengthens collective solidarity by emphasizing potential dangers to the survival of the group, which in turn reinforces love and belonging to one’s country.
Finally, the collective victim helps the group gain international support, which is the most important goal in the case of the Israeli occupation, as happened in 2010 when activists were killed on board the Mavi Marmara ship, when they were described in the Hebrew newspapers as “jihadists” and “terrorists”, even though they They never carried weapons, on the other hand, Israel was only defending itself, despite the fact that it killed them defenseless in front of everyone’s hearing.
Yet despite all this, the political literature often ignores the potential dangers of a victim mentality (7). Diane Innes, the American philosopher, warns that a victim mentality is “capable of committing any degree of violence that would never be condoned” (8) (9) Because of this, she advocates scrutiny of the victim’s status, she argues that we rarely question the moral authority we confer on victim groups, and that’s a big problem.
In fact, although the essence of Herzl’s vision and Zionism was to rid Jews of a mentality of victim and passivity, it gave these narratives greater impetus in the name of collective memory, and was used to legitimize and justify Israel’s wars and policies against Arabs, and Palestinians in particular, as well as to garner support from the international community.
In this context, the Holocaust was a major component. The message in general was that the metaphor “l’olam lo od” (never again) also applied to the Palestinians. In a clearer sense, the Holocaust will not be allowed to happen again at the hands of pagans or Germans, or this time Palestinians, and thus the reference to Holocaust victims has become a discursive tool of political legitimacy, used precisely to justify military operations and the suppression and killing of Palestinians for Israel’s right to “security” on its own terms own (10).
In that view, prior victimization can generate a sense of entitlement (11), and is used to evade blame after any wrongdoing (12). In this way, the victim identity of a group is not only an undesirable consequence of a tragic past, but a useful state in which they can realize broader aspirations for the future.
Today, the identity of the victim permeates all sides of Israeli life, especially in the arts and media. Because it carries a cultural and promotional symbolism. Consider, for example, the Israeli-Jewish slogans: “The Mossad will never fall again,” which embraces the religion of victim hood, which applies even to national anthems.
Paradoxically, both the Palestinian and Israeli anthems revolve around “the Resurrection,” but it is expressed differently. The Israeli national anthem, “hatikvah” (Hope), still speaks of the “oppressed” Jew “seeking hope” from victimization (13), and is a narrative text that repeatedly relives the trauma associated with collective memory, thus continuing to solidify a commitment The group’s primary discourse, which is the discourse of the victim (14).
Similar narratives are known to have been used in war propaganda (15), for example before the genocide in Rwanda, and during World War I, at that point let’s consider one of the videos circulating on Twitter, where victimization is used “strategically” in order to obtain On international support, not once or twice, you can find on social media tons of well-crafted stories to play the same role.
When MK Ayelet Shaked shared a post on her Facebook account (16) saying that Palestinian mothers should follow their sons to death or they will raise more “little snakes”, Israelis were gathering on hilltops in the border town of Sderot chanting with popcorn and drinks in their hands. , taking selfies while watching the army drop bombs on Gaza in the background, killing mothers and their children. In order to justify this kind of heinous act, the Israeli newspapers entrenched the message that there are no innocent civilians in Gaza (17).
Israel is aware of the importance of gaining the sympathy of countries for its position, so it has devoted its efforts to creating documented accounts such as “ Stand with us ” for this matter, but social platforms are not a place for Israel and its supporters alone. It caused a major breach in the Israeli victim’s narrative. Indeed, employing anti-Antisemitism as a card to terrorize all critics of Israel has become the subject of much criticism today.
The video of the robber settler “Yacoub” gained wide circulation on the Internet, and then a video of Israelis dancing next to Al-Aqsa Mosque after trees were burned by the occupation forces spread , and in the meantime, the mentality of the victim of the occupation was not helped in the face of the effects of media materials that flowed online from everywhere and spread. With great speed, at that time, Israel did not have to use its alternative plan that it used repeatedly, which is to muzzle the mouths of media professionals and activists by arresting them, most recently Al-Jazeera correspondent Guevara Al-Budairi, and Jerusalem activist Mona Al-Kurd.
In emails from 14 TV stations, newspapers, radio stations and news sites in Israel, seen by Reuters (18), the occupation media said that threats and hate speech globally have escalated in recent weeks, especially during the 11-day conflict with “Palestinian militants.” In their words, they demanded that social media remove all hateful content. Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz rose up to ask Facebook and TikTok to remove posts he said might encourage violence from their sites. He stated that “these are measures that would directly prevent acts of violence that are intentionally motivated via social media by extremist elements that seek to harm our country,” adding: “We are in a moment of social emergency, and we expect your help” (19).
As for Dr. Gabriel Weiman from the University of Haifa in the occupied territories (20), he said that what happened in May 2021 on the Internet and so far “is not an equal war,” and told the BBC: “On the Israeli side you see a counter-flow, I must say it is less Strong, not regulated at all, and if you ask me, less convincing,” he said, adding, “Maybe because in Israel no one thought TikTok would be a strong or important platform.”
It is clear that Israel itself was surprised by the revolution that swept the communication sites against its brutal and violent actions, but this did not mean that the “victim” card was completely absent, as Netanyahu kept repeating his weak argument of “self-defense” (21) to sympathize with the international community, but the card The victim this time had the opposite effect. Instead of strengthening solidarity among the Israelis, it raised more panic among their ranks. Note, for example, this Israeli boy who expresses his fear for his personal safety, warning those who want to come to Israel that these raging fires are what waiting for him!
The identity of the victim, then, can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is an important tool for elites to defend themselves, receive international support, and strengthen community solidarity. But during a war, military engagement poses a threat to the future security of society, so the use of victims’ claims becomes dangerous, and may not only paralyze the morale of the belligerent forces and citizens, but also enhance the mental state of the opponent.
Israel has an exemplary criminal record of an alleged victim capable of committing the most severe violence to the extent that it has received three times as much international criticism as any other country at the United Nations in 2020 (22). Despite this, supporters of Israel continue to condemn any international criticism of the violence practiced by the occupying authorities, arguing that they are defending themselves. In the past, this game has been around the world for a long time, but its success becomes doubtful when the world sees you every day killing people, arresting them and stealing their homes, live in all media outlets, and on the Internet. Therefore, it is certain that trying to silence Palestinians in the digital age will be like The bear will try to climb the tree, because eventually it will fall on its nose.