Denial of Hamas39 October 7 attack on Israel spreads.jpgw1440

Denial of Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel spreads – The Washington Post

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When Mirela Monte first heard of Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7, she was “horrified.” The South Carolina real estate agent and self-described holistic healer abhors violence and is horrified by war and human suffering.

But as Monte read more in Uncensored Truths, a Telegram group with 2,958 subscribers that actively covers foreign policy and the perceived dangers of vaccinations, her shock turned to anger. According to the forum, the news reports were false: Israel was secretly behind the massacre.

Monte now argues that the October 7 attack was a “false flag” staged by the Israelis – probably with the help of the Americans – to justify the genocide in Gaza. “Pure evil,” she said. “Israel is like a crazy dog ​​without a leash.”

The October 7 Hamas terrorist attack is among the best documented in history. A flood of evidence from smartphone cameras and GoPros documented Hamas's border breach – an attack that Israel said left around 1,200 dead, the deadliest attack in the country's history.

But the October 7 rejection is spreading. A small but growing group denies the basic facts of the attacks and spreads a range of falsehoods and misleading narratives that downplay the violence or dispute its origins. Some claim the ambush was staged by the Israeli military to justify an invasion of Gaza. Others say that about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza were actually kidnapped by Israel. Some claim that the United States is behind the conspiracy.

These untrue and misleading narratives were spread on social media, where hashtags linking Israel to “false flag” – a staged event that assigns blame to another party – proliferated in the weeks following the attacks on services such as TikTok, Reddit and 4chan have tripled, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute, a nonprofit that tracks disinformation.

It carries over into the real world: Protesters have shouted this claim at anti-Israel protests, justifying the removal of hostage posters in cities like London and Chicago. At a November city council meeting in Oakland, California, several residents disputed the accuracy of the attack.

“Israel murdered its own people on October 7,” said Christina Gutierrez, an analyst with the city’s housing authority, as some in the crowd shouted: “Anti-Semitism does not exist.” Gutierrez did not respond to requests for comment.

The phenomenon is worrying for Jewish leaders and researchers who see a connection with Holocaust denial, the attempt to undermine the genocide that killed six million Jews during World War II on-line. You also see parallels many harmful, internet-controlled Conspiracy theories with anti-Semitic tentacles, including the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims to use “globalists” – a reference, some say, to Jews the pandemic to control the world, and disinformation about the September 11 terrorist attack, which some fringe groups falsely claim was carried out by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency.

Anti-Semitism increased online. Then Elon Musk charged it.

“There is a built-in audience that wants to deny that Jews are victims of atrocities and promotes the idea that Jews are secretly behind everything,” said Joel Finkelstein, NCRI research director.

In Ukraine and other conflict zones, smartphones combined with the speed of social networks allow the public to witness events in real time, providing a sense of “ground truth” about distant incidents.

But social media is an equally powerful tool for distortion – and the internet has the unique power to erase and distort history.

The head of Hamas' international relations department, Basem Naim, has falsely claimed that the group “did not kill any civilians” when it attacked Israel on October 7, calling the claim “Israeli propaganda.” Such false claims are gaining traction in various online spaces.

“So the Hamas attack was essentially a false flag for Israel to occupy Gaza and kill Palestinians,” said a recent post on the Reddit forum r/LateStageCapitalism. “Expected behavior from would-be Nazis.”

LateStageCapitalism is a community of left-wing activists that describes itself as a “one-stop shop for evidence of our social, moral and ideological rot.” But the claim can also be found elsewhere online, including in anti-Israel publications like Electronic Intifada and GrayZone, as well as messaging groups like Monte's Uncensored Truths, which had previously focused on pandemic-related complaints about vaccines and conspiratorial ideas about “globalists.” the introduction of a so-called New World Order. Right-wing Holocaust deniers have also joined the claims.

All selected evidence – some factual, some highly distorted – to spread misleading narratives.

Israeli citizens have accused the country Military accidentally kills Israeli civilians fighting Hamas on October 7; The army has announced that it will launch an investigation. But articles on Electronic Intifada and Grayzone exaggerated these claims to suggest that most Israeli deaths were caused by friendly fire, not Hamas.

A Grayzone story quotes an Israeli helicopter pilot describing on October 7 the difficulty of distinguishing between civilians and Hamas. But the report distorts its statement, describing in Hebrew the dilemma of confronting so many terrorists, said Achiya Schatz, director of FakeReporter, an Israeli watchdog organization dedicated to combating disinformation and hate speech online.

A November Electronic Intifada article also argues that “most” of the Israeli casualties on October 7 were caused by the Israeli army, relying in part on a YouTube clip from a man who identified himself as a former Israeli general designated. The clip refers to these outside observations as “a confession.”

Ali Abunimah, executive director of Electronic Intifada, said in an email: “It appears that The Electronic Intifada's reach and success in debunking and exposing the type of pro-Israel propaganda routinely published by The Washington Post , now cause enough concern than you were.” I'm tasked with writing a hit that uses labels like “extreme left” and “anti-Israel” to try to distract your readers from our careful, factual “To distract from reporting.”

Holocaust deniers find new allies

Two weeks after Following the Hamas attack, filmmaker Aharon Keshales and his wife were taking a walk in London's Primrose Hill on Saturday when they saw a woman tearing down hostage posters on a local bridge.

The Israeli couple spoke with the woman, who said she was removing the posters because the people had not been kidnapped by Hamas, according to a video of the encounter reviewed by The Post. Keshales said he and his wife told the woman that even Hamas had admitted to taking hostages. The woman grabbed the posters and walked away, the video says.

Keshales said the incident — which has now been repeated in several cities, according to other videos posted on social media — disturbed him.

“Everyone takes sides in every conflict, and that’s okay. But blaming Israel is a lie,” he said. “Maybe it's easier to lie than to say, 'You got what you deserve.' Maybe it's psychologically easier than saying, 'I hate you.'”

Influencers who question the Holocaust are also among those sowing doubt on October 7th.

“Although it may seem at times, I don't actually have a problem with the Jews,” said Owen Benjamin, a comedian who promotes far-right and anti-Semitic content, in a November post on X. “It's just the insane Holocaust “Narrative and fake war atrocities forced on us as Americans by Israel need constant resistance,” he wrote, in an apparent reference to the October 7 atrocities.

The current conflict is also helping Holocaust deniers find potential new allies: Neo-Nazis have appeared at pro-Palestinian rallies in several states and have used the opportunity to propagate anti-Semitic phrases, analysts say. And they have used conspiratorial rhetoric that appeals to different audiences: Dan Hanley, who leads an organization that claims there were no Muslim terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks, posted on both the 9/11 false flag in November as well as October 7th.”

Benjamin and Hanley did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Researchers warn that the Oct. 7 conspiracy theories could follow a similar path to Holocaust denial, which declined a decade ago before social media platforms spurred a resurgence.

The election of former President Donald Trump — who fanned the flames of white nationalism with his defense of a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville — along with slightly moderated Tech services like Telegram, Discord and Gab have breathed new life into Holocaust denial, said Oren Segal, vice president of the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League. Mainstream platforms like Facebook and YouTube, the have until recently permitted such content within their guidelines, also played a role.

The platforms have allowed extremists to get their ideas in front of more people by replacing swastikas with more universally palatable internet memes like “Pepe the Frog.”

This newer form of anti-Semitism has led a generation of young people to deny the Holocaust. According to a YouGov/Economist poll conducted the first week of December, one in five American adults under 30 say they agree that “Holocaust is a myth.” More than a fifth say the Holocaust has been exaggerated.

The long trail of Holocaust denial is a lesson for what could happen with Oct. 7, said Emerson Brooking, resident fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, a nonpartisan think tank — despite extensive real-time documentation of the attacks. Extremists would lure people who are genuinely concerned about atrocities in Gaza, where over 24,000 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli invasion, down a rabbit hole of conspiracies and misleading information, he said.

“It is generally undeniable that Hamas has done something – the pro-Hamas camp cannot completely erase that. But they can keep chipping away at it, and over time history will be rewritten,” said Brooking, co-author of the book “Likewar: The Weaponization of Social Media.”

Researchers found that the erasure of historical memory by online tacticians is not limited to the Holocaust. In both Brazil and Argentina, right-wing groups have used disinformation campaigns to question established facts about human rights violations under the military dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s. Popular YouTube influencers who support Argentina's far-right President Javier Milei are increasingly arguing that the military's torture and disappearance of tens of thousands of political opponents during that time did not take place, according to human rights group Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. recently asked Google to remove the content.

Finkelstein said conspiracy theories about Oct. 7 are beginning to merge into the tumult rocking U.S. universities over the war. On Grayzone called it an “artificial campus anti-Semitism crisis.”

While it is reasonable to question the Israeli government's intentions and war tactics, Finkelstein said, attempts to blame Israel for October 7 are part of a broader strategy by anti-Semitic extremists to undermine Jewish suffering.

“First you have to prove that your enemies are not really victims or oppressed,” he said. “If your enemies are victims or oppressed, your worldview doesn’t make sense.”