After Raid, Israel And Flotilla Organizers Defend Themselves Online : The Two-Way Some thoughts on social media and the Israel raid.
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After Raid, Israel And Flotilla Organizers Defend Themselves Online

A screen grab from a video by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), filmed on the Mavi Marmara, posted on the YouTube channel for the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. YouTube hide caption

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Since Israel raided six vessels that attempted to break its blockade of Gaza, the country has used social media to fend off international criticism, to make its case widely and quickly.

Organizers of the so-called "Freedom Flotilla" have done the same thing.

On Danger Room, Wired magazine's national security blog, Noah Shachtman sifts through all of Israel's videos, blog posts and tweets.

"The Israeli government is hoping YouTube and Twitter can help restore its reputation after a botched raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla killed nine people" he writes.

So, will it work?

"Don't get your hopes up, Bibi," Shachtman concludes.

There's only so much a technological tactic can do after such a big strategic blunder. Besides, the folks on those ships had camera phones, too.

Yesterday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) used their YouTube channel to post several videos, each of which "meant to demonstrate that their troops acted responsibly — and that the people in the 'Free Gaza' flotilla were the hostile ones," he writes.

(We posted one yesterday, which purports to show a cache of weapons, found on one of the vessels.)

In The New York Times, Brian Stelter says the clips are part of "an aggressive effort by the Israeli military to better communicate its work to the public." Since the IDF joined YouTube in 2008, millions of people have watched its videos.

The demonstrators were media-savvy too, streaming video as they crossed international waters and approached Gaza.

In a blog post called "Israel Takes The Bait," George Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, says they had a clear understanding of how to promote their cause across media.

According to Packer, "Sunday night's incident showed again that the most powerful force in international relations today is neither standing armies nor diplomatic councils, but public opinion as shaped by media."

Images and clips of, and messages about, the raid have traveled far. Many eyes have seen them. But in spite of them, there is still widespread confusion. There are still many unanswered, fundamental questions: What happened? Why did the raid happen?

Stelter says that each discrete clip may lead to more confusion and less understanding.

"What is missing so far from the flotilla clips on both sides is context: it is difficult to establish the sequence of events or, more simply, to determine who attacked first," he writes. "The videos have made it all the more murky."