"The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. " – Che Guevara
It is widely assumed, by both Pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis, that an Egyptian-drafted ceasefire was inaugurated in July 2014, before the Israel-Hamas Summer conflict. The outcome of the supposed ceasefire’s proposition was supposedly an acceptance by Israel, along with a rejection by Hamas on the grounds that they were not at all consulted when the terms of the ceasefire were made.
Pro-Israelis argue that Hamas initiated the war by virtue of them rejecting this alleged ceasefire; pro-Palestinians, such as Jonathan Cook, argue that the lack of consultation reveals the ceasefire to have been a deceitful US-Israeli diktat created to initiate the conflict.
Although the narrative of there being ceasefire without Hamas consultation provides a platform upon which both parties are able to make their cases on who initiated the conflict, the reality is that neither are right. Analyzing the two media sources that first reported the existence of this alleged Egyptian ceasefire, I will argue that both the narratives of both the ceasefire creation and that of Israeli acceptance and Hamas rejection are myths propagated by Israeli propaganda, not only to justify Israel’s siege on Gaza but to also render arguments to justify Hamas rejection into conformity with wider Israeli propaganda narrative.
The Announcement, Acceptance & Rejection
The latter episode of the Egyptian ceasefire narrative is its alleged public announcement and reception from Israel and Hamas, which was first reported on July 14th in a Guardian article, and later updated on July 15th. The article begins with a picture of Egyptian president Abdel El-Sisi delivering a speech in Cairo, which from the onset − when seen in conjunction with the article title’s narrative of Israel approving an Egyptian ceasefire proposal − dupes the reader into presupposing that this particular photo is one of him announcing the alleged ceasefire.
But despite this photo being the visual focal point of the article’s title, the columnists make no textual reference to Sisi at all in any point in the article, much less that they quote his supposed speech on the ceasefire as one would expect.
The alleged ceasefire itself is described by the article as a “text”, as opposed to an empty proposition. Logically, of course, two factions could not respond to a ceasefire without constitutional terms. But the article’s citation of the Egyptian foreign ministry on a supposed truce provides a different narrative:
“A statement from the Egyptian foreign ministry called on “Israel and all Palestinian factions to immediately enforce a ceasefire, in view of the fact that escalation and mutual violence … is not in the interest of either party””.
So here we have a contradiction between the “text” of the “Egyptian-brokered ceasefire” that the article reports at the beginning, which Israel and Hamas supposedly later reject or accept, and what was actually said by Egyptian officials.
The excerpt quotes the Egyptian foreign ministry “calling on” Israel and Hamas to enforce a ceasefire between themselves – in other words, encouraging that there be a ceasefire to be implemented. But contrary to the article’s narrative, the foreign ministry makes no reference to Egypt having actualised their own ceasefire, for Israel and Hamas to respond to.
It seems to be either a case of deceit or one of bad journalism that The Guardian, given two of the article’s author’s supposedly being in Cairo, would quote the foreign ministry calling for a ceasefire, yet not quote their narrative on any specific Egyptian ceasefire that the article’s alleges to have been proposed.
So initially the article justifies the ceasefire announcement narrative by quoting those alleged to have drafted it − but remember the remark made by the Egyptian foreign ministry to call on a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that is the only statement cited by the article to create this justification.
To then propagate the narrative of the alleged ceasefire’s reception, the article quotes statements given by figures from Hamas, but deceitfully twists these statements into being reactions to the supposed truce.
One such figure quoted is a Hamas spokesperson in an interview with Agence France-Presse. The article states just before the excerpt that the spokesperson reported “no agreement had been reached despite the Egyptian proposal,” but the excerpt itself days something different:
“There are efforts and communications on the issue of a truce deal but until now there is nothing final … Efforts are being made by various parties, particularly the Egyptians, but in a weak manner.”
So the Hamas spokesperson stated that in spite of communications and efforts being made by certain delegates (including Egypt) no truce had been made, but contrary to the article’s narrative on this statement, the spokesperson gives no reference to any specific Egyptian proposal. He merely says that Egypt has been involved in communications, which one can assume would be the foreign minister recommending a ceasefire to be drawn between Israel and Hamas. The reason why this can be assumed is because the spokesperson describes efforts made by both Egypt and other parties as being “in a weak manner”, making it more likely that actual ceasefire conditions were never proposed by either Egypt or the other “various parties”.
A second alleged Hamas reaction to the supposed ceasefire that the article reports is the following:
“[T]he al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, earlier appeared to reject the text, calling it “an initiative of kneeling and submission” and declaring the battle would continue.”
“Appeared” is the controvertible word here. Despite Peter Beaumont − one of the article’s authors – supposedly being in Gaza, it’s odd that he wouldn’t go to verify this alleged rejection by Hamas. And remember, the Egyptian foreign ministry was not quoted to have posited their own ceasefire text.
Referencing external Palestinian figures further, Fatah president Mahmoud Abbas is quoted saying “It is clear we need urgent concerted international action to secure a ceasefire, as was the case in 2012.” But again, no explicit reference to any Egyptian ceasefire having been posited.
The article bolsters the narrative of external acknowledgement of this alleged ceasefire further by quoting a Washington spokesperson commenting, “We welcome Egypt’s call for a ceasefire and hope this will lead to the restoration of calm as soon as possible.”
The spokesperson’s reference to Egypt’s “call” for a ceasefire is indeed compatible with the quote from the Egyptian foreign ministry, but in both quotations the narrative of calling for a ceasefire is not compatible with the article’s narrative of there having been an accomplished “Egyptian-brokered ceasefire” that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected.
The article earlier quotes political analyst Issandr el-Amrani describing Egypt as wanting “to get recognized by the international community for playing its role” in the Israel-Palestine crisis, but again we see conflicting discourses: Amrani does not state Egypt having proposed their own ceasefire, thus his narrative is consistent with the Egyptian foreign ministry’s quoted statement on a ceasefire being encouraged, along with the Hamas spokesperson’s narrative of “weak” efforts being made by Egypt. But Amrani’s statement is not consistent with the article’s narrative of an existent ceasefire.
Ostensibly, The Guardian article’s fabrication of a ceasefire works through deceitful manipulation of quotations pertaining to the active, but nonetheless inert, effort of Egypt in calling for a ceasefire to take place, and dressing them as reports of reactions to Egypt actually creating a ceasefire. Thus the latter part of the narrative of the ceasefire proposal – its announcement and reception – is created.
The other feature of the Egyptian ceasefire narrative is its creation, obviously preceding its announcement. This part of the narrative was first reported in a Haaretz article by Israeli columnist Barak Ravid, published two days after The Guardian article.
In order to convince the reader into accepting the announcement part of the narrative, Ravid reports an alleged meeting that had taken place between Blair and Sisi – a meeting which Ravid reports was the conference to begin drafting the ceasefire. He begins the article by including the following picture of Blair and Sisi in a meeting on the Israeli-Gaza crisis:
Like the image used in The Guardian article, the reader is duped into the narrative that the article’s title states. In the case of Ravid’s article, the narrative is that Blair and Sisi drafted a ceasefire, but a discussion on a ceasefire is not necessarily what the photo depicts (although I’m the sure the loving hearts of British war criminals and Egyptian dictators everywhere profusely bleed for the well-being of Gazan civilians).
Ravid states that diplomatic sources informed Haaretz of secret discussions that had taken place between Blair, Kerry, Netanyahu Sisi. But the controversy of these sources arises from the fact that they’re anonymous, yet all evidence of alleged ceasefire plans in this article is provided by them.
We seemingly find ourselves at an obstacle in assessing the truth of this article, given that it cites secret diplomatic sources, the veracity of which no one can either prove or disprove. But one we way in which we can detect the dubiousness of this article’s narrative is how a reader might cite it as evidence for pro-Palestinian vindication.
This article adds to The Guardian article’s narrative on the reception of the alleged ceasefire in this excerpt, which inheres a hidden feature shared by all forms of Israeli propaganda:
“Senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats said the reason the Egyptian cease-fire initiative was so short-lived is that it was prepared hastily and was not coordinated with all the relevant parties, particularly Hamas.”
As previously stated, Ravid does not tell us who these sources are. But this particular excerpt provides the backbone for the pro-Palestinian position, through the narrative that Hamas were not adequately consulted.
One such pro-Palestinian analyst, whom I earlier mentioned, is Jonathan Cook, makes his case article of his…but unwittingly yet perfectly demonstrates how Ravid’s excerpt is engineered to trap the Palestine sympathiser into a wildly speculative discourse when citing it as evidence for Hamas’ alleged ceasefire rejection being justified, compared with the pro-Israel position that – if one assumes the whole ceasefire proposal story to be true – appears more credible, per Ockham’s Razor.
Cook cites the key excerpt from Ravid’s article, and the remarks on the reference to a lack of co-ordination with the following:
“The intention was either to corner Hamas into surrendering – and thereby keeping the blockade of Gaza in place – or force Hamas to reject the proposal and confirm the Israeli narrative that it is a terrorist organisation with which Israel cannot make peace.”
If Ravid’s narrative on there having been no consultation with Hamas is assumed to be true, a pro-Israeli opponent could easily reply to Cook with an argument to the effect of “You’re assuming there to have been a deceitful intention behind the lack of consultancy…but how do you know that this intention was really the case, and that the lack of consultancy wasn’t just an unwitting mistake?”
So here we see how the pro-Palestine vindication is a trick. Cook wildly speculates that the lack of consultancy was engineered to trap Hamas into a corner, when in fact there is a lot less conjecture in arguing that the supposed lack of consultancy was an innocent mistake without there being any hidden trick behind it.
Cook then tries to explain the ceasefire plot as a product of “US muscle” from Kerry to coerce Egypt, Turkey and Qatar into creating the deceitful truce. But again, the narrative of the US plotting this deceitful ceasefire by virtue of there being no consultation is baseless speculation, which gives further credibility to the pro-Israeli position.
Thus, if the ceasefire proposal narrative is taken to be true, we see that the pro-Palestine vindication of Hamas’ rejection is premised on conjecture that the incidental lack of co-ordination was engineered to trick Hamas. By default, the pro-Israeli stance of Hamas rejecting truce proposals, as Israeli propaganda alleged Palestinians to have done throughout history, appears to be the more rational stance.
Ultimately, the igneous tactic of the Arab rejection narrative is the very fact that it gives the pro-Palestinian possible opportunity for his justification. Had pro-Israeli propaganda reported Hamas to have rejected the alleged ceasefire without any conceivable justification, pro-Palestinians would have responded by questioning whether there was ever a ceasefire proposed at all − as I myself am doing right now, and I will discuss another use of this propaganda tactic shortly later on.
But through Ravid’s terse reference to a ceasefire from anonymous sources pro-Palestinians are subdued into the ceasefire narrative, but under conditions that imply their position to be argumentatively weaker to that of the pro-Israeli. The propaganda narrative thus depends on three features of the truce: reality, legality and morality.
By accepting the ceasefire proposal narrative, whether a person is pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, the reality of an alleged ceasefire being accepted by Israel and rejected by Hamas is accepted. Epiphenomenally, the legality of Israel’s subsequent Gaza assault is accepted. But the morality of a ceasefire supposedly being drafted without Hamas consultation is an irrelevant liability.
From the premise that a ceasefire was in fact never proposed in the first place, none of three features are true. But these three features have been used in other events in the Israeli narrative of the conflict’s history.
Cook’s article ends with his analogy between the supposed ceasefire and the 1947 UN Partition Plan, namely United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, whose alleged implementation gave legal right to the creation of Israel. The outcome of Resolution 181 was Arab rejection, which pro-Palestinians such as Cook justify on the grounds of − yet again − no consultation being made with the Palestinians, and proposed land division being disproportionately in favour to the Zionists
But by using this analogy, Cook falls into another propaganda trap. Through fixating on justification for the rejection of the Plan, rather than questioning whether the Plan had actually been implemented at all, pro-Palestinians informally comply with the Israeli narrative by affirming the reality of the Resolution’s implementation and thereby accepting the legality of Israel’s existence, regardless of how immorally deceitful it may have been.
Thus the same disunion between morality and historicity is inhered in the acceptance of the Israeli narrative on 1947 as it does to the narrative on the alleged 2014 ceasefire – the pro-Palestinian may pontificate on the morality of the Resolution supposedly being implemented without Arab consent, but whether or not the Plan was ever implemented is not questioned.
However, one pro-Palestinian who doesn’t accept the narrative of the Plan being implemented is Jeremy Hammond, who argues that the UN General Assembly only had the legal authority to recommend that the Arabs and Zionists accept the partitioned land divide, rather than having any legal mandate to enforce the partition.
Hammond only briefly references the vindication for Arab rejection in the conclusion, because vindication is hardly significant. Other resolutions had been proposed, but were never recommended by the General Assembly as alternatives after Arab rejection – thereby implying that in spite of the Zionists seizing Palestinian land, Resolution 181 was never implemented and the creation of Israel had no legal basis.
The Partition Plan and alleged ceasefire therefore have interesting parallels in how they are twisted by the Zionist narrative. In both the case of the UN General Assembly and that of the Egyptian foreign ministry, a truce was merely recommended to the Palestinians and Zionists but was never physically implemented, albeit the Egyptian proposition was never a constitutional text.
Remember − my analysis of the alleged 2014 ceasefire proposal, and Hammond’s analysis of the alleged Partition Plan implementation, question neither their moralities nor even their legalities, but their realities. Questioning their moralities and legalities operates under the narrative of the truces actually happening, whilst Israeli propaganda sits back and smiles in victory.
Overall, we still see Zionist propaganda justifying conflicts against the Arabs by insinuating suggestions for truces and ceasefires to be palpable actualizations, and subsequent Arab rejection to be acts of war. And throughout the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict we can see that this victim-blaming narrative that portrays the colonizers as the rational party, juxtaposed with the colonized as the aggressors, has successfully pulled its weight in fuelling Israeli imperialism.