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Monday July 15, 2024

Israel-Hamas war: Why is most of Modi-led India mongering anti-Palestinian propaganda?

Gaza crisis is serving as a catalyst for hate crimes against Palestinians and Muslims

By Web Desk
October 16, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) walks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi (L) during an official ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on July 4. — AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) walks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi (L) during an official ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on July 4. — AFP

Indian right-wing accounts are among the top proponents of anti-Palestinian false information amid Israel-Hamas war, as the humanitarian crisis worsens in Gaza with no utilities available for Palestinians.

However, an intriguing aspect of the disinformation that has proliferated on social media since Hamas's attack on southern Israel on October 7 is that a significant portion of it has been created or disseminated by right-leaning accounts based out of India.

False stories have been propelled into the viral stratosphere by blue cheque accounts. Thousands of individuals even retweeted a very well-liked tweet that claimed the Hamas attack was a US-led psyop.

The rise of the Islamophobic 'disinfluencer'

A disinformation campaign was being led by numerous verified Indian X users, according to BOOM, one of India's most reputable fact-checking websites.

According to BOOM, these "disinfluencers," or influencers who frequently spread false information, have "mostly targeted Palestine negatively, or being supportive of Israel."

They promoted stereotypes that attempted to portray Palestinians as inherently violent.

Another time, a video that purported to show Hamas capturing a Jewish child went viral. In just one post, the video received more than a million views. In the top 10 tweets with the most shares that included the deceptive video, seven of the accounts were based in India or had the Indian flag in their bio, Al Jazeera reported.

Islamophobia, India and social media

In addition to uploading these fake films, many of the users doing so frequently write derogatory remarks against Muslims on X.

The hashtag #IslamIsTheProblem was used by one account, Mr Sinha_, in a tweet that included the fake footage of a youngster being beheaded by Hamas.

Others have expressed their enmity for Palestine in a more overt manner. According to one Indian account that claimed to be from a veteran Indian soldier, "Israel must eradicate Palestine from the planet."

It is no secret that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have contributed to an increase in Islamophobia in India.

The bulk of all Islamophobic tweets originate in India, according to a study by the Islamic Council of Victoria in Australia.

Islamophobes have been attracted to the agony of Palestinians like moths to a flame, as seen on social media. This online animosity has been fueled in part by the "BJP's IT Cell".

In her book, I Am a Troll, Swati Chaturvedi discusses the BJP’s online social media army. According to Sadhavi Khosla, one of Chaturvedi’s interviewees, “The BJP has a network of volunteers who take instructions from the social media cell, and two affiliated organisations, to troll critical voices.”

Khosla said she left the “IT Cell” after tiring of the constant barrage of “misogyny, Islamophobia and hatred” she had to disseminate.

A perfect storm: Musk, BJP and #GazaUnderAttack

The BJP's IT Cell may have an issue with Islamophobia, but it also has a problem with disinformation, and it is starting with the situation in Gaza.

Pratik Sinha, a co-founder and editor of the Indian non-profit fact-checking website AltNews, tweeted: “With India now exporting its disinformation actors in the Indian mainstream media and on social media in support of Israel, hopefully, the world will now realise how the Indian right-wing has made India the disinformation capital of the world”.

Elon Musk's purchase of X and his decision to reduce efforts to stop false information being shared on the platform may have created a precedent that will influence how other internet firms manage damaging content in the future. It's noteworthy that organisations like Meta and YouTube seem to be rethinking their current promises to reduce hate speech, disinformation, and other harmful content on their platforms.

Following the flood of false material on X after the Hamas attack on Israel last week, the European Union even sent Musk a warning.

The Gaza crisis is serving as a catalyst for hate crimes against Palestinians and Muslims because of Western support for Israel, Big Tech's resurrected disregard for content regulation, and the digital reach of right-wing Islamophobic accounts from India.