A prominent US real estate tycoon has initiated a multi-million dollar media initiative, dubbed Facts for Peace, to bolster Israel’s global image and vilify the Hamas armed group.
The campaign, led by billionaire Barry Sternlicht, is actively seeking substantial donations from influential figures in media, finance, and technology, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Dell CEO Michael Dell.
Sternlicht aims to secure $50 million in private contributions, matched by a Jewish charity, to counter what he perceives as a negative narrative emerging from the intensive Israeli attacks in Gaza. The media drive seeks to portray Hamas as a “terrorist organization” not only against Israel but also against the United States.
While the campaign has already garnered support, the specific contributors remain undisclosed. The initiative is advised by Josh Vlasto, a communications strategist with a political background.
Amidst ongoing conflicts, the US government remains a steadfast ally of Israel, recently passing a $14.3 billion emergency military aid package. However, public sentiment in the US appears to be shifting, with nearly half of Democrats expressing disapproval of President Joe Biden’s handling of the conflict, as per a recent poll.
Social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter (formerly known as X), YouTube, and TikTok, face accusations of suppressing pro-Palestinian voices by limiting their reach. Sternlicht’s campaign, Facts For Peace, leverages social media to disseminate content blaming Hamas for the plight of Palestinians and disputing allegations of Israeli rights violations.
The campaign’s latest video, posted on Facebook, argues against the characterization of Israel as an apartheid state. This contrasts with international rights experts’ findings, including those from the United Nations, which point to Israel practicing apartheid through its “deeply discriminatory dual legal and political system” in the occupied territories.
The broader context includes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza since the 1967 war, with ongoing settlement expansions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Despite international condemnation, the US has taken limited action against its closest ally in addressing the expansion of these settlements, considered illegal under international law.