Beyond the Cusp

August 21, 2014

Media Surrenders in Information War

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There are articles, editorials and debates mostly under the title of “Israel Losing the Information War.” Their erudite discussions use numerous examples of Israeli politicians, ambassadors and spokespersons making statements and usually picking a particularly bland statements and claim that they are losing because their presentations do not resonate well. They claim that Israel has not made proper use of social media. They continue with a litany of nitpicking hypercritical arguments. What they refuse to cover is the real center of the problem, the media itself.

 

One needs to sit in a less comfortable chair and really listen to the coverage of the continuing conflict between the Arab world and Israel to detect the slant being utilized to present the Arab side as superior and preferential to that of the Israelis. The most pernicious effrontery is the choice of wording which effects the listeners’ opinion and acceptance of information being conveyed. When listing commentary concerning the Arab side, recently the Hamas side, the choice of wording is active while when talking about the Israeli side the wording is usually passive. The easiest example is when giving casualty reports. When listing Palestinian casualties they will invoke words such as murdered or killed yet while reporting Israeli casualties they will tend to simply report them as deaths or have died. Which is more emotionally charged, someone who was killed or someone who died? Another problem which has to do with casualty reporting has been the virtual exclusive utilization of the Hamas provided numbers despite historic proof that such numbers are unreliable and often exaggerated. In the current conflict the verified reports of fatalities in Gaza places the percentages of combatant casualties to civilian casualties has been closest to 1:1 yet the reports consistently claim that 90% of the casualties have been civilians. The former ratio was released by a Red Cross official who had been granted access to IDF reports and lists of names of those terrorists killed during Operation Protective Edge while the vast majority of news reports use the Hamas released numbers despite, as one commenter stated in a moment of brutal clarity when reporting, I wish I had recorded that news report as I have not been able to find any record of it, that the numbers being reported are probably exaggerated as news reporters have understood since the start of the conflict. Perhaps I should join Facebook.

 

The best and most well-known example of inflated and simply false beyond belief numbers and the perfidy of media coverage was the so-called Jenin Massacre. When during the Israeli retaking of control over a large swath of the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) there was a particularly fierce firefight between Fatah aligned terrorist fighters and the IDF. When the media covered the fighting then in the aftermath they insisted on using the reported numbers given by the Fatah spokespersons who claimed to have direct numbers from the actual area. The numbers kept increasing even after the fighting had concluded. Numbers which originally were just a few hundred soon cleared a thousand and soon climbed into multiple thousands with the final claims pushing over ten-thousand murdered Palestinians of which over 90% were presumably civilians. The IDF attempted to refute the numbers listing their and Fatah terrorists fatalities combined to be around one-hundred dead at the most with the IDF having lost twenty-three and fifty-two wounded and the various numbers of Palestinian deaths was between fifty-two and fifty-five with Human Rights Watch claiming a near even numbers of combatants and civilians while the IDF numbers showed only five confirmed civilian deaths and the remainder as active combatants. Fortunately for the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria Fatah had not used human shields in an intentional attempt to maximize civilian casualties while minimizing the loss of Fatah combatants and other military equipment and arms, something Hamas has made maximum use of in the current conflict which is the main reason for the higher than usual numbers of civilian casualties as compared to the majority of previous IDF wars.

 

Another reason behind slanted news has been the ease of completely accepting any press releases from Hamas and their spokespeople and the reliance on commentary from solely those sympathetic with the Palestinian side or hostile to the Israeli side. The newscasters when holding interviews with Israeli politicians or IDF spokespeople take on an adversarial and belligerent role challenging and belittling their every comment calling their veracity into question at every opportunity and then impugning their entire presentation in summary after closing the interview usually by sniping that that was a representative from the IDF or the Israeli parliament the Knesset as if such makes their information of dubious origins. There have been a fair number of such interviews where the interviewing reporter ended the exchange without thanking the Israeli representative for their time as if they resented having to hold the interview. On the other side these reporters universally thank the representatives who support Hamas such as CAIR, MSA and other Islamic supportive groups for their time and make comments after such interviews stating that we have just heard a refreshing take on the conflict going on between Hamas and Israel. Then there are the ways that information provided by both sides are reported and commented upon. The Hamas press releases and social media statements are read as straight facts without any conditional comments that might raise doubts to their validity while when quoting Israeli press releases they often make commentary calling into question the veracity of those statements often presenting them as such was the report according to IDF spokespersons. Such an accounting leaves any report as being probably a biased and lacking factual weight leaving the watcher in doubt as to if the facts presented are believable.

 

Add the media’s relentless presentation of the casualty numbers as if having more casualties makes one side the more honorable side more deserving of sympathy and somehow makes their grievances and positions more valid than the other side. Had such been the style of reporting during World War II then the Russian efforts would have carried the most weight followed by the Japanese and then the Germans with the French efforts being the most dubious followed by the United States and then Britain. Since when did suffering the higher numbers of casualties come to infer a more valid viewpoint and argument. Further, since when must one side take precautions not to cause more casualties on their enemies during a conflict than their enemy has caused amongst their side. Is not the entire effort of war to impart more casualties on the other side than your side suffers? Israelis are not being killed in similar numbers because Israel expends large amounts of resources and financial commitments to protect their people than Hamas has in Gaza. Take a little challenge here and remember as you make these calculations that Hamas has a multi-billion dollar construction of underground tunnels and command and control headquarters and storage areas which could also double as a bomb shelter with the capacity of holding close to the entire population of Gaza but only permits their Hamas combatants and leadership to take refuge underground while forcing their civilians to remain in areas where Israel has warned they intend to attack by dropping leaflets over the area. The challenge is to count by twenty-thousands where each announced interception of a Hamas rocket sent into Israel equals twenty-thousand dollars. This challenge discounts the hundreds of millions of dollars the development of the Iron Dome system cost and will only take into consideration the cost to produce the individual intercepting missile and also discounts the percentage, small as it may be, of missiles which did not intercept a rocket. That will give one a running total of the Israeli investment to protect their civilians as these Hamas rockets are not being aimed at the IDF, they are aimed at Israeli communities including her major cities. They are aimed at Jews, Christians, Muslims and those of other religions who all live with freedom to worship as they please in Israel. It is aimed at European, Arab, Asian and African Jews (there are Jews in Israel from every continent including the Ethiopian Jews rescued over the past decade, the Bnei Menashe Tribe from India, the 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab and Muslim worlds and their descendants which now make up half of the Israeli population, a large number of Russian Jews who were received at great effort and expense from the former Soviet Union, and currently there are increasing numbers coming from the Ukraine and France as well as numerous other places where Jews are feeling more and more threatened every day. Israel is a collection of Jews from over the entirety of the planet Earth and of every nationality imaginable. They live together with a large population of Christian and Muslim Arabs as well as other minorities including sizeable Kurdish and Baha’i communities all of whom share the bounties of Israel and have equal rights to vote, live, work, own land and businesses and are equal in every way. These are the peoples who make up the communities of Israel and are all facing the rockets from Hamas. Unbelievably, but true, at the very beginning of the current conflict both the wife of Mahmoud Abbas and the mother-in-law of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were receiving treatment in Israeli hospitals. Both are well and recovering nicely. I am willing to bet those two little facts were pretty much ignored by the mainstream media, I wonder why? Perhaps they painted too sympathetic a picture of Israeli society and the realities that are actually true? Could not be, the media is always completely honest, right?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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