As news media organizations become increasingly politicized, all journalists risk ending up as collateral casualties because they are working adjacent to outlets viewed as purveyors of propaganda."
Budget chopping has consequences, and the "privatization" of journalism cannot help but lead to biased reporting. But, whatever the cause, journalists are under attack like never before, though purposeful strikes are thankfully still the exception, not the rule. Legitimate journalists, of course, show things that raise the sympathy and anger of their viewers all the time. That is a valid function of journalism and should not be violently suppressed by either side of a conflict.
Yet, I still wonder why anyone in Gaza feels the need to fabricate evidence of damage and injury when there is ample evidence all around them. Who is behind this? Why take the risk of exposure (which has happened)? Reuters has admitted photographic fraud and suspended its journalist. CNN has been caught in a photographic lie over the Rachel Corrie incident too. The BBC and Yahoo news have also been caught claiming there were Palestinian victims that later turned out to be Syrian and even Israeli!
Perhaps, than, the Gaza
propagandists are justified in believing they can get away with their
fabrications. When the mainstream
media do not check their facts, can partisan combatants be expected to do so,
or to even attempt to be truthful?
Besides, there is a lot of internal pressure at most Western media
outlets not to expose fraud in Gaza depictions of violence. One pro-Israeli blogger
who did expose it received death threats
from a Reuters staff member.
The staff member was suspended.
The Israeli side too, is unforgiving of journalists who get it
wrong. The BBC journalist who
misattributed a Syrian
victim for a Gaza one is likely to have his press credentials
revoked by the Israeli Press Office, making it all-but-impossible for him
to continue reporting from the region.
The Fog of War
Given the damage from Israeli planes, and the fact that Gaza is one of the most crowded regions on Earth, it is surprising the death toll isn't much higher than ~150, so the claim that Israel is showing some restraint, for example, by dropping leaflets warning of attacks, seems credible. Night vision cameras and long-range lenses make it possible for pilots flying sophisticated planes to identify children vs. adults on the ground before firing, though sometimes they fire and bomb anyway. After all, many targets are hit at night, and they aren't at random. CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), a pro-Israel PR group, says:
"In an article in The Jerusalem Post, Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, wrote about Israel's last operation in Gaza, Cast Lead:
estimate that there has been an average three-to one ratio of civilian to
combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every
That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one.
In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia.
In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one."
And in some cases, Hamas kills its own suspected of spying, muddying the death count still further. Israel's IDF too, has been challenged on its fatality figures, as well as rocket hit counts to its territory (yes, there's a App for that). In short, you can't trust the journalists, and the official figures from Hamas or from Israel should be distrusted even more.
The false paradigm of equivalency
None of this exaggerating, propaganda, and outright fabrication means there isn't terrible suffering on both sides, with Israel pummeled slow-speed with less accurate missiles, more-or-less continuously, and Gaza more-or-less attacked in large, single doses with more accurate missiles (which would you choose?). But it does mean that trying to "weigh" damage inflicted by either side is a mug's game. It detracts us from solutions and replaces solution seeking with eye-for-eye justice that leaves the whole region blind.
A few years ago, I came up
with a couple of modest solutions (or, not so modest, depending on your view of
the intransigence of the major parties in the region) to establish shared
Israeli-Palestinian settlements in the West Bank here,
and to redraw the Israeli border south of Gaza here
in an attempt to end the importation of arms via the tunnels in order to
eventually integrate the Gazans into Israeli life. Both solutions were both met with predictable knee-jerk
reactionary opposition, as are even milder ones today, even from unexpected places. Even among the Op
"I'm too old to have much hope that the current dance will ever accomplish anything, except maybe by accident, or worse, by horrific miscalculation costing thousands or millions of lives."
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