One of the topics discussed by the media in the days following the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach z’l, Naftali Frenkel z’l and Gilad Shaar z’l was the safety of ‘tremping’, that is, hitchhiking in Israel. Certainly, there are many places in the world where hitchhiking is an absolute no-no, but Israel has generally been an exception. Sadly, what was confirmed by the murder of these three young men was that appearances can be deceptive and that danger can be lurking in the most innocent-looking of situations. Since then, we have heard of a number of attempts to kidnap men, women and children in Israel, but thank G-d, those involved have had a lucky escape. But another tragedy is continuing as we speak.
There are men and women, Jews and non-Jews, throughout the world who may never get into the car of a stranger but are all being taken for a ride. How so?
Whether or not we view it this way, the fact is that the media is a vehicle which each of us enters into, and as with the most tragic of situations, we often fail to notice who the driver truly is and where they really want to take us until it is too late. While a person may have a strict ‘no-tremping’ policy, what they may not realise is that each time they watch an interview which distorts the events taking place in the Gaza strip they are being taken on perhaps the most dangerous ride of their lives; and as long as they are unaware of who the driver truly is, their moral values are in far greater danger in such an environment than the danger being faced by those physically involved in this war.
Before Israel responds to rocket fire, it warns the people ahead of time, and before rockets land in Israel, sirens wail to warn those in the area. However, before moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas is presented in the media there are no warnings, and before anti-Israel and often anti-semitic bias is expressed in the media, there are no sirens. To my mind, unscrupulous interaction with the media’s presentation of Operation Protective Edge is far more dangerous than sitting in a hospital in Gaza and no less dangerous than ‘tremping’ while paying no attention to who the driver is and where they are taking you.
So while those in Israel should pay attention to the sirens, and those in Gaza should pay attention to the warnings, can I ask all those in the diaspora to take the following advice – don’t be taken for a ride by the media because their bias and their moral equivalence have a higher chance of damaging your values than the rockets that I run away from when the siren begins to wail.