If you clicked on the title and are reading this now, chances are that you have your own answer to the question. In fact, if you are like most of us, you have known whether the soldier accused of killing an allegedly incapacitated terrorist was guilty or innocent from the initial news reports.
I remember a friend in the media who wrote publicly that the video of the incident “clearly shows” the soldier firing his gun and killing the man on the ground. This was incontrovertible proof, at least to him, that the soldier was guilty of a terrible crime.
But if we could approach the incident with an open mind and honestly describe what the video shows, we would have to admit that in reality, a vehicle blocks the view of the camera right before the fatal shot was fired. We see the man on the ground and the soldier approaching. We can’t see anything for a second. Finally, we see the man bleeding out on the ground.
Of course, no one on either side of the issue is suggesting that the soldier did not fire that fatal shot. So the fact that we can’t actually see it gets lost in the debate.
But it IS important because it shows that the way each one of us sees and understands events is always filtered by our own opinions.
Before anyone wrote anything on Facebook about the incident, I could accurately predict which of my friends would laud the solider as a hero and which would condemn him as a villain.
But if you have been following the case, you know that several months later there has been conflicting evidence and testimony from those on the scene. Those on each side choose to accept the evidence that supports their beliefs and reject that which contradicts them.
We all know that a final verdict, rendered in a court of law, will do little to convince those who find themselves on the losing side.
How often are we able to let what we actually see determine our opinions, rather than let our opinions determine what we think we actually see?
Journalists have opinions like everyone else. When they try and understand an event, they also will see it according to their belief system. It’s why the job is so difficult.
If a journalist believes that Israel is fighting an unending war against terrorists who draw their inspiration from official Palestinian incitement, they will write their stories one way.
On the other hand, if they believe that Israel has been brutally occupying “Palestine” and refusing to realistically discuss peace, then that is the filter through which they will report every news story.
But it is the fundamental job of journalists to strip their opinions out of news stories and just report the facts. They must constantly ask themselves if what they are reporting is tainted by what they think they see rather than what they do see.
I have always believed that if Israel is presented honestly, with objective facts, then it will win in the court of public opinion. But to get to that point, we have to be willing to admit to things that Israel may have done wrong. Not every negative news story on Israel is factually incorrect.
Our job is to try and see if those news stories are indeed based on fact or simply a reflection of the journalist’s subjective opinion.
That’s where the real struggle to fight anti-Israel media bias should be happening.