As I write this editorial, I do so without headphones. Why you may ask? I write without headphones for fear that as I sit on a friend’s balcony, overlooking a crowded Tel-Aviv coffee shop filled with young people, families with small children, and a table of elderly men sipping black coffee, that I will miss the siren indicating an incoming missile. A siren that has sounded hundreds of times throughout Israel in the past week. A siren that has not been heard in the major city of a Democratic nation since it sounded in London during the Nazi air raids of the early 1940’s. Like the primitive hatred that leads terrorists in Gaza to fire rockets at Israeli civilian centers while hiding behind human shields, the siren is a primitive remnant of a bygone-era, of a time when the march of reason and progress were nearly halted by the blind hatred and indoctrination of the Nazi war machine. Today, in 2014, 70 years after the Holocaust, blind hatred once again threatens to undermine reason and progress.
A survey last month by the anti-defamation league found that 26% of those polled — representing approximately 1.1 billion adults worldwide — harbor deeply anti-Semitic views. 35% of those surveyed had never heard of the Holocaust. Of those who had, roughly 33% said it is either a myth or greatly exaggerated. The second most anti-Semitic region in the world after the Middle East is Eastern Europe, the very site of the extermination camps, where 34% of people hold deeply anti-Semitic views. And so as I perused international headlines this morning, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at what I found.
Fox New’s top headline read: “Israel strikes Gaza mosque believed to be hiding weapons as death toll tops 120.” CNN introduced it’s article on the current state of affairs in Israel with the following headline: “Gaza death toll mounts amid Israeli strikes.” NBC noted in it’s front-page headline, “As Gaza toll passes 100, no end in sight.” A front page New York Times headline read, “In Gaza, Air-strikes and Economy Make for Tense Ramadan,” and goes on to discuss the stress Gaza residents are experiencing between fasting, economic woes, and the constant threat of Israeli air strikes. Notably absent from these headlines was any talk of over 500 rockets fired at Israel in the past few days, and the thousands fired in the past years. Notably absent was any reporting on the hundreds of trucks that have entered Gaza in the past few days carrying food and basic supplies. Notably absent was any mention that Israel continues to provide electricity, water, food and supplies to the people of Gaza, despite the fact that 64% of them support suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. The new anti-Semitism is subtle; it is not a cartoon caricature of a Jew with a big nose stealing a Christian baby as it was in the forties. Today’s Anti-Semitism expresses itself in half-truths, skewed statistics, and lies of omission, and while it is much more subtle, it is just as dangerous.
Bill Borders, chief editor of the New York times during the nineties and early two-thousands, wrote the following in response to a question about why the Times did not cover Palestinian torture after a 4000-word front page article about Israeli torture: “The whole point is that torture by Israel, a Democratic ally of the United States, which gets huge support from this country, is news. Torture by Palestinians seems less surprising. Surely you don’t consider the two authorities morally equivalent.”
While Border’s letter is nearly a decade old, the tragic undertones suggesting that those who control the news have lost touch with their promise to present the news fairly and unbiasedly are as relevant today as ever. If Israeli torture is news, than Palestinian torture must be news as well! Palestinian rockets falling on Israeli cities must be news! Children in Southern Israel who actually believe that the reason turtles have a shell is to protect them from Kassam rockets, who have not experienced a single week in their entire lives without a siren signaling an incoming rocket, must be news! If one wishes to report on a conflict, on any conflict, both sides must be presented. A news source cannot simply assume that it’s readers have all the facts.
Now surely there will be those who will claim that these reports do tell a true story, despite the omission of any mention in their headlines of the hundreds of rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza strip in the last week. To those individuals, I point out one simple fact: People are inherently bad at determining what is missing. Given these headlines, without any other information, people around the world who do not know what they do not know will not realize that there is a legitimate reason for the present bombardment of Gaza’s terror strongholds. Allow me to elaborate.
Daniel Gilbert, a renowned professor of Psychology at Harvard, describes a study in one of his books where participants played a deduction game in which they were shown a set of trigrams (i.e. three letter combinations like SWY, BCG, GTR). The experimenter then pointed to one of the trigrams and told the volunteers that this trigram was special. Their job was to figure out what made it special. Volunteers saw set after set, and each time the experimenter pointed out the special one. For half the volunteers, the special trigram was distinguished by the fact that it and only it contained the letter “t.” These volunteers needed to see about 34 sets to reach this conclusion. For the other half of volunteers, the special trigram was distinguished by the fact that it lacked the letter “t.” In this group, no matter how many sets the volunteers saw, nobody EVER figured it out. I posit that if major news outlets continue to publish headlines that omit any reports of rockets falling on major Israeli cities, nobody will ever figure it out.
On the streets of several major European capitals on Friday, thousands of people marched in protest of the “Israeli occupation” of Gaza, and the genocide that they claim is currently underway at the hands of the Israeli Air Force. But where are the cries for an end to rocket-fire on civilian centers? If they are reading the same headlines and articles that I am reading, published by news-outlets that claim to be fair and unbiased, it is possible that they don’t even know there are rockets falling!
Whether caused by ignorance, or by the intellectually vapid anti-Semitism that has taken hold of the world in 2014, what is clear is that there is a problem. There is a problem when otherwise logical people call for the imprisonment of the IDF air-force pilots who fire precision-guided missiles at specific targets in Gaza, while failing to condemn the militants those pilots are firing at; militants who fire rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilian centers. And there is a problem when the those same people are celebrated as esteemed correspondents, and given front-page real-estate for their articles. They should be shamed, not celebrated for their slanted, one-sided portrayal of a complicated situation.
It has been said before, but clearly it bears repeating: The underdog is not always right, and the stronger party is not always the aggressor. So allow me to report the facts, plain and simple. I am not a reporter; I have neither a degree in journalism, nor a fancy newspaper that lists my name among it’s correspondents. I am simply a retired combat soldier, who served three years in the IDF, much of it on the Gaza border, and saw firsthand the restraint that makes the IDF the most moral army in the world. Using only Google as a resource, I was able to discover the following information, which apparently eluded the highest paid journalists in the world writing for the biggest names in news:
Gaza is often referred to as one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Israel has dropped over 500 tons of explosives on the Gaza strip in the last four days, and yet, though of course regrettably, approximately 80 civilians (77% of the total 104 killed according to the anti-Israeli news-source “Middle East Eye”) have been killed.That means that only one innocent civilian was killed for every 6.3 tons of explosives dropped on Gaza. The M-67 fragment grenade contains .4 pounds of explosives, and has a kill radius of 5 meters, or 16.5 feet. If one were to qualify in terms of M-67 grenades the number of casualties in Gaza, that would mean that for every 31,500 grenades dropped on Gaza, representing a kill-radius of 98 miles, one civilian was killed. These numbers hardly reflect a genocidal government intent on indiscriminately killing the civilians of Gaza. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is even more remarkable considering the documented usage by Hamas of human shields.
Despite claims of an Israeli apartheid, Israel transfers over 100,000 tons of humanitarian goods into Gaza every month – nearly 5,000 truckloads of everything from food to clothing, from agricultural equipment to construction supplies. In the past days, hundreds of truckloads of food and supplies have continued to reach the people of Gaza, even as the majority of it’s inhabitants vocally support the rockets fired at the population of Israel. No nation on earth would handle thousands of attacks on it’s civilian populace with the restraint that Israel has demonstrated in the years since her withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. She should be exalted for her restraint, rather than berated for exercising the most basic right of every country on earth: to defend the right of her citizens to life freely and peacefully, and without the fear of terror.