You can only imagine my relief. We are scheduled to travel to Israel late December and although the current situation would not keep us away, there has been some concern as to where would be safe to visit and which areas were best avoided. Especially as we intend travelling with kids. But then, as luck would have it, I read an article in EWN (Eye Witness News), a premier South African online news site, and I realized that we have no need to worry. It turns out in fact that there has been no terrorism at all in Israel in 2015.
It hasn’t been a good year for global terror (or work-place-disputes as some in the White House prefer to call it). And with the impressive intention of neatly summing the horror that was the year, EWN produced a handy little map of the world along with a body count. The list is sadly a long one and includes Nigeria where 3,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram in 30 attacks, Kenya where Garissa University College was the scene of the brutal murder of 148 students as well as Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, France, Tunisia and Mali. It’s a smorgasbord of hate with terror organizations listed as the responsible party.
But noticeably absent is Israel. It is simply not listed. According to EWN there was no terror in Israel in 2015. Which might be a relief for those of us intending to visit (and who have children studying and living there), but somewhat perplexing for those who actually deal with the terror on a daily basis. Especially for those who have lost loved ones during the horrific period that will forever remain as a bloodstain on the year.
Understanding the motivation as to why EWN would omit Israel is important. Because although the news site is not as global as a BBC and CNN who do so on a constant basis, it is well visited and informs the views of millions of South Africans each year. And exploring why a news site, which claims to be a fair and honest arbiter of news, could make such an error (intentionally or unintentionally) might give some insight into why their public perception of Israel is so warped. If Israel were not listed as a place where terror happens, then how would a person, unassociated with the country, have any idea as to what the situation really is? Especially if the news sites that they rely on mislead them.
There are limited options as to why EWN would not list Israel. They either made a mistake (goodness, it can happen to anyone), or they don’t believe that the murder of Israelis (including civilians) is terror, or they don’t believe that Jewish lives matter. The first alternative can be eliminated, as Spotlight SA (an organisation dedicated to the fair portrayal of Jews and Israel in the media) called them out on it and directly tweeted them the error. It was ignored and not corrected. The 3rd can equally dismissed simply because we don’t have enough evidence to suggest that this the case. And until such time as we do, we need to be careful not to suggest that this is the case (besides, some of their best friends might well even be Jewish).
The only option remaining is that the news team has made a judgment as to what it believes constitutes terror. And it has determined that the killing of Jews as they go about their shopping, as they travel to school and college, as they pray and they walk and they try and live their lives, is not terror at all. But rather a legitimate war that might well be fought against civilians.
And whereas it is their choice to decide and to determine this, it serves to strip them of the façade of being an honest and fair broker. It inserts them into the story on the side of Hamas who call on the Palestinians to murder Jews and who praises the murderers as martyrs. It serves only to support a racist and bigoted organizations along with their human rights abuses, their treatment of woman and their approach to anyone who does not conform to their radical ideology. By taking the side of Hamas in this terror war, EWN loses its credibility completely. Because if they are not honest about this, what else are they not telling us?
At lunch this past Shabbat our host mentioned that a work colleague had no idea what was happening in Israel in terms of the current terror wave. She was shocked and couldn’t understand how this well-informed person could have no clue. Sadly the answer is obvious, because as long as the “EWNs’ and all the other news sites who are responsible for information stick to a pre-determined narrative, no matter what the truth, the unsuspecting reader will remain uninformed. And whether the reporting is dishonest or simply negligent will always be moot.
Either way, until we have been to Israel in late December, I am going to continue to read EWN, because I kind of like an Israel where there is no terrorism.