It was once said that the first casualty of war is truth. And never have we seen that premise ring truer today, as we follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Because what’s happening today in Israel is a war. But it is not a war fought with tanks or planes or submarines, but a war fought with ideas. And its soldiers are not just those donned in army fatigues, standing guard protecting its border, but regular people across the world from all walks of life fighting to get their voices heard through the cacophony of noise around them.
In today’s world, the attention span of its inhabitants has been weltered away, replaced by sound bites and sensationalism. The critical thought process which we once might have applied has been outsourced to headlines filled with gravy, but little meat. In essence, we’ve given up our ability to think and have instead relied on being told what our thoughts should be.
Take a headline from the American news site CBS just the other week, in which it initially stated: 3 Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on.
But what does that tell you? It tells you there was continuing violence and within that violence, 3 Palestinians were killed. It doesn’t lay the blame at any party and treats everyone as equal participants. And yet, that’s not what happened, because what happened is that Israeli Border police approached three Arab men sitting on a bench to ask for their identification papers, and the Arab men then attacked the police. And in the course of that attack a 19 year old policewoman, Hadar Cohen, was shot in the head by one of the attackers who was then subsequently killed along with the others.
But those who have read the headline alone have already had their opinion formulated. Israel is guilty by virtue of the fact that three Palestinians are dead.
And yet just a mere hour or so after that attack, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, met with the families of people like those Arab attackers who have killed and wounded innocent Israelis, honouring them for the sacrifices they made. Yet this received no coverage from the international media – the same media who with their rapid response reporting can be at any site at any time bringing the story to you.
Above is a mere microcosm of the reporting that we see in the Middle East. We read ‘heart-wrenching’ stories of Israel demolishing Palestinian homes, yet we do not hear about how those structures are illegal, being funded by the European Union who is breaking international law by building on areas controlled by Israeli authorities without their permission.
We hear constantly about a brutal Israeli occupation and how Gaza is under siege, yet we hear nothing how even a European Court in June last year implicitly decided that Israel is not an occupying force.
We hear constantly how Israel is the one that refuses to make peace, or Israel is the one that refuses to compromise, and yet we hear very little about how the Palestinians name town squares after mass murderers. Would Londoners object over a town square in Ramallah being named in honour of the bombers who sowed havoc in London in 2005? Or how about a memorial for the terrorist who carried out the Lockerbie bombing? Of course they would – and yet when Palestinians do the same, the revulsion that should be felt goes missing.
How is it that a democracy such as Israel, one with rights for all citizens, one in which an Arab judge can sentence an Israeli President to prison, can be portrayed as the guilty party, while at the same time, the Palestinians, who produce 13 year old terrorists sent out to murder, can be portrayed as victims? How can Iran threaten to wipe Israel off the map, and yet countries continue to run to it with unbridled enthusiasm in order to do business.
It is no coincidence that the rate of anti-Semitism is higher today than it’s ever been since the dark days of Nazi Germany. We hear about Islamophobia, but that is just a word, because Muslims do not walk the streets in fear, afraid to show their identity. Outside Israel Jews do – even having to remove their kippot in fear of a violent reaction. Anti-Semitism has real consequences.
Europe is the land of art and culture and of the enlightenment and freedom, and yet its values have been so skewed that France is willing to recognise a Palestinian state regardless of the lack of freedoms that State will have.
It takes courage to tell the truth and as Winston Churchill once said:
“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others.”
Instead of kowtowing to Arab demands cloaked in fantasy, Europe and the world should stand tall and not let truth become another casualty.