The Problem with Sara and Dannii

Friends, earlier on I posted on facebook that I’d just “gotten involved in a debate on a thread of shared by over 22,000 people who ardently believe that Israel has committed pre-meditated murder in Gaza”. I said I’d report back.

The actual post was a graphic which showed 373 names, apparently an “incomplete list of the children who were killed in Gaza by Israel” which was shared by my friend Dannii Evans on facebook, who has since readily admitted that “it might not be 100% accurate” and shockingly has said “the exact number is not important.” She, quite rightly, wrote “This is an online memorial so that we can remember and honour the children’s lives that have been lost, and to remind ourselves that one child lost in violence is one child too many.” Despite the admission that it may not be accurate, and my suggestion of simply writing on facebook “Remember and honour the children’s lives that have been lost, let’s remind ourselves that one child lost in violence is one child too many,” instead of sharing inaccurate information, she has not un-shared it. There are surely ways to rightly honour those who have tragically had their lives cut short far too early, that do not involve potentially propagating lies.

I wonder if I heavily skewed the figures to suggest that ten times more Israelis had been killed than Palestinians in the last month, whether then “the exact number is not important” to Dannii, or whether it is only not important if the figures are rounded up in a way that demonises Israel and supports her entrenched view. After all, why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

At the time of writing, 22,187 other people have shared this graphic… I believe in the importance of exact numbers. If all of them also believe, like Dannii, that the exact number of casualties in Gaza is not important, and also believe that it may not be accurate, it’s little wonder we live in a world full of mistrust, with increasing levels of hate and polarisation.

The most ‘Liked’ comment I saw was from Sara Henderson, who simply wrote “Pre meditated murder by Israel.” I would like to share with you the exchange that follows, and why unfortunately it gives me very little hope for the future:

BLAKE EZRA: I unambiguously mourn the death of any innocent people in any conflict zone. Sara, I’ve never met you. You’ve written that this was “pre-meditated murder by Israel”… how could you possibly know that for sure? Nobody on earth knows this for sure. Did Israel have this list as a list of targets? Did Israel know where each of these children were and try to murder them specifically? If not, then it could not be pre-meditated, by definition.

By all means let’s mourn the fact that many innocent people have lost their lives, and we should all pray for an end to conflict, but you simply cannot prove your comment to be true, unless you were embedded with the IDF for the last month. Stating things we cannot prove simply serves to drive people further apart, not closer together.

Beyond that, I regret that in the past ten years Hamas have inflated casualty figures on numerous occasions to the extent that, although we know innocent children have lost their lives, and this is gut-wrenchingly horrendous, at this stage we cannot rely on the information Hamas has provided to the UN. We cannot also discount the proven casualties caused by over 100 rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza that have landed in… Gaza. I’m sorry, but all these generalised statements do nothing but create more hate. It is not black and white, there are grey areas that you are refusing to see.

SARA HENDERSON: Seriously Blake Ezra , you really believe that Israel did not intend to kill anyone when they sent in the aircraft, tanks, navy and army with bombs and guns? It was not pre meditated? Okaaay

BLAKE EZRA: It is very easy to speak in generalities Sara, which you are doing.

The dictionary definition of pre-meditated is “planned in advance”. Do you actually believe that Israel planned the specific deaths of the children on this list in advance? There is literally no way on earth you can know this, so there is no way on earth you should believe this. Do you really think the IDF troops were spending their time searching for Ahed Atef Bakr, for example, or if this child died don’t you think it was actually a horrendous tragedy of a child being killed in a conflict zone?

The world would be a better place if people like you did not simply come out with these dramatic, generalised, and totally unsubstantiated statements, which then other people (who also could never know what Israel’s intentions were) also agree with.

Every child that dies represents a tragedy. Everybody has lost in this conflict. Hamas has lost in their mission to kill Israeli children with their rockets. Israel has lost in their mission to avoid killing Palestinian children, with their text messages, leaflet drops and phone calls. Just because there are “bombs and guns” does not mean that Israel committed premeditated murder upon all the names on this list. It is a simplistic viewpoint which sees things as black and white. Unfortunately, in the Middle East and when Hamas are involved, there are many grey areas.

SARA HENDERSON: Blake Ezra, “planned in advance”. Pre meditated. The ” planned in advance” bombing of beaches, hospitals, schools and places of worship is pre-meditated murder. The Israeli soldiers were given orders to bomb and shoot and destroy. Pre meditation from all levels of government. It didn’t happen by accident Blake.

BLAKE EZRA: Sara, the truth is that you’ll believe whatever you want to believe. However, you have just inadvertently proved my point, for which I thank you.

You just wrote that the “planned in advance bombing of beaches, hospitals, schools and places of worship is pre meditated murder.” May I ask you how bombing a building is considered murder? Answer: it is not murder, it is destroying a building. Intentionally killing humans is murder. If someone tries to destroy a building, this is not pre-meditated murder. If people are inside that building after being warned to evacuate, it is an utter tragedy, but it is not pre-meditated murder. If people were inside that building and were not warned to evacuate, it is indiscriminate murder, not pre-meditated – you can’t have it both ways. It’s saddening that someone like yourself, with such strong views, cannot tell the distinction.

Let’s be clear, because the IDF targeted buildings does not mean they committed pre-meditated murder of the children’s names in this list. This is especially true if they texted residents, dropped leaflets, phoned ahead to encourage evacuation. I won’t even go into how it’s been proven that Hamas fire from all these places, and store ammunition in all these places, trap their own civilians in these places… making their own people targets to further their political cause.

Sara, by all means dislike Israel, by all means let’s agree that innocent parties have suffered intolerably, by all means let’s campaign together to Free Gaza from Hamas rocket stores below and Israeli airplanes above. But you cannot just write “pre-meditated murder by Israel”, which you cannot prove, and then not expect to be questioned on it, as you are wrong.

SARA HENDERSON: No Blake Ezra , you are wrong. Waffle on as much as you like, you are still wrong.

BLAKE EZRA: Sara, I have just proven every word of your comment to be factually incorrect, and all you do is be dismissive and insulting. Unfortunately you are a massive part of the problem, not a part of the solution. It’s a well trodden path of having an opinion with no way of backing it up, and when someone proves this you ‘run off’. What a sad world we live in.

This was the end of the exchange.

Friends, the names in this post are real ones. Previously I have changed any names relating to such exchanges, but the honest truth is that if people are willing to publically share things they know to be untrue, or if they are willing to make bold definitive statements in public that they simply cannot back up, then they forego their right to anonymity when somebody proves that their behaviour is duplicitous at worst, or ignorant at best. I’ve said it many times before, there is no shame in not being informed about the situation in Israel and Gaza, no shame at all, but those who are uninformed should not speak out with extreme views, whoever they are and whatever those view may be in favour of. I know absolutely nothing about 17th Century Japanese pottery, so you won’t find me shouting about it on facebook or twitter.

Of course, nothing is as heart-wrenching as the physical conflict itself, and we pray for those who have suffered. It is so shocking, so deflating, that we live in a world where people are willing to be dishonest in their quest to influence others, they are willing to forego their integrity simply in order to ‘win’, whatever the hell ‘winning’ means. This is not about Israelis vs. Palestinians, it is about Moderates vs. Extremists, it is about Honesty vs. Lies.

We are facing tens of millions of ‘Danniis’ and ‘Saras’ who are un/intentionally spreading lies and hate, and it is actually more damaging than anything that happens in Israel and Gaza, as people all around the world are being driven apart, hate in every country. The increase of hate and mistrust CAN stop, but only if those on whichever ‘side’ of this mess can look at the issue not as black-and-white, but also seek out the grey areas that make this such a complex situation.

As a quick aside, when submitting blogs to the Times of Israel, there are a number of check-boxes at the bottom of the screen which can be ticked to categorise the post. Of course, for this one I immediately clicked on ‘Operation Protective Edge’ and ‘Gaza Rocket Attacks’. Due to the unsubstantiated words of Sara, and Dannii’s sharing of inaccurate information, I’ve also clicked on ‘fiction’.

About the Author
Blake Ezra is a writer on Middle Eastern Politics and the Jewish World, breaking down the complexities of difficult subjects to make them more accessible for any reader. Blake Ezra holds a BA (Hons) in Middle Eastern Politics from Manchester University and is a Graduate of the Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad in Jerusalem.
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