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Do You Know Your ABCs?

by Jack Botwinik; Aug 2, 2014 at 11:53:29 PM

I don’t like reading Western media reports about the Israel-Hamas conflict. Why?

Because people on both sides accuse the Western media of bias, while the media adamantly claims to be objective and to manifest high standards of journalistic integrity. So how can I possibly know whom to believe?

Fortunately, everyone – including the Western media – would agree that journalists who cover world events should have at least some basic knowledge of the social, historical, and geopolitical context in which the events occur.

So I propose the following seven TRUE or FALSE questions as a quick way to test the knowledge level of journalists who cover the Israel-Hamas conflict, before they are sent off on assignment:

1. True or False? Just as there are pro-Palestinian rallies in Israel, so too there are pro-Israel rallies in Gaza. The media has just been too busy to cover them.

2. True or False? If a visibly Hassidic Jew walked in the streets of Gaza, as long as he kept his political views to himself, he would probably just be left alone.

3. True or False? In war, the number of civilian casualties is proportionate to the degree of moral culpability of the side that inflicts the casualties regardless of whether the casualties are intentional or not. The fact that the higher casualty side actively encourages and openly praises the martyrdom of its civilians and uses them as human shields is also irrelevant.

4. True or False? If the leaders of one side openly call for the destruction of the other, it shouldn’t be held against them. After all, they are just reiterating what their Charter tells them.

5. True or False? The fact that one side’s religious ideology calls for the entire world to adopt its beliefs and conform to its laws, even if by force, is not a serious problem. Everyone’s entitled to their own global ambitions.

6. True or False? Text without context is not necessarily pretext. Besides, the public is too busy to concern itself with context. Images speak louder than words.

7. True or False? Just as Palestinian civilians can walk into any Israeli hospital and expect to receive care, so too Israeli civilians could expect to receive care in any Gaza hospital. The fact that there are no Israeli civilians in Gaza is beside the point. The fact that hospitals in Gaza are being used to shoot rockets targeting Israeli civilians is also irrelevant.

These are only a few questions. There are many more, but I didn’t want to make it too difficult for the novice journalists. Hopefully, they (and their more seasoned newsroom editors) would get at least some of the answers correct. If and when that happens (please let me know), I would be more likely to pick up a Western newspaper.

Published: August 2, 2014


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