November 20, 2012 | 9:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
It's been seven days now since operation Pillar of Defense got the green light. For seven days, missiles have been fired at both Israel and Gaza, and people have been suffering from both physical and mental injuries. Honestly, nothing's really changed in the last seven days. The IDF is still trying to target terrorists, and Hamas is still firing on schools and residential areas while operating within civilian areas so that they could make it seem as if Israel is targeting civilians as well. Palestinians and Israelis are still under fire, and the IDF still battles terrorism. True, every day that goes by, more houses are being destroyed, more schools are being hit and more people get hurt. But all in all, there hasn't been a significant change in the situation. On the second day of the operation I looked at mainstream American news sites, and showed you the inaccuracy in some of their stories. Some were partially wrong while others were completely and utterly not factual. Five days later, a glance at several sites shows, once again, inaccurate stories. Journalism, by its own definition, is supposed to be balanced and as accurate as possible, but as it turns out, not all news channels adhere to these standards. These reports show that when it comes to attracting audiences, when there is a possibility for a juicy story, truth can sometimes be overlooked. From partial truths to completely imbalanced reports- here are the news sites you should avoid reading nowadays:
"CNN has multiple crews in Gaza, Israel and neighboring countries to bring you the latest accurate information on the conflict, the impact on people and talks to stop the violence. Turn to CNN TV andCNN.com for what you need to know now"- this short statement appeared right before a summary on operation Pillar of Defense, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After this promise for a balanced report on the impact of the conflict on the people, an utterly imbalanced report appears. The article summarized the operation, presenting interviews with Palestinians and love reports from the reporter in Gaza, as opposed to quotes from Israeli officials. Now you tell me: if you read a description of a wrecked Gaza and of "children pulled from the rubble after one airstrike in Gaza", brought to you by a professional reporter who witnesses it all first handwho’s side would you be on?. This reporter later interviews innocent Palestinian civilians who say how impossible life is under IDF attacks. After all of this, you read a quote by an Israeli official saying that one million Israelis are under attack. No quotes from Israeli civilians and certainly no description of what their life is like under Hamas rockets. When reading an article like that, which you believe is balanced, because is it what it claims to be, what is the image that will come to mind? Where would your sympathy go? I am not saying Palestinians don't suffer from this operation. I know they do and I think people should know and acknolwledge that. But this is NOT a war between the Israeli military and Palestinian civilians. In this story, there are two armies and two groups of innocent civilians. Both sides are being hurt. CNN failed to present that destruction is happening on both sides, that the IDF constantly warns Palestinians of upcoming attacks and that the Hamas couldn't care less.
Later, the very same CNN shows a Q&A, for people who want to get a better understanding of the conflict. This would have been a blessed initiative if it weren’t for their imbalanced biased report. The first question alone, " What has caused the Israelis to strike so hard inside Gaza?", indicates that the purpose of this Q&A is far from explaining the whole story. The opposite question, what has caused Hamas to strike to hard inside Israel, does not appear.
CBS is also adopting a very pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli tone, but there it is done in a more subtle way than at CNN. On the surface, they are giving a full report on what happens in Gaza: death toll rises as the IDF targets militants in civilian areas. This indicates the basic understanding of the fact that Hamas is, in fact, hiding within civilian areas to enhance the IDF's attack on innocent people and get more sympathy from the world. What is most interesting about CBS's website is their photo album named: "Israel, Palestinians in deadly clashes." This photo album presents images of wounded Palestinians (mainly small children, of course), and of Israeli missiles hitting buildings in Gaza. It shows Palestinians cry for help, holding infants, and Palestinians being rescued from rubble. Few images show Palestinian youth throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and Israelis running for shelter with smiles on their faces. More photos of Israel are of the Iron Dome system successfully defending Israel. Now you tell me, what would you think if you had no idea what is going on, and you'd look at this photo album? On the Palestinian side- pain, tears, and stones as the only weapon against the strong Israeli army (no Hamas terrorists in the pictures, by the way). On the Israeli side- strong defense and confidence.
I'll be the first to admit- there are more Palestinian casualties than Israeli ones. This is due to Hamas' hiding places along with Israel's sophisticated defense system. However, this does not mean that Iron Dome is successful in blocking every single missile fired to Israel. Just yesterday, a school was directly hit by one of Hamas' rockets. People in Israel are living in terror. Children spend their days hiding from missiles instead of playing Hide and Seek, and running in fright to the sound of alarms instead of playing Tag. No children should have this kind of childhood and the world should be made aware of it. Israel is not immune. Rockets are not being fired back automatically when reaching city centers and schools in Israel. For some reason, CBS sure makes it look that way.
Like everyone else, NBC also couldn't resist reporting on the rise of the death toll in Gaza. As I mentioned before- this is a juicy story. Death attracts more readers than life in fear. However, I must say that NBC's report is rather balanced. One of the top stories in the Middle East section is of an Israeli family struggling for normal life under Hamas' attacks. NBC news succeeded in realizing what CNN and CBS missed (or intentionally ignored): Israeli civilians are also under brutal attack. Israeli children are in constant search for shelter and have no normal childhood, as rockets are constantly being fired from Gaza for many years. This is not a one sided attack- no matter how you spin it.
FOX News, I'm afraid, also failed to present a balanced report this time. Just like CNN ignored the situation in Israel, FOX ignored the situation in Gaza. It shows reports of the missiles fired from Gaza to Israeli civilian locations but does not say a word on Palestinian casualties. As IDF targets only militants, the reports there show just the successful hits. This, in my opinion, is also the wrong kind of journalism. Palestinians in Gaza are being hurt, just like Israelis are. Hamas is operating within civilian areas and even though the IDF sends warnings to the Palestinians minutes before it fires a missile, people are getting hurt. This is the full picture, and it should be presented.
In war, innocents from both sides get hurt, and make no mistake, this is war. When I read "accurate reports" presenting this as a one-sided attack, it makes my heart ache. What makes it even worse is the fact that my cry is almost unheard. It reaches almost nowhere and people continue to get the very wrong picture presented by foreign media. Israeli officials cannot order the IDF to put down their weapons because Hamas refuses to cease fire. Last night, Israel suggested truce for 24 hours, and in response, Hamas bombed Jerusalem, while Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon visited there. Israel has the right to defend itself and I wish there were no casualties in this process. But when I wake up every night drenched in sweat because I thought I heard the alarm, I support my brother, who's a soldier, and the entire IDF as they protect my family and me, while risking their lives in effort to minimize the attacks on Palestinian civilians. For us, the voice of the Israelis who live under attack is unheard- SHARE THE TRUTH!
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