Monday, October 23, 2023

Truth And War

Truth has always been the first casualty of war. The journalists who cover a war have a difficult task. Michael Harris writes:

War triggers a tribal impulse to take sides, to live in a world of black and white, to kill rather than communicate, and to turn on anyone who’s not on your side.  

Telling the truth is a dangerous occupation. It grows more perilous every year. In 2022, 67 journalists were killed, 35 of them in Ukraine, Mexico, and Haiti. Whether they are covering a war or uncovering corruption, theirs is a life-and-death occupation. 

Reuters video journalist Issam Abdullah was killed, and six of his colleagues from Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse were wounded, when Israeli rocket fire rained down on them at Alma al-Shaab in southern Lebanon on Oct. 13. The group was huddled together for safety, with their press identification prominently displayed.

No one is saying that this was a deliberate act, but neither side in a war welcomes impartial observers with cameras. That’s because there are always two wars going on in every conflict: the military battle, and the fight for the hearts and minds of the world. 

Winning the information war is just as important as winning the military contest. Supportive press is seen as good, critical stories as skewed, and unwelcome propaganda as aiding the enemy. 

That battle is going on in the present conflict:

When it was reported that Israel had bombed a hospital, killing hundreds of people, the coverage caused outrage, not only in the Middle East, but also around the world.

In an unheard of move, leaders from Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority cancelled an in-person summit with U.S. President Joe Biden. Deadly protests were triggered in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon, and there were even some drone attacks on U.S. forces in the region.

Even after Israel and the U.S. furnished some evidence to suggest that the hospital strike was actually an errant missile fired by Islamic Jihad, the narrative didn’t sell on the Arab street. Nor did it play much better on the international scene. 

China accused Israel of going beyond defending itself with its unprecedented aerial bombardment that has caused more than 4,000 civilian deaths in Gaza. Iran warned of consequences if the expected land invasion of Gaza takes place. Even in the United States, where the president has just asked for $106-billion to fund wars in Ukraine and Israel, there were large, pro-Palestinian protests outside the White House. 

The public-relations war over Gaza now has a new twist. The Netanyahu government has just approved measures that would temporarily shut down foreign news channels in certain “emergency” situations.

The last thing Israel wants the world to view is the brutal reality of what invading Gaza would actually look like. It will look like a blood-bath, and a lot of that blood will come from innocent men, women, and children who are not combatants. 

That’s why CNN, Reuters, the BBC, and Al Jazeera need to be there, along with as many news agencies as possible who have the resources to cover the war. 

Showing the horror is often the only way of stopping it.

In the coming weeks, we will all want to turn away. We must not do that.

Image: AZ Quotes


Northern PoV said...

"Even after Israel and the U.S. furnished some evidence"

In a Winston Churchill voice, dripping with contempt:

'some evidence'

Northern PoV said...

A much better source of commentary than the flailing M.H.:

"During the last decade, Israel had come close to achieving what for many of its citizens had been a longstanding aspiration: the ability to forget the Palestinians."

"This policy, pursued by the Israeli government with extensive material and diplomatic support from the US and the EU," "had for a while been extraordinarily successful,"

"On October 7, the bubble of immunity, built by Israel in order to silence and forget the Palestinians living under the crushing fist of its occupation, burst, and with it, the image of Israel as a normal country."

Northern PoV said...

"In war, PoV, evidence can be hard to find."

Thank you Owen, And you point is exactly why Bill Blair should have kept his mouth shut and the media should not add to the official bs.

Owen Gray said...

Cole has kept his eye on the Middle East for a long time, PoV.

jrkrideau said...

@ PYoV & Owen

An interesting analysis by a main-stream British TV channel

Human rights investigators raise new questions on Gaza hospital explosion

Owen Gray said...

The fog of war, jrk. Who do you believe?