Here and there: Manipulating the truth

The power of the TV screen.

Displaced members of the Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Displaced members of the Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In the early days of Operation Protective Edge, the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder,  gave an interview to The Jerusalem Post in which he accused the international media of fanning anti-Semitism.
For those of us who have suffered the news reports from the BBC, France 24 and the like, there is no doubt that we would agree with Lauder’s sentiments.
Without access to the news reports from Israel, one would imagine that we Israelis woke up one morning and decided to kill as many Gaza men, women and children as possible. Somehow, the fact that Islamist Hamas was bombarding Israel with rockets long before Operation Protective Edge seems to have evaporated into thin air, as far as the international media are concerned.
In a nutshell, our crime is that we are a country that believes in protecting its citizens, which is why we have managed to avoid the deaths of thousands. Without Iron Dome, the shelters and safe rooms, one dreads to think what could have happened to the population of Tel Aviv and especially to the people living in the South.
Indeed, as I write this article, close to 4,000 rockets have been launched at Israel since the beginning of July.
The word “disproportionate” has been used constantly in the media.
What I have found to be exceedingly disproportionate is the airtime the other side receives compared to us. Yes, casualties, especially of children, do make the headlines, and we here in Israel are sickened to see the death of any child – even one is too many. We celebrate life, not death, and that, sadly, is the difference between us and our enemies.
What a pity, though, that a BBC reporter did not pay a visit to Sderot, where he would find hundreds of children who have been on tranquilizers for many years.
Why? Because they live in a city that gives them 15 seconds to reach the shelter or safe room when the Color Red alert sounds, and they have spent too many days in shelters instead of outside having fun.
What a shame that there was no time for that BBC reporter to speak to parents in Sderot, in Netivot, in the Eshkol region and especially on the kibbutzim bordering Gaza, who were shocked to find Hamas tunnels literally on their doorstep.
What is disproportionate (in the eyes of the world’s media) is that Israeli civilians were not actually killed in vast numbers. The whole media exercise has become a numbers game.
Disproportionate, in my book, is a situation in which “expert” interviewees are carefully selected because their hostile stance toward Israel is already known.
Disproportionate is when the BBC TV program World Have Your Say devotes an extended period of time to a Jewish woman who was born in Israel but is living in London, who says she is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and then goes on to say that we are carrying out a massacre in Gaza and she is ashamed of Israel. This was considered the “Israeli” perspective, so we could then be subjected to the Hamas side.
Another time, we had to suffer an interview with Daniel Levy, a Jew who once lived in Israel and was an adviser to former Meretz leader Yossi Beilin. A brilliant spokesman, he believes that the Americans and Europeans should put pressure on Israel to halt its aggression against Hamas, and that the world should treat Israel as it did South Africa prior to its liberation and introduce a total boycott. After all, one cannot do “better” than find a Jew who is hostile to Israel.
I know how the BBC works, because I have been there personally. Back in 1993, I was the chairwoman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. It was the time of the signing of the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn. I received a phone call from the BBC, in which I was told it was planning, in about 30 minutes, to interview connected individuals to obtain their reactions to the agreement. They asked for mine.
I responded that I saw it as exceedingly positive – a step toward the long-awaited peace that every Israeli was dreaming of and waiting for. I was told that I would probably be contacted shortly. Was I? No.
Instead they chose to air the then-head of Herut in the UK, whose views were the opposite of mine and totally against the idea of making peace with the Palestinians.
A perfect example of how to convey the message the BBC wishes to convey.
Aside from the one-sided concentration on Gaza, the dead and the dying, there was something of even greater significance that was missing from the media reports on the conflict. There appears to be a clear policy not to mention any connection between the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas, whose charter calls for the annihilation of Israel, and the other Islamic factions murdering hundreds of thousands throughout the Middle East and extending to Nigeria.
We see Christians being murdered and Christian girls being kidnapped in Nigeria, simply because their “salvation” will only come when they convert to Islam.
We witness the almost daily massacres in Iraq, which also focuses on the murder of Christians. Just one week ago, Islamic State – known for its harsh interpretation of Wahhabi Islam and its brutal violence – took over the town of Qaraqosh, home to the largest number of Christians in Iraq, resulting in tens of thousands fleeing to autonomous Kurdistan.
At the same time, one of Iraq’s oldest minorities, some 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect, have taken refuge on Mount Sinjar for fear of being murdered by IS.
Around 500 have already been murdered and some 500 women abducted as slave concubines. These people were stranded on the mountain without food or water, and exposed to the elements.
The US sent planes to drop food and water for these suffering people, and has since been joined by Britain and France; but aside from that, where are the worldwide demonstrations? Why has the UN’s Human Rights Council not held an emergency session? Libya and Afghanistan are in turmoil, to say nothing of Syria, but the West’s attitude is not to get involved, and the media’s lack of interest reflects that position.
Back to us. What is it about Israel that attracts the media’s attention in the most negative manner? How come we have become the focus of hatred, as reflected in mass demonstrations against Israel and the Jewish people? To see blatant anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head once more is shocking, with vandals defacing synagogues and burning Jewish businesses, as occurred in a suburb of Paris. My husband remembers Kristallnacht; his synagogue, where his father was the rabbi, was set alight – and this experience brings today’s happenings sharply into focus.
As the dust settles on Operation Protective Edge and as the reporters emerge from Gaza and feel safe enough to report on the reality – that too many civilian deaths in Gaza were the result of Hamas’s human shield policy – will the world begin to see what we know to be the truth? We can only hope that this will happen.
But even if it does, sadly, as we have learned previously, it is too late to make a difference. We Israelis have been projected as the bad guy, and this, it would appear, is what all those demonstrators supporting Hamas want to believe.
In so doing, they are confident enough to overtly raise a banner of anti-Semitism, the likes of which we have not seen since Hitler’s Germany. ■ The writer is the chair of ESRA and has been active in public affairs and status-ofwomen issues.