There are three kinds of reporters, at least as far as the Israel/Palestine conflict is concerned. The first will be biased towards Palestine, the second biased towards Israel, and the third will try and write a reasonably balanced report that attempts to give both sides of the story.
As most of my articles are opinion based, I tell it as I see it personally. However, in saying that, I don’t intentionally twist the information I receive to make it more “sexy” for my views, and report the “facts” from what are supposed to be reliable sources. But as very few (if any) mainstream media outlets provide unbiased information, I tend to look at as many articles as possible in the hope of finding the truth somewhere in between.
In my experience of writing controversial articles, whether they involve Israel, George Bush or even Paris Hilton I have found the responses fall into two categories: Those who completely agree with my opinion, and those who completely disagree.
People are creatures of habit and frequently base their opinions on what they have heard from others, never stopping to wonder whether it might be right or wrong. How many times have you heard someone say “It must be true, I heard it on CNN!” (for example), but are some of the Mainstream News suppliers really that honest and without bias? Of course not!
Writing a news report without showing any bias is extremely difficult (very few can do it), you can always see what side the author favors. However, in an opinion based article we are entitled to do that, but it would still be nice if the author at least tried to show both sides of the argument.
Just lately I have been seeing reports that are so biased (from both sides) that I almost wish the internet would crash so that people’s minds are not poisoned by this rubbish!
I have just finished reading one (which I will not mention by name) that basically has this message: Hamas are wrong, Israel is right and you must not listen to any reports from the Palestinians because it will be all lies! Not once did the author mention anything negative about Israel, could they really be completely free of blame and mistakes? What sort of article is that? In fairness, I have also read similar articles promoting Hamas as right and not to listen to Israeli reports.
What I see in many biased reports is hatred and prejudice. Those supportive of Israel appear to have a strong hatred of Arabs, but this is perhaps not surprising as the MSM have promoted the idea that Arabs=Islam=Terrorists. Those who swing the other way (more supportive of Palestine) see Israel=Jews=Terrorists.
So who can we believe? My advice would be to completely ignore any article that places all the blame on just one side. It takes two to tango! A reader should look at every article with an open mind: Is the author using certain words to make one side look worse than the other? Are you reading the article in the hope of seeing something that supports your hatred and prejudice, or are you prepared to read it without making a conclusion beforehand?
In conflicts of this nature it is almost impossible to believe any report. Of course Hamas will milk any attack to the maximum, inflating casualties and perhaps even inventing situations that don’t exist. They too are looking for sympathy and this is the main weapon in their arsenal. It stands to reason that Hamas will want to report a high death toll for support, just as Israel will want to keep the figures low for the same purpose.
During the Battle of Britain, Britain would report much lower losses than actually occurred. This was to deceive Germany and also designed to keep British spirits as high as possible. Germany, on the other hand, would inflate the numbers to create a different illusion.
These tactics are not new, and both sides in a war do it. To believe that both sides can be blameless is very naive.
Unfortunately, what most people are missing in the Israel/Hamas conflict is the real cause. Everyone is so determined to blame one side or the other in this latest fight that they forget how it all started. Let’s try and remember that the Palestinians lived on that land for centuries before Israel declared independence 60 years ago. Thousands of Palestinians lost their homes and land as a result (without any compensation), how would we feel about that, if it happened to us?
How did the Native Indians in America react when they were being killed and having their land stolen from them? What about the Irish and Northern Ireland? Are the Palestinians any different? Is it because the media have made many of us think that all Muslims are terrorists that we don’t care? Where does all this hatred come from?
The reason Israel have been unable to find peace in the Middle East is because they are not welcome there, they are seen as a people who have taken (stolen?) the land from its rightful owners and are not prepared to consider sharing it. That is the problem.
Maybe Israel can learn something from the long running conflict seen in Northern Ireland? Many lost their lives in that conflict, and even though many British soldiers were killed, the British government didn’t carry out air strikes on the places where the IRA might be hiding (because this would have caused high civilian casualties). Eventually, the British (and those in Northern Ireland) realized that peace would never be obtained without talks, compromise and a plan to share the power.
If it can work for Northern Ireland, it can work for Israel too. Both sides need to understand that a solution will never be obtained with bombs, at some point they must talk and reach a settlement that is “mutually” acceptable to both sides. The discussion must be carried out without threats or conditions, peace should be the most important goal.
It would certainly help if more reporters were to promote this aspect, instead of letting their personal hatred add fuel to the fire. World leaders could also do more by treating all offenders in an equal manner, but this has not happened. We only have to compare the US reactions to Russia last summer and Israel today to see the difference. If someone is doing something wrong, no matter who they are (Hamas, Israel, Russia, United States, China, Georgia etc.) they should all be judged in the same way!