Once again, Israelis are discussing their image as perceived by the international community and the general public; it’s one that has repeatedly cracked during the past few months. The horrifying scenes of Palestinian children who were killed in their sleep in the recent Beit Hanoun massacre revived memories of Israel’s butcheries in Lebanon, especially the children of Qana by virtue of the fact that innocent children were victimized in both tragedies.
The world media could not overlook the cruelty of the pictures of children and infants getting buried under the rubble as they slept. These scenes have renewed the old argument that Israelis always use whenever their military machine brutally slays the innocent. But the striking thing about this argument, which was featured in all the major newspapers and in the Israeli media, is its utter disregard of the continious targeting of civilians, both Palestinian and Lebanese, and its acceptance as a reality that is justified by virtue of conflict in the region.
An example is Ranan Gissin’s [Ariel Sharon’s former media advisor and the Israeli government’s spokesman] statement that the world must see pictures of armed Palestinians launching missiles at Israel because it is his belief that such scenes are not aired in the international media faithfully. Gissin called on the Israeli public and state to take advantage of Hezbollah’s methods of propaganda by asking Israeli networks to repeatedly air the scenes of the Israeli victims of suicide bomb attacks. In accordance with his view, Gissin believes that Israel still has many media battles to be won before tackling something like the Beit Hanoun massacres in order for the world to understand the Israeli position.
Former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, Zefi Mazel, has a more severe opinion; he believes that Israel should not apologize to the international community for massacres like Beit Hanoun since he deems that it does not warrant an apology. He even criticized Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for doing so, and asked Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, to hold a press conference in which to tell journalists what armed Palestinians are actually doing instead of making apologies. Mazel agrees on the point that the foreign press would not be able to ignore the reality of Israeli suffering if it is accurately relayed to them. And thus, the discussion veered far off the core of the problem to become a matter of media technicalities.
The opinions of Gissan, Mazel, and a large majority in Israel do not take into account Israel’s larger picture and the fact that these crimes affect their society and propagate vicious violence by making it seem as though it were the only option for the society as a whole. But they have gone beyond this argument to make it a technical issue, rather than a moral one. We are now confronted by an invitation for Israel to resume its massacres although it makes it seem as though matters were different.
And that’s where, once again, the media falls into the trap of politics with its lack of morals. The real test in this profession is the ability of those who work in this field to reveal the truth as it is without tampering with it or employing it to defend the image of a state which is in this case the criminal and transgressor.