|It is always hard going back to school after an extended vacation. I sit in my chair on the first day back in my journalism class, trying to replace the urge to go to the bar with my friends, with a mindset of reading, writing, and generally working hard.
The professor begins the class by asking what was going on in the news and what kind of a job the media was doing at covering it. The answer to this seems pretty obvious to me. With Canada's parliament prorogued and Obama waiting in the wings to take power in the US on 20 January, the headlines have been dominated by the war in Gaza.
I remarked that media coverage of this event seems formulaic and redundant. "Every story says the same things: Israel is attacking Hamas to try and stop rocket attacks; causalities are mounting; some world leader said Israel is using disproportional force; and foreign journalists are not allowed into Gaza," I said. I could pretty much write this story in my sleep and everyday I see the same story in the news.
A class discussion ensued, with people offering various critiques on how the media was handling this event. However, after not too long, someone tried to move the discussion from a critique of the media to a critique of Israeli policy. "What people are not being told is that this war is all one sided," said one of my classmates. "Over 700 Palestinians have been killed, while only four Israelis have been killed by rocket attacks."
This seems quite obvious to me. When you have a professional military squaring off against a group of terrorists with far fewer resources, of course the casualties are going to be one-sided. This is the same "disproportional force" argument that keeps coming up in the news. I would like to know what a proportional response would be? If Israel sent in missiles without aiming, would that be proportional? If Israel deliberately fired upon civilian, rather than military targets, would that be proportional? Because that is exactly how Hamas has been terrorizing the innocent people living in Southern Israel.
The point is not that the Palestinians have sustained higher casualties than the Israelis. The point is that one side has tried to minimise civilian casualties, while the other side has tried to maximise civilian casualties. Melanie Phillips puts things into perspective:
The worst thing is the moral inversion, in which the murderous victimisation of innocent Israelis is ignored while their murderers are described as ‘civilians’ when they are finally killed by the Israelis -- who are demonstrably taking care to avoid civilian casualties wherever possible. Tragically, civilians always die in wars; and unfortunately there will undoubtedly be more civilian casualties in Gaza – along with deaths among Israeli troops -- as the war goes on. But the frenzied misrepresentations, double standards and moral inversion fuelling a hysteria in the west which in turn can only incite more genocidal violence are simply depraved. Particularly striking in its malice is the way in which the treatment of wounded Palestinians in Israeli hospitals is ignored – while news of the barbaric behaviour of Hamas in Gaza’s hospitals is airbrushed out of the picture.
Of course, I would not expect information such as how Israeli hospitals are treating injured Palestinians, while Palestinian hospitals are allowing Hamas agents to shoot injured prisoners in their hospital beds, to be disseminated in a lefty institution like a Canadian university. One thing's for sure, it's lonely over here on the right.