Losing the TV War

Two Hebrew University lecturers say Israel is being defeated on the news’ “TV war”:

There are many reasons for this daily thrashing on the world’s screens. A major one emerges from the contrast between the striking invisibility of terror and the salience of daily images of Israeli military action.

The media know that clashes are attention grabbers: Squaring-off turns audiences on. Contests draw attention, as family feuds, shouting contests at the office, or brawls on city streets daily demonstrate.

One protagonist is the terrorist sporadically striking out of nowhere at vulnerable civilian populations; the other is a powerful organized army systematically confronting Palestinians as the terrorists vanishes into crowded urban habitats.

Television indeed gets repulsively exciting footage of one side of this satanic equation: impregnable tanks storming stone-throwing children, hellfiring helicopters targeting decrepit station wagons, young soldiers, armed to the teeth, confronting the elderly, the pregnant, the infant, at security checkpoints, too frequently with undue violence.

But on the other side of the equation, when the terrorists play their hand, television is impotent: It can show no dramatic contest or realtime violence: Terrorists strike where they are least expected. Unlike tanks and infantry battalions, they cannot be identified, let alone filmed, until it’s too late.