Some Observations on Naqba Coverage

Looking at the coverage of yesterday’s events, I was struck by a number of things:

  • Protestors or infiltrators?

Most of the headlines referred to Israel opening fire on “protestors” or “demonstrators”. But these were not your run of the mill protests. They were actual attempts, and in the case on the Golan, a successful one, to breach Israel’s borders. Let’s remember that we aren’t dealing with the Belgian-Dutch or even the US-Mexican border where illegal migrants may attempt to get across in search of a better life. Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza are hostile ones.

Any infiltration has to be taken seriously and that is how the press should also have treated these incidents – as attempts to illegally breach a sovereign nation’s borders.

And what of the many headlines leading with Israel “opening fire”? Once again the story is painted in terms of Israeli aggression rather than an Israeli response to a provocation. This is probably exactly the outcome that those behind these incidents were hoping for – a media event designed to draw IDF forces into a confrontation in front of the TV cameras, and, in Syria’s case, to distract from the oppression taking place there.

  • Opening fire on unarmed civilians?

While watching Sky News, it was quite disturbing to hear Middle East correspondent Dominic Waghorn compare Israel’s actions to those of Syria i.e. both are opening fire on unarmed civilians. Come on Dominic – do you really believe that there is any realistic comparison?

Over 800 dead Syrians is testament to the Syrian regime’s utter disregard for the lives of its own citizens and Bashar Assad’s determination to use absolute brute force to quell a domestic uprising.

While a dozen dead and many injuries are, of course, tragic, there is no doubt that had Israel been operating the same policies as Syria towards crowd control or stopping riots, Israeli soldiers would have simply mowed down the infiltrators and stone throwers with machine guns and we would be looking at hundreds of dead people rather than the relatively few that resulted from yesterday’s incidents.

Hopefully the dust will settle on what was a particularly nasty day and maybe the media will look at these incidents within the wider context now that some of them have realized that the Middle East doesn’t always revolve around Israel and the Palestinians. But I wouldn’t count on it.