For Obama, torturers are patriots »« The NFL is a disgrace

How can we be calm when discussing so many dead children?

Israeli attack kills Palestinian babyGiles Fraser is British journalist who has had it up to here with what is going on in Gaza.

He says that he is fed up with the language of studied neutrality that reporters try to maintain in the Gaza conflict when they are constantly having to deal with dead children, blasted to bits by Israeli shelling, like fellow journalist Peter Beaumont who encountered a tear-stricken father who had gathered up the remains of his two-year old son in a plastic bag. The photograph on the right that accompanied Giles’s article is of a 40-day old baby who died as a result of Israeli attacks, one of the many that has led him to this state where he thinks that maintaining a studied distance is no longer possible for him.

Well, I admit it: I have been losing my cool. During the week, I decided that it didn’t make sense for me to write about Gaza any more. I was no longer interested in sitting calmly at my desk turning out more apparently ordered sentences, purporting to run smoothly from one solid proposition to another. At times, I feel shut down by the sheer horror of it all, encased in some bitter despondency, unable properly to process the frustration.

I think of the remains of that two-year-old boy that our Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont was presented with in a plastic bag. And the kids packed into that UN school, sleeping on mattresses, expecting that a blue flag would keep them safe. My focal point wouldn’t extend past that horror. I see it up close and personal.

And when Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, comes on the radio, intoning that false, calm sympathy straight out of the PR handbook, I want to scream. [I have the same reaction when I see his smug face lying to cover up the war crimes-MS]

Being calmly rational about dead children feels like a very particular form of madness. Whatever else journalistic objectivity is, it surely cannot be the elimination of human emotion.

Marin Lejeune has been in Gaza since July 22 and cannot believe what he is seeing and experiencing in the wanton destruction by Israel of civilian targets.

The war in Gaza is a war against civilians.

Since I have arrived, countless civilian targets have been bombarded in broad daylight with clear sky and in free sight.

I simply cannot understand the motivation of the Israeli armed forces. Why would they intentionally aim at civilian targets and bombard large gatherings of people? Precise knowledge of the targets in the cross thread should be available through the surveillance drones, which deliver high resolution imagery. Why are the pilots in their fighter jets deliberately killing women and children?

Lejeune says that rather than weakening the will of the Palestinians, the ones he meets are more determined than ever to fight for their rights.

The sheer scale of Israel’s barbarity is causing it to rapidly lose the support it once had even in the UK, with the media and politicians increasingly criticizing it. The US seems to be the last place where people still take seriously Israel’s claims of being a small nation acting in self-defense. What the rest of the world sees is a military power that is unleashing its weaponry on a defenseless population and killing indiscriminately.

But the US media and its government, far from being disgusted by what is plain to see, actually cheers on the carnage. All those who are supposedly progressive have been either conspicuously silent or speaking out in favor of Israel, people like New Jersey senator Cory Booker who sounds like he is a paid spokesperson for the Israel lobbying organization AIPAC.

Who will be the first US congressperson or major news media figure to see the obvious and publicly criticize Israel’s actions?

Comments

  1. robertrichter says

    Does entertaining overwrought emotions about vivid images of dead children really serve any useful purpose? Good journalism avoids emotional language for a good reason. Children have died in every war ever. That’s probably something politicians should think about before starting wars, but it’s not something journalists need to dwell on while they’re happening.

    I very much doubt that Israel is deliberately targeting children. There’s no conceivable military objective that would serve. Even out-and-out genocide would benefit greatly from different tactics.

    Weapons miss. When destructive enough weapons miss, substantial unintended damage is done. What we’re seeing is the result of a dramatic mismatch in capability, and of *two* sides with little concern about civilian casualties in Gaza.

    To understand what’s going on, you have to understand the enemy Israel thinks it’s fighting: an implacable foe bent on their utter destruction. It doesn’t matter that Hamas might as well be trying to teleport to the moon through transcendental meditation. In that context, it matters a lot less that the Iron Dome system can swat their rockets out of the sky, it matters that they insist on continuing to fire them.

    To be clear, I don’t support Israel’s actions, but I think they’re understandable. It’s far from clear that they have better options.

  2. says

    To top it off, Israel is declaring the bombing of tunnels (read: anything they claim are “tunnels”, such as buildings nearby containing civilians) as exempt from any “cease fire”.

    The US turned a blind eye to the mass murder of jews during World War II, even though the US government knew it was going on, even though it knew sending the SS St. Louis back to Europe would condemn a thousand to death.

    The US will sit back and do nothing as the genocide and ethnic cleansing continue. It wll only act when forced to (e.g. a third country bombing Israel), and right now, no external event seems likely to happen.

  3. says

    The US seems to be the last place where people still take seriously Israel’s claims of being a small nation acting in self-defense.

    Don’t forget Germany, where politicians unconditionally support Israel with that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you watch other people die for the crimes you committed…

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    The US seems to be the last place where people still take seriously Israel’s claims of being a small nation acting in self-defense.

    No, you can add Stephen Fucking Harper and his government to the Axis of Atrocity Enablement.

  5. rq says

    Lejeune says that rather than weakening the will of the Palestinians, the ones he meets are more determined than ever to fight for their rights.

    This phrase strongly reminds me of a part of the opening conversation in the movie Gladiator, where Maximus’ aide Quintus says (of the German Celts?): “A people should know when they are conquered.” To which Maximus replies, “Would you, Quintus? Would I?”
    Kind of tangential, I know, but there’s a dichotomy in attitudes about the Palestinians along these lines. Some people think they should understand that they are beaten, that they should roll over and give up. But others understand that sometimes, there is no giving up, especially if your very existence and identity are threatened.
    (This is not to be read as an endorsement of Hamas, because the desire to survive and maintain one’s identity are far more encompassing than some political affiliation. Nor does ‘not giving up’ imply overt violent and/or military action.)

    The more I see of this conflict, the less I understand those people who attempt to justify Israel’s actions as self-defense, or even those who deplore any attempt to humanize the Palestinians or expressions of sympathy for them.
    I’m usually torn between screaming and crying, though.

    Also, apparently there was a Support Israel rally at the Israeli Embassy in Riga today. I didn’t go. I pretend it didn’t happen. I’d like to put some flowers down at the Palestinian one, though… oh. Right.

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    rq: Sometimes, understanding is beside the point. If my loved ones have been blown to bits, I may just want to hit back, regardless of consequences. I don’t know, and hope I never do.

    As I and others have said before; Israel is Hamas’ best recruiter.

    I’m usually torn between screaming and crying, though.

    Yeah, that.

  7. says

    I’d say something like “I will never vote for a US politician who voices unreserved support for Israel” except, then, I’d never vote at all.

  8. aashiq says

    It is outrageous that the US media has been pacified to such a degree that they are terrified to point out that Jews are killing babies, for fear of being called anti Semitic.

    What Israel is doing….80% of the deaths are civilians is abhorrent.

    The fact that YOUR taxes and mine are paying for it makes it our responsibility to do something about it.

  9. rq says

    Rob

    If my loved ones have been blown to bits, I may just want to hit back, regardless of consequences.

    Yeah, that. Been kind of thinking through ‘what if’ situations lately.
    Still don’t know. :/
    I’ll keep up with the screaming vs. crying.

  10. Holms says

    @1
    Does entertaining overwrought emotions about vivid images of dead children really serve any useful purpose? Good journalism avoids emotional language for a good reason. Children have died in every war ever. That’s probably something politicians should think about before starting wars, but it’s not something journalists need to dwell on while they’re happening.

    You’re forgetting that journalists are human, and can’t help but have emotions, especially when reporting on sometthing so horrible as dead families in war.

    As for Israel’s intent, we don’t know their motive (unless perhaps it is pure cruelty), but they are absolutely guilty of intentional slaughter regardless of what they may or may not gain by doing so. They have been caught bombing designated UN civilain shelters multiple times, without even the flimsy excuse of nearby rocket fire.

  11. Ed says

    There are times when appearing neutral in the sense of a calm tone and less inflammatory language is necessary for effective communication but there is no reason a journalist or anyone else must remain truly neutral on issues of fundamental moral concern.

    Bureaucrat-speak and euphemisms hide horrible truths. Appeal can be made to emotions and reason at the same time. They are two aspects of the same human mind. Presentation of war should not be sanitized. People can’t make an informed judgement without seeing or hearing about what is going on.

    Crimes by Palestinian groups are constantly given attention, even years after the fact. There have been cases where these deserved condemnation. Hamas in particular is not a civilized organization and they had to know that their weak, random rocket attacks would bring this kind of response.

    The IDF acts as if it is at war with a modern military and facing destruction at any moment(and goes to great lengths to promote this view at home and abroad), despite the overwhelming success of its missile defense system and the poor quality and inaccuracy of Hamas` technology.

    The civilian victims on both sides deserve recognition, but we need to keep in mind the vast difference in power, wealth and options between members of the two populations.

  12. mildlymagnificent says

    I very much doubt that Israel is deliberately targeting children.

    You must then disbelieve all the UN officials who tell us that they’ve notified the Israelis repeatedly of the GPS coordinates of the schools and other buildings which they’ve designated as refuges for civilians. In one case I specifically recall an official said that they’d notified them 17 times – seventeen times – of one particular school which the Israelis shelled during the night when the children were sleeping. And they’re still notifying them even though they know that the Israelis might choose to target them.

    Alternatively you have to believe that the targeting on the weapons systems is not as pinpoint accurate as everyone brags about in other circumstances and/or that the Israelis are cavalier about the safety of children and other civilians when operating those systems regardless of their known accuracy/inaccuracy.

    None of those options are remotely palatable, let alone morally defensible.

  13. lorn says

    Reality does not offend me.

    Emotion is indicative of nothing. Or shall we debate issues by seeing who can make the most compelling argument through interpretive dance?

  14. jamessweet says

    The sheer scale of Israel’s barbarity is causing it to rapidly lose the support it once had even in the UK, with the media and politicians increasingly criticizing it.

    Yeah, I noticed that the Beeb’s coverage has been pretty consistently focusing on the humanitarian disaster aspect of it (i.e. the child-murderin’), at least in the headlines on the website. Good on them.

  15. lorn says

    Raging Bee @ #14:
    For a comment that has “absolutely nothing meaningful” it sure got your panties in enough of a twist to motivate you comment back. Just because I don’t rely on emotions to make judgments doesn’t mean I don’t know how to manipulate emotions.

    I could spend a lot of time discussing how strategy, tactics, weapons systems and political conflicts work and go on to point out how a lack of Palestinian efforts to protect the children are at least as responsible as any Israeli actions, or how it is entirely expected that people over value short term losses more than even greater long term losses, but I simply don’t see anyone here who would apprehend even the basic points. Emotion is the cruel and tyrannical dictator of the human mind. The level of conversation seems to stay at the level of emotion a plant could comprehend. It all has to be filtered in terms of good guys and bad guys, right/wrong, feel good/ feel bad. Reason is subjugated to emotion. Which is how propaganda works.

  16. Rob Grigjanis says

    lorn @16:

    I could spend a lot of time discussing how strategy, tactics, weapons systems and political conflicts work…

    I’m sure you could. You are, I think, what my native dialect calls a ‘pub bore’. Not sure how that translates into Standard English. You’re also someone who (I’m guessing) hasn’t had his kids shredded into mincemeat. That always helps, rationalism-wise.

  17. Holms says

    I could spend a lot of time discussing how [...] a lack of Palestinian efforts to protect the children are at least as responsible as any Israeli actions…

    You’d be wrong, and now your selective research is showing. Check out Mano’s list of Israel enforced restrictions Palestinians have to endure from two or three pages back before resuming (a.k.a. losing) this point.

  18. says

    Just because I don’t rely on emotions to make judgments doesn’t mean I don’t know how to manipulate emotions.

    So you have nothing useful to say, but you’re spouting meaningless bullshit just to get a reaction and pretend you’re superior to all of us. Got it.

    I could spend a lot of time discussing how strategy, tactics, weapons systems and political conflicts work and go on to point out how a lack of Palestinian efforts to protect the children are at least as responsible as any Israeli actions…

    You’ve already tried to do that, and you’ve already been proven wrong, in the thread Holms just cited.

    Emotion is the cruel and tyrannical dictator of the human mind. The level of conversation seems to stay at the level of emotion a plant could comprehend.

    Right — people who give a shit about the suffering of others are sheeple tyrannized by irrationality, while people who don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves are brave freethinkers who get to sneer down on everyone else and pretend they win every argument. The problem with that attitude is that the people who pretend to be the most dispassionate almost always turn out to be the LEAST insightful. Your smug empty bullshit confirms this, lorn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>