An Israeli soldier asks Paul Mason why the world hates Israel.
It was the second conversation of the day along the same lines: the guy who issued my press pass made the same points to me as the soldier: that “we don’t target civilians” and that Hamas’ infrastructure hides within civilian homes, hospitals etc.
To anybody who’s been anywhere near a military staff college, or an international law course, there is an obvious missing point in these justifications: soldiers, and their commanders, also have a duty to take precautions against killing civilians.
Not taking those precautions can be just as criminal as getting a rocket and firing it indiscriminately towards civilian areas as Hamas is doing.
In previous conflicts, even during Operation Cast Lead only six years ago, Israel was largely able to control the media picture of their warwaging, with arguments like those cited above. Even with bloggers and other new media channels hostile to their intepretation, the public still had to seek out those. Now though, with Twitter and less so, Facebook, the real facts of the war get shoved in your face and Israeli propaganda can’t compete with pictures of children killed by IDF strikes and can no longer control what’s being told about the war:
Reporting goes through an editing process; things that don’t conform to editorial policy can be weeded out; facts have to be cross-checked with other facts and claims. The reporting team itself – producer, reporter, camera crew, translator for TV – form an initial filter. But in Gaza, there is no filter; plus you are now getting camera crews and off-screen TV journalists tweeting. On newspapers, several different reporters will be tweeting, rather than it all going into the editorial machine and coming out as one thing.
But what I wonder how much it does matter that so many more ordinary people get to know something of the truth of Israel’s warcrimes when our own elites and the media are still reflexivily pro-Israel. We’ve seen what happened with the War on Iraq, where the public was opposed but they were in favour of the war.