And the Beat Goes On
By Tali Shapiro at Jan 27, 2009
Israeli media is on the loose again. Let's examine coverage of today's issue: "Did we respond strongly enough?"
A Difference of Opinion
The following are the opening paragraphs to two different articles about today's events in Gaza:
Ha'aratz would lead you to believe that this is how it happened:
"The Israel Air Force attacked targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon, hours after an Israeli soldier was killed and three others were wounded in a Palestinian-rigged bomb attack near the border. "
Al Jazeera phrases it like this:
"An Israeli soldier and a Palestinian are reported to have been killed in a clash near the Kissufim crossing along the border with the Gaza Strip."
Since there was an Israeli death, I expected the 8:00 O'clock news to make a big deal. I was surprised to learn that this "event" would only take up the first segment slot, in the program, and the rest would be business as usual. Soldiers weren't named and no families interviewed. Only officials and reporters spoke (limited by my translation):
"Palestinian spokespeople claim the man killed was an innocent farmer."
(Jacob Eilon, Anchorman- sets the stage for the report)
"This is a serious terrorist attack and this is not the response. We will respond and there's no point in elaborating on TV. You'll se it in the field."
(Ehud Barak, Minister of Defense)
"The important question is how is it possible with the heightened readiness and alertness of the IDF, they managed to slip under our noses?"
(Orr Heller, Army correspondent)
"The dilemma is how to respond strongly enough, but moderately?"
(Alon Ben-David, Army commentator)
"The closing of the checkpoints isn't efficient. There are well known ways to take care of such things."
(Amos Gilad, Major-General, reserves)
The Council of the Wise
"The Council of the Wise" is a political commentary show, in a format much like the American "The View" (but with only one woman). Six people of different political affiliations and a host, hack at the issues of the day. Here's what they had to say about the issue of today. A disturbing insight into the Israeli mind:
First, Dan Margalit (host) sets the stage:
"An IDF soldier was killed by a roadside bomb, near Kisufim. IDF fired back into clear areas... Is this the right response, firing into clear areas, for killing one of our soldiers?"
Ron Huldai (Brigadier General, reserves and mayor of Tel Aviv):
"This Issue, of responding or not responding, is exactly the question you asked when we deployed the operation in the second Lebanon war, And they said, we responded immediately with no discretion. And now you want me to tell you, immediately, we have to deploy with zeal and do something. So I say: Think first, then do. Let's wait 24 hours and see what we're talking about, before we form an opinion. And let's examine a few more things before we reenter Gaza."
"Is this a real "Tahadiya" [calm]?"
Gideon Levi (Ha'aretz reporter):
"It's sad that this happened, but the media chooses what it wants to broadcast. In these days of the ceasefire, IDF is constantly firing at fishermen in the sea of Gaza. No one acknowledges that. It doesn't count. Fishermen are wounded almost every day- I'm telling you these are facts- nobody reports this, but that's allowed, of course, because it's the IDF. So this is very sad, but I suggest we control ourselves. Ne question, self control, here, is wisdom."
Dov Wiesglass (former Spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Office):
"I think that if the policy of this operation was a policy of retaliation, to reenter would be a conceptual mistake not to respond and respond immediately with force. I'm not talking about entering [Gaza]... not every... Rather the policy should have been: "We came, we hit, we withdrew... Unilaterally." For every hit- for every violation of the ceasefire there should be a serious response, and I'd even say, not a measured response, of course within reasonable proportions. But we must respond and respond immediately."
Yaniv Eldad (Lawyer):
"The threesome [Netanyahu, Barak, Livny] promised that to every violation there will be a very severe response. Again, not delivering on what they promised, after the retreat from Lebanon and after the retreat from Gaza. There's no new price tag. We're at the beginning a very long era of not responding to violations. And again, this will bring to a second war. Another round."
Ari Shavit (Journalist, publicist and commentator):
"I agree with the Mayor of Tel Aviv I think the response must be very tough, it doesn't necessarily have to be immediate and quick. My favorite Prime Minister, Lavih Eshkol, said in his time: "The notepad is open and the hand is writing." We must respond, we don't have to respond immediately."
Yifat Erlich ("Makor Rishon" reporter):
"We can easily regard this as a one time event, and then comes another event and that's two, and another event and that's three. Just like our deterring ability dissipated before this deploying into Gaza. "
"When we learned geometry in school, they told us that a line is an endless collection of dots."
"That's right, and in the end it will turn into a line, that will again be colored in red. And, eventually, even as this war was going on, rockets were fired, from Lebanon, into Israeli territory and Israel chose to regard it as a one time event..."
"Was that a wise choice, or not? That might have been wise."
"I think it was wise because it was in a time of war..."
"Yes, we didn't want a second front."
"We can't afford to let these events turn into a red line, under any sercumssance. We have to respond very very powerfully. The whole victory... that was or wasn't in this war... is liable dissipate and dissolve if there is no clear and unequivocal plan B- What we do with the next Katiyusha that lands, or, of course, a sad event, such as today."
"IDF fired today, into clear areas, it's like... maybe that's proportional?"
"The problem is you say "IDF fired..." and take it as if that was the response. I assume that wasn't it. I don't understand why they fired into clear areas. I still don't trust the reports. I say that to think that from the minute there was a terrorist attack- immediately there has to be a response... I think that's a very wrong approach. And I persist; We must respond, respond harshly- as it should be done, and not within the first hour."
"This just shows that we haven't exactly achieved deterring ability. Continue waving the achievements of this war..."
"It's obvious that- for the wrong reasons, too- there will be a response to this matter and it will be a harsh response..."
"You are very optimistic- there won't be a response!"
"It's still too early to tell and I think we need the combination of toughness and discretion. That's the combination."
"If there's a response, then they are making good on their promises. If not, once again, it's a false promise."
"They're, now, with their eyes to the elections. The can't, under any circumstance, allow themselves a response and there won't be a response."
*Some yelling of "there will be a response"/"there won't be a response"*
"Lady and Gentlemen, we can't shed any new light on the subject let's move on."