Martijn at Closer has posted something interesting about a picture making the rounds on the Internet. Like many others, I was shocked at the picture I saw of Israeli children decorating missiles that were destined for targets in Lebanon. Our emotions being close to the surface as they are these days I as well as many others was quick to judge the picture as being an example of the way hatred was being bred into a new generation of children.
The article below was a reminder for me that we as Muslims should be very aware of the propensity of the media to exagerrate, and tell half truths and outright falsehoods. How well do we know the blatant disregard for the other side of the story, the human side to the story, the truth of the story?
I’m not saying I believe whole heartedly one version of this picture story over the other. What I’m saying is I’d rather believe that good exists on both sides of this human conflict, instead of all consuming evil.
Read the article:
Lots of trouble in the blogosphere about the picture below. There’s more to it than meets the eye. A nice example of blogjournalism and how it can be done: On the Face :: Putting things in perspective
The photograpers gathered around. Twelve of them. Do you know how many that is? It’s a lot. And they were all simultaneously leaning in with their long camera lenses, clicking the shutter over and over. The parents handed the markers to the kids and they drew little Israeli flags on the shells. Photographers look for striking images, and what is more striking than pretty, innocent little girls contrasted with the ugliness of war? The camera shutters clicked away, and I guess those kids must have felt like stars, especially since the diversion came after they’d been alternately bored and terrified as they waited out the shelling in their bomb shelters.Shelly emphasized several times that none of the parents or children had expressed any hatred toward the Lebanese people. No-one expressed any satisfaction at knowing that Lebanese were dying – just as Israelis are dying. Their messages were directed at Nasrallah. None of those people was detached or wise enough to think: “Hang on, tank shell equals death of human beings.” They were thinking, tank shell equals stopping the missiles that land on my house. Tank shells will stop that man with the turban from threatening to kill us.
And besides, none of those children had seen images of dead people – either Israeli or Lebanese. Israeli television doesn’t broadcast them, nor do the newspapers print them. Even when there were suicide bombings in Israel several times a week for months, none of the Israeli media published gory photos of dead or wounded people. It’s a red line in Israel. Do not show dead, bleeding, torn up bodies because the families of the dead will suffer and children will have nightmares. And because it is just in bad taste to use suffering for propaganda purposes.
Those kids had seen news footage of destroyed buildings and infrastructure, but not of the human toll. They had heard over and over that the air force was destroying the buildings that belonged to Hezbollah, the organization responsible for shelling their town and threatening their lives. How many small children would be able to make the connection between tank shells and dead people on their own? How many human beings are able to detach from their own suffering and emotional stress and think about that of the other side? Not many, I suspect.
So, perhaps the parents were not wise when they encouraged their children to doodle on the tank shells. They were letting off a little steam after being cooped up – afraid, angry and isolated – for days. Sometimes people do silly things when they are under emotional stress. Especially when they fail to understand how their childish, empty gesture might be interpreted.
I’ve been thinking for the last two days about this photo and the storm of reaction it set off. I worry about the climate of hate that would lead people to look at it and automatically assume the absolute worst – and then use the photo to dehumanize and victimize. I wonder why so many people seem to take satisfaction in believing that little Israeli girls with felt markers in their hands – not weapons, but felt markers – are evil, or spawned by an evil society. I wonder how those people would feel if Israelis were to look at a photo of a Palestinian child wearing a mock suicide belt in a Hamas demonstration and conclude that all Palestinians – nay, all Arabs – are evil.