You don't realize how little accuracy there is in network TV reporting until they cover a story in your hometown. ~Robert Brault
I came across this post about a dog. As I understand, a guy did something nice to a dog, and as a result he deserves to be praised.
Accidently, the guy who did the good deed is an Israeli. The outcome of the story is 25 comments so far. Ranging from complaining about Zionist Propaganda, to ranting about those who think it's a Zionist Propaganda and believe that it was only about a dog.
I personally have no problem with the post, and I didn't actually read it. But I read the subsequent post and the comments that it received and I would like to lend "Ange" the writer, and the rest of the Arab/ Muslim bloggers an advice. After all, it's free of charge, and the best thing about it is that you can totally ignore it.
What is the most powerful weapon in the world? A nuclear bomb? A hydrogen bomb? No, I strongly believe that Media, in all its forms and shapes, is the biggest weapon of our time. As Arabs and Muslims, we clearly lack in this department. We are not powerful or influential. We don't own huge network channels like CNN, FOX, SKY, BBC or the rest. In many cases we lost wars before they even began. I'm not only talking about wars carried out by tanks and guns, and aiming at winning a territory or some natural resource. I'm referring to public opinion, and the way people look at us.
Now, if I came across Ange's post, I would have probably read it, and kept browsing without leaving a comment. I have my reasons not to leave a comment, but this is just me. However, some people were a little annoyed by the post and they made it clear in their comments. I understand why they felt so. Ange got offended, and extremely defensive. I also understand that.
Sorry about the long introduction, but I had to put things in the right context.
The problem, I think, is that there is always subtext to the things we write. or they write. Few weeks ago, when disaster hit Haiti, people across the world felt it. Countries and NGO's from across the globe sent aid. Either in the form of man power, clothes, medicine, food or Money. As I was watching CNN for a full day, there was one story that kept being repeated and repeated. I think it was a woman, maybe a man, who was saved from under the rubble. Her family and neighbours were ecstatic. Happy to have him/her back, which I totally I understand and respect. That person was a victim, and he/she deserved all the help possible. Then you have images of the local crowd chanting the name of the country where the crew who did the rescue come from. "Good job Israel, Good job Israel". This is the same Israel who is still killing, abusing and starving Palestinians while the world is watching. This is the same country that still illegally occupies the land of other people. This, of course, takes nothing from the good job the Israeli rescuers did, and we applaud them for that. But the question that baffled a lot of people like me I'm sure was, why all the emphasis on Israel? Why didn't CNN show the good jobs done by France, Germany, Cuba, Japan, Brazil or any of the other countries? I'm sure there were others?
It's a world of propaganda. It serves to polish the image. They say, you are as good as your last deed, and therefore whatever you have done, especially if not covered by the media, will be wiped off by a good thing you did, which gets tirelessly and relentlessly repeated.
The problem those guys had with your post is that you applauded and act of humanity an Israeli did towards an animal. While they believe that this same person, or the regime he comes from will NOT extend the same act of humanity to Palestinian humans. They got tired of the overwhelming propaganda about how good Israelis are, and how evil and violent Arabs are. They see this post as another serving in the plate of good deeds of the Zionists.
Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists. ~Norman Mailer
To be clear, I don't agree with those who posted comments on that post simply because they have probably pushed the post up the Technorati, delicious, bloglines, twitter.. etc rankings! Making it more visible to the world. Clearly this might be good for the blog hosting it, but for all the wrong reasons.
If a TV network wanted to feature this story on one of its shows, it will probably be something like this: "A post about an Israeli man who takes good care of a sick dog draws scathing attacks from Arabs and Muslims in an anti-semitic wave. The post written by an Australian woman, A catholic turned Muslim through marriage, sparked attacks on her for showing sympathy towards Jews. We were not able to interview or get a picture of the writer apparently because her Muslim husband doesn't want her to show her photo on her blog."
How does that sound? Good? I don't think so. Neither for the blogger, nor for the commenters. She will sound like an oppressed convert, and they will sound like mindless and angry terrorists. I know she says that she doesn't write about Palestine, because she has nothing to add. But it was surprising to see how much she had to say explaining the difference between Jews and Zionists. How there are good Jews as well as bad ones. She is definitely right, but this discussion only serves to add fuel to the fire and emphasizes the difference between what she supposedly represents as moderate oppressed convert, and what they present as angry and racist Arabs and Muslims. She could've ignored those comments, or simply deleted them. They could've skipped by the post and let it be. We often shoot ourselves in the foot, and then make things worse while we try to correct the wrongs that we have done. I know she is an animal lover, but had she looked beyond the dog, she would've picked a different story. After all, there are humans all over the world who at the very least are as kind to humans as they are to animals. As one of the commenters, Femme I think, said she wished her family received at the Gaza crossing a treatment as good as the one offered to a bug! It's her own experience, it's her pain and millions like her. She has the right to be angry, she has the right to complain about it, and she has the right to hate because of it! She is human after all. I don't hear people anyone complaining about the never ending milking of the Holocaust story! It happened more than sixty years ago by the Germans under the watch of the Europeans. Until now any criticism of Israel is an anti-semitic act, and whoever questions the actual event of the Holocaust or the mere magnitude of it is criminalized and accused of anti-semitism! And the worst part is that Palestinians are paying for it. They don't seem to get tired of connecting everything to the Holocaust, and it doesn't look like people mind it! In fact, they still feel guilty. Then why are people surprised that Palestinians are also obsessed with their own ordeal?
it's a complicated issue indeed. There is always sub-text. There is always something that will be taken out of context to get back at you, and bite you. We don't have the media. We are not the ones writing history in these times.
I urge you to be careful. If you want to write something about Palestine. Please be careful. Please look at it both ways. We have enough people questioning our religion and our rights. It does more harm than good to have people questioning the despair and frustration others feel. If you didn't understand it, then who will? And if you want to write about animals, food, music, culture or anything else you want, be careful where that might lead. Watch out for the conversations on your blog. Don't let it divert and lead to where nobody wants it to lead. At least nobody we care about. Nobody who knows what we are all about.
It's an advice. You can take it, and you can leave it.
People can, and will mutate the truth. Use it to their own good. Propaganda is built to brainwash people, and if you are not there... You never really know the truth.
If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: "President Can't Swim." ~Lyndon B. Johnson