I am one of the many who is quietly outraged by the Western media’s so-called balancing act in its reporting of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip (state terrorism in my view) and the Goldstone Report. So I was delighted by a letter in today’s Guardian from one Terry Greenberg in North Vancouver. The following is the text of it.
If the Guardian were reporting on a story in which a 200-lb combat-trained marine armed with an automatic weapon assaulted and crippled a 5-year old child armed only with a home-made toy gun, how concerned would you be about achieving journalistic balance? Would you feel obliged to emphasize that both sides “fought dirty”, and imply that the shame of doing so was somehow equivalent? Would you quote an interview in which the marine justifies his actions, and refrain from seeking comments from the child? Would you sub-headline the article with words implying the guilt of each party was equal? Would you enhance the article with the photograph of the 5-year old with a menacing look on his face, thus suggesting he alone was the problem?
In Gaza, Israel is the marine, and Palestinians, the child. There is absolutely no balance in that conflict, and any implication that there is serves Israeli propaganda, not truth. The real significance of the Goldstone Report was not that both parties “fought dirty”, but that Israel, in spite of overwhelming superiority of arms, having a multitude of options, chose to use the dirtiest ones. The depravity of the Israeli choices is on a totally different scale from those of Hamas, which had few resources, and fewer options.
In the imaginary fight between the marine and the child, whether or not the child tried to put a finger in the marine’s eye or made a kick at his genitals, is quite marginal to the main point of the story, and barely worth mentioning. In trying to be balanced, the Guardian has so badly skewed the story, the central point of which was the imbalance of the situation itself, that your reporting serves more to misinform than inform.
North Vancouver, B.C.
The only thing I’ll add is that Terry Greenberg’s charge against the Guardian (which generally speaking provides better and more honest coverage of the conflict than most) could and should be made against the self-censoring Western media in its entirety.