Should our papers, shows and sites be showing and telling us more about the suffering of Gazans, when we have so much pain of our own to come to grips with?
This is a segment from The “Our Tragedy & Theirs” Edition.
And now it’s time for our first discussion.
So, Allison, we are not the only ones suffering, are we?
Nier Gantars tweeted something this week that made us think.
Nier Gantars is the journalist at Haaretz whose son Amir was at the Nova Music Festival, hiding, laying down on the ground for hours as Hamas terrorists wandered past while Nier Gantars tweeted, worried and enraged for someone to please save his boy.
He wrote, for instance, I am begging the army to give me an assault weapon.
They can enlist me for a day in the reserves for all I care.
If you know someone there, help me.
I’ve looked at the maps.
I can rescue him.
Miraculously, former IDF deputy chief of staff and former deputy minister of the economy, Yair Golan, told Nier Gantars on the phone to send him a pin with Amir’s location and he would rescue him.
And he did.
This was Nier Gantars introduction to the war that we are still fighting more than a month later.
The tweet that Nier Gantars tweeted this week read, the sweeping decision of the Israeli media not to show the reality of what is happening in Gaza and not the fake news either, while setting it all in the subjective Israeli context makes it impossible for Israelis to understand what is happening now in the capitals of Europe and the UN, where they are exposed morning till night to what is happening there.
This decision to refrain is not patriotic, but is rather a great crime against the profession of journalism.
Nier Gantars is right that we don’t see pictures or videos of destruction and death in Gaza, and we barely read descriptions of them, save from in the most general way after the fashion of the IDF attack, 250 Hamas strongholds today.
The number of Palestinian casualties as reported by the Hamas controlled Palestinian health ministry are reported each day in all the papers, but that’s as much resolution as we get.
Where everywhere else in the world, the papers and news shows are filled with images of tragedy and grief.
The Times of London shows two kids, maybe five and eight alongside a pile of rubble of what was once a building, all gray, say for a Spielbergian bright red toy truck in the middle.
Al Jazeera shows a crying four year old in filthy red pajamas, his hands stretched towards someone or something off camera.
The New York Times printed many photographs of the miseries of Gazans, men pushing aside toppled concrete in search of bodies in what were once apartment buildings, doctors using unconscious injured as makeshift tables upon which to fill out medical forms, kids in bloody clothes, sitting on a hospital bed, lacking a mattress, among many others.
On our own media, we see none of these images, though, of course, anyone who wants to see them easily can find tens of thousands of them by typing victims Gaza into Google image search near Gantarz makes his complaint against the Israeli media.
But the question is broader than that.
Should we be seeing and talking about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that is almost all that anyone outside our borders is talking about?
Or to put it more pointedly, at a moment when we are mourning our dead and when soldiers are risking their lives and dying to try to destroy Hamas, should we be seeing and discussing the suffering of Gazans at our hand?
Linda, what do you think?
You know, I do a lot of interviews for American media and one of the questions they always ask is what do Israelis say about the suffering in Gaza?
And it’s hard for them to understand that a Israelis either don’t know about it or feel that it’s not their problem.
I think we should.
I mean, I think, you know, it’s a question of whether the job of the media is to educate and inform or to raise public morale.
I think that whenever there is a war and, you know, we’ve seen this happen before, you know, on the bottom of the newscasts, it’ll say, you know, Yachad n’natsayach, together we will win.
And I think the media in Israel sees itself as part of this war effort of, you know, trying to win.
And I think it’s a little bit shortsighted because I think it’s important for people to know what’s happening in Gaza just from a news perspective, number one.
And number two, I think exactly what you said, where you said that, you know, the world is now talking about a ceasefire and the suffering in Gaza.
And I think time is kind of running out for Israel in the ground operation.
And by not seeing the suffering in Gaza, you know, Israelis don’t necessarily know that.
So, you know, I understand that it’s the Israeli media.
By the way, just before this podcast, I watched the beginning of the Al Jazeera.
I’ve been watching Al Jazeera quite a bit.
And it’s a different war.
You know, if you if you listen to the Israeli media and you listen to the palace, you know, the Arab media and in Al Jazeera, it’s all about attacks next to Shifa Hospital and the Al-Quds Hospital shutting down and the U.
saying that Gaza is, you know, facing a huge humanitarian crisis.
And I think just as Israelis need to know all this, Noah, what do you think?
Well, first of all, my experience of what the people around me know is about what’s going on in Gaza is completely different than yours.
I have not met anyone who even remotely cannot tell you that more than 10,000 people have died in Gaza.
It’s on the front page of every newspaper.
It’s in every news broadcast mentions it.
So I don’t know who you’re talking to that doesn’t know that.
But I have not met anyone who doesn’t know that.
And I also haven’t met anyone who doesn’t care.
Like you said, I’ve only met people who say that it’s a terrible tragedy.
Though with the following ambivalence, I think a lot of people don’t know at this moment who they think the people in Gaza, including the people who are dying are.
Like everyone knows what a young child is.
There’s nobody who doesn’t think that that’s a tragedy.
But a lot of people were very shaken by the fact that after the first wave of Hamas fighters broke through the fence and went into the kibbutzim, that apparently a couple of thousand people who were not Hamas people, just people went there.
And some of them, some of them were brutal things that happened in the, in the settlements right near, right near Gaza were just performed by people, by a lot of them, by teenagers who just like got into the moment and ran across and just started murdering people.
And so I’ve spoken to any number of people who have said, who have said, you know, I, what I want to think is that, that we’re, we are victims of Hamas and the people of Gaza are victims of Hamas and Hamas is a small group of people and we destroy them.
And we’re on the same side in a way as the people, as the people in Gaza who are victimized by Hamas.
But I’m not sure anymore.
This is what I told myself, but I’m not sure if that’s true at all.
Maybe, maybe everyone in Gaza really does support Hamas today.
After all, they voted for them.
So I, so there’s that ambivalence, but aside from that, I think that I, which is a huge thing, but aside from that, I think that, that people are aware and wish that it could be otherwise.
But they also don’t want to see it in a day to day way, because if there seems to be some kind of conflict between in between emotional dissonance between seeing the suffering of other people and really processing this, our own suffering and there I completely agree with you, Linda.
I want to see more.
I want to see, I want to see in full detail as much detail as possible.
What the people in Gaza are suffering partly because I want very much to be that, to be somebody who believes that in some like deep, deep, deep sense, we’re more on their, their side than not on their side, that our common enemy is Hamas, but also just because I, I just, because I want to know, just because I want to expand my spirit and because of what NieR Gontag said, I also want to understand what the rest of the world is seeing, but mostly it’s mostly it’s the other things I do.
I do want to know.
I don’t, I don’t experience it so much that conflict of, uh, of that suffering, somehow diminishing our suffering, but I know that people do.
Alice, do you want to see the really graphic stuff like dead children, like bodies, that kind of thing?
No, I don’t feel like I need to see that.
I think I want to see words that describe what’s, what’s going on.
And you don’t think those words are making it to the Israeli media or just images?
Well, I mean, it’s, I’m reading media from all over the world.
And as I’m sure lots of people are, so I’m, I, you know, I’m, I’m getting what the times and what the times of London is printing and I read Al Jazeera in English.
And, um, and so I get some of that, but no, even there, like, I feel like, I feel like I don’t really know what’s, I feel like I don’t know what’s going on.
Also, I noticed last week, I, last week I looked, um, for the, and noticed that the, uh, that the number of victims was a week ago, the number of victims was just under 10,000 and this morning I looked in the number of victims was 10,600.
And, and I know that the IDF has reported killing hundreds of Hamas members in that interim.
So I have no idea if in the last week, 300 civilians have been killed in Gaza, which would be, which is a huge number, but much, much smaller than, than what it seems like when I see the, I don’t know.
I have no, I don’t know what’s, I don’t feel like I, I don’t feel like I, I don’t feel like I know what’s going on there.
Um, I mean, exactly, obviously no.
I mean, I tend to, that’s why I asked about the graphic images because on both sides, I don’t want to cause trauma in myself.
So I tend not to look at the really, really graphic stuff, but I don’t watch horror movies, so that’s, you know, that’s my level.
Um, uh, just that, you know, there’s an interesting parallel argument going on now about showing to the world, to our, to our, to the country and to the world, the really, really graphic, horrible, um, atrocities that the Hamas mobs committed.
And there is an argument that I think that you have to see the, those, the Gaza images to understand that if the world is only seeing the Gaza images and not the images of what happened here, then the world is getting a skewed view of the conflict.
And so there’s that problem between, you know, do you want to see your loved ones or, you know, do we need to be sensitive to of Israelis, you know, showing their loved ones, having terrible things being done to them and having the world see it or the understanding that we’re losing the war because people don’t really understand what happened here.
And then there’s also what will it do to Israeli morale or attitude in order to, if we, uh, if we show those things, do you feel like you would be changed in any way personally, if you were to see more of, I don’t, I don’t, not necessarily the images, but get more news here in Israel about the, the, the suffering of people across the border in Gaza.
Would it be changed?
And that’s the other point I wanted to make that I think that Israelis have crossed a line, have crossed a threshold of ends justifying means.
And I’m sorry if that sounds really cold and harsh, but that, you know, we crossed a line on October 7th saying we cannot allow Hamas to maintain the kind of military capabilities next to us that they have had.
They have to be eliminated.
They have to be gotten rid of.
I think that across the political spectrum, there’s that feeling.
And so I think that is hardening hearts to a certain extent and that yes, obviously we’re telling them to, you know, move to the South and get out of our rocket range and, and, you know, try to, try to protect as many civilian lives as possible, et cetera.
But even with the knowledge that this is the cost and this is the price, I think the devastation from what happened on October 7th and the determination to get to these bunkers that are fricking underneath hospitals and underneath children and underneath civilians is so strong that I don’t know if knowing that X, Y or Z degree of death, destruction, dead children is really going to change that, you know what I mean?
So I think that there’s, I think what we’re missing on the Gaza side is the stories, you know, Noah, you just told that story of Sagi and, and Oren and it was, it was so emotional.
And, you know, the way that journalism works is that it’s those stories that really capture people’s imagination.
And in Israel, the hostages, for example, you know, where they’ve, you know, we see their faces all the time.
I actually know the family of, I know one of the hostages, Hirsch Goldberg, Poland, Rachel spoke in that his mom spoke in the UN and I actually interviewed her for a hostage story last week in which she said that she went to that installation of the empty beds and she was walking around and she was drawn to a child’s bed and somebody came up to her and said, do you have anybody kidnapped?
And she said, yes, my son.
And they said, is he a child?
And she said, no, he just turned 23, but he’ll always be my little boy.
And somehow that just resonated for me.
And I think that’s what maybe we’re kind of missing on the other side.
I do have friends in Gaza and I’ve spoken to them.
It’s the communications are down.
It’s very hard to speak to them and to do, you can’t do zoom interviews.
So we do recorded what’s up calls that I’ve then broadcast.
But for example, one of my friends, Rami Maunmagiri is a Palestinian journalist in the Mrazi refugee camp, which is in central Gaza, which is where they told people to flee to and then Mrazi was hit with rocket attacks.
So, you know, I think we, you know, it’s not that all of these people now, there’s a huge influx of people leaving the north and going to the south and there are fewer, but there are still rocket attacks on the south.
So it’s just such a, I find myself thinking a lot about the suffering in Gaza.
I used to spend a lot of time in Gaza.
So, you know, I know Gaza pretty well and I just think about, and I don’t, I don’t, I personally don’t believe that most of the people support Hamas.
Something like 60% of the population is under the age of 20 or something.
They didn’t vote for Hamas because the last elections were in 2006.
I don’t see, I think people don’t necessarily see an alternative to Hamas, but I think that we do have to make a distinction between Hamas and civilians in Gaza who are really struggling.