I am indebted to David Califa for many things including the whole notion of this ipeace site and what it has come to mean to so many round the world. Over and above that I am also indebted for his reminding me of the need for balance in our views about Peace and world events.

To explain. On Thursday 15th January there was a story doing the rounds that Israel had locked up 700 Peace Protesters to silence the voice of protest. Of course there was outrage on many sites round the globe about this. I wrote a short poem about it and sent it to David for his comment which came back with the words “don't let yourself be manipulated.” He added that people were as free as anywhere in the world to protest.

How easy it is to slip into these ways of thinking without the balance we need. If you were to count up all the people who had been arrested in London during protests and briefly held for public disorder offences the total could mount up. Imagine the headlines. “UK Government Silences the Voice of Protest by Locking up 250 Protesters.”

The press and the media has the job of sensationalising the news to make it saleable…as newspapers or to other channels or networks. Where would the sensation be of 250 people arrested for public disorder offences in the last month be? Or 700 come to think of it? So David is right that we are being manipulated all the time by cynical commercial forces over which we have little control. When you factor in the political agendas as well then things can really be swayed.

A few years ago we were unfortunate enough to be in the limelight briefly of the nation’s media. We know from bitter experience that the media’s relationship with truth can be tenuous in the extreme. As journalists dug for their stories so inaccuracies crept in and were copied from story to story, until one could say that the stories were correct apart from the facts, which were all incorrect.

Extrapolating from our limited experience of the behaviour of the media I then rethought about the stories and images we have been bombarded with from Gaza over the last three weeks. One of the problems we have had apart from not being there and seeing with our own eyes is the fact that Israel has been reluctant to let journalists into the Gaza Strip during their military operations. One or two embedded journalists have sent very limited reports which showed very little. Now this may have been for their own safety but it now seems but at the same time it has handed a unique opportunity to others to control the images and copy coming from that war torn area.

A very good example of this double standard of reporting comes from the stories abounding of Israel using White Phosphorous in civilian areas. There is little doubt that it has been used. But a Swedish doctor being interviewed by Aljazeera News hesitated when asked about this and said that he had not had to deal with many burns caused by this chemical but was more concerned about injuries from Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME). He works in Gaza’s main hospital so would have been in a position to know. The stories slipped in below the radar because it was hoped it would be more sensational in the revelation about the use of DIME than his denial of the widespread use of White Phosphorous.

While the reporting from the strip has possibly been very tightly controlled by those in charge we have had day after day of being bombarded with horrific details and images that were there to be sensational and sell the News…but above all to be the propaganda for those who wish to manipulate our emotions. Meanwhile the mass rape and murder of black women by the Congolese Army (500 and rising) has been largely ignored by the world’s press.

While we can all feel desperately sorry for all those who are victims of terror and of war we must be careful not to be manipulated into support of one side or another. We stand for Peace first and foremost and always have done so. And that implies that we can never support those who would impose their will upon others by force…however justified their cause.
Peace is just that. Nothing added or taken away. Peace and nothing but the whole Peace.

“I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.” Mohandas Gandhi.

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Comment by David Califa on January 18, 2009 at 1:29pm
David, I believe now that your report was true. Nonetheless, these IS a lot of manipulation, and an Israeli citizen (regardless of his religion) and a total freedom of speech.

This (full story) was published today in Haaretz newspaper:

763 protesters held over anti-op rallies

Police have arrested 763 protesters - the vast majority Israeli Arabs - during demonstrations against Israel's three-week-long operation in the Gaza Strip. Charges are expected to be submitted against 685 suspects for violations including throwing stones and petrol bombs. Of the 763 people arrested, 244 are under 18. Yesterday a protest held by Muslim women in Jerusalem's Old City was dispersed by police after masked protesters threw petrol bombs. Protesters in other parts of East Jerusalem set tires on fire and pelted police with stones. (Jonathan Lis)

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