Some More Journalistic Bias, Please?

Following the news coverage of the events in Israel, I sometimes doubt my sanity. Or is it them perhaps? Has the rest of the world lost its collective mind?

I see a clear-cut, black and white situation.

There is unspeakable evil out there. People who glorify death and cold-blooded murder; people who aim deadly rockets at centers of civilian population; people who rejoice when lives and families are irreparably destroyed. Hate courses through their veins.

Then there’s a democracy, one that values human rights and human life. A nation that wants to live in peace, but has no choice other than to defend herself against a mortal enemy. A nation that does all in its power to protect human life—both its citizens as well as the hostile civilian population wherein the enemy is embedded.

So simple… Evil must be destroyed—utterly and completely.

Yet others view the situation very differently.

Various public personalities have accused Israel of the “slaughter and systematic murder of innocent Arabs…” Others called on the international community to guarantee the immediate halt of the “disproportionate, unlawful use of force by Israel . . . and the immediate cessation of the bombardment of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”

And then there are Israel’s well-intended friends, who “respect Israel’s right to defend herself,” but are feverishly working to bring about a truce. Which puts them more or less on the same boat as our “unbiased” media who take great pains to present the news “objectively.” Both these groups accomplish the same goal: they lend legitimacy to the cause of evil, they portray the conflict as one between two “sides.”

What two sides?! Does a news story also highlight the “side” of a serial murderer? Do we try to bring a “truce” between him and the families of his victims?!

Which brings me back to my original question—who has lost their mind, me or them?

Upon awakening in the morning, we recite a series of blessings, called Birchot Hashachar, thanking G‑d for the various gifts He grants us on a daily basis.

After thanking G‑d for restoring our souls into our bodies, the very next blessing thanks G‑d for “giving the rooster the wisdom to distinguish between day and night.” It’s curious that this is so important that it precedes the blessings thanking G‑d for other, seemingly more basic needs, such as sight, mobility, clothing and more.

Interestingly, the daily Amidah prayer follows a similar pattern. Its first three blessings offer praise to G‑d, in the following thirteen we petition G‑d for our basic needs. Here’s the first of those thirteen: “You grant knowledge to man, and teach him understanding. Grant us, from You, wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Blessed are You, G‑d, who grants knowledge.”

On the evening prayer following Shabbat and Jewish holidays, a Havdalahinsert is added to this blessing, wherein we recognize that G‑d separated “between the holy and the profane, between light and darkness… and between the Shabbat and the six workdays.” In explaining why this insert is added specifically to this blessing, the Talmud simply states, “im ayn daat, havdalah minayin?” If there is no wisdom, from whence derives the ability to discern and make distinctions?

It’s very telling that both the morning blessings as well as the Amidah accentuate the significance of the wisdom to discern between light and darkness, placing it well ahead of all the other needs we request of G‑d.

Contrast this approach with today’s society, much of which prides itself on its ability to obfuscate the boundary between light and darkness. In the name of objectivity and progressiveness, we try to explain away evil as “misunderstood good.” Incredibly, often times, the only people that “enlightened” minds choose to vilify and label as evil are those who have the courage to point a finger at evil and identify it for what it really is. Such people are described as “intolerant,” “narrow-minded,” and a threat to progress.

There is no good and evil, we are taught to believe. Everything is relative. It all depends on the perspective you choose to adopt.

Torah tells us otherwise. There is good and evil, life and death, and we are enjoined to “choose life!”

And identifying evil is the first step in eradicating it. In Hebrew there is an aphorism: “awareness of the disease is half the cure.” Historians today argue that Reagan’s dubbing the USSR as the “evil empire” – though many pilloried him for his audacity at the time – laid the groundwork for its collapse.

Sometimes good and evil are readily distinguishable, doing so requires merely the recognition that making this distinction is vital. Other times, we need a measure of wisdom to differentiate—such as when two people are both brandishing weapons; but one is an offender and the other is a defender.

It’s not a virtue to confuse the difference between good and evil. The best journalists labeled 9/11 as an awful and sad day—without concern that their credentials as unbiased reporters would be sullied. When you turn on the news and hear vicious crimes described as tragic and horrific, or when you hear people’s charitable works described as heartwarming and exemplary, that is good. It shows that as a society we – at least sometimes – see the difference between good and evil.

It’s time now for the world to wake up about the true situation in Israel. It’s time that everyone realizes that if you want to call it a battle between two sides, at least identify the diametrically opposed nature of each side.

Because there comes a situation when “unbiased” journalism is nothing more than a tool that guarantees the survival of the evil and darkness it chooses not to identify.


Published with permission from the author.
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