I wake up and look at my phone. Two Israeli men were stabbed and killed in Jerusalem. I turn on my computer, trying to make sense of this attack, but the first news article from the BBC that pops up, headlines that a ‘Palestinian [is] shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two.’ Yes, technically this is correct, a Palestinian was shot, no one is denying that, but isn’t this Jerusalem attack a little too ambiguous? Wouldn’t it make sense as an accurate journalist to headline the cause of this?
The headline isn’t simply misleading to the general reader, but we can go as far as to say it is a logical fallacy. ‘Stacking the deck fallacy’ is a technique that’s commonly used in propaganda and is defined as a fallacy in which any evidence of a case is simply omitted, very fitting to this and many other BBC headlines, that have been dominating the media over the past few weeks.
I walk on to campus. The effects of these misleading headlines become clear. A casual lunch in the canteen consists of a niçoise salad, the latest show-business news, oh and a discussion of which recent Israeli prime minister is most similar to Hitler. I feel like Alice in Wonderland, in an illusion where something so straight forward and positive, is so contrary and paradoxical to others. But unlike Alice, this isn’t a dream, it is day to day life. When I hear the word Zionism, sentiments of autonomy, liberty and freedom come to mind, my classmates on the other hand, associate it with the new popular sound-bite ‘Zionism is racism’. But is it really their fault? It would seem fair to trust mainstream international media who have written charters to be committed to accuracy and impartiality, but as they are clearly failing to live up to those standards, how can the public be blamed in any way for being misinformed by these leading broadcasters?
We are facing a world of contradictions. A cause designated to liberating a people, creating peace and freedom uses illiberal, oppressive methods as it’s means to its supposed idyllic and harmonious end. Recently over three hundred UK academics pledging to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This demotes dialogue, restrains co-existence and more than anything delays any type of peace. The aims of the BDS movement as well, blocks trade, artificially closes markets and mutually worsens the economic situation. These boycotts promote intolerance, exclusion and inward thinking, seeking to spark more conflict, not peace.
So what can we do? How many campus fairs do we need to table at to disqualify the myth of Israeli apartheid? What is the unitary effect of handing out an ‘I heart Israel’ pen to the average passerby on resolving the Arab – Israeli conflict? or even posting a picture your recent trip to Israel? Not to be too pessimistic but, is any of It actually beneficial?
In short, it is. If we all were idle activists, because we aren’t convinced that our effort would pay off, there wouldn’t be the other side to the story. I’m not saying that each step for activism is going to catalyse peace talks, but engaging in the conversation in any way is a building block for the future, however small it is. If we aren’t active, we are passively allowing inaccurate news to be spread, false claims to be treated as true and a generation to be misinformed. A simple gesture, a tweet, a picture, broadens the debate, interests an audience you thought would never have thought would be interested, but most importantly helps a cause you believe in.
Don’t believe me? Why don’t you try it out for yourself?