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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The first casualty!

It was, as far as records can show, Aeschylus, a Greek tragic dramatist (c. 525-456 B.C.) who first used the words: "In war, truth is the first casualty".  Certainly, propaganda (the art of persuasion - persuading others that your 'side of the story' is correct) can be as effective a weapon as any other - a fact well used by, for example, Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment in Hitler's Nazi Germany.

Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty International field investigator, wrote an interesting article about the challenges of fact finding in war situations.  One of her main points is that eyewitnesses are often unreliable. For example:
In GazaLebanonLibyaSyria, and other places I interviewed civilians who described what they thought were artillery or bomb strikes being launched by far away government forces and striking near their homes – whereas in reality the loud bangs and tremors were caused by mortars or rockets being launched by opposition fighters from their positions nearby. For the untrained ear it is virtually impossible to distinguish between incoming and outgoing fire, and all the more so for those who find themselves close to the front lines.
She also states:
Even if they disregard it, investigators must be alert to the fact that disinformation and misinformation can contribute to shaping the perception of events, the narrative surrounding the events, and the behaviour of people who take it in good faith and internalize it, including victims, witnesses, and others potential sources.
Here, Ms Rovera is referring to lies that spread quickly, and then become widely believed – including by “unbiased” NGOs (non-governmental organisations) – before anyone has a chance to investigate.  She gives a specific example from Gaza:
Fear can lead victims and witnesses to withhold evidence or give deliberately erroneous accounts of incidents. In Gaza, I received partial or inaccurate information by relatives of civilians accidentally killed in accidental explosions or by rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups towards Israel that had malfunctioned and of civilians killed by Israeli strikes on nearby Palestinian armed groups’ positions. When confronted with other evidence obtained separately, some said they feared reprisals by the armed groups.
What this means is that “eyewitnesses” will often claim that there was no terrorist activity in the area of an airs-trike and Israel wantonly and indiscriminately killed people for no reason.  Regretfully, this version tends to be swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, and is then parroted by the UN and other NGOs. 
This is why we ought always to be careful about western media reports concerning the modern State of Israel, and its alleged illegal occupation of certain parts of the Holy Land.  I would not wish to be the one who maintained that Israel is totally blameless in every situation.  However, much of what we read and hear is nothing more or less than propaganda - propaganda against a people who are still "... the apple of His eye" (Zech.2:8)!

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