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November 19, 2012

Gaza and Israel Under Siege: Photo Comparisons Vs How the Brain Works

To be utterly basic about it, photo galleries of the Israel-Hamas crisis are generally trending one of two ways. There are sets dedicated to the horror in Gaza alone and groupings that juxtapose scenes of fear, damage and loss on both sides. The difficulty with the latter (from an editorial, as much as an Israeli political standpoint) is that viewers don’t tend to hold circumstances separately in mind as much as draw comparisons in terms of  degree of terror and loss.

After a week, there are already thousands of photos from the crisis that have been presented together. As a microcosm and similar compositionally, these two — from the same NYT slideshow – speak to the difference. (See the captions below.)

In most brains, unless you’re a partisan, cowering comes in second.

From: Fighting Escalates Between Israel and Hamas.

(photo 1: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images caption: Israelis took cover from a rocket attack on Friday during the funeral for one of the three people who died in a rocket attack the day before in Kiryat 2: Bernat Armangue/Associated Press caption: Palestinians buried the body of Tahrer Salman, covered with a blanket, in Beit Lahia, Gaza Strip. According to relatives, she was killed in an Israeli airstrike.)

  • LanceThruster

    The details of the entire conflict have been distorted to such a degree that the Israeli narrative is pretty much accepted unquestioned. There is much pressure across the board to maintain the one-sided view, and much potential risk to anyone challenging it. I am grateful to the many Jewish groups and friends who feel truth and justice outweighs tribal affiliations. It has been tragically slow progress for the Palestinians, but I think they will eventually suceed in educating the world (primarily Americans who wear their blinders with pride) as to the facts of their plight.

  • Galganga

    Palestinian victimhood and the morally inferiority of Israel are becoming sacrosanct notions among liberals with whom I generally agree. Due to the technological one-sidedness of this conflict many assume that Palestinians are incapable of being belligerents, and that Israel is bent not on ending attacks on its civilian population, but rather of precipitating a land grab and massacring innocent children. These liberals say that Jews only support Israel because they’re Jews, echoing the sentiments of conservatives who think blacks only vote for Obama because of the color of their skin.

    Any condemning opinion of Israel is accepted without a critical thought because the imagery of destroyed buildings and the raw data of body counts serve as more immediate and visceral source of information than history, context, and nuance. They see a picture of a photograph of a Palestinian father cradling his dead child and think: “Who else but Israel could be responsible?”. The answer to that question is more complicated than it is given credit for.

    It is a fact that Hamas provoked this latest round of fighting by exponentially increasing the amount of rockets it launched into Israel in 2012, particularly in October and November. Israel responded by killing the military commander responsible, Ahmed al Jabari, which in turn provoked additional retaliation. Those claiming that this was a Putin-esque political calculation by Benjamin Netanyahu who is running for re-election should note that Hamas also had substantial political motivations for increased hostilities. Hamas was at risk of losing its political base (young angry men) and remaining relevant after Fatah’s successes at the UN and a time of relative calm.

    For the sake of sane, reasonable discussion of this conflict (like all others) generalities and platitudes should be avoided. Claims of media bias, which are often utilized by conservatives in order to delegitimize purveyors of inconvenient facts, aren’t productive. No side in this conflict has a monopoly of morality and this is a complicated issue.

    • LanceThruster

      Yeah, who am I going to believe, my lying eyes, or Israeli hasbara?

    • LanceThruster

      Since the mid-1970s, there’s been an international consensus for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. [...] It’s called a two-state settlement, and a two-state settlement is pretty straightforward, uncomplicated. Israel has to fully withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza and Jerusalem, in accordance with the fundamental principle of international law, [...] that it’s inadmissible to acquire territory by war. The West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, having been acquired by war, it’s inadmissible for Israel to keep them. They have to be returned. On the Palestinian side and also the side of the neighboring Arab states, they have to recognize Israel’s right to live in peace and security with its neighbors. That was the quid pro quo: recognition of Israel, Palestinian right to self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in Jerusalem. That’s the international consensus. It’s not complicated. It’s also not controversial.
      Norman Finkelstein & Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami Debate:

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