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Rise above the propaganda

See Hamas for what it is: terrorists

I find propaganda as interesting as the next person, but even as a political science major, sometimes I find it hard to spot. Either my emotions get in the way of logic, or it is done really well.

I generally trust my other educated peers to feel similarly to me and to responsibly digest and filter propaganda. Unfortunately, in reading The Recorder recently, I’ve seen a few examples in your opinion pages of people who seem eager to spit back the propaganda they’ve been reading into their own words and pass it as fact. I am referring to two recent opinion piece regarding Israel and Hamas.

It is a little shocking to me how quickly and adamantly people have come to Hamas’ side. An organization that states the murder of Jews as part of its official mission. An organization that has a terrible human rights record. An organization that still murders people for being gay, that still punishes the woman for being raped, that still gives women adulterers prison time, and possible execution, while the men go free.

More so than that, Hamas operates as a terrorist organization. They fire rockets solely into civilian areas to cause civilian death and to create terror, the definition of terrorists. They don’t aim for military targets and miss, they aim for civilians and miss. Luckily, they were unsuccessful in killing many people, but that was not for lack of trying. Their goal was not property damage, their goal, as stated in their charter, was to kill as many Jews as possible.

I do not believe that Israel is blame free, but I do believe they have the right to defend themselves and do believe that they were firing at military targets. People would have you believe that the IDF fired indiscriminately into Gaza in hopes to kill as many civilians as possible, but that has been shown to be untrue. Before Israel performed a single air strike, and after hundreds of rockets had been fired into its southern cities, Israel dropped fliers all over Gaza telling them exactly what to expect and begging their civilians to stay safe and away from danger. Unfortunately, Hamas’ military targets are often interwoven within their civilian population and, tragically, many Palestinian civilians died, but I believe that Hamas shares the blame in those who died. When hundreds of rockets a day are aimed solely at your citizens, as a country you have the right — and the duty — to protect them.

This brings me back to propaganda. One thing I must say about Hamas is that they are great with media relations. Even journalists that I respect can sometimes be swayed by them. I heard on NPR, on the BBC, in newspapers that this last war started when Israel assassinated Hamas militant Ahmed Jabari. His assassination, I am sure, lead to the Hamas ramping up the offensive, but it was lightly reported that Hamas had already been firing rockets into southern Israel for two days before that. Hamas said it started shooting rockets because of the assassination and people reported that, but there was more to the story.

Similarly, I saw many Facebook posts featuring heartbreaking pictures of dead Palestinians, often women and children. They were hard images to view. Later, I found out that Hamas often uses pictures from past wars and even other wars to illicit sympathy. I did a Google search of one of their more disturbing pictures and learned that it was a Syrian casualty, a victim of the Assad regime. Friends of mine who I respect, who I think are smart, are posting this propaganda. These are emotional images and I understand that it is easy to be swayed by them. Before re-posting, or writing into the newspaper, or parroting propaganda, I think people need to take a deep breath and look at both sides. If information seems stacked in one side’s favor, you probably are missing some information.

My heart breaks for the Palestinians and I believe wholeheartedly that they deserve their own country with their own laws. I think Israel hasn’t always done the right thing. I think peace will require a lot of hard decisions and a lot of difficult compromise on both sides. I think we can all agree that peace for both nations is all we want and hope that the day is possibly closer than it might seem for that peace.

All I ask is that people get completely informed before making rash remarks and passing themselves off as experts. Being informed means looking at both sides with an open mind and rising above the politics and the squabbles and the propaganda.

W. Coleman Barton just moved to Greenfield from Amherst.

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