Beyond the headlines

March 4, 2022 by Michael Kuttner
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According to surveys, on average five times as many people read the headlines as read the news items.

Michael Kuttner

That possibly explains why the real gist of any particular subject gets lost and misinformation abounds.

With social media now reigning supreme and today’s generation having a very limited attention span it is not surprising that millions around the world now only fleetingly glance at the headlines without gleaning any meaningful information.

Combine this with an anemic understanding of history or more likely a severe deficiency and you have all the ingredients for the mass propagation of a wide spectrum of fictitious myths as opposed to informed information.

Those engaged in trying to bring the real facts to the attention of a wider public will have noticed over the years that an increasing number prefer not to be confused by reality but prefer instead to be content with skimming the headlines. Attention spans are getting shorter, language skills are fast diminishing, spelling and grammar is an antique feature of the past and a belief that whatever the headline states must be accurate.

This has resulted in newspapers and news sites utilizing ever more sensational and inaccurate headlines which often do not reflect the true facts behind the news.

Anyone who has closely followed reporting over the years concerning Israel cannot have failed to notice this trend which has noticeably accelerated in recent times. In fact the problem of tendentious reporting about Israel has become so serious that today we have a record number of Jewish international media watch groups which are overwhelmed with monitoring and correcting fake news about the Jewish State.

It has become a disease of pandemic proportions.

Reading deficit syndrome results in the small print being ignored and as a consequence erroneous conclusions being arrived at by increasing numbers of individuals.

Amidst the blanket coverage and screaming headlines as Russia seeks to suppress Ukraine there was a fleeting mention of the fact that the average American does not want their country to intervene with boots on the ground. For those of us with a long memory this sounds eerily similar to Lindberg and the American isolationists when Hitler was busy gobbling up Europe and the UK stood alone against the Nazi onslaught. If the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbour it would have been very doubtful whether the USA would have decided to enter the fray. In fact, if Germany had not subsequently declared war on the USA who knows whether Congress would have voted to confront the Nazi menace?

As the Czechs were being sacrificed, Chamberlain uttered these less than memorable words: a “quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing“.

None of this is relevant to those whose historical knowledge is zilch and who rely only on headlines for their (mis)understanding of current events.

This is where the situation of Israel becomes critical because if the average American, European, Australian and New Zealander is as ill informed about the real situation here we should not expect to be surprised when the inevitable next round of combating terror takes place. Media headlines have already softened up the masses into believing that Israel was born in original sin, is a colonialist occupier and a serial human rights abuser. These slanderous lies were once the sole preserve of the extreme right and left of the political spectrum. Unfortunately they have now become the default position of UN bodies aided and abetted by journalists and editors and enthusiastically cheered on by academics and student groups, all relishing the opportunity to bash the Jewish State.

Add in the growing number of self haters and disconnected Jews, liberally funded by numerous self flagellating left wing funds and foundations and you have a perfect recipe for a firestorm when next Israel confronts those who are straining at the leash to do to Israel what Russia is currently doing to Ukraine.

If you do not go past the headlines you will never discover that terror sponsoring countries and groups are all waiting in line to see what the leader of the free world will do to thwart the bullies.

The vast majority of Israelis, except for the irredeemably reality challenged fringes, are only too aware of the lessons this latest episode teaches. We can at the end of the day only rely on ourselves. We do have genuine friends but they are powerless in the face of international double standards and hypocrisy.

Meanwhile in the midst of the worst international crisis since 1945 those who obsess on a daily basis about Israel have been busy.

How many of you picked up on two headline items in the news recently concerning the only country in the world which poses a dire threat to peace?

While Russia rapes Ukraine, North Korea fires missiles with impunity, Iran plays negotiators in Vienna for fools and China “re-educates” its Muslim minorities, the United Nations spent an entire day debating and condemning Israel. Yes, folks, nothing, not even a threat of nuclear conflagration must ever get in the way of the UN’s monthly Israel bashing sessions. As usual the PA representative trotted out an increasingly bizarre litany of lies and fellow travelers joined in the chorus of hate. Instead of the democracies walking out and refusing to go along with this farce they shamefully facilitated another exercise in benign detachment.

Meanwhile a new and potentially more virulent virus was being incubated in the British House of Commons where an unrepentant  Labour Party Corbyn disciple articulated what is bound to become a standard feature of leftist narratives. As Russian forces thrust their way towards the Ukrainian Capital the MP for Sunderland Central accused Israel of being guilty of brutal occupation of “Palestine” – a country which does not officially exist. If Russia is being punished for the sin of obliterating Ukrainian sovereignty then so should Israel, demanded this MP.

One does not need to be a genius to predict that this poisonous reasoning, based entirely on total ignorance of the truth and historical veracity, will within a very short space of time, mutate and infect others of a similar disposition. Thus, a new blood libel with which to batter Israel will have been created and with a few judiciously worded headlines will provide ample fodder for all those who hyperventilate over Jewish sovereignty.

For all those whose attention span lasts no longer than a few second’s glance at a headline this will be a heaven sent opportunity.

As I write these lines, Honest Reporting has announced that a prominent Black Lives activist in the USA has already jumped on this latest bandwagon of moral equivalency between Russia/Ukraine and the terror tactics of the Palestinian Arabs and Israel’s responses.

True to form the PA/PLO/Hamas trio who never miss an opportunity to spin conspiracy plots have also grasped this latest libel.

This is merely a foretaste on what is yet to come.

Instead of being complacent and keeping a low profile we need to wake up and be prepared.

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.

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