Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hearsay and Israel


In law school, I spent about 2+ months of my life trying to wrap my head around the federal "hearsay" rules that apply to evidence admitted into court.  Basically, anything asserting to be the truth that is not stated in front of the fact-finder cannot be used.  You would think that a similar principle would apply in the world of journalism, specifically, that you don't report on something without an eyewitness or some other indicia of reliability.  It's common sense that you should not report gossip or half-truths as the facts. Right??  Unfortunately, sometimes the (American) media likes to use partial truths when reporting something negative to soften the blow, only to quietly release the truth later when no one is really paying attention or when people have already formed their opinions anyway.

EXHIBIT 1:
When bin Laden's death was intially reported, the military correspondent on NPR that I listened to decidedly said "bin Laden was armed with a gun at the time of the attack."  Later, it was said that, "bin Laden may or may not have been armed, but he certainly put up a fight."  And finally, "bin Laden was not armed."  Well...?  Is there really any excuse for that?
 EXHIBIT 2:
I have been moderately following the recent Nakba Day Israeli/Palestinian clash- I still consider both of those peoples my friends and I hate when I hear these things.  The line that was the biggest hearsay offender from a recent NYT article said:
    "Commentary in newspapers and on airwaves in both Israel and the Palestinian areas suggested that what took place Sunday might serve as a dress rehearsal for the coming year, posing a serious challenge to Israel."

A. Note that they generically said "commentary" not ____ newspaper or _____news station or Near Eastern Studies Expert John Doe stated...  For all we know, some dude on the street called into their local radio and made an out -of-the-blue accusation that is now considered an expert prophesy thanks to the New York Times.

B. It's the Palestinian "area" not actually Palestine.  That whole area of the world can be called "the Palestine area" but phrasing it like this makes it sound like Palestinians are admitting that they are planning some mass attack on Israel within the year.  That is clearly misleading.
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Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post is talking about how the Egyptian Foreign Minister Elaraby was instrumental in creating the alliance between the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, because he believes that together these groups could help Palestine become a recognized state which would have more responsibility and be held to the standards set by the UN, thereby helping to promote peace for Israel in the future. (I happen to agree)  But of course you don't see this on US headlines because the Obama Administration considers Egypt their baby and does not want it out that Egypt may have a different agenda relating to Israeli/Palestinian relations than the US has because it will make all of our (pathetic) efforts to promote reform in Egypt look wasteful!


And may I just say how disappointed I am in the Israeli army?  Seeing a bunch of frustrated Palestinians marching was honestly just a convenient excuse to shoot a few of them.  What were the Palestinians armed with? Rocks?!  If they really believed this to be a military offensive, its time for the Israeli military to re-think their training methods.

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