What is the role of the media in war?
The question is getting a good going-over today as the war in Gaza continues.
Israeli forces have arrested Khezir Shahin, a reporter for an Arab-language news organization because he reported that Israel had launched the ground offensive on the Gaza strip. Shahin wasn’t wrong. The offensive had started. But Israeli military imposes broad censorship power even in times of relative peace.
Today’s New York Times reports that three times in the last week, reporters were told to assemble near the Gaza border — in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling overturning a ban on foreign journalists entering Gaza. Three times they were denied.
Says the Times:
Like all wars, this one is partly about public relations. But unlike any war in Israel’s history, in this one the government is seeking to entirely control the message and narrative for reasons both of politics and military strategy.
How’s that working out for Israel? Not so well because it’s not 1967 anymore.
YouTube, the most influential media source in the world now, has turned the tables on Israel, banning some of the video the Israeli Defense Forces uploaded on its own YouTube channel.
Israel didn’t like the idea of censorship very much.
“We were saddened earlier today that Youtube took down some of our exclusive footage showing the IDF’s operational success in operation Cast Lead against Hamas extremists in the Gaza Strip,” said a release from the IDF.
Hamas sympathizers had flagged the videos as inappropriate.
“Keeping the foreign journalists in Israel, sources say, is good for Israel’s image because the media is experiencing the war from the Israeli side,” Gili Izikovich writes on Haaretz.com. “As soon as the IDF gets a hold in the Strip, it is expected that the IDF Spokesman will let Israeli and foreign journalists in with the army. For the time being, the only presence documenting events is the spokesman’s office.”