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Israel, Golan Heights and the Age of Counterfactual News

The first victim of war is truth. The minute a bullet is fired, a thousand lies are launched next to it. A free press was supposed to be an unbiased arbiter where journalists courageously seek truth and expose lies in the midst of state propaganda. Sadly, we live in the age of counterfactual news where media has outsourced reporting to the very people they are covering. The skirmish between Israel and Syria this week is a prime example of how far mainstream media has devolved into the abyss of disinformation.

Media empires from Washington Post, New York Times, BBC and beyond reported the outbreak of violence in the Golan Heights by painting Israel as the aggrieved party and Iran as the aggressors. What was either omitted or greatly played down in this analysis is the fact that the Golan Heights is Syrian territory that has been illegally occupied by Israel for the past 51 years. In the waning days of the 1967 war, Israel seized the Golan Heights, evicted Syrian residents and created a new status quo vis-à-vis tanks and cannons.

The Golan Heights has been a flash point for decades for this reason. Rational people can debate how to best resolve the friction between Israel and Syria and how to arrive at a two state solution where Palestinians can leave with a modicum of peace and justice. What cannot be debated is that the Golan Heights is part of Israel proper and that an attack that takes place upon that soil is somehow an attack upon all Jews. When Syria responds to Israel’s ongoing aggression, in direct contravention of the United Nation’s charter, this too is not up for debate. Syria did not lob bombs at Tel Aviv or Haifa, they trained their fire at the occupying IDF forces in the Golan Heights.

The trillions spent on weapons and terrorizing the planet could eradicate poverty and hunger, we are destroying our planet instead of healing the sick.

These are the nuances that are left out by corporate journalists who have abandoned all pretense of objectivity and make it their purpose to record and report as they parrot people with power and wealth. This is what happens when news is more concerned with maximizing revenues than they are in seeking truth. War correspondents who once bravely picked up microphones and cameras and walked into conflict zones are a dying breed, they have been replaced by a band of courtiers who would rather preen on TV than challenge authorities and their false narratives. This is why salacious tidbits between our clownish president and a former porn star gets more coverage than the simmering tensions between regional powers that can engulf the Middle East and the planet with radioactive flames.

The little that is covered of the conflicts between Israel, Syria and Iran is always presented through ideological and sectarian prisms. What is lost in these customized facts is that people are suffering on all sides. War has a way of reducing people to inanimate objects; by blaming one side or the other, we lose sight of the fact that human beings perish each time a bomb explodes. News has become a sterilizer of death; the horrors of war being erased by HD graphics and talk of high tech weapons. The face of war has turned into rote talking points sandwiched between commercial breaks. Click To Tweet

Everyone wants to be the victims but few take responsibility. We are witnessing a war in the making between Israel and Iran but adults are nowhere to be found. What we have instead are sociopaths on all fronts who think that might makes right and believe in laws only as they apply to others. In this tragic development, too many of us have become complicit. We too have become situational in our outrage, we cry for justice but we do so mostly through the lens of tribe and sectionality. What Israel is practicing by punching first then claiming to be aggrieved is a custom that has become the norm in the era of #MeOnly.

Pride goes before the fall; humanity stands at the precipice. Syria is a proxy battle between global powers that can quickly spiral out of control. We urgently need courageous voices to speak on behalf of peace or else one day a tinder could spark into an Armageddon. More importantly, each one of us must stop turning human suffering into a political sport. If we are to stand up for justice, let us do so not through the blinders of race, gender, ethnicity or ideology but through the spirit of truth and reconciliation. We must stop letting truth be victimized by warmongers or else one day we too will be co-victims. #CounterfactualNews 

“War does not determine who is right—only who is left.” ~ Bertrand Russell

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Check out the Ghion Cast where I discuss how the war on journalism has reduced the profession into a gathering of propagandists and personalities who rarely seek truth and mostly parrot talking points. 

Teodrose Fikremariam
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Teodrose Fikremariam

Writer at Ghion Journal
Teodrose Fikremariam is the co-founder and former editor of the Ghion Journal.
Teodrose Fikremariam
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