narcasse: Sebastian Flyte.  Brideshead Revisited (2008) (rationale)
[personal profile] narcasse
Israel lampoons foreign correspondents in new spoof videos -

This has the potential to be yet another case where the message is lost in the transmission. The Israeli government have the right idea in trying to correct misassumptions about their nation and it’s actually a pretty good idea to remind Israeli tourists that when they’re abroad their actions will be viewed as indicative of their country’s attitudes. Of course it’s not fair that one Israeli should be taken to speak for all Israelis and there’s a fine line between advising people behave with dignity in the face of prejudice and telling them that everything they do will reflect on their own people. Certainly, I don’t like it when my personal choices are taken to be indication of the net positive or negative of the existence of Burmese people.

The British government has done similar in the past by encouraging British football fans overseas to behave with dignity so as to disassociate themselves from the highly publicised and violent events that have tended to involve British fans in the past. Even in this country there has been a drive to stop even those few incidences of violence from occurring. It is after all a amplification effect so that when one incident occurs then it’s reported on long and loudly so if you have nothing to do with British football the violence might be all you hear about. And nobody wants to go overseas to watch a match only to be greeting with a huge police presence because you come from a country where the football fans have a reputation for being trouble.

Thus the idea is a good one. After all, wouldn’t it be better for everyone concerned if more people understood each other so that all parties involved could get past presumptions and prejudice and instead deal with the real issues concerned? What could go wrong though is that the style of delivering this message may in fact obscure the message itself. Lampooning foreign journalists to the degree that the video demonstrates sets up a straw man which has very little to do with the actual issue. It reduces the issue to extreme and easily corrected mistakes which also serve the purpose of mocking the people who’ve allegedly made said mistakes. So the message could be interpreted through the transmission as ‘foreigners are stupid’ which then becomes the focus rather than ‘lets educate people about Israel’. The latter sets up a context of information sharing and places the Israeli people in the position of positive educators: the former puts them on the defensive because not only do foreigners apparently presume the worst of them but said foreigners are too stupid to even begin to understand why those presumptions are incorrect. And if someone isn’t shown to have the capacity to understand what you’re telling them there’s quite an inclination to give up if you do even try at all in the first place.

Beyond the transmission of the message there’s the additional issue that the message itself isn’t actually addressing the problem. The problem is the bad publicity generated by bombing Gaza, again, isn’t a matter of foreign perception so much as it is due to the bombing of Gaza, again. The issue isn’t about what foreigners think of Israelis and their culture: it’s about what they’ve seen with the massive Palestinian death toll. With the latest round of conflict it was very easy to see how Hamas could justify continuing to do what they were doing: Palestinians were going to die anyway so their options really were just die or die fighting. It’s a situation that made Israel look terrible and was part of a wider socio-political situation so the only way to deal with it would be to deal with the socio-political issues. It’s not a situation that will involve a quick fix and justifiably so because it’s going to take time for both sides to reach a solution.

I’m all for Israeli attitudes and culture being better understood and certainly what people tend to forget is that the massive military reaction to any threat stems from what happened the last time the Jews were attacked and couldn’t defend themselves because they hadn’t realised that they’d needed to. They’re use to the rest of the world being ineffective in helping them and the psychological damage caused to the Jewish coconsciousness is something that everyone the world over is going to be dealing with for generations. And yet, somehow all of these issues must be resolved in a fashion that doesn’t then victimise another nation instead because if that is the proposed solution, in about fifty years time when the Palestinians have their own state with an effective military we can look forward to the same situation playing out disastrously all over again.


narcasse: Sebastian Flyte.  Brideshead Revisited (2008) (Default)

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