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When It Comes to the Israeli/Palestine War, Believe Very Little
The church bombing wasn't as bad as we thought, but still very real.
I published “Israel Bombed a 1,600 Year Old Church—How You Can Help” with the understanding that it wasn’t going to make me a lot of friends. In the minds of many Americans, Israel can do no wrong. And it’s hard to not sympathize with a country that just lost 1,400 people to a terrorist attack.
So I fully expected angry invectives and furious cancellations. Amazingly, I don’t think anyone unsubscribed, so thank you for that. However, I was willing to suffer that to aid to the Christian minority of Gaza, who are stuck in the middle of an ancient blood feud between two parties backed by powerful nation-states.
Instead of angry emails, a handful accused me of being a liar or trying to convince me that the event didn’t happen at all.
That said, I let my emotions get the best of me and I published that newsletter prematurely before giving the facts time to settle.
First, the good news, the attack wasn’t as bad as was initially believed:
The church itself wasn’t hit. Instead, it was an adjoining building owned by the church where people were sheltering.
The casualty figures weren’t as high as initially indicated. The Order of St. George estimated 150-200 casualties, while current estimates are somewhere between 16-18.
However, it is true that Israel was responsible, and they’ve admitted that. And it’s also true that many innocents—including children—were killed. Many have tried to downplay this bombing, but let’s be clear that this is very bad and overall inexcusable.
And here I’m tempted to post pictures and videos of dead bodies and smoldering rubble to prove my point, but I’m stopping myself for a few reasons:
The purpose of this post is to correct my emotional and premature report.
Do I really need to send that sort of carnage to your inbox? You can check my Twitter if you’re curious.
Is what I’m seeing even real?
Sure, I have pictures and videos of destruction. And while pictures are easy enough to generate with tools like MidJourney and DALLE-3, AI video isn’t quite there yet. However, what often happens is that people will post pictures and videos of older events and claim that they’re current.
Funny enough, before my hasty post about the church bombing, I was planning a post on why you should be skeptical of all news you hear from this conflict, and why Westerners in general should keep their noses out of it.
Here’s a summary of the key points:
While the official hostilities between Israel and Palestine are relatively recent in history, the blood feud is thousands of years old. There are layers upon layers that we simply cannot understand.
The media can’t be trusted, since emotions are so high and many in that business have their own agendas. Look at how quickly the press was to blame Israel for an attack on a hospital, only for the likely culprit to be a misfired Hamas rocket. Yet, the same people who spread this misinformation are supposed to also be the arbiters of misinformation.
We, as Americans, have our own issues to work out. We don’t need more, and we can’t exactly solve the big, complex issues of others while our own house is a hot mess.
There are unbelievable amounts of resources being dumped into propaganda.
I recently had the privilege of chatting with Mike Benz, who formerly served at a high level in the State Department, and you would be absolutely gobsmacked at how much goes into shaping American opinions.
We’re talking billions and billions of dollars and hundreds of men in shadowy back rooms of government agencies and NGOs being put toward shaping how you think.
This is very much a “fog of war” situation. Lots of messy things happening quickly, and—as with this church bombing—the initial reports can be inaccurate. Pile an enormous propaganda machine on top of this trying to shape perception of each event, and it’s very difficult to tell what’s true or not.
Americans have a bad habit of sticking our noses into foreign conflicts, often to disastrous results. Haven’t we done enough damage, especially in the Middle East?
I’ve spent quite a bit of time around Middle Easterners lately, and something they’ve explained to me is that they tend to describe things in big, exaggerated ways.
To Westerners, this comes across as dishonest, but this is just their method of communicating about the world. So someone from that region might say “Hundreds are dead!” when it’s really a dozen. But to them, it feels like hundreds died.
Here’s an old article from Abdullah Bajubeer in Arab News discussing this phenomenon:
EXAGGERATION is too widely used in the Arab world especially when people are talking about past achievements or recent accomplishments. For example, an Arab country once claimed that it had the mightiest army, the largest navy, and the best air force in the world including one-of-a-kind long-range missiles. In fact, its citizens were well aware that what was said was the wildest propaganda. Unfortunately, it seems that magazines and newspapers in the Arab world are following the same course and making wide use of exaggeration.
One example reported in a Saudi newspaper was that nearly two million tourists visited Jeddah last summer. First of all, Jeddah is not a resort or a vacation center but many visitors did come to Jeddah for its Summer Festival. Could it be true that two million came? An average of a million a month for the two month holiday? This works out to 30,000 tourists a day. By what means of transportation did such numbers come to Jeddah? Where did they stay? The fact is that there are not 100,000 hotel rooms in the entire Kingdom nor are there enough furnished flats to cope with that number. So was the report accurate or not?
I first learned about this while discussing the Bible, because it was pointed out to me that even Jesus often talks in this exaggerated fashion.
Your own individual feelings don’t matter much, and won’t influence much. On the contrary, it’s far more likely that you will be influenced into supporting something you might not have otherwise—like invading Iraq. And you will certainly be stressed and depressed over things that you have almost no control over.
And these reasons are largely why I haven’t posted much about this war, and probably won’t be posting much about it going forward, except where there is directly relevant or actionable information.