Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to do Hasbrah properly

Here are examples of CRAP hasbarah

Denouncing newspapers and other publications for petty, nit-picky, irrelevant things. Most everything you see from Honest Reporting and the other self-appointed media watchdogs falls into this category. They moan about word choice. (usually because the watchdog, himself, doesn't know what the word in question actually means) They scream Kristelnacht because a fact or detail was left out, or gripe about "moral equivalence" when two things are mentioned in the same paragraph. (Did I just create an equivalence between Kristenacht and moral? I did use both words in the same sentence.)

Now occasionally media outlets do make serious errors, and I don't include the response to those types of errors in this category, but let's be honest: those types of errors are very far and few between, and usually corrections are issued immediately.

Offering a knee-jerk denial to every Palestinian claim of injustice. Can we be honest, please, here among ourselves? Sometimes the IDF and the police and other authorities make mistakes. Sometimes they commit outright crimes. I don't say any of this happens frequently,  but it does happen. The abject denial of this reality by hasbrahniks makes all of us look stupid.

Also, the claim that every child shot by the IDF was a dangerous "terrorist" is not helpful. Better to just tell the truth, and admit the facts. This is how you win credibility.

Tin-foil hat interpretations of CCTV videos Occasionally, IDF crimes or mistakes are captured on video. Now, I agree that a video doesn't tell the whole story, and that occasionally important information is missing. I also agree that the difference between a "mistake" and a "crime" is not easily spotted. Making both of these points is legitimate and are NOT examples of crap hasbarah.

What is unacceptable, however, is the practice of denying what the video clearly shows, after subjecting it to the full-on Zapruder film analysis. For example, CNN published a video that clearly showed an Israeli in uniform firing the bullet that hit Nadeem Nawara. One self-appointed hasbrahnik preposterously argued that the video actually showed a soldier firing a rubber bullet, and concluded that Nawara had to have been killed in the ambulance by other Palestinians. Don't do that. You look like an idiot, and no one with any sense is convinced.

Here are examples of LEGITIMATE hasbarah

Setting the record straight. When you see people on Facebook or Twitter saying things that are clearly untrue, a clear, direct, polite response (with sources) is the right way to go. Some people (like Hasbrah bloggers) aren't interested in facts, and of course people like that exist on the Arab side. But you also have people like me who just want to know what really happened, and like me they are happy to recalibrate their thinking in the light of new information. A polite correction works.

Pointing out fallacies You'll also see people drawing unjustified conclusion or making claims that aren't supported by evidence. You should point this out, too. For example, in the hours after the death of the bus driver, the Arab Twitterverse was positive that he had been "lynched by settlers" The right thing to do in that case, is simply to ask each of them: How do you know that? Most brushed off the question or responded in anger, but some realized they were jumping to baseless conclusions.

Bring barbarism to the light of day When you spot something outrageous, retweet it, facebook it or send it to me for posting. It's important for people to know what some Arabs are actually saying and actually doing. But don't do this if dozens of people have already beaten you to it.

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