Sunday, June 16, 2024 -
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What is a reader to think?

It used to be that the free press wasn’t free because totalitarian governments made up the news. “The workers’ paradise” of the Communists and “the Jewish vermin” of the Nazis — you get the idea. Alas, we cannot put this challenge to truth in reportage in the past tense. The contemporary version of totalitarian lies is worse. The Communist and Nazi distortions were so blatant as to be transparent. The current distortions become more widely believed because they can be mixed in with facts.

Hamas is a totalitarian government. Last February it put out there that some 118 Palestinians were killed and 760 injured because Israel fired on Gaza aid trucks. The useful idiots who parrot Hamas’ Gaza Health Ministry happily cooperated in their uncritical transmission of the supposed data. They contributed to the vile image of Israel as happy murderers of Palestinian amid a “genocidal” campaign.

It turns out that the deaths occurred due to overcrowding, not to Israel Defense Forces’ gunfire. Who, pray tell, are the sources for this revelation? None other than Hamas members themselves. Meanwhile, however, Gazans already have a name for the Feb. 29 incident. “Four Massacre.” Overcrowding, however tragic, is not a “massacre.” The nomenclature indicts Israel, confirms its image as evil, and never gets adjusted according to the actual facts. 

This is how totalitarianism works. The propagandists come to believe their own lies. However, from time to time, the propagandists in Gaza put out a true report because from time to time Israel trips up. So what is a reader to think?

The press in a totalitarian space such as Gaza may be free to report the information it is given, but this information — as in the Feb. 29 lies about Israel — may be false. Reporters may be free to independently verify facts, but they don’t. The totalitarian government takes over their minds, too. They believe the official lies, but sometimes they don’t need to lie because Israel trips up. 

So what is a reader to think?

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