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Is A “Neutral” Stance Possible When Reporting on Palestine/’Israel’?


Is A “Neutral” Stance Possible When Reporting on Palestine/Israel?

Robert Inlakesh 9ed12
Taking a position of neutrality when approaching any topic is often perceived as being the position of intellectual high ground and also objectivity. When anyone is to first approach a topic they do not yet understand, it is almost essential that they approach what they are looking at in an open and un-decided manner. To say that one remains neutral on a point of conflict, in many cases, is the most rational position.

Whilst neutrality is indeed commonly the position of intellectual high ground, applying this theory – of neutral is moral and correct – to all areas of human interaction would be intellectually lazy and in some cases, completely immoral.

If two people, countries, or sides of near to equal strength and/or ethics engage in a feud/conflict or heated exchange, it is imperative that – from at least an integral journalistic approach – the stance taken by the bystander/outsider is neutral and balanced.
For example; when an observer begins to watch a game of football/soccer between two separate clubs (sides), the listener/viewer of the game will expect that the commentators will give a two sided, neutral outline of what is to come. One sided commentary would be outlandish in the field of sports, therefore coming into a new standoff between sides, the position is one of observation and comprehension, based upon that observation.

Upon the games initiation, those giving commentary will not be cheering for one side over the other – they will generally be giving statistics and a balanced overview – normally insinuating a chance for both sides to claim victory. Perhaps the commentators will also add context to the likelihood of both clubs performances, in accordance to previous statistics and observations, this approach is seen as clearly fair.

As the game progresses, if the score remains equal then this is expected to be reflected in the reporting. However, if one side has scored 10 goals and the opposition none, the commentary will expectedly reflect this score, not cover it up in order to remain neutral.
Those who are employed to give commentary on sports would not be expected to report that both sides are scoring equally, making excuses for the losing side in order to “balance the reporting”. In the world of sports the truth stands in the games statistics. If we saw a reporter or commentator going out of their way to justify the score on part of the losing side, this is no longer neutrality, and this position by default is taking a clear side. The point being, the winning side is indeed announced along with the statistics surrounding the win, reporters are not expected to leave out factual evidence for fear of offending a team and its followers.

According to the Oxford dictionaries definition of the word ‘neutral’, it is “not supporting or helping either side in a conflict, disagreement, etc.; impartial.”

In order to truly remain neutral, one must report the truth statistically and investigate all sides of the dispute and/or conflict. Therefore it is in fact incorrect to call oneself neutral if they leave out significant statistical and factual evidence on either side. When it comes to Palestine-Israel, if it is to be report from a truly neutral perspective, then the reality must be provided, one cannot simply sugar coat things in order to make people happy.

Neutrality when reporting upon Palestine-Israel however, cannot be fully achieved by definition. Reporting the truth on the matter, although approached in a neutral way, will benefit the side which is morally justified and this is where the succinct difference – between a sports games and human conflict – come to fruition. For the Palestinians, the truth is a powerful weapon which they use as a valuable tool in the fight against their oppressors. Therefore an honest journalist or distributer of fair and truthful information, is helping the struggle of the oppressed against their oppressor.

Often people will state such things as; “what you are saying is not balanced”, when it comes to reporting upon Palestine-Israel and this statement is in fact very much true, however this does not mean the information stated is not being reported from a neutral standpoint.

If we are to observe – from a non-biased perspective – two people as they sit down onto a seesaw, witnessing the heavier individual sit down, shooting the lighter individual into the air, is it fair and coming from a neutral position to report an unbalanced observation?

The point that is trying to be communicated through the analogies above, is that illustrating the truth and expressing facts that lean towards one side’s narrative over the others, does not mean you are no longer neutral.

You can report exactly what you see in front of you and still have no steak in the outcome of the situation at hand. The idea often sold to us – through the bulk of mainstream sources – is that we have to be strictly siding with one party and that we must report the affairs at hand according to the pre-decided position we take, when this is just not the case.

Explaining this, now brings me to my next point of observation on the issue. When looking at Palestine-Israel, we are presented with more than just statistics and simple observations. From what I have personally witnessed, the issue is no-where near balanced, nor is it really to be referred to as a conflict or war. In my opinion, what is happening to the Palestinian people is statistically and factually speaking, ethnic cleansing and the textbook definition of genocide.

I do not believe it to be rational to provide Israel with any sort of moral status, its actions speak louder than words and claiming, and that I as an individual remain neutral would be a statement of fallacy. When it comes to mathematics, if someone asks me a basic question such as; “what is 1+1?” I would state with authority in my position that the answer is two. What I have seen with my own eyes during the duration of time that I lived in the occupied West Bank, gives me a very clear cut perception of what is occurring. It is an oppression, not a conflict and therefore morally and in accordance to the principles of international law, I side with the oppressed against their oppressors.

Martin Luther King Jr. once quoted Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” when addressing the United States role in the Vietnam War, he said; that “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a time of moral crisis reserve their neutrality”. The reason I use this quote is because sometimes, not coming to the aid of our fellow human beings devoid us of our humanity and allows for travesties to be committed. International bodies such as the United Nations (UN) and others, were supposedly banded together in order to intervene in violations of human rights, this is in fact why we have international law altogether.

When wrong is being committed in such an evident fashion, it is imperative that action is taken to – prevent or serve the situation – justice. As of now, the state of Israel are currently in violation of more UN resolutions than any other nation/state on the planet and have had more resolutions placed upon them than any other entity in history.

Looking back through history, there are many examples to point to, where there is clear cut moral degeneracy on the part of regimes, countries and/or occupiers, for example; it would be very difficult to find many people today that will take a neutral position when it comes to the infamous South-African system of Apartheid. Modern historians will not try to sugar coat and remain neutral between European colonizers and the Native Americans they came to dispossess of their lands.

It is internationally accepted that the land theft and the campaigns of genocide against the native custodians of the Americas were one sided affairs. This is not to deny the fact that in resistance to colonization Native American resistance fighters did take up arms and slaughter innocent European men, women and children, it is simply to tell the truth about what actually happened and about which side initiated the wrongdoings, carrying out oppression and injustice.

If we are to witness a rape, are we to stand there and judge both sides equally, considering what both parties are thinking? Or are we to act in what ways we can in order to deliver justice to this evidently horrendous situation.

These analogies are not intended to pressure someone into taking the side of Palestine or Israel, the reason that they have been included, is for the simple purpose of getting you to think about morality. This analogy is to appeal to people who are too caught up between titles and to plead with you to look at right and wrong, rather than political or religious affiliation to a side in theory.

The ongoing ethnic cleansing and constant oppression of the Palestinian people is not a conflict, Palestinians have no army, it is not two equal sides as it’s sold to people through our mainstream media platforms. There is no “neutral stance” between oppressor and oppressed, between slave and slave owner. Those who claim to remain neutral and who know about what is happening to the Palestinian people are taking the side of the oppressor by default.

To take the moral position is to take a stance when wrong is done and not to cover it up, not to be pressured into painting a narrative which just isn’t the truth. Identifying with titles or sides is nothing essential nor should it be demanded.

Having a humane response to wrongdoing, truly does put the ‘human’ in humanity. Therefore, yes, according to the information presented to me and what I have concluded through my own observations – I take the side of the Palestinians in their, both legal and moral, struggle for human rights and self-determination. If you feel the same way, the reaction is not to backtrack when accused of this, nor is it to become nervous when somebody uses this in an attempt to discredit you, stand strong with your opinion and present your case as to why you take this position.

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