Turn off television news satellites during war

Take away the enemy’s media weapon by turning off television news satellites during the next war.

Robert Harris, | updated: 09:34

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I am a journalist, a newspaper editor, and have worked in television news---and I absolutely believe that Israel must turn off all satellites that transmit television news images of battle during war.

In modern warfare, images have become the single most critical tool in transmitting the war’s narrative and declaring which side is the aggressor. And in today’s world, telling the story of Israel’s wars, determining which side is right and which wrong, is simply too important to allow ignorant, agenda-driven young leftist journalists to decide whether Israel has the right to defend itself, and how it should defend itself.

In abiding by extremely outdated concepts about a free press, Israel provides the enemy with images that are enthusiastically used as lethal weapons to strike at the heart of the Jewish people.

In fact, Israel might consider creating a 21st century media doctrine that includes temporarily closing down the transmission of all satellite images during war, as well as closing the enemy population’s cellular and internet communications.

Simply put, where is it written that because Israel is a democracy it must provide democratic tools, such as a free press, to its totalitarian enemies seeking to exterminate every Jewish man, woman and child?

Like it or not, decades ago television news moved beyond reporting events, to become critical players in deciding how the public and their governments view competing armies and determine who deserves the public’s sympathies during war.

Images sent by television news during battle have come to 100 percent define the narrative of wars, in other words, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.
Today, those images sent by television news during battle have come to 100 percent define the narrative of wars, in other words, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.  Even worse, words spoken by prime ministers, as well as the histories leading up to conflicts, are no longer of any concern to uninformed news reporters.

The historical truths about Israel, the righteous goals of Israel’s beating back aggressors, the history of the struggle, the history of the people……..all of this is meaningless to today’s foreign reporters. And even worse than the general illiteracy of journalists, when it comes to Israel much of the foreign media arrives in the Middle East with a leftist anti-Israel bias.

Another reason to temporarily turn off satellites during Israel’s wars is that the modern news business is, in fact, an entertainment medium that demands an always larger number of viewers tuning in. And the fastest and cheapest way to increase television ratings is through showing pictures of blood and destruction.

This means that while there will always be much destruction to show in Gaza or Lebanon during war, there is little blood in Israel, so the images of war will always be 100% skewered towards transmitting war’s devastation, which means depicting the Arab enemy as victims and Israel as the aggressor.

What can Israel do about educating and changing these anti-Israel attitudes held by the foreign media? Probably nothing.

What can Israel do about the images sent out to the world by the foreign media? End all satellite transmissions until the war has ended.

The reasons for closing down the foreign media are endless:

1) The media provides the enemy with real-time information on the progress of IDF forces reaching military objectives. Also, the media provides the enemy with real-time intelligence on troop movements, armaments being carried into battle, divisions being deployed, and much more.

2) Soldiers and commanders need to act in any way they see fit to guarantee that the largest numbers of IDF soldiers safely return to their loved ones. And they cannot do that if forced to operate under the foreign media’s spotlight during war.

3) The Prime Minister and Defense Minister should be able to conduct wars and make decisions based exclusively upon what is good for the country, and by acting to minimize the risks to all Jewish soldiers. They should not have to be looking over their shoulders, worrying about media coverage and the world’s one-sided condemnation.

4) The images of war will set back the very difficult job of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish and maintain ties with the countries of the world.

5) The images of war will cause the foreign media to shut down international support for Israel. Many leaders in countries throughout the world will wish to offer their vocal support for Israel, but have learned that the fallout--much of it driven by their own hostile media---simply makes outward support of Israel not worth the effort.

6) Due to satellite images, the accomplishments of those combatting the organized hatred of Israel will be placed in jeopardy. While the work of countering BDS has been extremely effective under under the leadership of Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan, too much of this painstaking work will be reversed, as one-sided satellite news images provide new recruits, new rallying cries and money for those on campuses and the streets of major cities seeking to delegitimize Israel.

7) Images transmitted by foreign media will greatly harm tourism. As in the past, the images of war will cause a reduction in tourism, cutbacks in hotels, transportation, spending and, of course, jobs in these industries.

8) Satellite news will result in a resurgence of the worldwide boycott of Israeli products, and exports will be reduced.

9) Satellite images will endanger Israel’s receiving arms. During past wars, western countries have denied landing rights to foreign airplanes seeking to deliver arms to Israel. The images delivered by satellites will encourage many world leaders to prevent Israel from receiving arms.

10) The foreign media’s images of war can also be used to resurrect always-weak Palestinian rulers, giving them greater status worldwide than they have among their own people, and much more money to maintain their governments by thievery.

11) As has happened in the past, the images of war will propel media and governments to seek premature ceasefires, preventing the IDF from securing a complete victory.

In truth, Israel has survived for 70 years in large part because of the government’s never-hasty, and always cautious approach to acting unilaterally.

“What will the world think of the Jews if we turn off the satellites?” is an unspoken concern among many in authority that prevents the government from turning off satellite transmissions.

Of course, every man on the street knows that whatever Israel allows, or disallows, to be televised during war, much of the world will still hate the Jewish state and people.

The foreign media knowingly transmits many lies, such as that Israel is an apartheid state, even as Israel elevates Arabs to sit in the Knesset and on the Supreme Court.

The foreign media accuses Israel of being racist, even as Arabs have the highest standard of living in Israel and the greatest numbers of Arab youths attending university.

The world calls Israel fascists and totalitarians, even though Arab citizens vote, have political parties, and are mayors and members of the Knesset.

So, whether Israel keeps satellites on or turns them off, how much worse can the world think about Israel?

By not stopping satellite transmissions Israel gives the enemies of free speech the right to use Israel’s free press as a platform to scream its lies to the world. Israel gives the enemies of a free press the chance to use the press to promote their evil, and if successful in destroying Israel the first thing they would do is close down the free press.

Israel can temporarily turn off satellites without bringing on the end of the world. As we know, freedom will continue to be enjoyed in that minority of countries that value human rights.

It is also important to recognize that Israel cannot overcome the ignorance and ideologies of television reporters or the demands from network executives who need blood and destruction to assure high viewer ratings.

Israel has developed its own doctrines for waging war---how to use infantry, the navy and the air force. Their military doctrines were developed to realistically respond to the world as it is, and are today taught at military colleges throughout the world.

So it is time to develop a realistic 21st century Israeli media doctrine that protects the IDF, the government and the people of Israel from the harm that satellite news purposely inflicts upon Israel during times of war.

Today’s foreign media newsrooms have shown themselves to be ideologically leftist, their reporters are ignorant about Israel and the Jewish people, and their selection of stories and images is based upon their need to increase ratings through televising blood and destruction...in other words, they are entertainment programs first, news outlets second.

Also, today’s reality calls for recognizing that the first instinct of the foreign media will always be to use every story to blame Israel first.

There are hundreds of examples of media bias, but the media’s hate was clearly on display during the July 2, 2008 terror attack in Jerusalem when an Arab commandeered a bulldozer on Jaffa Street, crushing vehicles and passersby, killing three Jews and injuring over 50. A brave soldier and a policeman finally jumped onto the moving bulldozer and shot the terrorist dead.

The incident occurred in front of the office of the BBC and was witnessed by their journalists. In quickly posting this news online, the first headline on the BBC story was “Israel bulldozer driver shot dead”. The same headline was also used in their first broadcast video of the story transmitted worldwide.

Since this incident, nothing has changed and this is exactly how the BBC and biased foreign media will cover the next war, if Israel gives them the images to transmit worldwide.

Of course, Israel cannot change the worldview of the anti-semitic BBC and their media colleagues throughout the world. But Israel can change the thinking of its own officials, who should act to protect the country, the IDF and the Jewish people by temporarily closing down foreign media satellites during the next war.