Yes, Israel’s television channels, headed by Channel 1, again protected us – the naïve, innocent, and soft-hearted viewers – from Hamas’ wickedness by choosing not to air the animated clip showing Gilad Shalit’s father aging as he waits in vain for his son’s return.
However, they chose not only to refrain from broadcasting it, but also to prominently declare that they will not air it. These days, if you don’t prominently declare that you didn’t do something, it’s as though you did it.
How automatic and easy it is to tow the line of talkback writers. There you have it, a proud television channel that will not be airing this Hamas “propaganda” as not to disturb the public’s rest and allow it to focus on the current corruption affairs.
Initially it appears that the considerations here were proper. Why should we grant Hamas three minutes on Israel’s major news programs? Just like there’s no need to allow Nasrallah to issue his long-winded philosophical statements on Israeli TV, there is seemingly no need to expose the public to the utter cynicism in Hamas’ video. Way to go, Channel 1.
However, you then go on to watch the clip online – assuming you have the mental strength to withstand it – and realize that with the exception of the producer, there is virtually no difference between the video’s message, impact, or general tone to the latest Israeli PR video produced by Shalit activists and showing the captive soldier gradually turning into Ron Arad.
Both clips play with the viewers’ emotions in a hair-raising manner aimed at rattling their assumed indifference. After all, what exactly is inaccurate about the video produced by Hamas? The passage of time is indeed not kind to Gilad’s parents, just like it does not benefit the affair as a whole. There is no guarantee of a happy ending. Israeli governments indeed promise, when pressed, that the issue is being addressed, but they mostly ensure to complete the task of referring to the issue in the traditional holiday interviews.
Getting angry again
Finally, as the Shalit campaign knows well, public awareness and the insistence of a large public not to forget the issue, pound the table ceaselessly, and mostly exact a heavy political price from a government that will not get the job done in respect to Shalit are the factors that will make the difference.
Such public awareness, which feeds off on mass fury over false government promises and waste of time, is aroused when watching the Israeli clip of Gilad turning into Arad, but also when you watch the Hamas video where Noam Shalit turns into an old man without again seeing his son.
Hamas’ clip, whose despicable cruelty is undisputed, would have never been produced in Israel. Yet as an average Israeli viewer, the emotion you are left with is the emotion which the movie’s producers aimed for: Anger channeled to those who are not doing enough – that is, our government.
Should the Hamas clip been aired in full? That’s not a must; certainly not. Reporting the film’s existence and content would have been enough. Yet there’s no need to wave a patriotic flag when one chooses not to air material that is nonetheless relevant.
It’s possible to simply utter the basic truth: This clip hurts the feelings of the Shalit family and we shall therefore refrain from airing it. On the other hand, it hurts us in a place that perhaps is worthwhile hurting – the place that will prompt us to get angry again; the place that will prompt us to demand progress.