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What We’re Reading about the Israel-Hamas War

Some pieces in the wider media we at The Tyee have found useful.

David Beers 16 Oct 2023The Tyee

David Beers is the founding editor of The Tyee and serves as current editor-in-chief.

Members of The Tyee team are spread around Canada and even beyond, so we commune over the internet, sharing much discussion on the platform Slack. When the horrific news and images began emanating from Israel and Gaza, we began sharing pieces we were finding on the web. Some provided facts for context; others made moral arguments reminding us that to be truly human we must not dehumanize. As we have been reminded this past week, to dehumanize is to prepare the way for the slaughter of innocents.

Within The Tyee’s virtual huddle, this process of exchange has been respectful and tinged with humility. We are, after all, merely journalists generally focused on a region of Canada called British Columbia and command little expertise or influence over the events unfolding in the Middle East. As we shared our links, it became clear each of us wanted mind-broadening insights rather than the debasing discourses all too available not just in the shadowy corners of social media but right there, right now, on many television news channels.

If that is what you, too, are looking for, offered here is this handful of articles. We selected them not because they perfectly address all aspects — what could? — but because, together, they act as arrows pointing down a path towards more learning and compassion.

Don’t Believe Everything You See and Hear about Israel and Palestine
By A.W. Ohlheiser, Vox

Drawing on their long experience monitoring and debunking digital misinformation, Ohlheiser discusses how fraught finding truth becomes “when war goes online.” They helpfully offer steps including “learn to SIFT,” which stands for these four steps: “Stop, investigate the source, find better coverage, and trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context.”

What’s the Israel-Palestine Conflict About? A Simple Guide
By staff, Al Jazeera

“For decades, Western media outlets, academics, military experts and world leaders have described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as intractable, complicated and deadlocked. Here’s a simple guide to break down one of the world’s longest-running conflicts,” says this timeline extending back to 1917, when Britain’s foreign secretary committed his government to “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The Attacks on Israel, and the Response
By Isaac Saul, Tangle

Philadelphia-based Jewish journalist Saul, who has spent time in Israel, runs what he describes as “an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then ‘my take.’” The “my take” in this edition requires some scrolling to locate, coming after Saul offers his own set of curated links to other media. Saul’s essay is worth finding for its measured, humane reaction to the terrible events, a journey of the mind and heart that begins with “It could have been me.”

Three days later, Saul published another piece describing the response he’d received, another valuable read.

The Double Standard with Israel and Palestine Leaves Us in Moral Darkness
By Moustafa Bayoumi, the Guardian

An American writer of Egyptian descent, Bayoumi observes: “On 7 October, the national security council spokesperson Adrienne Watson stated that the U.S. ‘unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians.’ Every one of us must stand up and denounce the killing of every civilian, Israeli or Palestinian or otherwise,” declares Bayoumi. “But Watson’s use of the word ‘unprovoked’ is doing a lot of work here.”

Yes, You Can Be Pro-Palestine and Anti-Hamas
By David Faris, Slate

A Chicago-based political science professor makes the case that “opposing Hamas and feeling revulsion at the targeting of Israeli civilians is... perfectly compatible with a politics highly critical of the right-wing government in Jerusalem, opposed to the settlement project in the West Bank, and supportive of Palestinian rights, aspirations and dignity.”

Speech and Speechlessness
By Talia Lavin, the Sword and the Sandwich

“There’s a war in Israel and Gaza, and the left-wing orthodoxies and right-wing orthodoxies of the moment — each in their own way advocating or excusing the slaughter of unarmed civilians and whole towns — stream past me in impossible numbers, interleaved with videos of violence, with outright propaganda, with full-throated advocacy for ethnic cleansing,” writes Lavin, a freelance Jewish journalist whose beat is right-wing extremism.

This short, searching essay, which folds in verse by a famous Russian Jewish poet born in 1891 and references Naomi Klein’s new book, includes this: “In this moment of peril, in which people I love are in real danger, the doubled self is present in its dark mirror. I feel the urge to speak meaninglessly, and the urge to stay silent, and the senseless notion that not speaking is the same as refraining from action.”  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Media

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