Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fear Appeals and the War

The following commercial aired this morning on MSNBC in the greater NYC area. The commercial is from the IFCJ (International Fellowship between Christian and Jews) and asks for donations to support Israel in light of the recent fighting/ war in Gaza.

The commercial is interesting (it is targeting the high Jewish population in NYC) as it asks for donations during a "time of war" without mentioning how the money will be used other than to vaguely say "Save Lives." Further, it truly lacks any discussion of why the conflict exists and avoids discussion of proportionality in attacks. Instead the commercial seems to hide around the ideographs of "terrorism" as it seeks support. Finally, the religious element only exacerbates the political conflict, especially when a Christian group attempts to join forces with one side.

While I am certainly not arguing against a right to self-defense and a right to live peacefully, even if that means some violence is necessary, I am struck by the organization's claims that only one side is suffering in this ordeal or that one side suffers more than the other. It seems that if there is going to be any resolution to this conflict, this ad that seems only to equate one side with terrorism is a short term goal only.


Michael Boulos said...

Isn't the real problem that MSNBC is running ads for one side of a conflict that it is supposed to be reporting on? How does this maintain any form of unbiased journalistic integrity?

solon said...

As far as I know, MSNBC did not report on the commercial though it did air in the morning.

I am not sure at what level that this is an ethical problem. In a weird way, this is a marketplace problem where one political group possesses the resources to purchase ad time. I think I would be more upset on freedom of speech grounds if MSNBC refused to sell air time.

The fact that the other side of the conflict is not purchasing air time should not mean that the pro-Israel group cannot purchase air time (though I still think purchasing air time to gain adherence for a war is really odd....)

The counter example is the way in which Hamas in Gaza limits journalists from entering and reporting as well as staging photos of some of the atrocities (see Andrew Sullivan. This is another ethical breach that prevents a long-term solution to the problem.