On June 18, Ynet News published a report on a summer camp run by settlers in the West Bank that teaches Israelis and tourists how to shoot “terrorists” or, more specifically, Palestinians, in three seconds or less. One family calls it a “thrill”. Children of all ages are invited to fire weapons at targets simulating Palestinian West Bank residents, to listen to “stories from the battleground”, and to watch simulations of assassinations. Ynet writes highly of the program and refers to it as a “5-Star War”.
On July 11, Ynet published a report on a Hamas-run summer camp in the Gaza Strip that gives children a unique opportunity to experience the struggles of Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention in Israel. The program involves a tour of a mock solitary confinement cell, interrogation room, and prison hospital. Children participate in a variety of activities which can include walking on a bed of nails. Ynet refers to this program as “indoctrination”.
This is a textbook example of yellow and very unethical journalism. In the first case, Ynet applauds a program hosted in an illegal settlement on occupied land that trains the public to use lethal force. In the second case, Ynet decries a program that teaches participants about the human rights abuses incarcerated Palestinians are forced to endure in the Israeli prison system.
If Ynet wants to classify something as “indoctrination”, it should first look to its report about the settler-run camp that includes a photograph of a five-year-old girl holding and eventually firing a rifle. The article is rife with quotes from teens who profess their excitement at being ready to permanently disable another human being with lethal force. “They should know where they come from,” says a father as he watches his kindergarten-age daughter “shooting clay bullets like a pro.” If that isn’t indoctrination, I don’t know what is.
When it comes to reporting on the Gaza-based summer camp, Ynet appears fixated on the bed of nails. Both attached photographs are of the nailbed and one is sarcastically captioned “Nothing spells summer fun more than walking on nails.” Ynet doesn’t even bother considering the very reasonable purpose of the summer camp until the final paragraphs and when it does, it denounces it as a form of brainwashing as if Israel’s widely-documented human rights violations against Palestinians is nothing but a mere myth.
Clearly, any comparison of these two reports quickly reveals Ynet’s poor standards in fair and balanced journalism.
And here’s an introductory math, physics, and common sense lesson for any Ynet editors who think walking on a bed of nails is worse than encouraging hormonal teenagers to shoot at others in the name of nationalism. Imagine a boy of constant mass standing on a nailbed like the one pictured in the report. He is standing not on one nail but on, let’s say, 50 or more. The area over which his downward force is distributed is far greater than one might assume, and based on the equation PRESSURE = FORCE / AREA, the greater the area, the lower the pressure. The nails wouldn’t pierce the skin or even cause much discomfort. But if that’s not convincing, here’s a video of a balloon on a bed of nails that just won’t pop.