Here's why I won't be talking about the Middle East on NewsTalk again

Posted By: John Downs · 7/18/2014 4:28:00 PM

The current situation in Gaza is newsworthy. It's a compelling story. And it could make for a great conversation on NewsTalk 1010. All too often, however, it fails to function on real-time talk radio.

NewsTalk 1010's Ryan Doyle has been in the talk game longer than me. When we worked together I couldn't understand why he was often reluctant to discuss abortion, native affairs and Middle East issues. This week has been a real wake-up call as to why certain topics are simply toxic to civil discourse.

Those texting or calling in to the station are usually not representative of the overall listening audience. These are listeners with something to say, and they want their voices heard. As we've heard this week, some are tightly connected to the conflict, with loved ones in Israel being forced into shelters to escape the shelling from Gaza. Another listener, who identified himself as Palestinian-Canadian, described taking his boys on their first trip to Israel where he says their Canadian passports were not recognized. He says they were treated as second-class citizens. "Once a Palestinian, always a Palestinian."

Many other listeners, with no direct connection to the land or the people, have chosen a side based on the information and news sources to which they subscribe. And many urged me to do the same.

Based on the information in front of me, it's difficult to stand firmly in one corner. Hamas clearly have no desire for peace, and it's the people they were elected to protect who have borne the brunt of Israeli shelling. Israel should not be expected to live under a persistent barrage of rockets, even if its sophisticated defence systems are capable of repelling the incoming shells.

My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of the same polarizing statements we're seeing on the NewsTalk text board. Friends and colleagues have been compelled to point out the victimization on both sides of the conflict. It's still not enough for me to grab the flag of one team and head into battle.

I'd argue that those of us on the sidelines, with no horse in the game, are among the most qualified to weigh in and assign blame wherever it may lie. We know that an independent nation under siege has a right to defend itself. We also know that scores of civilians - including many children - being caught in the crossfire and killed is simply unacceptable.

History is not made up of a series of rights and wrongs. History is a confluence of anger, misunderstandings and ego. It's not until we can understand and listen and hear that we will be ready to go all in with one side.

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  1. Peter posted on 07/18/2014 10:14 PM
    Religion, commodities (gold, diamonds, oil etc.) and pride/ego have always been the crux of conflict.
  2. Lynne posted on 07/19/2014 11:52 AM
    well @ least we're hearing what is really happening there.
  3. Mark7 posted on 07/24/2014 02:16 PM
    "History is not made up of a series of rights and wrongs. History is a confluence of anger, misunderstandings and ego. It's not until we can understand and listen and hear that we will be ready to go all in with one side."

    Well John, I shall use history against you. Throughout the history of mankind you will find that the Palestinians have NEVER had rights to the land they say Israel is occupying illegally. Most, including you, seem to just listen to the Palestine propaganda instead of educating yourself. From the days when the bible was written onward, the Palestinians have always been the evil doers.

    It has been stated by Palestinians that they want Israel eradicated ad nauseam. They will NEVER accept peace. The lands the Palestinians OCCUPY right now also belong to Israel.

    It is utterly shocking that you are allowed a voice on air when you don't even know the historical facts. After this fiasco, I shall never waste my time replying to those of your ilk again. May Yahweh forgive you.
    1. frank posted on 07/25/2014 08:38 AM
      @Mark7 The Palestinians never get their side of the story out. We need to hear both sides, with facts, tested by each side for voracity.
    2. Mark7 posted on 07/25/2014 12:43 PM
      @frank What is the side of the story needed to be heard? The Palestinians ALWAYS attack first, THEN Israel RIGHTLY retaliates. With a 123:1 kill ratio you would think Hamas would get some brains and stop their attacks.

      But these are not sane people. These are people full of hate and content for Yahweh's people. It cannot get any simpler than that.

      ps...Please do some research and you will find my comments were correct. The Palestinians throughout history have never held title to Israel's lands.
    3. Random posted on 07/27/2014 04:05 AM
      @Mark7 Your argument is beyond warped. Does it say anywhere in this 'bible' of yours that your ethnic group have the right to drive another ethnic group from their homes?
      If I was Palestinian, I'd want Israel eradicated, and so would you. Maybe it would be more Yahweh-like of you to start the process of atonement for what you've done and are doing to the Palestinians.
  4. Alexander posted on 07/30/2014 01:38 PM
    Well, US and all the rest have to pull back and give Israel to win. Whoever says "palestinians" never had rights or support them this way or another - is just anti -Israel and antisemitis by his/ her nature and doesn't want to know/understand who is who. Very important to uderstand - Israel is our last bastion against fanatics' invasion, to simplify: Israel falls - them on Bloor St.
    As about civilians...yes, fighting with enemy who uses them as a shield, will bring to casualties, indeed. Who's fault is this?
    By the way, if my father, brothers, uncles and cousins are in Hamas and I'm, being kid, going to summer camp to learn how to operate AK - am I civilian?
  5. jonnymacd posted on 08/13/2014 09:15 PM
    as long as both the parties believe that their imaginary space God in the sky has given them the right to live on the disputed land and further by settling the land they will bring on the return of the Messiah (to use the Jewish example) there will be no peace. Therefore there will be no peace. So you're right not to discuss it any more. There are probably more interesting issues to talk about which are based upon facts and not fiction. And therefore more worthy.
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