Living in comfortable south central Ontario for many years, I implicitly believed most of what I heard from the media. Occasionally I wondered about some alarmist reports, but mostly I thought what they said was accurate. I went to a talk in Orillia about 10 years ago by a CBC radio host – it might have been Michael Enright, I’m not sure. He was talking about media accuracy. That was an eye-opener for me.
Some years later, in search of adventure and change, I moved from my safe, humdrum world to Kuwait. I was amazed at how peaceful this world is. I spoke to people who had lived in Iraq. I spoke to people who had been to Afghanistan. When I was in my safe world, the media had led me to believe that those countries were extremely dangerous. One Canadian woman I spoke to had actually traveled through a lot of Afghanistan. She told me she had to follow certain rules, but that in fact the country was lovely and she had rarely seen any violence or felt personally threatened. I had thought there were bombs going off everywhere from what the media had reported!
In 2008 the Gaza Crisis erupted. In the west there were reports of rockets being fired into Israel by the Palestinians in Gaza and that Israel was protecting itself by retaliating. At no point did the true nature of the slaughter in Gaza every truthfully reported. Here and here are links to posts about the true nature of what really happened. Women, children and old people were carelessly slaughtered and this was completely overlooked by the media – it just wasn’t important!! What was important was the 2 or 3 casualties in Israel – so of course Israel was justified in sending missiles in retaliation!
In the spring of 2011 there were some protests in a couple of villages like Homs and Daraa against the ruling government headed by Bashar Al Asaad. Shortly thereafter there was a powerful show of support with thousands turning out to pledge their allegiance to Bashar. The media spoke at great length about the protests and said very little – if anything – about the people who supported Bashar. At the beginning of August that year, I went to Syria with my Syrian husband to meet his family and celebrate our marriage (which had taken place in January of that year) and also attend the marriage of his sister. Before I went, my sisters in Canada thought I shouldn’t go because I would surely be killed – the media had made the country seem to be in turmoil. What I experienced was sun-soaked country, friendly, warm people, and an amazing time!
The first picture above is a typical sight in the Syrian countryside – a boy with his sheep. The next one is a photo of goats feeding beside an ancient wall in Ar Riqqa. The third photo is my husband’s cousin Abdullah and his bride at the wedding. The fourth is my husband enjoying shisha in a lovely outdoor restaurant with an enormous fake waterfall. The fifth is ancient Jabar, one of the thousands of historical sites in Syria. I believe this was a ziggurat from the Mesopotamian times. The last photo is me, getting into the cold pure waters of the Euphrates for my first swim. We swam many times after that, my husband and I.
Why do I linger on the details of this trip? Because the country I saw was not one fomenting with outrage against the tyrannies of Bashar Al Asaad. The people I saw were happy people, enjoying Ramadan, visiting friends and family. I saw simple people – some wealthier than others, but all cared for with doctors and dentists available, clean water in their homes and schools for their children to attend. The fields were irrigated with an enormous network of cement troughs carrying unstinting amounts of clean Euphrates water to the crops. The food was delicious and fresh and abundant. Christians went to their worship services at their churches which were not barricaded behind walls but open and easy to access. There were Shiia mosques and Sunni mosques in abundance. We drove freely about the country and the army presence was minimal – just checking our papers, asking our business and waving us on our way. We did not feel threatened in any way. The oddest thing was that about 90% of the people I spoke to had only good things to say about Bashar! Why wouldn’t they? People had good lives!
Then came the outside influences. Qatar and Saudi Arabia and Al Nusra and Al Qaida entered the conflict. Things became bloodier and bloodier. Thank God we were long gone by then, having left at the beginning of September 2011.
What did the media report? Repeatedly we heard from CNN and Fox and Al Jazeera and BBC terribly stories of the atrocities committed by the Syrian army against the Syrian people. Still, we talked to our family members and friends in Syria and they never mentioned these things for the longest time! Still they supported Bashar and spoke with anxiety about the rebels (read Al Qaida and Al Nusra) coming and disturbing their peace. Meanwhile the death toll rose as reported by CNN and Fox and BBC and Al Jazeera – mostly all attributed to the Syrian army.
But so much of it was lies, misrepresentations of the events.
So I began to investigate and I started thinking about the agenda for Syria. Who stands to benefit? The answer is not clear, but there is so much evidence of meddling from foreign powers in the Syrian crisis – both on the side of the Syrian government and on the side of the ‘rebels’. But the media focuses only on the meddling in support of the government, they care very little about the atrocities committed by the fundamentalist sects who have been supplying weapons and fighters to oppose the government.
I say, look behind the media! Who is benefiting from this misrepresentation of the Syrian situation? Israel and the US government hope to benefit. Who owns the media? Ask yourself that! I say, follow the trail of money in the big media corporations and you’ll find some answers.