Ever read a headline and think…OMG, that’s so stupid? I did that when I saw this headlines:
And two things struck me right away. The first is symbolic of so much more than just this headlines. The second is an unavoidable reaction that is second nature to English speakers (at least those who speak and write and care about quality and accuracy).
The First Thought
As is almost always the case with BBC, they got it wrong. Or, they got it right in the wrong order (and, there’s a chance they just plain got it wrong in any order).
What happened was this. Something violated Israeli airspace from Syria. What is was…hasn’t really officially been announced. It might have been a drone. But Hebrew is, at once an amazing language, and a limiting one. We have less letters and way less words than the English language.
And so a drone in Hebrew has many meanings. It might have been the cheap thing sold on Amazon about which the BBC writes. But the headlines, like the story, is wrong. It isn’t that a drone was shot down by a Patriot missile, it’s that a drone attempted to infiltrate Israeli airspace, violating international law and risking an all out war…and then we shot it down. So a respected news site should report what happened, followed by the reaction.
But BBC doesn’t do that. CNN doesn’t do that. Reuters doesn’t do that. It might look really bad if they were to report that Hamas fired a rocket at Israel; that Syria sent a drone to spy (or attack) Israelis. It would look really bad if they reported that a Palestinian terrorist stabbed three people; or a Palestinian driver rammed his vehicle into innocent civilians waiting for a train, a bus, a ride somewhere.
Apparently, it looks better if they write that a Palestinian was killed by Israeli troops (says the screaming headlines), after he rammed his car, stabbed with his knife (says the article way down below). It looks better if we shot something, even if it was a drone that invaded our territory or followed a missile fired by Hamas.
Right there, in that one sentence, is the essence of the problem. Of course, public opinion in many countries is against Israel. How can it not be with the pathetic reporting readily apparent in today’s media.
As for the drone, the reason that we shot it down so quickly was because it could have been much more. Either way, it was either a message from Syria, or certainly, a message TO Syria.
FROM Syria, they were either clumsy – and God knows with the state of their country, that may well have been it; or they were sending a message that they can infiltrate our land and potentially spy on us. Our response was intended, swift, significant, clear, “Yeah…no…boom.”
It was, without doubt, a message TO Syria. We are not sleeping; we are watching all that you do. Try…and you’ll fail. Threaten and we will blow you out of the sky without hesitation or mercy, no matter what it costs.
BBC is quick to attempt to ridicule Israel. “Overkill,” they write. No, is our response. Threaten us and there is no limitation to what we will do to protect. You can watch your wallets; we watch our people. You can worry about every penny; we will spend it all to make sure our citizens are safe.
The Second Thought…
Those quotes in the headlines bug me. Maybe it’s a British thing or maybe BBC thinks it is saving money by using only singular quotes rather than what is, at least by American standards, the more correct double quote. But no matter single or double, the quotes are attempting to offer some sort of message. Why is “shot with Patriot missile” in quotes at all? Do they doubt it was shot? Do they think it was some other kind of missile? Or perhaps some other kind of Patriot?
And so my offer – for any and all CNN and Reuters and BBC journalist – I am offering one hour of free English writing and punctuation instruction…oh my God, could you all use it!