Friday, May 08, 2020

  • Friday, May 08, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
On Thursday afternoon, David Halbfinger wrote a remarkably good article for the New York Times about how Israel is innovating and coming up with creative ways to fight COVID-19.

The article goes through how Israeli technology is using novel methods to tackle the diagnostic and logistics challenge of the pandemic. For example, a useful technology to screen people quickly at airports or malls:
NanoScent, a company whose technology uses arrays of sensors to detect and digitize odors, says that the proliferation of virus cells among the microorganisms that inhabit the noses of Covid-19 patients produces what is believed to be a distinct smell. And it is training its artificial intelligence to detect that smell.
“It’s not a definitive test,” said Oren Gavriely, NanoScent’s chief executive and co-founder. “But you’d come, you’d blow into a special bag that we’ve designed, you’d have a 30-second test, you’d expose it to the sensing device, and you’d get a result: Either you’re clear or you’re suspected to have something.”
The first paragraph was the only problematic part:
The Israeli Defense Ministry’s research-and-development arm is best known for pioneering cutting-edge ways to kill people and blow things up, with stealth tanks and sniper drones among its more lethal recent projects.
Anyone who is even slightly familiar with Israel's defense industry knows that most of the money is spent on saving lives, not ending them. The stealth tanks mentioned are meant o allow effective defense in urban warfare instead of using large tanks that destroy houses just going down the street - the exact opposite of blowing things up. The sniper drones are meant to kill a single terrorist without hurting innocent -or not so innocent - people nearby, as a mortar or small missile might.

That is one paragraph out of 26.

When the social media team at the NYT blurbed the otherwise great article, here is how they described it:

They took away even the context Halbfinger put in, and framed the story in an entirely different way: a vicious killing machine is ironically now engaged in saving lives.

No, the Israeli defense industry is always engaged in saving lives - saving lives of the Israelis it is sworn to defend, and of Arabs as well. It could use much cheaper and lower tech methods to keep the world's 4 to 1 ratio of civilians to combatants instead of investing hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man hours to minimize the chances of killing the innocent.

Anyone who frames the IDF as a bloodthirsty army, as this tweet does, is showing their own ignorance and bias.

And this is unfortunately the default position for most people who work in the media.

I understand the desire to put something unexpected in a social media post, to draw people in. But it could have been done much more effectively and accurately. For example:

"Israel's Defense Ministry's R&D is normally engaged in cutting-edge ways to fight Israel's enemies and protect its citizens. Now it is using that technical and logistical expertise to fight COVID-19."

Accuracy. Is that too much to ask for?

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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