|Israel Resource Review
||14th August, 2006
Media Sidelining Israel's Human Suffering?
Ynet News, August 14th, 2006
Heavy smoke rose from the rocket stricken city of Haifa on Sunday afternoon, following intense bombardment by Hizbullah's long-range missiles, but much of the international media turned a blind eye to the scenes, omitting them from their coverage of the war.
The foreign press, which has flooded the world with images of damage in Beirut, seems to have largely sidelined pictures of war damage in Israel, despite the thousands of missiles and rockets that have rained down on northern Israel, causing wide scale destruction to buildings, vehicles, and the burning down of hundreds of thousands of trees.
As a tentative ceasefire appeared to take hold, CNN reported on the "thousands of refugees (who) poured back into southern Lebanon, trying to return home." There was, however, no coverage given in the report to the thousands of displaced Israelis in central and southern Israel, who are waiting to go back to their own homes in northern Israel, some of which have been destroyed.
In contrast, The Associated Press did report on the situation in the north: "Northern Israel remained virtually empty in comparison. The streets of Haifa, Israel's third-largest town, which has been peppered by Hizbullah missiles, were quieter than normal… More than half the 22,000 residents of the border town of Kiryat Shmona had fled in the fighting, and those who remained stayed holed up in their homes."
Missing: Images of bombed out Haifa in international media (Photo: Dorot Golan)
The BBC website, following a previous trend , dedicated just one image, out of a succession of eight photographs to the experiences of Israeli civilians in the north.
The other photographs in the series focused on the IDF fighting in Lebanon, and Lebanese civilians caught up in the war. There were no images of Hizbullah members engaged in fighting.
"Air strikes were launched against targets in various parts of Lebanon, causing several deaths and injuries," a caption read under an image of an injured Lebanese child.
The selection of images and accompanying captions strongly suggested that the BBC believes Hizbullah was "responding" to Israeli actions: "Hizbullah responded with more rockets fired at northern Israel, forcing people to seek safety in shelters," the British media outlet said.
On Hizbullah's terms
During its television coverage of the war in Lebanon on Sunday, CNN chose the word "resistance" to describe Hizbullah's actions in Lebanon – a term used by Hizbullah - as well as Hamas, and Iraqi jihadis - to describe their own attacks. 'Resistance' is however a value laden term, which implicitly argues that armed jihad organizations are 'resisting' and defending against aggression, rather than initiating it.
CNN also twice described Israeli leaflets dropped over Lebanon as "propaganda." While it has done the same with American army leaflets dropped in Iraq and Afghanistan, CNN appears to shy away from describing leaflets issued by jihadi and terror organizations as "propaganda," using instead terms like "urge" and "called on" to describe leaflets issued by Hamas in Gaza or the Taliban in Afghanistan .
The inconsistencies seem to point to a wider assumption: Western democracies issue "propaganda," but jihad organizations 'urge,' 'warn,' and advance their points of view.
Dissention in Lebanon ignored
Meanwhile, voices emerging from Lebanon blasting the use of their country as a launch pad from which to attack Israel have been virtually ignored.
A notable exception was an article published in the American magazine, the New Republic by Lebanese journalist Michael Béhé.
"The politicians, journalists and intellectuals of Lebanon have, of late, been experiencing the shock of their lives. They knew full well that Hizbullah had created an independent state in our country, a state including all the ministers and parallel institutions, duplicating those of Lebanon. What they did not know – and are discovering with this war, and what has petrified them with surprise and terror – is the extent of this phagocytosis," wrote Béhé, who also said his country has "become an extension of Iran."
A glimpse though much of the international media shows scant attention has been paid to such dissenting voices in Lebanon. In contrast, the BBC website prominently features an article describing small anti-war activities in Israel.
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On the First Day of Cease Fire?
We are ending the first day of the ceasefire in Lebanon.
Here in Israel we really didn't expect it to hold even this long -- didn't expect Hezbollah to hold fire for more than and hour or two, if that. In fact, what has become clear is that one reason the Israeli Cabinet signed off on this was with the expectation that it wouldn't hold.
It certainly is fragile.
Beyond the issue of whether Hezbollah fires, is the issue of how the parameters, as spelled out in the agreement so meticulously and painfully hammered out (excuse my sarcasm) by the US and France, will play out.
I mention first that this resolution was drafted under chapter 6 and not chapter 7 of the UN charter. This means it does not have the weight of international law and is not enforceable. Beyond that is some apparent contradiction between resolution clause OP11, which calls for UNIFIL troops (international troops under UN auspices, consisting of French and others) to support and assist Lebanese troops, and OP12, which authorizes UNIFIL to take "all necessary action" "to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities." What's being asked, in essence, is if the UNIFIL troops can act autonomously, rather than just taking its lead from Lebanon. Whatever the apparent confusion, I would have bet from the get-go that OP11 would be scrupulously followed, and indeed that seems to be what is already transpiring.
Yesterday, the Lebanese cabinet postponed a meeting with regard to deploying its army because Hezbollah refused to consider disarming. Clearly, the Lebanese army, which has a considerable Hezbollah contingent, is not doing to do forced disarmament.
But now, even though Hezbollah hasn't agreed to disarm, Lebanon has said it will have troops in the field within 72 hours. Your guess as to what this means is as good as mine. There's some talk about incorporating Hezbollah into the Lebanese army, so they don't have to disarm. (Shades of Mahmoud Abbas and his move to incorporate Hamas into the PA security forces a couple of years ago, when he was supposed to disarm Hamas -- we know what that led to.)
While French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy has let it be known that the French contingent of UNIFIL troops will not be disarming Hezbollah. Quelle surprise!
And the Italian prime minister has said Italy would consider sending troops, but the mandate is vague and they need clarification.
And there's more: while Israel remains in place in southern Lebanon until the international troops come in, and will be continuing to monitor the Lebanese coastline by ship, and doing air surveillance, the IDF will not be manning the border between Lebanon and Syria. This means that even now Syria and Iran undoubtedly are in the process of re-arming Hezbollah. Beyond this, I read of concern at the White House that re-arming would be done via north Lebanon, as well.
And what about Hezbollah, which has refused to disarm? Nasrallah, speaking on al-Manar TV today said that Hezbollah would be funding the rebuilding of 15,000 homes for Lebanese civilians. (And where do you imagine that money will come from??) "You will not wait in any line or for government funds because this may take too long. We will come to you and grant you funds worth a year's rent and for furniture. In the meantime we will rebuild your destroyed homes." Is it necessary to spell out what this will do for Hezbollah popularity in Lebanon?
Oh! there's also the issue of the kidnapped soldiers, whom Israel originally insisted had to be returned before fighting would stop. There is no ceasefire provision for their return, and Olmert has admitted that he decided to stop fighting before they were returned. There is talk of some sort of committee to help secure their release (the argument being that we are in a better position to do so now). The huge danger here is that we will end up caving either on release of Lebanese prisoners or on giving Shabaa Farms to Lebanon (both issues being alluded to -- in non-binding fashion -- in the UN resolution).
Is this not stomach-turning? Is this not a very sick joke? But never mind, Prime Minister Olmert is explaining to the nation why resolution 1701 was a good deal for Israel. I must confess however, that Olmert's days as head of the government may be limited; there is a movement afoot to bring him down when time is right. (Myself, I think it is not yet right; while we still have troops in Lebanon and the war might get hot at any moment, we cannot be between governments. But oh! I pray his time will come.)
Joke of the day: State Department spokesman Sean McCormack today said that the UN-declared cease-fire in Lebanon, if fully implemented, would be a strategic setback for Iran and Syria because it strengthens democracy in Lebanon and stabilizes the border with Israel. "You will not have Hezbollah roaming freely in the south of Lebanon. Iran and Syria will not have had the ability to rearm Hezbollah." Please note that one little stipulation: "if fully implemented." Right . . .
No joking matter at all is the way in which the perceived Hezbollah victory has been received by Hamas in Gaza. Palestinian Authority Minister of Culture Atallah Abu al-Sabah, speaking at a pro-Hezbollah rally in Gaza City, said, "The saying that Israel is here to stay has proven to be a false one. Israel can be defeated and this is what the Arab regimes should know. It's time to remove the dust from Arab weapons and to use them to liberate Palestine and the Aksa Mosque." What this means is further difficulty in Gaza and Judea-Samaria.
Al-Sabah went on to express his wish that "every Arab capital would have its own Hezbollah . . . Hezbollah has taught Israel an unforgettable lesson and we hope that all the Arab countries will start recruiting and training young men to fight like the great Hezbollah fighters."
This, then, my friends, is the reason why we needed a decisive military victory. Let there be no mistake about it. According to Khaled Abu Toameh of the Post, the fact that many Palestinians and Arabs are convinced that Hezbollah has won the war will boost the popularity of groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida.
If I laugh sometimes, it is only so that I not cry. This is actually fairly unbearable.
JINSA has it right: "There is no mechanism, except continued fighting by Israel, to disarm Hezbollah . . . There is no mechanism, except continued fighting by Israel, to close the Syrian/Iranian supply lines into Lebanon. There is no mechanism, except continued fighting by Israel, to force Hezbollah to return the two soldiers. UN Security Council members can pat themselves on the back for their words, but the awful work of fighting to redeem the captives, end the barrage of rockets, and bring sovereignty to Lebanon, is left to Israel and the IDF with no real help from Turtle Bay."
Release Date: 8/11
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Definitive Change in War's Purpose: "weaken the hizbullah" - not to "defeat the Hizbullah"
Top officers from Israel's High Command met on Monday afternoon, August 14th at the Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem for an official briefing about the war in Lebanon.
Israel's top military brass told the media that the Israeli military had achieved its goal, which was to "weaken Hizbullah" so that a political process could be facilitated - for the UN and the Lebanese government to enforce UN resolutions which state that Lebanon must disarm all foreign and terrorist troops from its soil.
Since I was the only reporter present at the briefing who had also covered weekly briefings with the Prime Minister's senior staff that were conducted each Sunday during the war following cabinet meetings , it should be noted that the Israeli Prime Minister had instructed he Israel Cabinet Secretary to tell the media at the end of each cabinet meeting over the past month that the purposes of the war were to get back the two Israeli soldiers who were abducted on July 12th and .and to "Defeat the Hizbullah", not to "weaken the Hizbullah".
The Israeli military spokespeople said that they "did not know" what the Prime Minister's cabinet secretary had been telling the media.
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