Israel Resource Review 23rd July, 2006


Dr. Michael Widlanski

Hizballah is now placing an unambiguous "bulls-eye" on the United States, calling America and its leaders state terrorists, and symbolically placing America in the same "enemy" class as "the Zionists" - Israel.

"Here is the head of terror," proclaims a Hizballah propaganda film montage Sunday morning on Al-Manar television, showing the face of President George Bush.

As faces of dead and wounded children appear on the screen, crude pictures of bombs rain down on the pictures, all of them labeled "MADE IN AMERICA."

A similar though less pronounced change has occurred in the media propaganda of the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas, which receives millions of dollars in American aid.

Nazir al-Ghul, anchorman of Voice of Palestine radio, began Sunday morning broadcasts with a condemnation of American transfers of precision laser-guided bombs to Israel.

The change in the Abbas regime's view of America is not unexpected, because the Abbas and his Fatah movement have-for more than a week, at least-been supporting the killing and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as a legitimate form or "muqawwama": "resistance" in Arabic.

A cartoon in the Abbas-controlled Fatah newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida this week, dated July 19th, 2006, depicted an Arabic holding up a bandaged hand in a sign of victory in which the fingers were kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

The tough anti-Israeli and anti-American attitude of the supposedly moderate Abbas regime has been largely ignored or excused by Israeli policy makers and Israeli army intelligence analysts (such as former intelligence chief Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash) since Abbas publicly referred to Israel as "al'udu al-sihyouni"-the Zionist enemy-during his election campaign.

Identical terminology is used by Sheikh Hassan Nasserallah, the leader of the Iranian-financed and trained Hizballah, though Hizballah does so incessantly and without even a trace of camouflage, as is often the case with the PA.

Both Hizballah and PA news and interview shows include coverage of the war in Lebanon and Gaza in which Israel is condemned for hurting innocent civilians, but neither Hizballah nor the PA has condemned, criticized or even frowned on the killing and wounding of Israeli civilians by indiscriminate Hizballah and Palestinian attacks.

"Notice how scared and confused they are," noted a Hizballah commentator Friday afternoon to his colleague on Al-Manar television as they reviewed films from Israeli television showing bloodied Israelis against the background of destroyed buildings in Haifa and Nahariya Israel.

For their part, the official Palestinian Authority made no attempt to hide their delight at the deaths of Israelis in or near Lebanon.

Al-Ayyam, a Palestinian paper controlled by Abbas's Fatah movement, had a cartoon this week that showed an explosive mine-shaped like Lebanon-waiting to blow up an Israeli naval vessel.

The largest Palestinian newspaper, Al-Quds, which is also vetted by Abbas and the PA, has featured several cartoons this week showing Israelis burying themselves in a grave marked Lebanon, in quicksand marked Lebanon, or Prime Minister Ehud Olmert being hung out to dry on a clothesline.

The same newspaper's lead story Sunday morning is about the "martyrdom" of "a 21-year old youth."

The sympathetic story features a member of Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades, Ahmad Abu-Awad, the rocketeers who have been trying to attack Israeli cities or Israeli soldiers trying to suppress the rocket fire on Israeli cities.

© 2006 Michael Widlanski Associates [Material may be cited with source attribution] ===================

Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose recent doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times ,The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.

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Why Were There No Air Raid Sirens on Nazareth?
Home Front Commander: Nazareth asked to be disconnected from air raid sirens
Ronny Sofer YNET 23 July 2006,7340,L-3280234,00.html

Home Front Commander Yitzhak Jerry Gershon told government ministers: "The city of Nazareth asked to be disconnected from the system of air raid sirens because it interfered with them on remembrance days for IDF martyrs and on Holocaust Day."

Gershon was responding to claims that the siren didn't work in the city when it came under rocket attack in which two brothers were killed last week.

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Middle East News Line

The Israel Army has targeted 10 Shi'ite villages in southern Lebanon where Hizbullah was believed to have stored thousands of rockets.

Israeli Military sources said the villages were located within three kilometers of the Israeli border with Lebanon. They said that since July 19 hundreds of special operations forces have sought to penetrate the villages and destroy Hizbullah strongholds.

The villages have included Meron A-Ras and Marwaheen. Meron A-Ras, located 911 meters above sea level, was identified as a major Hizbullah rocket launch site and heavy fighting was reported around the village on Saturday.

"It is not the end of the road [in Meron A-Ras]," Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, commander of the Galilee Division, said. "We still have plenty of work to do."

These security sources said the villages contained eight-meter-deep bunkers with anti-tank missiles, Katyusha rockets, food and equipment. They said that Hizbullah fighters, moving through a maze of tunnels, were trained to maintain the battle regardless of orders from commanders in Beirut.

"There are more places like Meron A-Ras, and unfortunately we'll have to reach them," Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, head of Northern Command, said.

So far, about 3,000 Israeli troops, backed by artillery, main battle tanks and attack helicopters, have been deployed in southern Lebanon to capture the Shi'ite villages. Military sources said the army's heavy equipment and aircraft were struggling to target Hizbullah fighters, who have taken cover in the hilly underbrush.

"The Israel Defense Forces is firing artillery at missile launching sites along the Israeli-Lebanese border," a military statement said on Saturday.

The Israeli army has begun mobilizing up to 10,000 troops, most of them reserve battalions, to fight Hizbullah. The mobilization began on July 21 and the first soldiers were expected to arrive at their posts by Sunday.

Over the weekend, the air force dropped thousands of leaflets in Southern Lebanon that called on residents to flee north of the Litani River.

The Israeli military, which has also sent telephone messages to Lebanese, said Hizbullah was pressuring the residents to remain for use as human shields. The Israeli operation in southern Lebanon has not reduced Hizbullah rocket strikes. On Saturday, Hizbullah fired 150 rockets into Israel, striking such cities as Carmiel, Nahariya, Safed and Tiberias. On July 21, the military reported 120 rocket landings.

"At this time, I can say that many rocket launchers have been destroyed, terror infrastructures have been destroyed and also nearly 100 Hizbullah terrorists have been killed, from all levels and all ranks," Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz said.

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Responding to Editorial in Editor And Publisher Which Lambasted Israel for Bombing Beirut
David Bedein jsp?vnu_content_id=1002877295&imw=Y

Published: July 21, 2006 11:15 a.m. ET *** On Mitchell and Lebanon

As the bureau chief of a news agency that helps reporters cover both Israel and Lebanon, I am surprised that Greg Mitchell neglects to mention that the Hezbullah organization has stationed its troops in bunkers throughout civilian areas in Beirut, forcing Israel to bomb civilian areas in order to bomb Hezbullah. At a time when Hezbullah is bombing more than forty Israeli cities and towns -- Israel does not place its army in these cities and towns -- your moral indignation seems to be rather narrowly focused.

David Bedein Bureau Chief Israel Resource News Agency Beit Agron International Press Center Jerusalem, Israel ==============================================

This was written in response to the editorial by Greg Mitchell, editor of "Editor and Publisher" who wrote on July 18th, 2006:

Few Editorials Find Fault with the Bombing of Beirut It's one thing to endorse Israel's right to defend itself and retaliate. It's another to remain silent on the crime of causing mass destruction and civilian deaths in neutral areas of Lebanon.

By Greg Mitchell

(July 18, 2006) -- While it's not surprising that nearly every editorial page in the U.S. has offered support for Israel's right to retaliate against Hamas and Hezbollah, it's a disgrace that few have expressed outrage, or at least condemnation, over the extent of death and destruction in and around Beirut -- and the attacks on the country's infrastructure, which harms most citizens of that country.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in Lebanon, dozens of bridges and part of Beirut's airport destroyed, power stations and ports short-circuited. Latest reports put the number of refugees at half a million, with thousands of Americans waiting for evacuation.

Amazingly, criticism of the extent of Israel's bombing -- and its policy of collective punishment -- has actually decreased as the carnage has mounted.

The editorial response is all the more scandalous because this is not some distant conflict where America is merely a third party. The U.S. is Israel's prime (sometimes virtually its only) major ally, and the funder or producer of much of the armaments landing on Lebanon – though you'd never know of this special link from reading most of these editorials.

Even if readers here don't fully appreciate it, the U.S. and Israel are indivisible in the eyes of many if not most in that region. Every bomb that kills civilians in Lebanon might just as well have emerged from our war planes or artillery, in their eyes.

Just months ago, many of these same editorial pages, along with our president, were hailing the growing evidence of democracy in Lebanon, calling it a new beacon for hope. Yet now one has to look far and wide (as E&P has) to find more than a few tut-tuts about Israel's excessive air campaign in any editorial.

Many editorials carry outright misinformation; others act as if the history of this conflict can be measured in weeks, not decades. And few op-ed columnists have condemned the over-the-top Israeli behavior. Thomas Friedman of The New York Times managed to not even mention Beiruit in his Wednesday column rightly ripping Hezbollah.

But he's far from alone: Few of the key liberal bloggers -- usually quick to condemn civilian casualties in Iraq -- have taken up the issue.

Several leading newspapers that did express disapproval of the Israeli air war late last week, when it was still fairly minimal, then published editorials a few days later with hardly any mention of the attacks on Beirut – even though those shellings had increased dramatically. One had to wonder what sort of complaints or second thoughts the first editorials produced to slacken those spines.

While news pages in many newspapers have created a more balanced record, they have generally offered the image of equivalency of destruction in Lebanon and Israel which simply does not exist. The word for this is "asymmetrical." At least 200 civilians have been killed in Lebanon, 13 in Israel; large areas of Lebanon, plus the infrastructure, have been hit, while the destruction in Israel is limited.

The word "rockets" makes Hezbollah's terror weapon of choice seem very space age, but they are in fact crude, unguided and with limited range – nothing like the U.S. prime grade weapons on the Israeli side. The vast majority of them land in the water or an empty field or explode in the air.

Yet the editorial pages have either said nothing about the Israeli overreaction or offered a faint wish that it-sure-would-be-nice if that country did not go overboard – even after it already had.

The Washington Post on Friday, for example, presented a strongly pro-Israel editorial that chided Europeans and others for suggesting the Israeli attacks were too severe. On Tuesday, it returned with a similarly one-sided call but noted that Israel risks "overplaying its hand…If it limits its aim to Hezbollah and Hamas and their weapons, it will be quietly cheered by many Lebanese and Palestinians." That might have been true at one time -- but of course the Post editorial does not mention the wide destruction that has already occurred.

USA Today on Monday published an editorial which, in the course of 500 words, did not come close to condemning the deadly air campaign against Lebanon. Wistfully it observed that "calibrating" a response is difficult, and it would be wise for Israel to be "tough and smart." This is taking the low moral ground: daydream that Israel might on its own decrease the bombing while not speaking out against it to maybe help bring that about.

Meanwhile, Israel officials said today the bombing could go on for weeks. And no wonder, and with so little condemnation in this country.

Newsday took its own backward step. Early on it strongly urged the U.S. to restrain the Israeli attacks. Then, after many more days of such attacks, it practically apologized for ever saying that. Today it said, "It's certainly not right to criticize Israel for defending its people from these vicious attacks. Any nation would take similar action."

The Los Angeles Times on July 14 observed that while it had been provoked, Israel "overreacted" and showed "disproportionate" force in blasting Lebanon. It then put that aside for a few days, before returning Wednesday with an editorial that closed: "So many players, so many reasons to fight — while the people of Lebanon bear the brunt with their suffering. Poland — frequently annexed and partitioned — was once the proxy battlefield for Europe's great powers. It falls to Lebanon to play that role in the Middle East today. No amount of cynical realpolitik can afford to lose sight of that tragedy."

The New York Times carried two editorials raising concerns about the level of Israel response, although its most recent one on Tuesday, while arguing for stepped up diplomacy for a ceasefire, did not mention the Israeli bombing campaign at all -- beyond noting "the killing and human suffering" by all.

Even this smattering of editorials that took issue with Israel's response did not make that their focus.

Oddly, one could find wisdom in some surprising settings. Consider this passage from The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette: "Hezbollah is not answerable to the Lebanese government, and heavy-handed tactics will only further inflame the region. . . . Lebanese civilians, only recently freed from the presence of Syrian forces, looked forward to emerging from a dark period and rebuilding their country. They have no control over these events. Terrorizing them serves no purpose."

And the Columbus (Oh) Dispatch, not known for its dovish views, declared: "While Israel rightly is outraged by the continuing terrorist attacks . . . its ferocious response has cost it the moral high ground in this latest dispute . . . . As long as Israel remains insensitive to the vastly disproportionate hardship it inflicts in this lopsided conflict, it will earn more disapproval from the world and, most important, will sow ever more bitter determination in its enemy.

"And no one in the Middle East will sleep at night. "

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