Sunday, July 23, 2006

July 16 Media Critique: "Israel Under Fire"

Rather than addressing specific allegations of media bias, this time HonestReporting takes aim at what it calls “myths” in current coverage of Israels attacks against Lebanon and counters with what it alleges are “facts”. Let’s take a look.

Myth 1: Israels response is disproportionate.

And the facts as HR would like it’s readers to believe,

The definition of a "disproportionate" response is a subjective one.

Perhaps we can ask the opinion of the International Committee of the Red Cross who have the role of monitoring compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Their "subjective" opinion on this is the one that counts,

Pierre Krähenbühl, the ICRC’s director of operations…….. added that “the high number of civilian casualties and the extent of damage to essential public infrastructure raise serious questions regarding respect for the principle of proportionality in the conduct of hostilities.” (ICRC Press Release, 19/7/2006).
The first casuality of war? HRs commitment to truth.

Israeli military operations in Lebanon are taking place in response to an unprovoked border attack which left 8 Israeli soldiers dead and two kidnapped by the Hezbollah.

Unprovoked is in the eye of the beholder it seems. Hizbollah claimed it was reacting to the Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. Perhaps the scores of dead civilians there may be regarded as some kind of provocation.

Any civilian casualties in a conflict are, of course, tragic and regrettable. Civilians on both sides are suffering. However, Israeli air strikes on Lebanon are not intended to kill civilians, unlike the hundreds of Hezbollah missiles that are targeted specifically at Israeli civilians who have been forced into bomb shelters for their own safety.

Strange. The opening paragraph, as noted above, clearly points out that Hizbollahs first strike was against military targets – the IDF.

How often will we hear of this lame defence- “not intended to kill civilians”. What exactly is intended when suburban offices and buildings are bombed by F-16 jets?

Israel has also been criticized for targeting Lebanese infrastructure such as the Beirut airport. However, it is also interesting to note what has not been targeted.
Oh please! And they call this a media critique?? This is lame, lazy and totally unconvincing apologetics. Yes, Israel committed war crimes, but please focus on the war crimes it didn’t commit. No one with a shred of credibility could seriously claim to be interested in “factual, impartial and fair reporting” after such a blatant call for partisan news reporting.

Myth 2: Hezbollah is an indigenous Lebanese ‘resistance’ organization.

HR then provides it’s version of the facts via its all-time favourite tactic – highly selective quoting. In this case it’s more of a case of selective editing. Quoting the Council on Foreign Relations, HR supplies most of the brief CFR information on Hizbollah, but leaves out these 2 very pertinent paragraphs that address the issue that HR claims is a myth,

Hezbollah was founded in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon...

Experts say Hezbollah is also a significant force in Lebanon’s politics and a major provider of social services, operating schools, hospitals, and agricultural services, for thousands of Lebanese Shiites. It also operates the al-Manar satellite television channel and broadcast station.

Just in case anyone didn’t get that – Hizbollah was founded in Lebanon in response to Israels 1982 invasion, ie. it was an armed resistance group formed in Lebanon, and continues to operate in Lebanon today providing social services, participating in elections and generally behaving in a very indigenous manner.

It’s a curious fact that pro-Israel advocates place such great store on attempting to discredit others by claiming that they are in some way alien to a particular location. Doubly curious given the history of Zionism.

Myth 3: Israel continues to occupy Lebanese land, specifically the Shebaa Farms area.

According to HR,

On May 24, 2000, Israel completed the unilateral withdrawal of all IDF forces from southern Lebanon, in accordance with Israeli government decisions and UN Security Council Resolution 425, ending an 18-year presence there……….. The United Nations views the Shebaa Farms area as Syrian territory. Therefore, UN Security Council Resolution 425 - which concerns Lebanon - does not require Israel to withdraw from this area.

A nicely deceptive slieght-of-hand. Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon, but not from the Shebaa Farms, which are considered to be Syrian by the UN, but not by Lebanon or Syria. So, Israel does occupy the Shebaa farms, just not the Lebanese Shebaa Farms. And this area is also covered by a UN Security Council Resolution requiring Israel to withdraw, which it has so far (after almost 40 years) failed to comply with. HonestReporting – as accurate and honest as ever!

Myth 4: Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails were kidnapped from Lebanese soil and should be released.

HR almost immediately confirms that this “myth” is in fact true,

Those prisoners held in Israeli jails captured during Israel's stay in southern Lebanon are, likewise, held for terrorist offences and due to the inherent risk that they will return to their previous activities.

HR simply defends this as reasonable.

Another stupendously appalling and mendacious effort from the team at HonestReporting, who are determined to give honesty a bad name.