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Media Backspin
« June 2006 | Main | August 2006 »

Monday, July 31 2006

Cartoon of the Day

Michael Ramirez of Investors Business Daily hits the nail on the head:


Quote of the Day

In the Chicago Tribune, Julie Flint, a former Mideast correspondent, comments on the Lebanese crisis. Midway through, she quotes an unidentified Hezbollah official. What kind of person would say something like this?

"The military situation for us is perfect," a Hezbollah official told me last week as Israeli ground forces inched deeper into south Lebanon, taking heavy casualties. "The Israelis are destroying everything. Even children are saying they have nothing to lose now."
UK Media Responds to Qana

The latest HonestReporting UK communique has just been published: UK Media Responds to Qana.

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Please use the comments section below this entry for discussion of this topic.

Calling the Shots

Riot_1After a mob trashed a UN building in Beirut, the Times of London reported that Hezbollah called the shots—literally:

For an hour they were allowed to run wild in the compound, breaking into offices, destroying furniture and looting desks and filing cabinets until a squad of Hezbollah’s security guards showed up.

If anyone wanted a demonstration of who exerts effective control on the streets of Beirut, the Shia militia provided one.

The militiamen watched impassively as youths ripped down the UN flag and replaced it with Hezbollah’s yellow colours and stood by as half a dozen demonstrators beat up a security guard. They used their walkie-talkies to monitor the invaders’ progress.

Only when a gang began torching rooms on the first floor and threatened to seize the 80 UN staff working upstairs on a ceasefire plan and the humanitarian relief operation did Hezbollah step in and the mob melted away without argument.

Candid Camera

YNet News features an IDF video of Hezbollah rockets being fired from Qana.


Sunday, July 30 2006

Surburban Warriors

Australia’s Sunday Herald-Sun published some astonishing photos of Hezbollah's suburban warriors:


The Herald-Sun explains:

The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.

The photographs, from the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut, were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend….

The Melbourne man who smuggled the shots out of Beirut and did not wish to be named said he was less than 400m from the block when it was obliterated.

"Hezbollah came in to launch their rockets, then within minutes the area was blasted by Israeli jets," he said.

"Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then it was totally devastated.

Looking For Gunmen in Lebanon

Mitch Prothero of Salon says Hezbollah gunmen care more about Lebanese civilians and collateral damage than the IDF:

Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they'll get some fighters, too.

Too bad Prothero didn’t talk to these civilians about their experiences with Hezbollah gunmen.

Weekend in Haifa

In YNet News, an IDF reserve spokesman shares some experiences over a busy weekend, including this eyebrow-raising snippet:

Being interviewed on a European radio station, the interviewer snarls at me when I mention that Haifa has a mixed Jewish/Arab population and that as we speak, many of them were sitting in bomb shelters together, hiding from Nasrallah’s rockets.

I was surprised this information could be so irritating. I didn’t dare tell him about the guy who came up to me in downtown Haifa, showed my his bombed shop front and told me he was an Arab who wants the IDF to destroy the Hizbullah.

Mapping Beirut's 'Devastation'

UPDATE Aug. 1: Readers raised some questions about the accuracy and attribution of the map originally posted here, so we're replacing it with a satellite image of Beirut blogged on Vital Perspective. The essential question still stands: Just how much of Beirut has been "devastated?"


Christian Refugees Denounce Hezbollah

The NY Times talked to Christians fleeing their southern Lebanese homes. The refugees made bare their outrage with Hezbollah tactics:

“Hezbollah came to Ain Ebel to shoot its rockets,” said Fayad Hanna Amar, a young Christian man, referring to his village. “They are shooting from between our houses.”

“Please,’’ he added, “write that in your newspaper.”….

One woman, who would not give her name because she had a government job and feared retribution, said Hezbollah fighters had killed a man who was trying to leave Bint Jbail.

“This is what’s happening, but no one wants to say it” for fear of Hezbollah, she said.


Thursday, July 27 2006

Video Diary - HonestReporting Heads North

The latest HonestReporting and HonestReporting UK communiques have just been published: Video Diary - HonestReporting Heads North

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Poison Pen Production

The latest poison pen production comes from cartoonist Antonio Neri Licon of Mexico’s El Economista:


Lebanon: Myths and Facts

LebanonmythsfactsSee where Backspin editor Pesach Benson and HonestReporting founding editor Shraga Simmons address the myths and facts of the conflict in Lebanon. A must-read article for anyone defending Israel at school, work, talk radio, etc.

Continue reading "Lebanon: Myths and Facts"

Too Close for Comfort

The UN peacekeeping post hit by Israeli shelling was used by Hezbollah for cover. One of the Canadian peacekeeper killed had recently emailed retired Canadian Major General Lewis Mackenzie about the problem, and Mackenzie discussed this with CBC Radio:

What he was telling us was Hezbollah soldiers were all over his position and the IDF were targeting them. And that’s a favorite trick by people who don’t have representation in the UN. They use the UN as shields knowing that they can’t be punished for it.

Hear the interview at LGF. Meanwhile, this photo published in the Canadian Jewish News shows the UN and Hezbollah positions clearly too close for comfort.


(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)

Globe and Mail Reporter Leaves the Facts Behind

The latest HonestReporting-Canada communique has just been published: Globe and Mail Reporter Leaves the Facts Behind.

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Wednesday, July 26 2006

'Ditsy' Proportionality

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen slams the idea that Israel needs to respond proportionally to Hezbollah:

The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that it makes you wonder if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general. Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness. For Israel, a small country within reach, as we are finding out, of a missile launched from any enemy's back yard, proportionality is not only inapplicable, it is suicide. The last thing it needs is a war of attrition. It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights….

These calls for proportionality rankle. They fall on my ears not as genteel expressions of fairness, some ditsy Marquess of Queensberry idea of war, but as ugly sentiments pregnant with antipathy toward the only democratic state in the Middle East. After the Holocaust, after 1,000 years of mayhem and murder, the only proportionality that counts is zero for zero. If Israel's enemies want that, they can have it in a moment.

Graff's Spree

Norwegian cartoonist Finn Graff compared Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the infamous Nazi death commander portrayed in Schindler’s List.


The Jerusalem Post reports that the caricature, published in Dagbladet, has raised a storm of controversy and explains the cartoon:

In the cartoon, Olmert is likened to SS Major Amon Goeth, the infamous commandant of the Plaszow death camp outside of Krakow, Poland, who was convicted of mass murder in 1946 and hanged for his crimes.

While in charge of Plaszow, Goeth would go out to the balcony on his villa, and engage in target practice by aiming his telescopic rifle and firing at random at Jews imprisoned there, often killing them.

The scene was famously depicted by director Steven Spielberg in his 1993 film, Schindler's List.

I Was a Hezbollah Tool

RobertsonAfter touring parts of Beirut as part of a Hezbollah “media event,” CNN reporter Nic Robertson (pictured) admitted and he was just used by the terror organization. The admission came on CNN’s July 23 edition of Reliable Sources. The eye-opening dialogue between Robertson and Reliable Sources host, Howard Kurtz, say it all. (transcript corrected against the actual broadcast):

Howard Kurtz: “I want to go now to CNN's Nic Robertson, who joins us live from Beirut. Nic Robertson, we were speaking a moment ago about the way journalists cover Hezbollah and some of these tours that Hezbollah officials have arranged of the bomb damage in the areas of Southern Lebanon. You, I believe, got one of those tours. Isn't it difficult for you as a journalist to independently verify any claims made by Hezbollah, because you're not able to go into the buildings and see whether or not there is any military activity or any weapons being hidden there?”

Nic Robertson: “Well, Howard, there’s no doubt about it: Hezbollah has a very, very sophisticated and slick media operations. In fact, beyond that, it has very, very good control over its areas in the south of Beirut. They deny journalists access into those areas. They can turn on and off access to hospitals in those areas. They have a lot of power and influence. You don't get in there without their permission. And when I went in, we were given about 10 or 15 minutes, quite literally running through a number of neighborhoods that they directed and they took us to."

"What I would say at that time was, it was very clear to me that the Hezbollah press official who took us on that guided tour — and there were Hezbollah security officials around us at the time with walkie-talkie radios — that he felt a great deal of anxiety about the situation....But there’s no doubt about it. They had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn’t have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath.”

“So what we did see today in a similar excursion, and Hezbollah is now running a number of these every day, taking journalists into this area. They realize that this is a good way for them to get their message out, taking journalists on a regular basis. This particular press officer came across his press office today, what was left of it in the rubble. He pointed out business cards that he said were from his office that was a Hezbollah press office in that area.”

“So there's no doubt that the bombs there are hitting Hezbollah facilities. But from what we can see, there appear to be a lot of civilian damage, a lot of civilian properties. But again, as you say, we didn't have enough time to go in, root through those houses, see if perhaps there was somebody there who was, you know, a taxi driver by day, and a Hezbollah fighter by night....”Cnn_1

Kurtz: “To what extent do you feel like you're being used to put up the pictures that they want — obviously, it’s terrible that so many civilians have been killed — without any ability, as you just outlined, to verify, because — to verify Hezbollah’s role, because this is a fighting force that is known to blend in among the civilian population and keep some of its weapons there?”

Robertson: “Absolutely. And I think as we try and do our job, which is go out and see what's happened to the best of our ability, clearly, in that environment, in the southern suburbs of Beirut that Hezbollah controls, the only way we can get into those areas is with a Hezbollah escort. And absolutely, when you hear their claims they have to come with more than a grain of salt, that you have to put in some journalistic integrity. That you have to point out to the audience and let them know that this was a guided tour by Hezbollah press officials along with their security, that it was a very rushed affair, that there wasn't time to go and look through those buildings.”

“The audience has to know the conditions of that tour. But again, if we didn't get all — or we could not get access to those areas without Hezbollah compliance, they control those areas.”

Blogger Rick Noyes has video links to view Robertson’s coverage of the media event. He also praises Anderson Cooper’s coverage of the same media event.

(Hat tip: Rick Noyes)


Tuesday, July 25 2006

NBC News Exposes Hezbollah Fundraiser

Cash_1NBC News blows the lid on Hezbollah fundraising efforts:

But a fundraising appeal that aired last week on the Hezbollah-connected Al Manar television station asks that money for the Hezbollah resistance be sent a specific account at the Middle East and Africa Bank.

An Arabic speaking NBC News producer called the number listed on the television ad, and was told to go to any U.S. bank and wire the money. Our producer was advised to not tell anyone the money was meant for Hezbollah.

The Middle East Africa Bank has a relationship with the U.S. bank Wachovia. After NBC News informed Wachovia of the Hezbollah fundraising appeal, Wachovia immediately terminated the relationship.

NBC News called the Hezbollah hotline a second time too. Read a transcript of the conversation and the full article.

Hamas Fights Media Bias

The Jerusalem Post reports that Abdullah Issa, publisher and editor of the on-line magazine Donia al-Watan, was arrested—because he reported that Mahmoud Zahar had hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash stolen from his Kuwait hotel room last April. The Post writes:

The story implied that Zahar was carrying large amounts of cash while Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were deprived of financial aid.

This is the first time since the Hamas government took over that a Palestinian journalist has been detained for publishing a story that reflects negatively on one of its leaders….

Hamas leaders claim that the PA media, which is largely controlled by the rival Fatah party, has been waging a campaign of incitement against the Islamic movement and its leaders over the past few months. The detention of the editor is clearly designed to send a warning to all Fatah-affiliated reporters and media outlets.

Read more about the Palestinian media wars here.

BBC: No Intelligence

After commenting on BBC coverage of the Lebanese crisis, Stephen Pollard shares some interesting feedback from a BBC employee:

Note how Sky does much of its work from Haifa and the BBC does it all from Beirut. Note how every piece done by the BBC's Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, questions whether or not Israel has carried out war crimes. The correspondents in Israel itself haven't done a bad job. Matthew Price and James Reynolds have acquitted themselves pretty well. But they've sent out Fergal Keane and Jeremy Bowen whose clear agenda is to expose the human tragedy in Lebanon and tell us Israel is a bastard state.

There is no intelligence here, no in-depth questioning of why this conflict has erupted. No discussion of Syria, Iran and Middle East geopolitics. It's a hammer with which to whack Israel.

'Nationalist Goals'

What does this caption say about the way AFP relates to Hamas and Hezbollah?


A Palestinian boy stands on the rubble of his apartment destroyed overnight by Israeli air attack in Gaza City. The US government views the conflict in Lebanon through the "war on terror" context, ignoring any nationalist goals of Hezbollah and Hamas, which could re-emerge strengthened by the crisis. (AFP/Hrvoje Polan)

(Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon)

Is CNN Culpable for Lebanese Deaths?

Cal_perryAccording to James Taranto holds CNN's Cal Perry (pictured) culpable for the deaths of Lebanese civilians in Tyre. Taranto writes:

CNN's Cal Perry delivers an emotional report from Tyre, Lebanon;

Standing in front of this 8-year-old boy lying in a hospital bed, the "conflict in the Middle East" and the "cost of war" seem endless and suffocating. His pain cannot possibly be imagined as he shakes uncontrollably in and out of shock. He has blood coming from his eyes. . . .

His name is Mahmood Monsoor and he is horribly burned. In the hospital bed next to him is his 8-month-old sister, Maria--also burned.

Their family, Perry reports, was "fleeing the fighting--trying to get north, waving white flags, when an Israeli bomb or missile slammed into their car." Two other siblings are in surgery, their father was killed, and their mother is hysterical:

The city of Tyre has been enduring stories like this for more than a week. Buildings are crumpled; those who have not left are hiding in basements. Those who dare to pack into cars run the risk of ending up like the Monsoor family. Some who move north die on the road. Some stay in basements, and die there. Others hope against hope that the bombs will fall elsewhere--missing them.

Politics creeps into the ward like the blood that runs on the floors. "Clearly he is Hezbollah," says one of the doctors outside the room--sarcastically referring to 8-year-old Mahmood, whose screams can be heard from the hallway. His screams now blend with the wails of his mother, matching the baby's cries.

CnnPerry concludes by suggesting an equivalence between Israel and Hezbollah:

Today, as I finish I am sitting in the same spot and the shells are still falling. Hezbollah rockets are firing toward northern Israel. I can imagine another reporter, in another flak jacket, standing over an 8-year old Israeli boy.

For the context that Perry misses, we turn to Ha'aretz's Ze'ev Schiff:

We can say without a doubt that the war of attrition against the city of Haifa and its residents is a tale of two cities: Tyre in Lebanon versus Haifa in Israel. The Hezbollah unit deployed in Tyre and its environs has been bombarding Haifa with Syrian rockets and upgraded Iranian-made Katyushas. If this unit is not destroyed, it will continue to target Haifa.

The difference, of course, is that Hezbollah is deliberately targeting civilians in Haifa, whereas Israel is accidentally harming civilians in the course of protecting its own people from a violent threat. In fact, Hezbollah is deliberately endangering civilians in Tyre, too, by using them as human shields:

In one known case, a bomb struck a basement and killed those inside. Later, it turned out that of the 32 casualties, mostly dead, 11 were armed Hezbollah militants. The basement served Hezbollah and civilians that sought cover. In the current fighting there is no alternative but to convince the citizens of the city to leave, and make it easy to do so. But it is unclear whether Hezbollah will allow the evacuation of civilians from Tyre.

Israel, unlike Hezbollah, is constrained by human decency. By using civilians as shields, Hezbollah hopes to limit the Jewish state's military options. Hezbollah wins either way, since if Israeli strikes do hurt or kill civilians, the international media, including CNN, depict this as the result of Israel's, rather than Hezbollah's, brutality.

A report like Cal Perry's, in other words, provides Hezbollah with an incentive to endanger Lebanese civilians further. CNN, then, must bear some degree of moral culpability for the suffering of Lebanon's population.


Monday, July 24 2006

Petty Blood Libel

This cartoon by Bruce Petty of The Age in Melbourne smacks of a real blood libel:


Where is Al-Manar Broadcasting From?

Almanar_1Although Israeli strikes blew up Al-Manar’s building and follow-up raids hit other transmitters, how is the Hezbollah TV station continuing to broadcast? The Toronto Star hypothesizes:

Some speculate the station is broadcasting out of Syria. One observer put his money on the basement of the Iranian embassy in Beirut. The only certainty is that both those sites aren't going to be hit by Israeli bombs anytime soon.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists both criticized Israel's attack on Al-Manar. If Al-Manar is indeed getting such direct assistance from either Syria or Iran, will the media organizations change their tune?

The Post Responds

Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell responds to criticism of the paper’s Mideast coverage.

Going Global

World_1The Jerusalem Post reports that Hezbollah put sleeper cells world-wide on standby to attack Israeli and Jewish targets. The Post adds that these cells were set up with Iranian assistance.

Hezbollah has been implicated in attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building, and the 1985 hijacking of TWA 847. For more on Hezbollah’s international efforts, click here and here.

Axis Info

WorldNetDaily sheds some light on the Iran-Syria-
Hezbollah axis at work. Reporter Aaron Klein writes:

The Lebanese sources said between six and nine deceased Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers were brought in trucks last week into Syria for flight back to Iran. They said the bodies were transported along with the tens of thousands of Lebanese civilians fleeing the country into Syria….

Jordanian officials told WND they are "100 percent sure" Iranian Revolutionary Guard unit soldiers have fired rockets into Israel. They also said the Syrian army has provided Hezbollah with intelligence information on the locations of strategic Israeli targets to aid in Hezbollah rocket fire.


Sunday, July 23 2006

How to Support Israel

Flag_5Support Israel by offering your assistance to some of the many worthy organizations helping Israelis during the current crisis. Now's your chance to stand by Israelis huddled in bomb shelters, demonstrate solidarity with soldiers on the frontline, support urgent medical relief, send care packages to children, and more.

Magen David Adom

Western Galilee Hospital (in Nahariya)


One Family Fund

Friends of the IDF

Yad Sarah

United Jewish Communities Crisis Fund

Operation Security Blanket of the JNF

WIZO Emergency Campaign

A Package From Home

Meir Panim

Yad Ezra VeShulamit

Israel Free Loan Association


Friends of Israel Firefighters

Lev U'Neshama

'The Nazi Response'

A nasty staff-ed in the South African Mail & Guardian directly compares IDF to the Nazis:

In May 1942, one of the Nazi regime's most notorious mass murderers, Deputy Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich, was assassinated by Czech partisans. The Nazi response was to demolish the nearby village of Lidice house by house and either shoot its inhabitants or send them to death camps.

What, in principle, is the difference between the collective punishment visited on Lidice and the indiscriminate bombing of Lebanese roads, bridges, homes and apartment blocks, telecommunications and power infrastructure, airports, factories, food warehouses and medical facilities by Israeli armed forces? The same applies to the Gaza Strip, where 750,000 Palestinian civilians were forced to go without electricity after the kidnapping of a single Israeli soldier.

If only Nazi Germany in 1942 had been hit by the hundreds of Qassams Israel has absorbed….

From Beirut to Jenin

BeirutsignJudging from Western coverage of the fighting in Lebanon, YNet News columnist Sever Plocker says the media hasn’t learned all the lessons from Jenin:

The fairytale about the "Jenin massacre" may have died, but were lessons learned? Some were. The European media, especially the electronic media, has given some expression to the suffering of Israeli civilians under attack. It has not (usually) supported Hizbullah.

But in other cases, no lessons were learned from the blood libel of the Jenin massacre. During the second week of fighting, Israel's military campaign in Lebanon is currently being portrayed as the total destruction of Lebanon, of essential civilian infrastructure, as a human tragedy on the level of the 2004 tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia.

Reading reports from left-leaning field reporters, one gets a picture that Beirut has been destroyed at least as badly as Dresden was during the Second World War. Foreign television channels use one section of footage over and over, showing the destruction of one neighborhood in south Beirut, to "show" what has happened throughout the city….

As of this writing, some 360 Lebanese have been killed by Israeli military action, about half of them Hizbullah fighters (as opposed to official Lebanese statistics). After two weeks of bombing, these numbers tell the story of low-level war. There is no "destruction of Lebanon," just like there was no "Jenin massacre."

Expatriate Games

BakriSee this honest, heartfelt Haifa diary, courtesy American ex-patriate Menachem Kellner and the Washington Post.

In a related expatriate development, Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle comments on a rather ironic development: Omar Bakri Mohammed (pictured), who fled the UK for Beirut a year ago, was turned away from a British evacuation ship:

You might have thought Bakri Mohammed would have been delighted that here he was, at last, in a position to act in perfect accord with his relentlessly stated beliefs; a chance to gird the loins, strap on the old Semtex and make haste for the Israeli border. Bang! But no; what he did instead was plead, quite piteously, with the British government to airlift him (at our expense) to safety. It is all very well to cheer on the suicide bombers and the struggle to expunge Israel from the face of the earth — but one shouldn’t really be expected to take part in such dangerous activities oneself. Suddenly the British way of doing things seemed awfully attractive as the shells rained down. Far better to pontificate about Armageddon from a semi in Edmonton.
Zapiro's Trifecta

South African cartoonist Adam Zapiro’s fighting Israel with every drop of ink at his disposal. See not one, not two, but three cartoons published in the Mail & Guardian, as well as the Sunday Times in recent days:




Alan Dershowitz responds to Zapiro's "logic" in today's Jerusalem Post.

Write the Mail & Guardian:
Write the Sunday Times:


Thursday, July 20 2006

Israeli Reporters Quit IFJ

IfjSix Israeli reporters renounced their membership in the International Federation of Journalists. This is in response to the IFJ censuring Israeli strikes on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV. According to Haaretz:

IFJ members in Israel demanded that the censure be lifted immediately and asked why the IFJ did not condemn Hezbollah for firing rockets at Israeli journalists.

See here for more background info on the controversy.

Worth Reading

* Mitch Bard advises everyone following press coverage of the Lebanon crisis to take the reporting with a grain of salt.

* The BBC visits Haifa’s Rambam Hospital and finds medical workers carrying on with both caring and a stiff upper lip.

* Would a desperate Hezbollah target American interests? Reuters notes the possibility.

* For a nice roundup of what the European papers are saying about the Lebanese crisis, see the Jerusalem Post.

The Story Behind the Photo

See On the Face for the story behind this controversial AP photo.


Israeli girls write messages on a shell at a heavy artillery position near Kiryat Shmona, in northern Israel, next to the Lebanese border, Monday, July 17, 2006. Diplomatic efforts to end Israeli-Hezbollah fighting gained traction Monday, with Israeli officials saying the country would agree to halt fighting if its two captured soldiers were returned and Islamic guerrillas withdrew from the border. Publicly, the officials continued to insist their goal was to dismantle Hezbollah. But senior aides to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert office said he told his Italian counterpart, Romano Prodi, that Israel would accept cease-fire terms of Hezbollah releasing the Israeli soldiers and withdrawing from the border. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

(Hat tip: Adloyada)

Implicating Judaism Instead of Israel

See Martin Rowson’s cartoon and judge for yourself whether The Guardian’s apology spotted by Stephen Pollard goes far enough:


Yesterday's cartoon on page 29 (Comment) portrayed Israeli military action in Lebanon in the form of a mailed fist with Stars of David as knuckle-dusters. By failing to identify them in a specifically Israeli form - such as in the colours of the flag - the point the cartoon was making might have been interpreted as implicating Judaism rather than the Israeli government in the present conflict. That was not the intention, and we are sorry if anyone saw it that way.
Hardly Surprising

UnifilThis LA Times update contained an eye-opening snippet:

Hezbollah guerrillas were setting up rocket launchers near U.N. positions, spokesman Milos Strugar said.

How come this doesn’t surprise anyone?

A 'Nuanced Relationship'

Two wonks in the Christian Science Monitor argue that Iran’s involvement in the Lebanese crisis is overstated:

To suggest that Hizbullah kidnapped the Israeli soldiers on the orders of Tehran and Damascus is to grossly oversimplify a strong strategic relationship between Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran. While there is certainly a shared geopolitical framework among the three, operational decisions are typically made by Hizbullah. In fact, the group has become increasingly autonomous since its triumph in 2000, when it basically forced Israel to withdraw from Lebanon….

[The kidnapping] even surprised the Iranian leadership whose anti-Israel rhetoric often obscures a nuanced relationship with the group. Pragmatism, not ideology, has been the secret to Iranian success in Lebanon.

Cartoonist Bruce Beattie of the Daytona Beach News-Journal clearly disagrees:


UPDATE: The LA Times reports that Iran stepped up arms shipments to Hezbollah:

One Israeli intelligence official said there was new evidence that Iran had stepped up arms shipments through Camp Zabadani, a longtime base that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard maintains in Syria, near the Lebanese border….

During the last three days, Israel has detected the movement of several shipments of weapons and supplies from Iran to the Revolutionary Guard base as well as to nearby warehouses, where arms have been stockpiled in recent years, Israeli officials said.

Guess Who Wants Hezbollah Disarmed?

Lebanese PM Fuad Saniora called for the disarming of Hezbollah. AP writes:

Hizbullah has created a "state within a state" in Lebanon and must be disarmed, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said in an interview published Thursday in an Italian daily.

Saniora told Milan-based newspaper Corriere della Sera that the Shi'ite group has been doing the bidding of Syria and Iran, and that it can only be disarmed with the help of the international community and once a cease-fire has been achieved in the current Middle East fighting.

UPDATE 7/20: This didn't take long -- Saniora now insists he was misquoted.


Wednesday, July 19 2006

Second-Hand Smoke

DobbsCNN’s Lou Dobbs seems to be a victim of Richard Cohen’s second-hand smoke. According to Dobbs:

We Americans like to think we're a pretty smart people, even when evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. And nowhere is that evidence more overwhelming than in the Middle East. History in the Middle East is everything, and we Americans seem to learn nothing from it.

President Harry Truman took about 20 minutes to recognize the state of Israel when it declared independence in 1948. Since then, more than 58 years of war, terrorism and blood-letting have led to the events of the past week.

Recommended Reading

* In The Australian, Rebecca Weisser argues that the Aussie media has unfairly held Israel to a higher standard than the terrorists attacking it.

* Reporting from Haifa, Martin Fletcher of NBC News effectively highlights the random terror caused by Katyushas.

* NY Times columnist Tom Friedman has an interesting take on Hezbollah’s effect on efforts to democratize the Arab world:

What both Hamas and Nasrallah have done — by dragging their nations into unnecessary wars with Israel — is to prove that Islamists will not be made more accountable by political power. Just the opposite; not only will they not fix the potholes, they will start wars, whenever they choose, that will lead to even bigger potholes….

The Arab democracy experiment is on hold — because if Islamist parties can’t be trusted to rule, elections can’t be trusted to be held.

* Detlev Mehlis, who led the UN’s investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri, discussed with the German Deutsche Welle his thoughts on the Lebanese crisis, particularly the likelihood of Syria’s foreknowledge of Hezbollah’s plans, and the effectiveness of possible international peace-keepers. A number of papers picked up on this interview.

Poison Pen Production

New Zealand's veteran cartoonist, Tom Scott, is in the running for a Poison Pen Award, for equating Israel with Al-Qaida:


Cook's Christian Shields

Hezbollah raised Christian apprehensions when it fired Katyushas at Nazareth. But Jonathan Cook blames Israel for the rain of rockets on the mixed city of Christians and Muslims:

Several Israeli armaments factories and storage depots have been built close by Arab communities in the north of Israel, possibly in the hope that by locating them there Arab regimes will be deterred from attacking Israel's enormous armory. In other words, the inhabitants of several of Israel's Arab towns and villages have been turned into collective human shields – protection for Israel's war machine.

Memo to Cook: The presence of Muslim, Christian or Jewish civilians in proximity to places like Haifa’s petrochemical plants, Ashkelon’s power station, or even Jerusalem city busses never failed to deter Hezbollah or Hamas anyway.

UPDATE 7/20: More Katyushas hit Nazareth, killing brothers Mahmoud and Ravia Taluzi, ages seven and three respectively. See YNet News coverage.


Tuesday, July 18 2006

Playing With Fire

Two cartoonists with very different takes on playing with fire. First, there's Bado, the cartoonist of Ottawa’s French-language paper, Le Droit (Hat tip: Headlines and Deadlines)


Then we have Matt Davies of the NY-area Journal News, who penned this:


Real Realpolitik

ArtilleryIn the American Thinker, James Lewis makes a compelling case that Israel’s battle with Hezbollah is really more about prepping for a possible showdown with Iran later:

We can’t know the outcome of the battle now in progress. However, it is clear that Israel has called Ahmadinejad’s bluff. So far, there are two signs for the world to see: Israeli freedom to act as it wants, and the impotence of Syria and Iran to protect their proxies on the borders of Israel.

The IDF is attacking at a time and place of its choosing. If a country the size of Israel is going to tackle Iran, with ten times its population, it must first protect its own rear. The IDF cannot afford to have more than 10 thousand short-range rockets aimed at Israel’s population, all in the hands of Iran’s terror proxy, Hezbollah. For strategic reasons alone, therefore, it is imperative to clean out the threat making any direct move again Tehran.

That does not mean the IDF is now committed to attack Bushehr and Natanz, the two most likely nuclear targets in Iran. But if it can cripple the threat from Hezbollah and Hamas for some time to come, it is clearing a strategic space to strike at Iran itself.

If so, could it be that the global divisions over addressing Iran's nuclear program are the real obstacles to the cease-fire Europe eagerly seeks?

Snow Storm

More fallout from Jon Snow’s controversial interview with Israel’s Deputy Ambassador Zvi Ravner: Channel 4 News Watch, a blog dedicated to monitoring the British TV station’s news was launched.

Today's Recommended Reading

* In the Times of London, David Aaronovich discusses Israel’s response to the kidnapping of it’s soldiers and shelling of it’s civilians.

* We were impressed by the depth of this Boston Globe report on Hezbollah’s arsenal. Reporter Bryan Bender did a lot of homework.

* The Chicago Tribune wonders about all the fuss over President George Bush's open-mike comments to Tony Blair at the G8 summit.

What's the Message?

What’s message behind this cartoon by Bog Englehart of the Hartford Courant? Is Englehart criticizing Hezbollah for hiding behind Lebanese civilians, or portraying Israel as unconcerned about harming Lebanese civilians?


Iranian Fingerprints

C802_missileThis Investors Business Daily editorial points out why Israel is sure Iranian military advisors are helping Hezbollah, despite Tehran’s denials. It has to do with the INS Spear, a destroyer, being hit by a shore-to-ship C-802 missile recently:

If there was any doubt about Iran's direct involvement in the attacks on Israel, it was removed when an Iranian-made radar guided C-802 missile, not an unmanned drone as widely reported, struck and severely damaged an Israeli warship on patrol off the coast of Lebanon.

The C-802 is a sophisticated weapon requiring special training. It is quite different from the short-range and inaccurate Katyushas first used in World War II by the Soviets.

C-802s require not only special training but also special approval to launch. That order comes from Tehran.

Iran denies the presence of personnel in Lebanon.


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