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Friday, July 21, 2006

US Media Offer Sanitized Coverage of the Israeli Holocaust in Lebanon

Western media has dropped the ball by failing to tell the real story in Lebanon

Jewish state's offensive has primarily targeted civilians

By Marc J Sirois
Daily Star (Lebanon) | July 20, 2006

The fury of Israel's offensive in Lebanon has more than a few observers shaking their heads. The vast majority of Western media reports do not accurately portray the fact that the vast majority of the dead are civilians, most of them women and children. A Reuters dispatch this week described Israel's choice of targets as "puzzling," but for the most part Western television viewers, newspaper readers, and Web surfers are reading highly sanitized versions of the news, spun in such a way as to dilute the brutality of the Israeli onslaught and especially to ensure that blame is placed squarely on Lebanon in general and Hizbullah in particular.

Of course there are brave and honorable Western journalists working here, and many of them are determined to tell the truth about what is happening. One has to assume, therefore, that what the decent ones report is being heavily edited somewhere along the line before it gets to the consumer. This is presumably intended as a prophylactic against the inevitable charges of "anti-Semitism" and resultant drops in advertising revenues that will follow unvarnished coverage of Israeli brutality.

The product of this regime of fear has been a generation of biased reporting that portrays the Jewish state as weak when it is very strong, moderate when it is frequently extremist, democratic when it is often theocratic, liberal when it is commonly draconian - in short, "Western" when it is anything but.

Coverage of the current conflict is a case in point. The two most commonly watched English-language news channels available in Lebanon are CNN and the BBC. With few exceptions, their reports are filed by reporters standing in the relatively safe and comfortable confines of Downtown Beirut, the picturesque showcase of Lebanon's now-aborted recovery from its 1975-90 Civil War.

There has been no damage in this part of the city thus far (although there are concerns that that step in the escalation process is rapidly approaching), so the very background is highly misleading about what is happening. Just a few kilometers away in Beirut's Dahiyeh Junubiyyeh (southern suburbs), Israeli air strikes and naval gunfire have reduced entire neighborhoods to rubble. No one knows how many people are buried in these piles of shattered concrete and twisted steel, only that local residents would have had far less warning than Hizbullah members did about the beginning of so many ends - and that most of their escape routes were cut off by the destruction of roads and overpasses before the Dahiyeh itself became a target.

...All of this goes unmentioned on CNN. Its idea of "balance" is to make sure that each report about a new massacre of innocents in Lebanon is aired alongside one about civilian injuries or deaths from Hizbullah rocket strikes, even if the incident is 36 hours old. Only rarely do the reports in question mention that while the Dahiyeh is for all intents and purposes a giant refugee camp, northern Israel and the nearby settlements in occupied Palestine are prosperous areas with a substantial contingent of immigrants from places like the United States and Canada, many of whom voluntarily live illegally on occupied Palestinian land.


US media favors Israel during war in Lebanon
July 19, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2006— As the escalating conflict entered its seventh day in the Middle East, what coverage should one expect from the US media? To summarize, the United States and its western allies have refused to intervene to halt spiralling violence in the Middle East despite a civilian death toll that has soared to 227. Israeli air attacks killed at least 120 people across Lebanon yesterday and the day before, including about 50 civilians and 20 members of the Lebanese Army.

The dead included 10 members of one family, including several children, who were killed when Israeli aircraft shelled their car as it crossed a bridge in an attempt to escape south Lebanon. Another family was wiped out when Israeli aircraft bombed their house.

And at least 100 rockets were fired by Hezbollah into northern Israel struck areas as far south as Afula and injured 11 people in an apartment building in Haifa.

Of the Lebanese killed in Israeli air strikes and bombings, only a handful are members of Hezbollah. The militia group killed eight Israeli soldiers and captured two more in a border raid that sparked the crisis, and Israel subsequently lost four naval personnel when a missile struck a vessel off Beirut. Twelve Israeli civilians have been killed by long-range Hezbollah missiles, KAZINFORM cites The Arab News.

So how is the American media reacting to these dreadful facts? A quick local search of the headlines reveals a telltale summary: “A War With Extremists — This Middle East conflict should end with the defeat of its instigators” — on yesterday’s lead editorial in the Washinton Post.

“Israel Signals Its Cease-fire Demands,” “Militants Seen As Able to Hit Tel Aviv,” and “New Strikes on Lebanon kill 42; Haifa Blast Hurts 2,” were all on the Washington Times’ front page yesterday.

The New York Post signaled no surprises with yesterday’s lead stories: “50 Rockets Slam Israel,” “Tale of Two Shell-Shocked Cities,” and “Determined Olmert Lays Down The Law.” 

Yesterday’s papers related much of the same: “Israel Answers Hezbollah Strike,” was the lead headline in the Washington Post, followed below with: “In Israel: Siege Is Met With Stoicism in Haifa.” And, “Planes Hammer Lebanon After 8 Die in Haifa.”

“Officials Hit Hezbollah Support, Israel Accuses Tehran of Breaking Law,” reads one headline in Monday’s Washington Times. “G-8 Lays Blame on ‘Extremist’ Forces for Strife,” reads another. 

And their lead editorial? “Give Israel Time to Complete the Mission.”

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