Monday, July 24, 2006


Associated Press bias keeps Americans in the dark on Israeli atrocities in Lebanon

Most local US papers rely on the Associated Press for their coverage of Israel's invasion of Lebanon, and so they fail to give even a hint of the true nature of Israel's targeting of civilians and destruction of bridges, ports, power plants, communications facilities, bombing of ambulances and other infrastructure. Civilians--men, women and children--are being buried in the rubble of their homes that are targeted deliberately by Israeli air strikes.

You might not know this because local papers don't have their own correspondents in Lebanon--they rely on the Associated Press for international news.

The civilian deaths in Lebanon are not "collateral damage" of the hunt for Hezbollah terrorists--they are atrocities directed against the civilian population that have taken place from the beginning of the invasion and are indisputably war crimes. We don't read the European response in our daily press (even our allies the UK and Iraq (!) have broken with the US on its support of Israel's actions).

European readers and the rest of the world are getting a clearer picture. With the civilian death toll nearing 400 and 900,000 people displaced, it's apparent (except to US readers) that a major catastrophe is underway. The US, through its UN veto, has prevented that organization from stepping in to restore the peace. Perhaps the UN has indeed become "irrelevant," or has been made impotent by the same US government that is supporting the perpetration of these war crimes.

Condoleza Rice described the atrocities being committed in Lebanon as part of the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” Perhaps she thinks it is ok to destroy the old in the process, regardless of the loss of innocent life. The US is indeed complicit, because it is illegally supplying Israel with weapons to conduct this massacre which the US press describes weakly as a "disproportionate response" when it is critical of Israel at all.

Reading these accounts one might think that Israel is retaliating against Hezbollah for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. It has now come out that the attack was planned more than a year ago in minute detail.

There's much better coverage for the reader willing to surf the net for alternative reports or willing to read the on-line editions of European papers. A good place to start would be the transcripts of news and interviews on the Democracy Now! website. Democracy Now! is also on Channel 56 at 10 pm each weekday night on Oahu and again each morning at 7 am on Channel 53. On Maui, check Akaku's broadcast schedule.

The AP coverage has so sanitized events in Lebanon that one paper feels a decline in orchid sales is a more important issue, while the other's headline would lead one to believe that the invasion had not already started (about 330 people were already dead as that headline hit the streets, probably 1/3 (?) children). Compare these to the Guardian front page with a snapshot of devastation that resembles Ground Zero in New York City.

Only recently has the AP come around to showing some less dramatic pictures of bombed-out buildings. These have run here only on deep inside pages. Quite possibly the truth is leaking out now because it has been so starkly available on the Internet, other country's papers and the blogosphere. They are beginning to mention Israeli atrocities but continue to position the attack as one targeting Hezbollah. AFP, the Agence France Presse wire service, notes that while nearly 400 Lebanese civilians have been killed, Israel has killed only 19 Hezbollah fighters. They report that nearly 1000 civilians including police have been injured.

It can be argued that so far, Israel has failed to stop Hezbollah, and in fact, Hezbollah has responded by greatly increasing rocket attacks against Israel. The two soldiers have not been released, of course, and world sympathy for Hezbollah and the plight of the Palestinians has likely increased rather than decreased, while Israel (and the USA) lose as the killing continues.

Educate yourself. Local news is important, sure, but we are being fed badly distorted news by the Associated Press and so we continue to support, through our government's spending, an illegal and immoral war against innocent people and the destruction of what was one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan centers of the mid-East.


There is an odd perception that civilians are somehow exempt from the horrors of war. This is a relatively recent moral position dating to the 20th Century and has numerous exceptions. Prior to that (and as recent history shows, in the present as well), if you were a civilian and living in a war zone you simply had to accept the fact that you might wind up a casualty. I abhor and condemn the violence in Lebanon, but realize that until those people and organizations that insist on antagonizing Israel come to the bargaining table in a meaningful way civilians will continue to die. Lost in this argument is the fact that Hezbollah hides its positions among civilian areas, hardly any surprise then when they get bombed. A civilian that allows a military force to launch attacks from their place of residence or shelter is NO LONGER A CIVILIAN and is thus fully subject to being killed like any other combatant. I am well aware of the disproportionate casualties (I read European, Arabic and Israeli news, helps to have a sense of perspective), that's what happens when you attack a country that is better armed and trained than you, and I support Israel's actions as a defence of its sovereignty and existence. Picking fights with the most militant country in the area (Israel) is a good way to get your tuchas handed to you, the Lebanese deserve what they are getting.

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