the Disillusioned kid: Lebanon
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Friday, July 21, 2006

Lebanon

We live in an age where we have access to a far greater array of media than at any time in human history, yet do we really know anymore? Witness the current Israeli assault on Lebanon and the coverage which has been largely execrable.

Unless you've been living in a small box on top of a mountain somewhere it can't have escaped your notice that using the pretext of rescuing two soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah Israel has begun bombarding Lebanese towns and villages near the Israeli border and begun massing its forces, apparently contemplating a ground invasion. A largely complaisant media has happily described these areas as "Hezbollah strongholds"which glosses over the fact that, even insofar as the description is true, these areas also happen to be heavily populated civillian areas. Imagine if a suicide bomber decided to strike in Tel Aviv justifying his actions on the basis that it is a "Likud stronghold." One assumes that few of Israel's cheerleaders would be impressed.

One of the most irritating things about much of the coverage of the assault has been the supposed "evenhandedness." Long held up as a key tenent of the "free press" this supposed objectivity conceals a multitude of evils. On Australia's ABC, for instance, one reporter asserted, "Between the two sides, there were 57 deaths," ignoring the fact that 54 of those casualties were Lebanese. Such instances are not unusual nor unique to this assault (cf Turkey's campaign against the PKK).

Coupled with the diversionary obsession with the relatively small numbers of British residents being evacuated the media has done a useful job in forestalling any kind of widespread outrage against Israeli agression. This has been particularly useful for Messrs Bush and Blair who seem to have decided that they're going to stand by and let Israel do just about whatever it wants. Various commentators aver that this acquiesence is motivated in large part by a desire to hurt Syria and Iran, who the US and Britian claim are manipulating Hezbollah - and, of course, Hamas - from behind the scenes.

Elsewhere, the Israeli military operation in Gaza, ostensibly motivated by a desire to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, continues. Protected from the attention of the media, one assumes, because there aren't any Brits there awaiting evacuation.

Israel appears to be prepared to continue its bombardment for several weeks and unless the hugely disproportionate death toll shifts radically they may well be able to do so. Nevertheless, its hard to imagine a situation in which they could defeat Hezbollah in any real sense. Lebanese Defence Minister Elias al-Murr averred, "Our constitutional duty is to defend Lebanon as a Lebanese army. This is our role," promising to resist any attempts at an invasion. In military terms this is likely to be of little concern to the Israeli army, who are by far and away the most powerful and well equipped in the region, but a succesful invasion is no guarantee of success. Recall that Hezbollah originally emerged under an Israeli occupation of Lebanon which it would later play a key role in ending.

This is a long way from being over and a lot more people are going to die before it is, the vast majority of them Lebanese. Burying our heads in the sands does nobody any favours and won't protect us if some nutjob decides to take out their frustration about British appeasment by blowing themselves up on the tube.

If you're free tomorrow (Saturday) you may be interested in these events.
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