So I'm finally back to where I have internet access and a lot has been going on.
I've talked about this before but I'd like to start with the Qana incident again. Almost two weeks ago the Israeli air force bombed Qana at night, the building fell 7 hours later, the roof seemed to be intact. Shortly after a huge banner appeared condemning the event. It simply couldn't have been made that fast, it was prepared in advance.
Pictures started showing up of a rescue worker handling the bodies of dead children which after some analysis by the blogosphere turned out to be quite obviously staged. The reported number of casualties was also significantly higher then the actual number. These pictures (I covered this in the last post) were picked up by newspapers around the world making quite impressive front pages, a dramatic cover like that would sure make me want to buy one.
Some people choose to not believe any of this, none of this however was reported by any mainstream media outlets, nobody paused before crying out how horrible Israel is.
Now this video is released proving it. (warning: it's graphic)
Taking this direction I just established about Qana and running with it further, Reuters has admitted a number of times to have photoshopped it's photos to add dramatic effect, smoke over Beirut makes for an impressive and more importantly effective picture, doesn't matter if it's real or not. Reuters in case your wondering is a major provider of pictures and reports to media all over the world, you see their pictures on CNN, BBC, and really just about anywhere. You can't avoid it, you can't escape it. The significance of this is mind boggling, sad, and very alarming at the same time.
To show just how wide spread this is here is a quote from an excellent piece by lgf, I urge you to read it in full: "..What this means is that while there are around 50 people producing news pictures for the whole world working in Camden at any time, there are a further 50 Arabic speaking staff producing finished stories exclusively for the Arab states of the gulf. This has a tremendous effect on the whole feel of the building as these two teams feed pictures and people back and forth and sit in adjacent work areas. The slant of the stories required by the Gulf States has a definite effect on which footage is used and discarded. This affects both the Gulf newsroom and the main global newsroom.
..Anything involving Israel is a favorite with Gulf Arab states for showing to their viewers. Could this be the reason why Israel receives such a disproportionate amount of particularly negative coverage especially and increasingly ever since the early 1970’s? Footage such as the Palestinian mob joyfully lynching two Israeli reservists in Ramallah in October 2000 is held by APTN’s library: any attempt to license this film for re-show is carefully vetted. Requests for the use of “sensitive clips” are referred directly to the Library director. This is not the case with clips that paint Israel in a bad light. Likewise, the re-showing of Palestinian celebrations on 9/11 is considered “sensitive”.
The way in which raw footage such as APTN’s is compiled into a news report and sent round the world has also been analyzed. The Second Draft gives a comprehensive view of how editing can make all the difference. APTN is the gatekeeper that sits between you and the actual event. You will never see what the editors at APTN see before they compile your evening news.
..[this is] an addition to the more familiar violent jihad: they also emphasized the importance of jihad by the written and spoken word - what we would recognize as classic propaganda. Without question APTN’s interesting business model represents a concrete example of an ongoing financial “contribution” to an important communication agency promoting a pro-Arab bias." -lgf. (If you haven't yet, click on the title of this post to see a video of how they do it)
All of this is quite effective, in fact it has been so effective that a cease fire is eminent. France and the US drafted a UN resolution that both Israel and Lebanon seem to accept, it will be voted on in Israel on Sunday. Olmert whom I (now very regretfully) praised when I started this blog finds it agreeable and will recommend the government to vote for passing it. If it is passed the outcome of this war has been determined not by Katyusha rockets falling on Haifa and the north of Israel, not over a hundred Israeli casualties, not the 2 million Israeli citizens living in bunkers suffering sometimes up to 10 sirens a day (and a rather new occurrences of night-time sirens and rockets), but by propaganda. The pen is truly mightier then the sword and oil money used to buy the two major providers to news agency's around the world is mightier still.
I don't know how eminent a cease fire is, but one seems to be in the works. I'm sure some of you will raise the question "but isn't a cease fire good? this will finally be over" - I'll get to that in just a moment, but first I'd like to digress a little bit.
Sitting in a hotel in Canada yesterday with no in internet access I turned on the TV in the hopes of hearing some news about what's going on back home. Instead CNN was showing "TERROR PLOT FOILED". Indeed a terror plan was foiled, ten planes traveling from the UK to the US were supposed to be attacked in the next couple of weeks. The weapon was a liquid bomb, squads of 4-5 terrorist were to board each plane with components that individually would not arouse suspicion but when combined together might result in an explosion large enough to bring the plane down. Each plane would hold about 500 people and they wanted to bring 10 down, some say over cities in the US like NYC, LA, Boston, DC, 'etc making the death toll even higher (another version is 3 at a time over the ocean so their methods wouldn't have been discovered). This would have resulted in what probably would be the largest terror attack yet with double the casualties of 9/11. Law enforcement was on top of this and prevented all of this from happening making dozens of arrests.
The big story of this as presented on TV was the fact that liquids and electronics were not allowed to be taken on board, carry on's, handbags, 'etc. Dramatic shots of people throwing their shampoos away, a woman complaining about her blush (she doesn't see how it can be used to blow up a plane, great priorities there) cut to commercial. Rinse, repeat.
As an Israeli it felt strange watching it all, my sentiment was and is "get over yourselves". I suppose it's because this is part of life here and our security forces prevent terror attacks on a virtually daily basis, but it's not like the UK and US are complete strangers to terror, I keep expecting people to get with the program. Here in Canada a plan was foiled of blowing up the CN tower in Toronto and decapitating the presidents head, London had 7/7 just over a year ago, what is this amnesia that everybody have? Is it really so surprising that such things will happen?
If you look at the identities of these terrorists, most of them seem to be young British born Islamic citizens. A quarter of British citizens outright say that 7/7 attacks were justified. A third say they would rather live under Sharia law in the UK than British law. Of course if Bush says "Islamic Fascists" then Islamic groups are outraged, Islamic groups in the UK were outraged as well, not against the attempted terrorist attacks but because Muslims were arrested.
Islam is a peaceful religion and obviously they are concerned about misguided hate and labeling, poor Muslim kids going to school in the UK receiving abuse. Some will no doubt leave comments on this blog accusing me of just that, but I will not be apologetic. It's a question of definitions they say. Those who define themselves as not being part of the above mentioned groups, those who condemn them silently and privately (for fear of them) instead of condemning any occurrence of the word "Muslim" are the innocent ones, such is reality these days. Which brings me to my point about airport security, the weapons are the people not the scissors or intermediate knowledge of chemicals. A terrorist is under a huge amount of pressure and signs of it will show, this is where Israeli airport security differs.
However if in the UK a Muslim was to be asked a series of uncomfortable questions groups such as I mentioned above (CAIR) for example, will be outraged. I think it's high time that people start taking this seriously and swallow their pride for the sake of safety (by the way before anybody starts shooting remarks at me from his moral high ground, these questions are presented to everybody alike in Israel, if your deemed suspicious your questioned further) and shove their political correctness where the sun don't shine because unfortunately there is no room for that in today's world.
On that note, I'm coming full circle back to my previous line of thought (my digression wasn't accidental). That same self-righteous moral indignity that might allow a situation to occur where a person might be suspect to questioning based on his Arabic/Muslim appearances will say "how dare you question me because I'm Muslim!" and be let thru onto the plane, with an apology no less, and kill 500 people is exactly the reason Hezbollah's and others propaganda works so well on so many people in the world.
The time I spent here has opened my eyes to this, I've always realized it but didn't quite feel the extent of it. What I'm talking about is that Canada for example is 12 hours away by plane, it's not Canada's problem. It's not a problem for the French, or other European countries. So self-righteousness is affordable. After 9/11 when it became USA's problem, self-righteousness went out the window, they went to war. But collective human memory is a curios thing, 9/11 faded away as a horrible memory, so did 7/7. Even in Israel we sometimes had periods like that were we deluded ourselves with hopes for peace and quite, that's why we elected Olmert and have Peretz as the minister of defence, neither of them are proficient at war, the past election had the lowest turnout in Israel's history. For some reason we also forget, we thought we could afford self-righteousness. We can't. We can't, and during this month Israel has been united like it never has before. Unfortunately Olmert's indecisiveness is the reason this has been going on for so long.
A cease fire now means is nothing but a breather. It's a chance for aid to reach civilians in Lebanon, it's strange how nobody is talking about aid for Israeli civilians. The northern towns are mostly poor, this past month the north of the country was basically shut down, people can't work and so can't afford to buy food, some can't go out of the bunker for the food, it's not dissimilar, perhaps it's on a smaller scale but nobody even mentioned it. Israel does not allow traffic on the roads in Lebanon so aid can't always get thru (with co-ordination at times it does) but nobody will show on CNN a Nissan Primera that was coughed transporting rockets.
So sure, a cease fire is a breather and aid can come to Lebanese civilians and Israeli civilians but just as aid will come so will weapons for the Hezbollah. And if you think they won't break the truce after they regroup you have another thing coming. I hope in Israel on Sunday the vote doesn't pass and we won't accept it (backslash and all), I hope the Hezbollah will not accept it (Nassrallah has been begging for it however, it's a godsend for them). Ground operations needed to start a lot earlier, we need to go in and clean them out and only then a cease fire will mean something. Otherwise this is just a prelude to an even worse and longer conflict that will happen again, and will happen again soon. I definitely don't trust the Lebanese army (part of which supports Hezbollah) and UNIFEL to protect my family and myself from rockets.
And you know how I said that other countries can afford to be self-righteous because it's not their problem? It is, and they can't and I just hope they realize it in time before they themselves will get into similar problems. It's at least two long weeks away before a complete cease fire. Much more updates soon as I get back into the loop.
Edit: The poll above was probably not accurate but the point stands. The actual numbers are probably lower but this is still a problem.