They laughed when I said, here and here, that wearing a Palestinian scarf has become a leftist fashion statement. It was just a cold day on Rockefeller Center, people explained. Well, what do you know? Looks like the cold of Rock Center has made its way all the way to Madrid - and in high summer, no less!
Something very surprising happened on Wednesday: Comedian Bill Maher actually said something positive about America’s current president. Now, in fairness, his statements were written and published at The Huffington Post, which means that maybe only 500,000 people will read them as compared to his larger audience on HBO’s “Real Time.” And, it remains to be seen whether Maher will share such sentiments with his television audience.
However, for those who have watched Maher move further and further to the left over the years – so far so that his current television program seems like an hour-long excuse to bash conservatives – it was quite surprising to read the following: “I have to say, watching George Bush talk about Israel the last week has reminded me of a feeling that I hadn't felt in so long I forgot what it felt like: the feeling of pride when your president says what you want your president to say, especially in a matter that chokes you up a bit. I surrender my credentials as Bush exposer - from the very beginning - to no man, but on Israel, I love it that a U.S. president doesn't pretend Arab-Israeli conflict is an even-steven proposition.”
Shocking to say the least. However, he wasn’t done:
“Hardball” host Chris Matthews was Jay Leno’s guest on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday, and did more Republican bashing than even he usually does (grateful hat tip to Greg Tinti at Outside the Beltway with video link here). One of the first zingers was directed at former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Leno asked Matthews what he thought of Gingrich’s claim on Sunday that what is going on now in the Middle East is World War III. Matthews responded, “I think Newt is World War III.”
A bit later, Leno asked about the recent expletive that President Bush was caught saying to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 summit, and what Matthews thought about the press feeling that they needed to cut the word out of their broadcasts. Matthews saw this as a great opportunity to swipe at the Bush administration about a totally irrelevant issue: “I wish they'd cut out the 16 words that got us into Iraq, however, but they didn't cut those 16 out.”
The next interesting vignette was when Leno asked Matthews his opinion of Rudy Giuliani. Matthews began with something that will strike many conservatives as the height of hypocrisy:
Heart-rending images of small children being lifted across a fence. Outraged American/Lebanese evacuees alleging indiscriminate Israeli bombing ["they are bombing streets, gas stations, food stores, ranches."] A crying Lebanese man with blood on his shirt after his brother was killed by an Israeli bomb. And the only two reporters on the scene reporting from . . . Beirut. That was the way the 'Today' largely saw fit to cover the Middle East conflict this morning.
While none of the words or images are necessarily inaccurate [and we were treated to one evacuee heartily thanking Pres. Bush], they utterly fail to tell the whole story. Yes, Israel is militarily superior to its immediate neighbors. So it is easy to portray it as the bully in this fight. But let's look at the larger picture - Israel, a small strip of land, with relatively few people or natural resources, surrounded by hundreds of millions of largely Muslim Arabs in more than a dozen states. Have a look at the map. Israel is a barely discernible dot in the Muslim sea. And just as it is geographically dwarfed so too is it overwhelmed when it comes to natural resources - oil
It is axiomatic that the goal of the foreign policy of the United States should be the advancement of the interests of the United States and not of any other country, no matter how sympathetic, including Israel. That said, should it not give Chris Matthews pause that his pointed anti-neo-con spiel has become indistinguishable from the well-rehearsed Pat Buchanan line on the matter? In a weird twist, Dem hyper-partisan Bob Shrum, a supporter of Israel, was the odd man out on this evening's Hardball.
To demonstrate my point, let's play a little game. Guess who made the following statements?
A. "The neo-cons are out there complaining that this president isn't tough enough. I have no idea what they mean. 50,000 dead in Iraq - it was supposed to be a cakewalk, Ken Adelman is out there today saying we should go other places, you have other guys that want to blow up every Arab country on the list."
On the same day that a Hezbollah rocket killed two children in Nazareth, Israel, NBC's Brian Williams visited an Israeli Defense Force artillery outpost in northern Israel and noted how the soldiers “don't think a whole lot about where these shells go” in Lebanon and laid a guilt trip on an Israeli officer by predicting how one of his shells will inevitably “kill a six-year old boy.” Williams proposed to the officer: “One of these shells today or tomorrow, if we go with the law of averages, is going to kill a six-year-old boy somewhere. And it's not the intended target of one of these shells."
Earlier on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Richard Engel highlighted how “in Qasmiya in south Lebanon, an Israeli bomb left a crater where children were playing. Ismail lost his son today. 'They were small children. Do you see Hezbollah here?' he asked." Martin Fletcher soon related how a Hezbollah rocket “smashed into the roof of a car dealership in the Arab town of Nazareth. Two boys playing in the garden were killed instantly. They were ages three and nine.” (Partial transcript of Williams follows)
"The asymmetry in the reported death tolls is marked and growing: some 230 Lebanese dead, most of them civilians, to 25 Israeli dead, 13 of them civilians. In Gaza, one Israel soldier has died from his own army’s fire, and 103 Palestinians have been killed, 70 percent of them militants.
Last night (Tuesday) on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, senior international correspondent Nic Robertson touted his “exclusive” exchange with a Hezbollah propagandist who led Robertson on a tour of a bombed-out block of southern Beirut. Hezbollah claimed to show that Israeli bombs had struck civilian areas of the city, not the terrorist group’s headquarters.
The Hezbollah “press officer,” Hussein Nabulsi, even directed CNN’s camera: “Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?” A few moments later, Nabulsi instructed CNN to videotape him as he ran up to a pile of rubble: “Shoot me. Shoot. This is here where they said Sheikh Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, is living. This is wrong!”
Is CNN correspondent Nic Robertson looking to be the next Peter Arnett? I've been getting tips that this may be the case. They're starting to wonder at Israpundit after watching Robertson uncritically relay a Hezbollah claim that Israel had been targeting civilians.
Elsewhere from the sympathy-for-terrorists department, Michelle Malkin has a great vivisection of the New York Times and its terrorist-embedded photographers.
UPDATE 12:42. NB's Rich Noyes has the full details on Robertson's shillery.
It's been a tough week for the MSM. You just know they'd like to find a way to spin events in Lebanon and Israel for purposes of criticizing the Bush administration. But one senses they've had a tough time getting traction. Even for our liberal media heroes, making common cause with Hezbollah might be a bridge too far.
When the MSM is reduced to fixating on a mild four-letter word the president let fly, and to second-guessing tactics - as opposed to goals - you know the media's Bush-bashing cupboard is alarmingly bare.
The last best hope for the MSM seemed to be the alleged slowness of the evacuation of Americans in Lebanon. There was Tucker Carlson accusing Israel of 'doing nothing' to help stranded Americans. And the MSM widely reported the number of Americans in Lebanon at 25,000, downplaying the fact that the great majority have dual Lebanese citizenship and are not looking to leave. The actual number of those wishing to get out is apparently in the 5-8,000 range.
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann implied that the Senate Judiciary Committee deliberately timed its hearing on the controversial NSA spying program to "bury" the story as the national media attention is focused on war in the Middle East. The Countdown host similarly remarked that it was the "perfect day" for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to reveal President Bush's role in blocking the Justice Department from reviewing the program. Referring to NBC's The West Wing, Olbermann ended up labeling the day "take out the trash day."
After referring to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, Olbermann teased the segment at the beginning of the show: "A perfect day then to bury the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on warrant-free domestic spying by the Bush administration. A perfect day then for the Attorney General to reveal that the Justice Department was blocked from reviewing the legalities on the personal instructions of the President." (Transcript follows)
The Shiite anti-Israeli terror group Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel on July 12, killing eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two others. Israel is responding with force, unleashing targeted air strikes against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon in an effort to get the kidnapped soldiers back.
The New York Times' coverage of Israel's counterattack has been generally fair, or at least more balanced than usual -- the prospect of wide-scale war appears to have clarified somewhat the paper's often-wishful thinking about the true aims of Israel’s foes.
One major annoying tic that remains is the paper's use of the term "captured" to describe kidnapped Israeli soldiers, when it comes to covering the June kidnapping by Hamas of Gilad Shalit at an Israeli Defense Forces outpost, and the two kidnapped soldiers resulting from the incursion by Hezbollah. "Captured" is a phrase used by anti-Israeli leftists like ANSWER and implies these soldiers were prisoners of war captured on the field of battle, not abducted over a border by a terrorist group.
On September 11, 2001, as planes slammed into New York City, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the earth seemed to stop spinning for a few hours, and the planet’s billions immediately realized that the world had changed forever. A similar shudder happened last week when Hezbollah attacked Israel, and it would be prudent for these same billions to look upon this event as seriously.
The sheer volume of terrorist activity Israel has endured in the last 58 years seemingly would suggest that attacks on this particular nation are divorced from the global war on terrorism. But such a conclusion would be folly, for the events of last week are not just another episode in the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Lebanon has now become an albatross for Israel much as Afghanistan was to the United States prior to 9/11.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell asked on Monday's NBC Nightly News: “What is Hezbollah and what is its end game?” Mitchell first answered that “experts say to prove it can damage Israel in ways Arab countries couldn't.” But then she proceeded to refer to “Hezbollah's charismatic leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah,” also describing him as “a Shiite populist” who she relayed, over video of kids, “provides social services where Lebanon's weak new government cannot.” Mitchell refrained from labeling Hezbollah as “terrorist” -- or mentioning how its real "end game" is the destruction of Israel -- going no further than to say it “operates militias." (Transcripts follows)
Israel versus Hezbollah? Those exchanges pale in comparison to the crossfire between MSNBC host Tucker Carlson and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu on this afternoon's 'Tucker'. Alright, perhaps I exaggerate a tad, but there was no mistaking Netanyahu's anger at the way Carlson framed the issue of Americans in Lebanon.
Here's how Carlson, who made the plight of the estimated 25,000 Americans in Lebanon a theme of the show, introduced Netanyahu:
"25,000 Americans are trapped as the nation of Lebanon continues to come under fire from Israeli airstrikes. . . Thousands of US citizens are stranded and Israel is doing nothing to help them. Or is it? What will it take to get our people out of harm's way? Here to answer that question is Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel from 1996-99."
This one is truly delicious (grateful hat tip to Little Green Footballs): The International Federation of Journalists condemned Israel for attacking the headquarters of Lebanese broadcaster Al-Manar. For those that are unfamiliar, this is the television station and website run by Hezbollah, the terrorist group that started this recent conflagration against Israel.
As reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency: “The International Federation of Journalists Friday condemned the Israeli bombing of the Lebanese broadcaster Al-Manar, warning that the attack follows a pattern of media targeting that threatens the lives of media staff, violates international law and endorses the use of violence to stifle dissident media.”
It wasn’t the barnburner it could have been, but there was a wonderful mini-flyweight boxing match Friday night on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” In the left corner, weighing 105 pounds, Norah O’Donnell. In the right corner, weighing 100 pounds, Ann Coulter (video to follow).
The crowd got a sense before the opening bell that O’Donnell was ready for a donnybrook when prior to Coulter even stepping foot out of her dressing room, O’Donnell referred to her opponent as a “conservative provocateur.” The first actual fisticuffs though came early in round one with O’Donnell jabbing at Coulter over the recent hostilities in Israel and Lebanon being the fault of the Bush administration:
Israel might be defending itself on two fronts this morning, but that might not be enough. The Today show was attacking on at least three. And in a brief-but-telling moment, Andrea Mitchell gave away the blame-Israel game with a spontaneous shake of the head.
Here's the gist of Today's reporting:
Israel's offensive against Hezbollah is based on a 'pretext.'
The Bush administration has dropped the diplomatic ball. It should have sent higher-level people in to mediate sooner. In the meantime, despite the concerns of America's European allies, the Bush White House has given Israel a dangerous 'green light' to attack.
The Bush administration is not responding effectively to the crisis because it is 'overwhelmed' and spread too thin by involvement elsewhere.
With ghoulish glee, Today wasted no time speculating on the possibility of $100/barrel oil resulting from the heightened tensions.
As if the incursions into Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah, and subsequent counter-attacks by Israel and now escalating efforts by Israel to fight back with bombings inside Lebanon, are somehow the fault of the Bush administration, on Thursday's NBC Nightly News reporter Andrea Mitchell asserted: “Critics in both parties say the administration has been so focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, it has failed to pay enough attention to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” Mitchell had asked: “What role has the U.S. played? Today, U.S. diplomat David Welch arrived in Israel, but critics say, too late, 17 days after the first Israeli soldier was captured. And Condoleezza Rice has not been to Israel or the Palestinian territories since last November." James Steinberg of the University of Texas then maintained “that American credibility has been damaged by our unwillingness to get involved." (Transcript follows)
“Some diplomats suggest that if Hamas supports a moribund 2002 Saudi peace initiative, it will somehow ‘recognize’ Israel without having to say so; some suggest that a Hamas offer of another cease-fire may be enough to ‘forswear violence.’ But so far, Hamas is not playing along. It sees the agreements with Israel as a honey trap and recognition of Israel as impossible. In the meantime, Hamas is working on the heartstrings and sense of justice of the West, to keep aid flowing. Hamas's victory also signaled the death of the ‘peace process’ as it has been practiced.”
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interviewed former President Jimmy Carter on “The Situation Room” Monday to discuss Mr. Carter’s views on Israel and Hamas. From suggesting that Israel has stolen money from the Palestinians, to implying that Hamas is no longer a terrorist organization, and recommending that America get around laws preventing the funding of terrorist states by – get this – giving dollars to the United Nations so that it can funnel American money to the Palestinians, Mr. Carter was in rare form. What follows is a LexisNexis transcript of the first half of this interview, and a video link courtesy of Expose the Left.
*****UPDATE***** With thanks to a reader that sent me an e-mail regarding this subject, it appears that Mr. Carter is wrong about a key statement made to CNN:
“Since August of 2004, Hamas has participated in a cease fire, which I think in Arab is called a hadna (ph). And they have not violated this cease fire all. There have been no terrorist activities attributed to Hamas for the last year and a half, 18 months.”
According to a February 6, 2006 Jerusalem Post article, this is quite inaccurate:
While CBS and NBC reporters were willing Thursday night to outright tag, without any qualifiers or attributions to others, Hamas as a “terrorist” group, for the second night in a row, ABC's World News Tonight distanced itself from the term -- even avoiding it during a friendly profile of a terrorist. ABC anchor Bob Woodruff teased from Jerusalem: “Tonight, a monumental shake-up in the Middle East. Hamas declared the winner of the Palestinian elections. The U.S. calls them terrorists.” But that was it for the label. Woodruff proceeded to refer to Hamas as “the militant Islamic group that calls for the destruction of Israel” and he conceded “there is no question that Hamas is more militant and more overtly Islamic than the secular leaders it defeated.” Woodruff also noted that “through its military wing,” Hamas “has led the fight against Israel,” but he then put a nice and generous face on Hamas, adding that “through its charities” Hamas has “provided free schooling, medicine and food.”
Following his opening story on the election victory by Hamas, Woodruff set up a piece on how “one of its most-celebrated figures,” a woman who won a seat, “is a mother who sent her sons to their deaths.” With “A Bombers' Mother” as the on-screen tag, Wilf Dinnick provided a non-judgmental look at how “Palestinians voted for Miriam Farahat because she's made astonishing sacrifices in her quest to destroy Israel. Farahat has sent three of her six sons on suicide missions. That's why her supporters call her Um Nidal, the 'Mother of the Struggle.'” Without ever calling her or her murdering sons either “murderers” or “terrorists,” Dinnick concluded with her “sacrifice” for the cause: “Today, she vowed to do whatever Hamas asks of her. 'I am ready to serve,' she says. And if that means sacrificing her three remaining sons, Um Nidal says she's willing.” (Full transcripts of ABC's stories, as well as the labeling aired by CBS and NBC, follows.)
On ABC's World News Tonight on Wednesday January 25, anchor Bob Woodruff showed some reluctance to label Hamas as a terrorist organization outright, but instead qualified the label by calling it a "militant" group "which the U.S. calls a terrorist organization." Woodruff also referred to Hamas once as a "radical group" and once simply as a "group."
During the opening teaser, while previewing a story on the Palestinian elections, Woodruff announced: "It's been an historic day in the Middle East. Palestinians voting for their future. The radical group Hamas gains strength and gets a warning from the Bush administration."
Introducing a story on the elections, in which Hamas won a substantial number of seats in the parliament, Woodruff asked: "Would Palestinians vote to keep the long-ruling Fatah movement in power or would the militant challenger, Hamas, which the U.S. calls a terrorist organization, prevail?"
Last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused quite a stir by violating every international agreement in existence when calling - at a government-sponsored conference - to "wipe Israel off the face of the map." (The Indispensible MEMRI has the full text of the President-Kidnapper's remarks here.)
The MSM continues peddle several myths about Iran. Essentially, they argue that Iran isn't all that dangerous because it doesn't mean what it says, couldn't do what it says even if it meant it, and anyway, its problem is with Israel, not with Jews in general.
Turns out that apparently nobody in the MSM has bothered to check out the website for the conference, despite the URL's prominent place on a banner behind Ahmadinejad while he was speaking.