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.