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The propaganda war: part II
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, August 03, 2006

This is an example of what I'm talking about below (and yes I'm still beating this drum ... because it is important):
Hezbollah's media empire - which includes the Al-Nur radio station and the Web site moqawama.net - has been an inseparable part of the psychological war. Sometimes, Hezbollah also transmits its messages through other media, such as the Iranian television station Al-Alam. The crown jewel of the empire, Al-Manar, is broadcast in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world, by satellite.

At every stage of the fighting, Al-Manar was the station that broadcast Hezbollah's messages. Its role in the war began the morning of July 12, when Hezbollah abducted IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Al-Manar was the first station to report the kidnapping, about two hours after it took place. Since the fighting began, the pronouncements of Al-Manar have had a major influence on other media.

"Al-Manar has had an enormous impact on all the Arab press, and in effect on the Hebrew press as well," said Amir Levy from Satlink Communications, which monitors Arab-language media.

Although there were a few slight technical glitches in Al-Manar's broadcasting after its south Beirut offices were destroyed, overall it continued broadcasting normally and showcasing its high technical standards. "It is very high-quality work," said Levy.

"They always broadcast new clips, update the subtitles in real time, broadcast from the field via satellites. It's a very impressive broadcasting quality."
There is an orchestrated quality, or better said, integrated quality to their coverage. The are privy to Hezbollah's activities, a part of the fight and the first to report. They frame the story. Israel is left to either confirm or deny, but the story itself is already out there.

This is the war being badly lost by both the US and Israel. It is from Hezbollah's framing of the story which the world gets its first reports of what is happening in the fight.

Seems a no-brainer that it would be important to get inside that cycle and upstage their coverage. But when you have a free press which independently determines what and how they'll cover a story as opposed to one controlled by the combatant you're facing, that's difficult to do.

So that means that the Israeli government must find a way, without controlling or impeding the free press, to get its story out first and have Hezbollah reacting. Of course that would require a dedicated propaganda organization within the government and among its armed forces. And then, it has to find a way to entice the free media to accept its story.

Not an easy task.

Those are the obstacles a free society faces against one which which is in total control of its media. Always has. I'm not calling for Israel or the US to control its media. I'm simply pointing out the significance of this part of the war and why the advantage is to be found on the side of the enemies of freedom. Total control has its undeniable propaganda benefits.

If you were Israel or the US, how would you combat the advantage presently enjoyed by Hezbollah and others like them and maintain the freedom of press which is a critical fundamental right of any free society?
 
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Apparently Israel agrees with you!

:-)
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
Can someone tell me why Israel has not been able to destroy al-Manar? Why is still broadcasting? Is there something technical that Israel can’t blow up, or what?
 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
It seems unbelievably innocent to assume that in the 21st century an organisation like Hezbollah wouldn’t have this kind of propaganda front.

Just as it is equally innocent to assume that Israel are not already fighting a sophisticated propaganda war - as Terry’s post demonstrates.
In the past we’ve turned our nose up at propaganda use, unconsciously likening it to the lies propagated by Nazi Germany or the USSR.

Israel have already deployed sophisticated propaganda to defuse world opinion in this war - as they have in previous conflicts. The suggestion by the IDF that the building in Qana collapsed after the strike was one such piece of what seems like deliberate misinformation, calculatedly slipped in to confuse the issue at a time when world opinion was turning against Israel. A few days later it’s acknowleged by the IDF that it was an Israeli strike, but by then the world has moved on.

Israel’s propaganda aparatus is a very successful one. Where do you think the whole notion of Hezbollah hiding behind innocent civilians - thus justifying the large-scale death of civilians - was first seeded?

Besides, Israel has already poured massive amounts - running into millions - lobbying journalists and politicians.
 
Written By: William
URL: http://
Heh, if they can hack into it and hijack it why destroy it.

That sends two messages at the same time.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Israel is weakening the hezbollah propaganda machine.
 
Written By: Shinobi
URL: http://liesandstatistics.blogspot.com
My guess is that al Manar’s backup transmitters are on the roofs of the Iranian and Syrian embassies. (It’s happened before.)
 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
If they can hack into al-Manar, why do the Israelis not at least use a more sophisticated message? Why not use CGI to create false images of Nasrallah - have the images of him say something destructive to the Hezbollah cause? Or at least try to make him look bad - eat a pork sandwhich and drink a beer or something?

Seriously, what’s with the penny-ante tactics once they broke in?
 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
But all this happens after Israel has shot itself in the foot so disastrously in the propaganda war against Hezbollah. Originally they were intending to turn Lebanese opinion against Hezbollah. They’ve achieved exactly the reverse. The Lebanese non-Shia commmunity is now more sympathetic to Hezbollah than it has ever been. Even if they wipe Hezbollah from the face of the earth tomorrow - which seems increasingly unlikely - they have demonstrated that violent and occasionally murderous opposition to Israel is not only possible, but it can be sustained for weeks.
 
Written By: William
URL: http://
Humus and Al-Fatty have already demonstrated that violent and murderous opposition to Israel is possible, and can be sustained for years/decades.

When you have state sponsors terrorism can go on as long as your sponsors need it to.

As to why they don’t fake images? The point is to demonstrate their leaders aren’t telling them the truth either. Making crap up (Nasrallah in bed with a woman/man/child/donkey) is too easy to deny.

Dead bodies are hard to deny - hence the problems at Haditha and Qana.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Where do you think the whole notion of Hezbollah hiding behind innocent civilians - thus justifying the large-scale death of civilians - was first seeded
1) So Hezbollah doesn’t hide behind civilians?

2) Israel has said that large-scale deaths of civilians is justified (what "large-scale" civilian deaths have there been??)

Someone has fallen for the Hezbollah propaganda...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
they have demonstrated that violent and occasionally murderous opposition to Israel is not only possible, but it can be sustained for weeks
OH BOY, WEEKS!!!!

The muslim standard for glorious military distinction is rather low.

"Wow, they lasted 5 whole weeks before the IDF blasted them to be with Allah!"

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Some reading for you about propaganda.

 
Written By: J.C. WIlmore
URL: http://richmonddemocrat.blogspot.com
If you were Israel or the US, how would you combat the advantage presently enjoyed by Hezbollah and others like them and maintain the freedom of press which is a critical fundamental right of any free society?
1. By pointing out to the press and the public that a free press relentlessly oppositional to the American or Israeli war effort undermines not the "People in Power", but the nation.

2. To resurrect the crime of sedition, to be employed when members of the media set out to deliberately sabotage actions taken by the people’s elected representatives in wartime, like revealing classified programs to the enemy - or becoming open enemy advocates by quashing news of enemy atrocities while trumpeting and hyping US or Israeli actrocities or embarassments for months.

Sedition recognizes that a free press and the 1st Amendment does not trump the National Security of the People, their Right to a common Defense, or other Goals spelled out by the Preamble...though the media would like the public to believe that all other parts of the Constitution are subserviant to the Right of the media in the 1st Amendment. It is not absolute.

1st up on sedition? Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Bill Keller, James Risen, Eric Lichblau.

3. The American press is fragmented, not willing to work collectively on issues, not drawn from what could be said are a workforce and ownership representative of the American people - making them particularly ill-suited to communicate issues from the American state to interested people of other nations, or even give the American public the information the government wants them to receive on government policy, national issues, info in an emergency area. Even the American President has to request airtime from the media to be heard. That is ridiculous when you have 120 channels. Why can’t one be a US Government channel - it wouldn’t trammel the "free press" but supplement it.

Other nations have state media. Many do quite well serving those nations vital interests, the interests of the people, and acting as an honest bridge between that nation and other nations. Singapore, Canada come to mind. So does the BBC but BBC is more a socialist employment center than serving the UK’s people.
So America could have a state media. It would have to be the 3rd Generation up from the great Voice of America program that fell to budget cuts and partisan squabbles. Have an International division that would be chartered for non-partisanship, honesty, and accuracy as core objectives.

The "international branch" of state media would have to reach the Arab world in TV, media, and Internet. In Arabic. It should cover the Subcontinent and Asia. It should cover the Latin world. It should only play America as the "favorite" and not squander credibility by picking special "extra" favorites like Israel, or special villains like Cuba.

The domestic part should cover what the government considers critical news and messages to the American people. If there is a flu epidemic, a deadly hurricane, a terrorist strike in several cities - I’d much rather get it straight than listen to a panicked and ignorant Geraldo, Shepard Smith, Katie Couric hyping up the fear to hype ratings. It would also be useful to correct private media stories that get the story wrong, editorialize from the front page, or are committed to spiking news favorable to America. Today the office of military news branch notes that the MSM has refused to run a story about the abuse of our women soldiers at Guantanomo by the enemy. This stands in contrast to the 71 front page articles on the abuse at Abu Ghraib by a small handful of voluntary military who acted without orders. The American State media questions this case of bias. A domestic government channel - if kept non-partisan - would be less likely to lie than private, for-profit media. The fear many have of a totalitarian system is not born out by other democracies - there is no equivalent to "Beloved to All Americans First Lady Laura Bush shows her compassion to little black children by watching Barney with them. Citizens! Show your love for America’s greatest woman by clicking the "Yes, she’s wonderful!" icon on your screen!"

4. In the interim, it should be pointed out to the American public that we are indeed losing the propaganda war in Latin America, the Muslim world....and that anyone who watches Hollywood products, American TV from CBS, ABC, NBC or reads certain newspapers is likely to form a very bad impression of America that they wouldn’t have if they had not experienced the products of many parts of the private America media system. The public should be told how badly the media are failing us in this war and that they cannot be expected to be effective pro-America Ambassadors given who they are and what agendas they carry.

5. In the interim, it should be clearly communicated to the public that no war can be won if the propaganda battle is lost. Admit we are losing it. Say: We look more likely to be defeated in getting the strategic goals we seek than we did on Sept 12,2001. That, just as 9/11 showed that we needed national security reforms and improvements - if America is going to reverse our significant communications failures with its people and the people of the world - we need reforms. We will lose if we cannot get past an adversarial press defending the enemy while preferentially airing our mishaps, bungles to the enemy and seeking to dishearten the public so political agendas the private media ownerrs and reporters can be advanced that are at best tangential to winning the war. We will lose if we cannot get the funding to communicate globally with the other 95% of humanity and win allies.
================================
To other posters who think you can bomb an effective enemy media that well-advances Hezbollah’s communications objectives away. You can’t. It’s network stuff. It’s in the heads of thousands of skilled media people committed to serve Hezbollah’s mission to the Shiite People. Bomb a transmitter, bomb the next one...eventually the ceasefire comes and Hez TV, radio, internet network is back and better than ever. To defeat them, other rivals and Israel must become as good.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Where do you think the whole notion of Hezbollah hiding behind innocent civilians - thus justifying the large-scale death of civilians - was first seeded?
UN humanitarian chief accuses Hezbollah of ’cowardly blending’ among civilians

Do you think Israel paid for that, William? Do you think Egeland sold it to them?
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
I’ve changed my mind about supporting Israel. I now understand why it is in American interests to support them even though their unilateral actions put american service personnel at risk.

Israel is killing 100 civilians for every Israeli civilian killed. Israel’s population is almost 7 Million. If you add the populations of Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Jorden, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Yemen you come up with under 200 Million people. That means they can kill them all 2.5 times which is a nice cushon against the law diminishing returns. If we let this play out the last Israeli can kill the last 100 people in middle east and there will finally be peace.

You just need to think big!
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Unilateral defense of their country against terrorists being harbored and supported by (are part of) a neighboring government, sponsored by two other totalitarian governments.

Rockets?, right?, you know about the rockets randomly landing in Israel launched unilaterally from Lebanon?

And the last time Israel attacked Jordan was?
Saudi Arabia?
Kuwait?
Iraq?
Yemen?
Egypt?


 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Re Hezbollah "hiding" behind civillians: see this.

I despise Hezbollah’s tactics, but the "hiding behind civilians" schtick is a routine way to try and deflect criticism of air campaigns which are inevitably indescriminate.
 
Written By: William
URL: http://
Israel is killing 100 civilians for every Israeli civilian killed
Care to back that up with a source? And regardless of the numbers, let’s recall they didn’t start this.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
C Ford:

like revealing classified programs to the enemy - or becoming open enemy advocates by quashing news of enemy atrocities while trumpeting and hyping US or Israeli actrocities or embarassments for months.

Quashing enemy atrocities? You mean, verifying? Or do you mean that atrocities are committed in the world on a daily basis, more than could be effectively listed, much less described, in a twenty-five page newspaper, and some bad things done by some bad people are left out? What atrocities have been "quashed" - meaning left unreported for ideological reasons, exactly?

hyping US or Israeli actrocities

By hyping, you mean what? Reporting? Reporting on more than once? Providing information that emerges over a long period of time due to government coverups and the slow pace of investigations?

So staring across this field of slippery slopes, you really want the government to throw people in jail for this sort of thing? Then you have plenty of emigration options - including Iran and China. But not in my country.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Source: The New York Times

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of Lebanon said in a televised speech today to an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, meeting in Malaysia, that 900 people had been killed and 3,000 wounded, and more than one million people, a quarter of Lebanon’s population, had been displaced. He asserted that a third of the casualties were children under 12.

Mr. Siniora’s figure for deaths, like the Lebanese Health Ministry’s, appear to include those who are missing, and not just the 548 confirmed deaths, according to The Associated Press. The United Nations estimated last week that 500,000 Lebanese had been displaced.



I believe the count of Israeli civilians killed hovers around 30 at the moment. I’m sure someone else here can provide that. It’s less than 50. You knew he was right, or you wouldn’t have hedged.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"Humus and Al-Fatty have already demonstrated that violent and murderous opposition to Israel is possible, and can be sustained for years/decades."

Yep. I agree; however Israel’s strong-arm tactics post 67 have failed. Instead of security they create permanent insecurity. This sort of invasion was fine for a nation like Egypt, but tactically it just doesn’t work against an entity that isn’t a state. In a few weeks, Israel has just stored up another few decades of trouble by politicising the broader Lebanese population against them.

Not only is this sort of mass killing indefensible; ultimately it’s just stupid.
 
Written By: William
URL: http://
Now they’ve done it, they’ve messed with Texas...

http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=5232870&nav=0s3d
An Austin company is caught in the crossfire of the Mid-East war as Hezbollah’s terror reaches Central Texas.

Broadwing Communications essentially threw Hezbollah off of the Internet this week. It came after the discovery that terror propaganda was linking to the company’s network.

It wasn’t Hezbollah bombs or rockets that hit Austin-based Broadwing Communications this week.
And others are noticing too...

http://neo-neocon.blogspot.com/2006/08/thats-entertainment-seamless-web-of.html
I’ve been thinking and writing about the war in Lebanon lately almost to the exclusion of other topics. In this I’m not alone; much of the media and the blogosphere is focused on the conflict, and rightly so.

And much of this discussion and thought isn’t just about the war itself—strategy and battles and goals—but on the coverage of the action.

At first this fact puzzled me a bit, including my own emphasis on the media coverage—after all, isn’t the conflict and what’s behind it far more important than how the MSM chooses to frame it? The answer is yes, it should be—but the latter isn’t just an unimportant side issue, either. It is absolutely essential to the war itself and can be instrumental in determining its outcome.

Morale, will, the perception of how essential it is to win a certain war and the justness of the cause—all have been part of war since time immemorial. Leaders have always had to inspire their armies; and now, in democracies, they have to inspire their people as well.

Before the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, and certainly prior to the 60s, the media used to be both less ubiquitous and more supportive of government efforts. During the Vietnam War, the media found its power as an antiwar force and a gadfly (see this for my views on the matter).
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Unilateral defense of their country against terrorists being harbored and supported by (are part of) a neighboring government, sponsored by two other totalitarian governments.

Rockets?, right?, you know about the rockets randomly landing in Israel launched unilaterally from Lebanon?
I’m not sticking up for Hezbollah here, but this isn’t actually what happened if you remember. The Katusha strikes were not "unilateral". They followed substantial attacks by land and air forces against Lebanon after the abduction of the two Israeli soldiers.

Now abduction of nationals of another country is inexcusable: however as it’s something that Israel also does from time to time, I don’t think they can really take the moral high ground here.
 
Written By: William
URL: http://
I now understand why it is in American interests to support them even though their unilateral actions put american service personnel at risk.
Yes, it’s so inconvenient when a nation tries to defend itself and stirrs up trouble. Those damn uppity Jooos, they should just sit there and take it! It’s always better that a trickle of Jews are murdered weekly so the rest of the world can breathe the peaceful air.
I’m not sticking up for Hezbollah here, but this isn’t actually what happened if you remember. The Katusha strikes were not "unilateral". They followed substantial attacks by land and air forces against Lebanon after the abduction of the two Israeli soldiers
Yet it’s STILL Israel’s fault that their soldiers were kidnapped????!

William...cindyB- I feel very sorry for each of you. I’m tired of the game people like you play, and this is my last response to either of you on this subject. I’ll play the long game here, and either the good guys will win or hopefully I’ll at least get the satisfaction of seeing the expression on the faces of people like you when the terrorists lead you to the chopping block first- they despise useful idiots like you above all.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
William,

As to that Salon link, I suggest you visit here.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
If you were Israel or the US, how would you combat the advantage presently enjoyed by Hezbollah and others like them and maintain the freedom of press which is a critical fundamental right of any free society?
Herein lies the problem. Like most on the right, McQ sees the interests of the United States and Israel as one in the same. They aren’t. (Smyth, Pollard, AEW to China, anyone?) Is there some overlap? Sure. But are they the same? Hardly. If Hezbollah wants to wipe Israel off the map, should we be concerned? Sure. But not anymore concerned than we should be with Darfur, or we should have been in Rwanda, or in any other of the dozens of places in the world where one group wants to wipe the other off the map.

But Israel is a democracy, you say. So what? So is Lebanon. The Palestinians have a democracy too. And the Bush administration can hardly claim that it adheres to the principle that democracies must be supported at all costs. After all, the Bush administration tacitly endorsed the attemtped coup in Venezuela.

So what is it about Israel that would support the conclusion that our interests and those of Israel are one in the same? And at what point do we withdraw that support? If Israel says that it must kill Lebanese civilians to survive, do we simply nod our heads in agreement, no matter how many are killed?

The reason why Hezbollah’s propaganda works is precisely because the Bush administration will not answer these questions. It works because the Israel- always-right/everybody-else-always-wrong paradigm is wonderful territory to propagandize in. Imagine for a moment you are a Lebanese Christian. You actively oppose Hezbollah. And yet, an Israeli missle, paid for by the United States, has just wiped out your family. Are you going to be open to propaganda from Hezbollah? Sure.

What can the United States do to combat the propaganda problem? Get an arms-length away from Israel, that’s what. Quit supplying it with arms. Salt the earth on which the propaganda is allowed to grow. And in the process, strengthen the hand of the moderates in the region instead of driving them into the hands of the likes of Hezbollah.

The answer to the question is clear - it’s buried in the question itself.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Now abduction of nationals of another country is inexcusable: however as it’s something that Israel also does from time to time, I don’t think they can really take the moral high ground here.
Now abduction of nationals of another country is inexcusable
Good start, let’s forget the 7 dead Israeli soldiers that preceeded the taking of the other two because, well, that’s not part of the story any more, just like the rocket attacks are ’okay’ because Israel has responded ’disproportionately’ to repeated attacks on their soldiers and country. Ya know, gee though, maybe it’s just me, but a lot of people would consider this an act of war. Not like it’s the first time that it’s happened -

News - More bodies in Hezbollah probe There is a big possibility that Hezbollah may have infiltrated other state institutions. But he said: "There is a big possibility that Hezbollah may have infiltrated other state institutions."
23 Jan 2000
(Turkey - Ankara)


News - Iranian foreign minister in Syria Israel has warned that it may take retaliatory action following the kidnapping of three of its soldiers by Hezbollah fighters on Saturday.
11 Oct 2000


News - Israel hits back after killings Pressure Mr Barak, already criticised for the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, had been under heavy pressure to respond to the killings.
12 Oct 2000


News - Israel demands UN’s Hezbollah tape
UN suspected On Sunday the Israeli press reported that Israel even suspected UN troops of helping Hezbollah kidnap the soldiers.
9 Jul 2001


News - Seized Israeli troops ’probably dead’
Hezbollah has refused to say whether the soldiers are dead or alive. Hezbollah says the area belongs to Lebanon and has vowed to fight Israel until it withdraws.
29 Oct 2001


News - Israel declares seized soldiers dead Hezbollah has refused to say whether the soldiers are dead or alive. Hezbollah says the area belongs to Lebanon and has vowed to fight Israel until it withdraws.
2 Nov 2001


News - Lebanon rebuffs US over HezbollahThere are still incidents which are traceful [to Hezbollah] even now."
11 Jan 2002


(oh the poor Lebanese! They didn’t know we thought Hezbollah were terrorists!)

News - Israeli PM seeks Hezbollah swapA long-awaited prisoner swap with Hezbollah guerrillas could be approved by Israel on Sunday.. Businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum, who is also a reserve colonel, was kidnapped by Hezbollah in 2000.
5 Nov 2003


http://search.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin/search/results.pl?tab=all&q=hezbollah+%26+kidnapping&edition=i&start=6&scope=all

And if you’re referring to the kidnapping of Hezbollah leaders by Israel over a decade ago....yeah, when does it end William?
Or are you talking more recently?
This sort of invasion was fine for a nation like Egypt, but tactically it just doesn’t work against an entity that isn’t a state.
When was the last time Israel invaded Egypt?
When was the last time they kidnapped Hezbollah members?

So, what are you telling me, that they just have to sit back and endure an occasional kidnapping and killing? An occasional rocket attack out of Lebanon and Gaza?

Uh huh. I go with Shark on this
Those damn uppity Jooos, they should just sit there and take it! It’s always better that a trickle of Jews are murdered weekly so the rest of the world can breathe the peaceful air.
is that what you mean William?

Does Israel have a right to exist?

Do they have a right to defend themselves?
What does a ’right to defend themselves’ mean to you.
What would be an acceptable and realistic response for the Israelis considering the incident in 2000 when their kidnapped soldiers DIED at the end.


 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Where do you think the whole notion of Hezbollah hiding behind innocent civilians - thus justifying the large-scale death of civilians - was first seeded?
Seeded? So is your story it’s not true and all Israeli propaganda?
Gen. Eshel also said that the building was used by Hizbullah to store explosives. This was supported by a letter by Dr. Mounir Herzallah, a southern Lebanese Shiite, who wrote that Hizbullah terrorists came to his town, dug a munitions depot and then built a school and a residence directly over it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
MK - try seeing who ELSE we sell arms to in the Middle East.
I think Syria, Lebanon and Iran aren’t on the list if that will help you narrow it down a little.

You might also want to check the restrictions we place on Israel as to how the equipment and aid is to be used.

http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/36b_index.htm

Funny thing, I could be wrong, but I think I see Egypt, Saudi Arabia on this list a lot more than Israel.

But your gripe is that we support Israel with foreign aid, right?
You’d be happier if we made them arm more on their own buck like their close, friendly neighbors do, is that it?

You know close neighbors like Saudi Arabia who just this year hosted the "Arab Trade Embargo on Israel" meeting?

Yeah, those joooooosss, always over-reacting to innocent little things like an embargo (which the Saudis promised the US they would end) and comments like "destroy Israel" by countries like Iran (who directly supports Hezbollah).








 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
The IDF have admitted targetting the building at Qana; one missile failed to explode. The other hit the building. I don’t see there’s room for any controversy there.

As for the abductions - and you’re right the murder of seven soldiers - they’re deplorable. But you said that Hezbollah had "unilaterally" launched missile attacks. That’s actually not the case.

Does Israel have a right to exist? Yes. Absolutely. However Israel’s right to exist does not give it the right to deny self-determination others. Israel’s right isn’t greater than the rights of others.

Has it a right to defend itself? Yes. Absolutely. However the tactics it’s employed in Lebanon are hardly likely to make it secure. Israel miscalculated on a number of fronts - mainly that Lebanese public opinon would turn against Hezbolllah. It hasn’t. Quite the opposite.

The idea that this is "a game I play" is absurd. I am horrified by what has happened in the last few weeks; I think the consequences for the region - Israel included - are devastating.
 
Written By: William
URL: http://
William, I want to be totally fair and open-minded to other viewpoints, so I ask in all sincerity, what is your suggestion as to how Israel can obtain lasting peace (without the occasional suicide bombing or rocket attack or abduction)? You don’t condone the military option. We’ve tried diplomacy numerous times and that didn’t work. What is the third way here that you believe will succeed?
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://
Thanks Omar, you beat me to it. By the way William, you have not responded to my link about the Salon post. Is there a problem here?
But you said that Hezbollah had "unilaterally" launched missile attacks. That’s actually not the case.
Actually that is the case. They have been launching them unilaterally for some time. Years in fact.
Does Israel have a right to exist? Yes. Absolutely. However Israel’s right to exist does not give it the right to deny self-determination others. Israel’s right isn’t greater than the rights of others.
Well, it depends. If one persons right to self determination requires the elimination of anothers, then yeah, the one who’s right to self determination doesn’t require the elimination of the other should receive primacy. At least that is true if you believe Israel has a right to exist. If not, then we have an entirely different discussion.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
On the Salon article’s rebuttal: my point is that anything that uses the notion of "human shields" or "hiding" is essentially propagandist. It uses heated language to promote the idea that this is a cynical strategy and that Hezbollah are somehow inhuman.

However offensive this is to you, try imagining this from Hezbollah’s point of view. Would you seriously expect a paramilitary to put their bunkers in the open when they are faced with an enemy with the most sophisticated weaponry - including bunker busters? Given the sophistication of Israeli military, they must build them in places where they are invisible; large scale building in the open country becomes a security risk. This is an inevitability of the type of warfare that Israel and Lebanon are involved with.

There have been examples of Hezbollah firing from civilian areas - I would suggest surprisingly few given the nature of the warfare but I accept that’s obviously a moot point. However it’s also clear that the widespread destruction of civilian areas and civilian convoys goes far, far beyond any strategic response to that. The IDF can’t use this "hiding" as an excuse or a justification for what they’re engaged in. See here. I’d suggest the IDF know that but they’re aware of the propaganda value of the claim while they are engaged on a large-scale clearing of civilian areas in South Lebanon that support Hezbollah politically.

What is my solution? Well, neither you nor I are going to come up with a one paragraph solution to one of the world’s most intractable problems. Especially in an atmosphere where anyone who criticises current Israeli policy is accused of being an anti-Semite (see above). Neither accurate, nor useful.

However across the political spectrum it’s acknowleged that the only long-term fix is a two-state solution. I don’t think Israel have ever made serious steps towards that in recent years. I know there’s a lot of hand-wringing on the Israeli-left about the collapse of withdrawl policy, but the Palestinians have never been offered anything like statehood or an economically viable territory and the boycotting of the elected Hamas leadership, however odious their goals and tactics are, has set back the chance of moderating Palestinian extremism even further.

I realise just stating those opinions in this company will result in further brickbats being hurled my way, because anyone who criticises this orthodoxy is instantly accused of stupidity, naiveity and ignorance... but let’s face the simple fact. What Israel has been doing post-67 has been largely unsucessful; insecurity persists. There is a desperate need for paradigm change.







 
Written By: William
URL: http://
William,

I think we all understand why Hezbullah adopts the tactics it does, but by the same token, how can the world demand Israel to protect each and every civilian then? The burden should be evenly shouldered by each participant in the conflict.

Should the UN be para-dropping bales of uniforms into Hezbullahland so that they too can fight according to "the rules?" Maybe offer them some spray paint to mark civilian convoys in orange?

Or should the IDF patrol their border along with school children to make sure the next surprise attack by Hezzbullah troops faces the same tactical and propaganda problems that the IDF have?

It also seems to me that Hezbullah, far from being a poor peasant guerrilla force, has access to 10,000 missiles, including anti-ship missiles(!), and large bunker complexes. They also can mount cross border raids on Israel. Methinks they could invest in some uniforms and remove civilians from their strong points. Oh, but then they would be at disadvantage, eh? Well, then all’s fair in love and war.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Neo-Neocon pretty much nails it on the media in war issue:
“…the pursuit of sensation and effect—have become, I believe, at least as potent a motivator for the media’s actions as any possible political bias of journalists. Perhaps even more.

…So the media, pursuing its own selfish ends, has become the handmaiden of terrorists. And, in its shortsighted pursuit of sensation and "stories," the media could well be a participant in sowing the seeds of its own destruction, since the protection of a free press is not exactly the goal of Islamic jihadis.

Ironic, indeed.”


 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Well, William ... I agree. Israel’s post 67 tactics have been less than effective, but I come to a different conclusion than you as to why. The problem has been (IMHO) that Israel’s policies change with elections. Sometimes, they elect a hardliner who isn’t afraid to use a bit more stick than carrot with the Palestinians, etc. Sometimes, a dove is elected and it’s more carrot. This produces a passive-aggressive policy that is almost unrecognizable from beginning to end and, of course, produces highly questionable resuslts. Had Israel elected nothing but doves since 67, then perhaps there would already be a functioning Palestinian state and this whole problem wouldn’t exist. On the other hand, following this strategy may have resulted in the second great Exodus as Israel was overrun by invading Arab armies and sabotaged from within by Palestinian terrorists.

Israel’s policy has (whether deliberately or not) become nothing more than brinksmanship. They act aggressively militarily, achieve some short-term results, then the doves take over and the gains are lost. Part of the reason for this is the worldwide opinion/propaganda war, part of it is simply short-sightedness on the Israeli electorate’s part. I think the ultimate election of Sharon and Olmert was a result of years of frustration with this brinksmanship strategy. Israelis of the left and right have been dying for years as a result of Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, etc. and they have grown tired of Jewish lives being sacrificed to appease world opinion. Unfortunately, I agree with them that the only practical solution here is to negotiate from a position of strength and that can only be achieved by use of military force to cripple Hamas/Hezbollah, etc. While those two factions hold enough sway to be invited to the negotiating table with Israel, peace will NEVER be achieved.

Also, I think you give Israel too little credit regarding attacks on civilians. You claim that the IDF is engaging in wide-spread clearing of civilian areas in Lebanon, yet you surely must realize that they are capable on entirely annihilating the populace of said country. Given their capability, I would suggest that they are showing extreme restraint. Unless of course you believe that that’s yet another ploy by the genocidal zionist hawks?
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://
There have been examples of Hezbollah firing from civilian areas - I would suggest surprisingly few given the nature of the warfare
That is not what we have seen. Almost all of their forces are sequestered in civilian areas. I have listened to interviews with Hezbollah leaders saying that is what they do. Of course they claim that in fact Hezbollah and the people are one and the same. They are therefore not making the civilian distinction. They are all in this together. They probably have a point to some extent.

A for the second part of that sentence, the nature of the warfare was chosen by Hezbollah. You may feel it is their only choice, but then how can we blame the IDF for acting accordingly? Israel could easily just annihilate everyone in the area and "let God sort them out." That is what Hezbollah is doing, they just don’t have the capability to achieve the goal.
However across the political spectrum it’s acknowleged that the only long-term fix is a two-state solution.
I call BS. We in the west say that, who have you heard from the enemies of Israel say that? Hamas? Fatah? Hezbollah? The few times they say it for the western media we quickly find they go back home and tell their own people that the "right of return" and the destruction of Israel is the only solution. Arafat was a master at leading the west around by the nose with such double talk.

It is absolutely a ridiculous statement as applied to Hezbollah. They do not represent the Palestinians. A two state solution is of little import to them. They are Shia not Sunni. The people they represent are not occupied (anymore) nor do many espouse any claim to Israeli land. A two state solution does nothing to mollify them even theoretically.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
I don’t think Israel have ever made serious steps towards that in recent years.
If the last Camp David summit had been successful, the West Bank would be 73-90% controlled by Palestinian ’government’ today .
And had Intifada not been chosen chances are good that Palestinian business and Israeli business would be cooperatively making money.

But no, Intifada and pizza parlor bombings are how the Palestinians demonstrate their desire for peaceful co-existence.
And while everyone forgets, Lebanon only just came out from under the 30 year yoke of Syrian occupation.

I guess it doesn’t puzzle you as to why no one else in the middle east seemed concerned over that occupation, but they were quite hot and bothered about Israel occupying Gaza (Egypt), the West Bank(Jordan) and the Golan (Syria) after Israel pre-empted their war plan in 67, so much so they had to hijack planes, shoot and throw disabled jews off cruise ships and slaughter their athletes at the World Olympics to prove they only wanted peace and a fair chance to be prosperous.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
This is a genuinely tough and nuanced issue. The kind where everyone has some good points and multiple points of view are credible - although the actions they endorse do not produce equally good results.

Omar, very good point with Israel and elections. Israel’s democracy is less stable than America’s and had six prime ministers between 1990 and 2000. The Palestinian issue really is driving this. It’s arguably not a morally appropriate or logically perfect reason for Hizballah to run even military operations against Israel, nor is it their prime motivator, but it is their most useful tool. It’s the legitimate grievance that spreads wings of legitimacy (to Arab perceptions) over all the thugs. It poisons the well for Machmoud Abbas and feeds Nasrallah.

But it’s not that simple, Omar. Unfortunately, religion wasn’t only screwing up logical thinking for Arabs only in this conflict. Israel made its formative and collossal mistake in 1967 when it attempted to de facto annex the West Bank and Gaza, without any plan at all to deal with the million-plus people living on the land. It took two decades before they even began to see reality, and quite frankly, I don’t know if it would have happened without *some* element of external confrontation. And its reasons were religiously influenced. Religious fanatics in Israel wanted to conquer biblical territory inhabited by other nationalities. In the 1970’s, when the Arabs were paper tigers, even Israeli doves fell in love with settling the West Bank. And nobody asked "um, are these non-citizen Palestinians going to cause some problems here?" Most Israelis have seen the light, and importantly, the ones who haven’t are a minority - not in power. Many Palestinians and Lebanese have seen the light as well, and the scales have tilted away from the fanatics - but not far enough just yet.

The Oslo process could have worked. The process itself produced a lot of beneficial results and public opinion on both sides was ready for a deal. The backlash from fanatics on both sides temporarily overwhelmed the process, and then it was stupidly abandoned. Also, Arafat was critically flawed, and Barak’s government was collapsing while it tried to negotiate because Barak was also badly flawed, and Clinton was a lame duck.

I’m digressing. Anyway, I didn’t begrudge Israel the right to hit back at Hizballah after the military raid. Even Hizballah didn’t begrudge the Israel the right to hit back, sort of - or expected it. Exepected targeted operations. It’s easy to be irritated at the thought of hitting back with "targeted" operations, to be frustrated that you can’t really *win* with them. But Israel still had productive options. If they had cleanly taken out Nasrallah in response to the military raid, that would have been a good detterent. They could have refused to exchange prisoners and let everyone rot in their respective cells. (On the other hand, if the war with Lebanon is over, why is Israel still holding Lebanese prisoners?) Israel instead surrendered to frustration and decided to try to win big and wish away the backlash. The reason Hizballah expected targeted operations is because it knows that larger operations allow it to trade surplus military capacity for internal power and legitimacy - and legitimacy and internal power are what it wants. It didn’t think that Israel was stupid enough to give it to them - but it was.

Furthermore, the backlash isn’t a product purely of propaganda and media gullibility. There is no comparable backlash to Israel’s ground sweeps in the border as there was to carpet-bombing Beirut. Make no mistake, they have bombed the living hell out of Beirut - check out the satellite photo in the NYtimes.
A ground sweep in south lebanon would still have been a nasty surprise to Hizballah, a psychological victory for Israel, and would not have brought this level of backlash, because Israel would not have killed ten times as many civilians as Hizballah has to date.

Frankly, there’s a certain point at which intentions don’t really matter and results do. If a pathologically deranged guy says he wants to kill you and vandalizes your mailbox, it doesn’t bother you as much as a nice guy who for whatever reason decides to drive his car through the side of your house, killing your wife. Israel has lost, or at least jeopardized, the subtler parts of victory here because its response was overly indiscriminate.

A more careful military response could have helped Hizballah become weaker instead of stronger. That may still be possible, but make no mistake, this war is diplomacy by other means. Neither side is going to be destroyed. Both sides are going to have to agree on something, even if it’s only tacitly.






 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
glasnost, I think you make the same mistake here as William. The IDF has the capability to make a parking lot out of the entire Middle East. That they have been as limited in their actions shows a lot about their character. Hezbollah has demonstrated the will to use everything in their inventory to hit Israel. You assume that Israel is disproportionately responding here, but consider the inherent military capability of each side. Hezbollah is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Israel. If they had nukes, Tel Aviv would be glowing right now. Israel is using maybe 10% of its destructive capability. Therein lies the difference.

Also, I don’t see diplomacy proceeding here. Maybe a stalemate with a return to the war of attrition situation from the sixties and seventies, but certainly no formal diplomatic end. Not as long as the end is defined as Hezbollah and Hamas sitting down at the table with Israel. Won’t happen. The charters of both organizations implicitly call for the extermination of the state of Israel. How do you negotiate with people who do not even acknowledge your right to exist?
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://
Speaking of glowing - I wonder if any of the would-be glow capable powers have discussed the ramifcations of a nuke strike on any part of Israel with Lebanon, Gaza/West Bank, Egypt, Jordan, Syria?

Gonna have to be a pretty refined device to keep the rads inside the borders eh?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://

 
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