Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

Worry About the West — Not Israel

by Vic­tor Davis Han­son

The reac­tions and media cov­er­age com­ing out of the West regard­ing this lat­est war in the Mid­dle East are as bewil­der­ing as they are instruc­tive.

Rep. John Din­gell, D‑Mich., for exam­ple, recent­ly said, “I don’t take sides for or against Hezbol­lah or for or against Israel .”

Mean­while, the West­ern news agency Reuters, respond­ing to scruti­ny by blog­gers, with­drew wire pho­tos tak­en by a free­lance pho­tog­ra­ph­er of a smoky and burn­ing Beirut . Reuters had failed to catch the free­lancer’s doc­tor­ing of the pho­tos to empha­size undu­ly the dam­age from Israeli bombs.

And the Asso­ci­at­ed Press notes that ini­tial­ly report­ed Lebanese claims of 40 “civil­ians” killed by Israeli air strikes at Houla, Lebanon, in fact, were mis­tak­en — and that the lat­est reports have low­ered the death toll to one.

In Qana, where the Israeli mil­i­tary had hit an apart­ment build­ing (and were quick­ly cen­sured by Euro­pean states­men), the num­ber of civil­ian fatal­i­ties report­ed also kept decreas­ing as reports were scru­ti­nized. Plus, we have learned that sev­er­al hours lapsed between the drop­ping of the bombs and the fatal col­lapse of the build­ing, rais­ing fur­ther ques­tions about the rela­tion­ship between the bomb­ing and the fatal­i­ties that fol­lowed. Final­ly, based on pho­tographs from the scene, the onsite res­cue appeared staged for reporters.

These dis­crep­an­cies sug­gest we have lit­tle idea what actu­al­ly hap­pened on the ground there — oth­er than that Qana has been a favored mis­sile-launch­ing site against Israel , as a recent dead­ly aer­i­al assault from there on Haifa attests.

There is a depress­ing pat­tern here. The sources for West­ern erro­neous reports and faked pic­tures always seem to exag­ger­ate the dam­age to Lebanon — but nev­er to Israel .

Like­wise, West­ern news agen­cies rarely list a pre­cise num­ber of Hezbol­lah loss­es, instead lump­ing them in with civil­ian fatal­i­ties. Does that mean that some­one who launch­es a mis­sile in Levis and sneak­ers is not a com­bat­ant?

In addi­tion, the his­to­ry and nature of Hezbol­lah do not mat­ter to many in the West.

Know­ing­ly or not, news out­lets con­tin­ue to spread Hezbol­lah’s pro­pa­gan­da. One won­ders if West­ern­ers remem­ber or know that, until Sept. 11, Hezbol­lah had killed more Amer­i­cans than had any oth­er ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion.

Most ignore as well that Hezbol­lah pre­cip­i­tat­ed the present cri­sis by kid­nap­ping and killing Israeli sol­diers, and launch­ing mis­siles against Israel ‘s cities.

In retal­i­a­tion, the Israeli Defense Forces use pre­ci­sion bombs to tar­get com­bat­ants and try to avoid civil­ian casu­al­ties (though the lat­ter is near­ly impos­si­ble against an ene­my who does­n’t wear uni­forms and uses non-com­bat­ants as “human shields”). In con­trast, every ran­dom mis­sile launched by Hezbol­lah is intend­ed to hit a civil­ian tar­get.

On one side of this con­flict is a true democ­ra­cy that was attacked. On the oth­er are ter­ror­ists who hijacked the sov­er­eign gov­ern­ment of Lebanon , insti­tut­ed theo­crat­ic rule over a third of the coun­try — and start­ed a war.

Hezbol­lah, of course, has been enabled in large part thanks to Iran­ian petro-dol­lars and intim­i­da­tion. But the nature of Hezbol­lah’s patrons does­n’t seem to mat­ter to many West­ern­ers, either.

Those now call­ing for “dia­logue” with the “major play­ers” ignore that Iran promis­es to wipe out Israel . The French for­eign min­is­ter was quick to praise the region­al role of theo­crat­ic Iran as “sta­bi­liz­ing.”

Then there’s Hezbol­lah’s oth­er patron, Syr­ia, a coun­try that bru­tal­ly occu­pied Lebanon, har­bors ter­ror­ists and is sus­pect­ed of being behind the assas­si­na­tion of Lebanese reformist Prime Min­is­ter Rafik Hariri.

So, what then does mat­ter to so many West­ern­ers about this war?

Our fear, of course. We want to avoid messy com­pli­ca­tions like stir­ring up anoth­er 9/11 or Madrid bomb­ing, spik­ing oil prices to over $80 a bar­rel, or tread­ing on polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect ground by crit­i­ciz­ing the “oth­er” of the for­mer Third World .

The West­ern press — usu­al­ly so care­ful to con­demn hate speech — is utter­ly silent about Arab racism. But a Euro­pean paper recent­ly pub­lished a car­toon por­tray­ing Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert as a Nazi, secure that no rab­bi would issue threats that could cost the edi­tors their heads.

Still, when this is all over, we should not wor­ry about the sur­vival of Israel . For weeks, pun­dits have been lec­tur­ing how can­ny and adept Hezbol­lah has proved — and how a clum­sy Israel could only respond by destroy­ing Lebanon ‘s infra­struc­ture. Yet, when the dust set­tles, the world will learn that Lebanon out­side Hezbol­lah’s domain is not destroyed. And, one hopes, those who have suf­fered in the Hezbol­lah-con­trolled south will reex­am­ine their sup­port for a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion that has brought them — and itself — to near ruin.

Instead far more wor­ri­some is the moral cri­sis in the West itself. If so many of its politi­cians, intel­lec­tu­als and media will not or can­not fath­om moral dif­fer­ences in this war, they will hard­ly be able to see them any­where else.


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