Saturday, August 19, 2006

Israel grotesquely cast as villain in one-sided TV news

Coverage of Israel's entirely justified strike against Hezbollah in Lebanon has emphasised the sinister way that war as reality television distorts the reality of war. Within a week or so of the start of fighting, the idea was being canvassed that this was a public relations war, and Israel was losing it. The main basis for the proposition was the depiction on TV of destruction wrought by Israeli bombs and artillery fire on villages and towns near the Lebanon-Israel border and, especially, the killing of civilians.

The deaths of 16 children in a building probably bombed by mistake (although it is also possible Hezbollah rockets had been fired from it) in Qana, 19 days into the war, was said to have put the kybosh on Israel's chances of having its cause perceived as just. Some commentators, doggedly pursuing implausible analogies between the Vietnam War - a defeat for the West and the US - and the war against Islamist aggression, compared the impact on public opinion of TV reports from Qana with the footage of Saigon's police chief drawing his pistol and shooting a cringing Vietcong prisoner dead.

Commenting on the Qana bombing on July31, the ABC's PM program reported that "the massacre appears to have united the Lebanese people and their Government in grief, anger and support for Hezbollah". Massacre? To kill indiscriminately? The violent death of one child is a tragic horror. Loaded hyperbole in news reporting on serious issues is an insult. Maybe the ABC drew on an estimate by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that set the death toll in Qana at nearly twice the actual number and included 37 children. Annan's earlier claim that Israeli soldiers had "deliberately" killed four UN employees may also have influenced ABC expectations of Israeli conduct.

Violence by the US and its allies in Vietnam predominated in TV images because network cameras had relatively easy access to it. On the other side they had none. The situation was reversed in Lebanon. Israel kept the cameras at bay so as not to help Hezbollah aim its rockets or gain encouragement from watching its hits on Fox News. Hezbollah opened its arms to correspondents filming grieving friends and relatives amid the ruins of bombed and shelled border towns.

Civilian deaths in Lebanon appear to have been at least 10 times higher than in Israel, although the Israelis made systematic leaflet drops urging evacuation of targets about to be attacked. One reason for the damage was Israel's heavier weaponry. But the principal cause of the disparity in casualties was that many Israeli civilians moved out of range of Hezbollah's indiscriminate rocket firing. Those physically impaired or without access to vehicles received public assistance to evacuate. Temporary accommodation and meals were provided for the displaced. On the other side of the border, thousands of Lebanese stayed put, some undoubtedly acting in brave defiance. Staying put was encouraged, one way or another, by Hezbollah, which needed human shields to inhibit Israeli attacks or to display to the cameras as victims of Israeli brutality. Hezbollah certainly paid rent for private premises from which to launch rockets.

Viewed as a TV program, the past six weeks' fighting has seen Israel portrayed as a rampaging villain. This grossly distorts the reality of a free and democratic society (with a fully participating Arab population of almost one million) robustly defending itself against a specific attempt to destroy it that had been in the planning for nearly six years.

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The DREAM Act: "It is no secret that the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611), passed by the U.S. Senate on May 25, 2006, contains numerous provisions that reward illegal aliens for violating federal immigra-tion law. What is less well known is that the Senate bill also condones the violation of federal law by 10 U.S. states. Indeed, S. 2611 expressly shields these states from liability for their past violations of federal law. These absurdities are found in the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act provisions of S. 2611.[1] Just before the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the first version of the bill in the evening of March 27, 2006, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) offered the DREAM Act as an amendment. It passed on a voice vote and was in the compromise version of the bill that the Senate passed in May. The DREAM Act is a nightmare. It repeals a 1996 federal law that prohibits any state from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens unless the state also offers in-state tuition rates to all U.S. citizens. On top of that, the DREAM Act offers a separate amnesty to illegal-alien students."

UK: A new law a day for nine years: "Tony Blair's government has created more than 3,000 new criminal offences during its nine-year tenure, one for almost every day it has been in power. The astonishing tally brought accusations last night of a 'frenzied approach to law-making' that contrasts with falling detection rates and climbing levels of violent crime. The figures emerged as police chiefs disclosed they were considering asking ministers for a set of new measures to allow them to impose 'instant justice' for antisocial behaviour."

The mythology of minimum wage: "A recent Reuters article stated that the minimum wage 'equat[ed] to $10,700 a year for full-time work, well below the roughly $20,000 needed to keep a family of four above the federal poverty level.' The article then cited Labor Department statistics that there are now 1.9 million workers earning an hourly wage at or below $5.15, 'with most of those people working in service-oriented jobs.' Conflating these two statistics leads one to believe that almost 2 million people in the United States are trying to keep families financially afloat, when, in reality, the vast majority of minimum wage earners contribute second and third incomes to a household. On average, a family with a minimum-wage worker has a total income of $43,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau."

Katrina victims blamed for Houston crime: "A letter to inmate No. 1352951 and a cell phone bill for $76.63, both found in a soggy New Orleans duplex ruined by Hurricane Katrina, led Louisiana bounty hunter James Martin to Texas. Again. It marked the seventh time since Katrina that Martin, whose pursuit of bail jumpers often begins with clues salvaged from abandoned New Orleans homes, has followed a trail to Texas."

Germans dying out: "Germany has seen another decline in its birth rate, which is Europe's lowest. Official figures show that the number of births fell by a further 2.8% last year. Meanwhile, the mortality rate rose by 1.5% compared with 2004.... The data from Germany's Office for Federal Statistics show there were 686,000 births last year - half as many as in the early 1960s... Germany registered 830,000 deaths last year".



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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