Tuesday, August 05, 2014

A Sacred Duty and Media Bias

The unease of America and other Western countries with Israel's military operations is an old story.

One of the early - the first would be Israel's reprisal raids in the 1950s - prominent examples was during the First Lebanon war:

"President Reagan Blasts Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin Over Lebanon Shelling." Karen Gray, correspondent. NBC Nightly News, 13 Aug. 1982


An angry President Reagan made a personal phone call to Israel’s Prime Minister Begin expressing shock and outrage at the latest massive shelling, demanding an end to the needless bloodshed and destruction saying the US and Israeli relations was at stake. Spokesman Larry Speakes in a White House statement said Israel’s actions halted Ambassador Habib’s peace negotiations just when they were at the point of success. He also said the President in his telephone call made it clear it is imperative that a ceasefire must hold.

20 minutes later Prime Minister Begin called President Reagan back saying a ceasefire had been ordered. Despite the obvious pressure White House officials are refusing to discuss whether the President was ordered to threats to recall Ambassador Habib or to withhold arms from Israel. 

Two months earlier, on the day the war had started, and after President Reagan had belatedly attempted to prevent an outbreak of hostilities, then Prime Minister Menachem Begin wrote to him:

"For the last seventy-two hours, twenty-three of our towns, townships and villages in Galilee have been under the constant shelling of Soviet-supplied heavy artillery and Katyusha rockets by the "P.L.O." terrorists. Tens of thousands of men, women and children remain day and night in shelters. We have suffered casualties. The terrorists are aiming their guns exclusively at the civilian population. There are many military targets in the area; these are completely "immune". The purpose of the enemy is to kill - to kill Jews; men, women and children. Is there a nation in the world that would tolerate such, a situation which, after the cessation of hostilities agreement, has repeated itself time and again?

...Mr. President, the bloodthirsty aggressor against us is on our doorstep. Do we not have "the inherent right to self-defense?" Does not Article 51 of the Charter apply to us? Is the Jewish State an exception to all the rules applying to all other nations?

...it is our duty to make sure that our citizens and their families can live peacefully and carry on their daily lives without the lurking permanent threat of sudden death.

I do hope, Mr. President, that you will take into consideration the unique situation in which we find ourselves as a result of the repeated aggression against us...

We shall do our sacred duty. So help us God.

Reagan's reported anger perhaps stemmed from, but of course, a Pal. media stunt:

An allegedly armless child, whose picture is reportedly displayed on President Reagan’s desk as a symbol of suffering in Lebanon, turns out to be a boy, not a girl as alleged, with both arms intact. The child, identified as four-month-old Eli Massou, whose mother is 16 years old, was discharged from the hospital a few days after the picture was taken.  According to the caption accompanying the United Press International photo distributed throughout the world, it was a picture of a baby girl swathed in bandages after both arms had been blown off by a misdirected Israeli bomb. The child was seen held in the arms of a nurse.
...According to the medical report, one of the infant’s arms was broken in a bombing raid. The arm and his face were also slightly burned. His mother was also slightly injured in the raid and his father was killed. Doctors said the child was completely swathed, as shown in the UPI photo, because that is the standard procedure of dealing with an infant whose arm has been broken to prevent unnecessary movement during medical treatment...

And so, the media apologized:

The United Press International said, in a statement issued here yesterday that it had concluded, after an investigation touched off by severe criticism, that a war-injured Lebanese child had not lost his arms, as had been claimed in a caption and photographs circulated internationally on August I by UP International News pictures

But that was a full week later.

And we'll be waiting for the current round of media biases to be dealt with by the media.  But I am not that confident as there are dangers in the media.

David Lyon has noted, reflecting on the British press and Gaza:

Faced by the horrors of Gaza, Guardian columnist Giles Fraser last week urged reporters to show more emotion, condemning calm rationality in the face of the slaughter as “a particular form of madness”. This is a dangerous path. [it was an "incoherent appeal"] Emotion is the stuff of propaganda, and news is against propaganda. Reporting should privilege the emotional responses of audiences, not indulge journalists.

and drew a conclusion:

...the public demand[s] more engagement and participation from reporters than before. Social media is full of material that is more graphic and more directly emotional than the mainstream media, in Britain at least. News organisations are responding with different ways of editing material gathered by non-professionals, as well as new ways of storytelling.

Yes, it is more diffuclt but we have a sacred duty to fulfill: the safety and security and continued existence of Israel and its citizens.

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