Media stances over Israel and Lebanon


by Sunny
25th July, 2006 at 5:25 pm    

IndependentThere is, quite clearly, a war taking place on two fronts; the military and the media. I think it’s important to seperate the two. The internet has made it very easy to get both sides of the story, and it has exacerbated calls of bias on both sides.

Take the BBC. Conflict and war inflates their importance and viewership, yet they cannot enjoy the relentless accusations of pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian bias. How do we measure it? How do we make objective conclusions? Do images like this help the situation or do they simply widen the divide, making peace more difficult?

The Beeb haphazardly touches on the debate, like today, but I’m not sure they want to engage fully and constructively. Their recent report on the issue seemed more like a fudge. Though I find BBC News more palatable than say CNN or Al-Jazeera, CNN International and Channel 4 News seem to beat them on breadth of reporting and analysis respectively.

There was a brilliant essay in the New York Times last year that predicted a growing number of media outlets and fragmenting audiences would force them to focus on particular audiences to build a solid base. So for example as Fox News became more popular by pandering to the Republicans and the right, CNN was forced to follow suit in order to avoid losing that audience.

You can see that on blogs too. It has become harder to have a middle ground – people either want to post up pictures of dead Lebanese or Israelis being bombed. Or they avoid the issue. Some national newspapers have tried to maintain a balanced approach by publishing conflicting comment pieces that support both sides but I don’t think they help – people will simply take on board what fits into their prejudices. And the propaganda war carries on.


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  1. Chairwoman — on 25th July, 2006 at 5:47 pm  

    Sunny – I’ve always been a bit of a newspaper buff, and I read online editions of various English language papers from several countries and I never fail to be amazed by the lack of depth our media shows. Also both our newspapers and television channels appear to be more partisan on all subjects than those of countries.

  2. Arif — on 25th July, 2006 at 6:05 pm  

    Lots and lots of issues here. What do we know, how we get to know it, how much we trust it, what are the alternatives……

    Balance in the media is always going to be difficult because two sides of a debate is always too few, too narrow, too broad, too simplified, etc.

    The media will always have to pitch its stories at a level and from a viewpoint relevant to their likely readers. And so individual newpapers/channels maintain a set of assumptions, at least in order to sound coherent about what the issues are. But this is not enough to make them consistent, because they have only patchy accountability – they do not have to have a memory or a morally consistent stance unless they are pressurised very hard either by powerful lobbies or advertisers. And of course lobbies and advertisers can demand a lack of consistency just as easily.

    sunray has raised elsewhere the issue of how the BBC can’t be bothered to develop a consistent policy to which they might be held accountable. And if they don’t it’s unlikely that many other media will.

    So the solution to readers who feel badly catered for is to set up their own media – but that’s a rather resource intensive activity for most people. But if they do it, it creates the fragmentation that you seem not to like, Sunny, and which you also contribute to with your progressive blogs. Because I think you see the value in having people come together to develop and share a similar worldview so it can be refined, provide information for similar-minded people and promote their worldview.

    Perhaps the best thing is, though, that on a blog you might be listened to if you call for it to be more principled, honest, consistent or open-minded. And if it doesn’t respond, you can leave to go elsewhere (you have meaningful options to raise your exit or leave for somewhere better). With mainstream news media the problem is that they condition the terms of general debate so if you ignore them you might lose common references, thus relevance and credibility with politically-minded people who do take account of the media pack’s view of issues. There is no meaningful option of voice or exit – you won’t be heard and there is nowhere else to go. So there is a case that mass media should be more accountable if we want a society with democratic and open public debate.

  3. Arif — on 25th July, 2006 at 6:07 pm  

    should read: “you have meaningful options to raise your voice or leave for somewhere better”

    (3rd line last paragraph)

  4. El Cid — on 25th July, 2006 at 6:12 pm  

    I can’t help focusing on that photo. The story behind it is incredibly moving. Very very sad.
    I think the BBC coverage is pretty balanced, if a little bland. But then what do you expect from the main flagship programmes which cater for the widest possible audience. I think Jeremy Bowen is a brilliant communicator and a good analyser.
    The problem with these discussions — and it will all too predictably cause offence — is that the pro-Israel lobby treat these things as part of the war effort. They see it as their very duty to come down on perceived anti-Israel bias in media — however ridiculous (or dare I say it, contrived)– because anything that casts Israel as a baddy, they fear, will in the long run serve to delegitimise it.
    I don’t buy that myself, but as Katy said on a previous thread, the Israeli psyche cannot be understood without reference to the holocaust. Whether that means that they think they can do no wrong, is another case in point. It certainly makes them ruthless.

  5. StrangelyPsychedelique / Kesara — on 25th July, 2006 at 6:39 pm  

    I find CNN very un-right wing and it certainly doesnt come off as proBush most of the time :S

    The organisations sway – like the trees in the wind. Yesterday’s U.S. Edition of CNN.com was full of coverage of the impact on Lebanese civillians, today it went into Israeli civillian mode and at present its kinda in limbo.

    I dont think any of them have a consistent policy – theyre mired by trying to be ‘unbiased’ , being biased and catering to those who pull strings at certain times, their own belief that as journalists they are in a Godly position to see things and pass judgement.

    I attended a pro-Israeli rally in North London on Sunday (an interesting contrast to the ANTI-Israeli/war/US event the day before) and just observing people sheds so much light on why nations act the way they do.
    As far as Im concerned the news media mostly supply a source of ‘event-information’ as opposed to analysis.

    …Im gonna go makeout with my press pass

  6. Chris Stiles — on 25th July, 2006 at 7:53 pm  

    Everyone should regularly read at least one mainstream publication which they are occasionally tempted to throw at the wall.

  7. El Cid — on 25th July, 2006 at 8:10 pm  

    Good advice Chris. I hope you don’t mind if I make exceptions for the Daily Mail and Fox TV.

  8. Katy Newton — on 25th July, 2006 at 9:34 pm  

    I think that people who sympathise with the Palestinians see pro-Israeli bias and people who sympathise with Israel see pro-Palestinian bias.

  9. Chris Stiles — on 25th July, 2006 at 10:04 pm  


    Good advice Chris. I hope you don’t mind if I make exceptions for the Daily Mail and Fox TV.

    As i said ‘occasionally’.

  10. Kulvinder — on 25th July, 2006 at 10:43 pm  

    I think that people who sympathise with the Palestinians see pro-Israeli bias and people who sympathise with Israel see pro-Palestinian bias.

    qft

  11. Sajn — on 25th July, 2006 at 10:47 pm  

    I do find it curious as to why there is frequent mention of the two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah but no real detail of the Lebanese hostages being held by Israel. After all the reason that Hezbollah are quoted to have given for the capture of the soldiers is to exchange them for Lebanese citizens being held by Israel.

    Are these people civilians or militia? Have they been tried by an Israeli court or held a la Gitmo?

  12. Sunny — on 25th July, 2006 at 10:55 pm  

    Kulvinder – eh?

    Arif, I’d like to think we’re a bit more open than a newspaper here, in that people can immediately post replies underneath articles and point out our biases or mistakes etc. But then I’ve never said we would keep our politics neutral, they were progressive from day one. But that said I don’t think all our visitors are progressive.

    PP was also born out of the frustration that a lot of ethnic media is quite conservative and reactionary, and it remains so until more of us are out there pointing fingers.

    The media will never be perfect, and neither will blogs. I get people haranguing me all the time (incl you!) about bias and I’m reacting to that constantly.

    Agree with your last bit though.

  13. Kulvinder — on 25th July, 2006 at 11:01 pm  

    Sorry, Quoted for truth. In any given situation where you have an emotional interest you’re going to be more perceptive to those that disagree with you than those that agree with you. If you asked most people if the news channel/paper of their choice was ‘balanced’ they’re likey to say ‘yes’. However if a situation arises where that same news station/paper is covering a story where you more readily identify with one side you’ll see that ‘balance’ as ‘imbalance’.

  14. Kulvinder — on 25th July, 2006 at 11:12 pm  

    Incidently in terms of new media i think wikipedia deserves a mention. Its usually critisised for a lack of authority in its publcations and and over emphasis on consensus. This can be a problem on occasion but generally i quite like reading not only the article on a particular subject but also the debating that goes into an article. I may not agree with the article itself but the rationale for why it is the way it is provides a great deal of context.

  15. El Cid — on 25th July, 2006 at 11:31 pm  

    I think a lot of people here are sympathetic to BOTH the Israelis and the Palestinians.
    Whether I, for example, swing between the two depends if I’m dealing with a mouthy Iranian president denigrating Israel’s very existence or a suicide bombing at a crowded Tel Aviv bus stop, on the one hand, or, on the other, witnessing the murder of far more innocent Lebanese or Palestinian people because they have a weak government or because they refuse to go away or because they happen to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time near the wrong people.
    I think I’m balanced. But then it helps not being a member of one of the tribes of Abraham.
    I guess what I’m saying is:
    people who are Arab (moslem?) see pro-Israeli bias and people who are Jewish see pro-Palestinian bias.

  16. phil — on 26th July, 2006 at 3:40 am  

    The situation in the middle east is very complex. it makes sense to see what both CNN and FOX have to say – as they both bring differing perspectives.

    Anderson Cooper seems so very even handed (agree? disagree?)

    What a mess – and no one is offering a solution. The truth is – I doubt there is one… just an uneasy peace. http://www.what-a-world.com

  17. Desi Italiana — on 26th July, 2006 at 4:03 am  

    “people who are Arab (moslem?) see pro-Israeli bias and people who are Jewish see pro-Palestinian bias.”

    There are Arab Christians, and yes, Arab Jews that share the same views with their Arab Muslim brethen.

    Also,there are plenty of Jews who hold the opinion that there is a pro-Palestinian bias in the media and/or are critical of Israel.

    What I am saying is that these opinions– seeing a pro Israeli/Palestinian bias in mainstream media– are not always tidily aligned with the religious background of the individual who has an opinion on this subject.

    There is too much of a diversity of thought and opinion that it cannot be easily reduced to or associated with a person’s religious affiliation. If not, then variety becomes discounted and we end up coding people’s opinions based on their religion :)

    (not sure if I am clearly and accurately conveying what I think— forgive me, brain has been a bit muddled lately. Damn school :( )

  18. Vikrant — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:44 am  

    Hmmm good thing about being in India is minimal Israel-Lebanon coverage. No BBC24 here. Neeways i’m pretty sure Biased Broacasting Corp, is spouting its anti-Israel polemic as usual. With BBC on the scene wheres the need for Pallywood huh…

  19. Desi Italiana — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:49 am  

    Post #17 is addressed to El Cid’s post #15.

  20. El Cid — on 26th July, 2006 at 8:55 am  

    are not always tidily aligned with the religious background of the individual who has an opinion on this subject

    Not always, but most of the time — enough for me to say it. I would rather be wrong. It runs counter to one of the principles I most live by — don’t generalise, but if you do, don’t take it too seriously. But a lifetime’s observations suggest I’m not wrong.
    Question is, which is the best way to report this unending and tiresome conflict?
    A well-educated public school Brit adhering to a core set of journalistic principles and choosing his words carefully? (It could be any third party. I’m just highlighting the fact that most top British TV journos went to public school).
    OR a Jewish/Palestinian double act?
    I dunno the definitive answer. I guess it depends on the format.
    But if simply showing — “show not tell”, a fundamental tenet of newswire reporting — the victims of an Israeli strike on a minibus of civilians is propaganda, what chance is there?

  21. Tasneem — on 26th July, 2006 at 12:12 pm  

    To go by the current form of reporting, objectivity may at times seem too much to ask for. I wonder whether it is fair to ask for even. News will not be straight bullet points, let us come in terms with this fact, and is meant to be opiniated and editorialised and by that count: with subtle or apparent biases. What will ensure an objective/broad perspective on a particular news item is the presence of different (and conflicting) sources. That is crucial.

  22. Arif — on 26th July, 2006 at 1:05 pm  

    El Cid – I think the showing is propaganda, and the hope lies in being able to recognise it as such.

    After all, there is editorial choice over what to show, how prominently, and with what kind of headline. Does the independent treat other potential war crimes in a reasonably similar manner? If not, then their critics have a point. If so then even though their critics may be all on one side, they can’t be criticised for anti-Israel propaganda

    If we expect mass media to justify their editorial choices, then at least they either have to make an effort to portray different stories in a consistent manner or lose whatever credibility comes from being consistent, and we get to judge them on the values they admit to.

    At the moment it feels like most politically engaged people suspect everyone else’s motives and use that as an excuse for ignoring their views. The mass media can claim to be balanced just because they get condemned from various different directions, and then move on to another controversy. Most of the time we don’t even realise how we are being conditioned to accept double standards.

  23. soru — on 26th July, 2006 at 1:11 pm  

    Tasneem: Yes, but two watches that are both slightly wrong will give you a better idea of the time than two broken watches.

    You have to try to be objective about facts, about who did what, where, to who.

    You also have to remember that the selection, interpretation and arrangement of facts is nevertheless subjective.

    Many of the facts behind the average Daily Mail front page are true, that doesn’t make it a useful source of information.

    The Guardian generally does a much better job of this than the Independant. The Indy sometimes seems to be, like the Mail, using facts as a tool to convince the reader of the point it wants to make, rather than as a commodity it sells to its customer.

    The classic sign of this is the rhetorical question as a headline:

    http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail/

  24. Kismet Hardy — on 26th July, 2006 at 2:16 pm  

    It’s only a matter of time before newspapers become more opinion than news based (it’s no coincidence that so much bidding war goes on to secure the best columnist) because even the dumbest white van driver has to stop and think: hang on my Sun. The Israeilis are getting tanked up and killing innocent people with the injured dying because they’ve cut the electricity in the hospitals, and you’re running a story about the plight of a bunch of 18 year old Israeli soldiers and how they’d be doing their A levels if they lived in this country… and this is NEWS? Fuck off

    Or maybe they’ll just keep phwooar over the pg-3 girl. In any case, newspapers that show so much bias and pig-headed support towards cunts are going to have to come out sooner or later and say: yes, we’re cunts and proud. come white van man, let’s be cunts together. this is what we believe. fuck what’s really happenning or seeing the other side of the story.

    News is so like last year

  25. El Cid — on 26th July, 2006 at 2:45 pm  

    Arif,
    It’s fucking news.
    Innocent people fleeing an area and you’ve got a photographer on the spot who captures the despair.
    Unless you drill down and tell the story from the perspective of real people caught up in the trauma, than it becomes a matter of impersonal military briefings and high level political exchanges. You want fog of war? You got it.
    OK, so the fact The Independent carries it on the front page reflects its position on the war. But it is also legitimate for the BBC to carry it.

  26. Kismet Hardy — on 26th July, 2006 at 2:58 pm  

    I think people have gone so far from trusting the news regarding the wars of the world, twinned with the fact that they simply don’t have the time or intelligence to take it all in, they’ve taken to trusting opinions. I’ve heard Brian Reede rehashed in the pub just like I won’t pretend i haven’t slipped in a few nuggets I’ve picked up from Arif, Jai et al from right here and passed them off as my own observations.

    Because when the fact is as simple as ‘America wants to crush muslims and take over the world; muslim terrorists kill people because they don’t like that’, all news does is validate this fact. Opinions give you cause to have a debate and feel like there’s a point other than sit back helplessly and watch thousands of people die for no reason

  27. Arif — on 26th July, 2006 at 4:21 pm  

    El Cid, it is news – part of what’s happening that people should care about. But it comes in a context. If the things we should care about are presented selectively (and where you can get a photographer to, who you feel is suffering most, whose suffering you think is being ignored are all kinds of selectivity) you will be accused of bias. There’s probably nothing wrong with the right kind of bias – we’re all human.

    And so I think the mass media should proclaim their editorial biases, so that fanatics can at least keep them accountable to stick to them in a consistent way, interested people can make sure they get a balance of news or can judge the propaganda agenda of the papers they read, and ordinary readers/viewers get a habit of seeing consistent reporting, and know that they are only getting part of the story.

    At least that’s an idealistic theory. I guess I have a kind of faith that when we are forced to be consistent, it does make us reflect more on our values and change our behaviour.

  28. bananabrain — on 26th July, 2006 at 4:29 pm  

    i personally waver between two points of view on the beeb – on one hand, they are constantly under attack from both sides for bias, so one might be forced to conclude (as i often do) that if you are ticking off both sides equally, you must be doing something right. certainly auntie is watched by everyone, very carefully, all the time.

    on the other hand, the beeb – and most of the other UK television news – is *obsessed* with human interest. the furore over the evacuations might even lead one to think that it’s somewhat narcissistic to focus on british evacuees being given cups of tea by the royal navy when there are clear geopolitical issues at stake. there’s also of course the small matter of ham-handed comparisons – the “dunkirk” metaphor in particular, given that this inevitably implies that israel are the “nazis”.

    i suppose the thing that worries me is this – given that the TV companies and much of the media are focusing on civilian injuries, it’s become a PR battle that israel can never win, seeing as the hizbollah actively utilise civilians as what are in effect human shields. once this starts being about this absurd concept of “proportionality” (perhaps the israelis should start suicide bombing lebanese and palestinian buses, by that logic!) there is no way anything can be resolved and whatever the israelis do they will be on a hiding to nothing. i read a jolly good article today from the israeli press which looks at the ethical dimension to the conflict:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/742759.html

    on the same subject, i’m not saying it’s biased, but it seems very odd to me that channel 4 (my preferred news channel) invites beautifully-spoken fluent anglophone syrian and lebanese ambassadors on to ask them tough journalistic questions like “what and who do you think is the cause of all this and how can it be resolved?” – in other words, go ahead, say whatever you like (rather like they used to do with omar bakri and abu mamser, as my wife calls him) whilst at the same time haranguing inarticulate israeli politicians who barely speak the language about civilian casualties: “isn’t it true you intentionally targetted kiddies’ playgroups, sweet factories and toyshops???? isn’t it????” in short, it’s ridiculous – and the israelis are not helping themselves either, bunch of mumbling buffoons. *i* could answer these questions better than these idiots. the only one who can even speak english is netanyahu and he is a deeply disturbing individual.

    just so you know i’m declaring an interest here, my auntie is currently sitting on her veranda outside nahariya watching the katyushas land and refusing to go in the shelter because “if her number’s up, it’s up”. so far, rockets have landed on the arab village next door (and many other arab villages, districts and towns in the galilee, causing numerous casualties unreported by the international media, i might add) while my cousin’s friend’s mother has been killed by a rocket on her balcony. i can also say with certainty that many of my family are being called up to the reserves and, moreover, that they DON’T WANT TO BE IN LEBANON. all they want is to be left alone for long enough to come to an agreement with the palestinians. unfortunately i also have to consider this thoroughly depressing blog by this terribly sensible egyptian chappie:

    http://www.sandmonkey.org/2006/07/17/our-left-their-left/

    read it all the way down to the bottom. this really sheds light on the true nature of the problems in the middle east – you know how the hizbollah keep saying that they’ve been “offering to negotiate from the beginning”? that the kidnapping was really about getting their own prisoners back? nobody seems to be asking them why *they* didn’t try to negotiate with the israelis first rather than attacking, kidnapping and rocketing them. why exactly should the israelis be the ones to make the first move? how can you defend yourself from someone who refuses to play by any rules?

    the sad thing is that i know there are many arabs and muslims that sincerely want peace – but they are drowned out by the tribalism. where is the arab and muslim “peace now”? where is the palestinian martin luther king? the palestinian mandela? the palestinian gandhi? where are the muslims protesting about darfur? i’ll tell you – they’re scared for their lives because their societies do not tolerate dissent from the party line.

    and, desi italiana – without disagreeing with your point for a change – who exactly are these “arab jews” you are talking about? am i one (being of iraqi descent)?

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  29. El Cid — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:02 pm  

    i welcome your words bananabrain

  30. Refresh — on 26th July, 2006 at 10:58 pm  

    Bananabrain, its very interesting that you say that the Israeli interviewees are mumblers and are not too fluent with their english – I similarly feel they interview Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians who are not too good with their english. Perhaps both sides of the argument feel they are not being given a decent shot at explaining their position.

    Interesting also is your point about the use of the ‘Dunkirk’ evacuation – I had never thought of the linkage with the Nazis. Perhaps that too highlights our perspectives and sensitivities. I suspect there is hardly anybody who’d made that connection. I don’t dismiss the negative impact for Israel, those evacuees will have as they return home and start feeding their experiences into newspapers, local radio and anti-war campaigns.

    As for the question of Hizbollah seeking release of Lebanese prisoners – I don’t doubt that was their position. The political achievement would have been the release of said prisoners. They would again been seen as defending and achieving a goal which was also the goal of the Lebanese government – so winning more support from the people of Lebanon.

    However what Israel plans or have long planned is exactly the level of response that we are seeing. It has the geopolitical hallmark of a much wider conflict aimed at Syria and Iran. If that much is true then we ain’t seen nothing yet.

    The humanitarian interest of the news agencies is surely the most important of all – the results of policies developed and driven from far off places.

    As for Israel not quite getting enough time to deliver on any peace model – is false; and if is not then Israel is astute enough to recognise any timeframes that would apply in the region.

    Israel is in control for now – but that may not be the situation once we come out of all this – maybe by then no one will be in control. Something we should dread.

    Not enough coverage is being given to the Arab League offer of 2002, re-iterated by Saudi Arabia this week, full recognition and rapid normalisation. That is a failing of the media. It cannot be said the Arabs have not sought peace.

    As for having no muslim Mandela, Martin Luther King, Gandhi – This is to misundertand what role muslims played in Mandela’s ANC, and Gandhi’s Independance campaign. (I don’t know enough to comment on King’s civil rights movement, apart from Malcolm X). I guess we wouldn’t recognise such a figure if we saw one.

    I have said before – there is a positive role for Israel to play in the region. It is not best served by seeking to become a part of the EU, joining NATO, or even winning Eurovision. It is to become a part of the region and stop being a transplant. Only then could the region feel secure that it is safe to have Israel on their doorstep.

  31. bananabrain — on 27th July, 2006 at 4:34 pm  

    I had never thought of the linkage with the Nazis.
    really? then you must be one of the few who doesn’t delight in making it!

    The political achievement would have been the release of said prisoners. They would again been seen as defending and achieving a goal which was also the goal of the Lebanese government – so winning more support from the people of Lebanon.
    i think you’re missing my point. the point was that they could have addressed that goal by ENTERING INTO NEGOTIATIONS WITH ISRAEL ABOUT THEM rather than by kidnapping and rocketing. they chose the latter – for reasons which ought to be obvious by now.

    However what Israel plans or have long planned is exactly the level of response that we are seeing.
    umph. i think that depends on what you mean by that. if you mean that they have long known that iran was seeking to establish itself as the leader of the islamic world, well, obviously. in terms of syria, it has long been a maxim in the middle east that “no war without egypt – no peace without syria”. the problem is that the place is still run by diehard baathists (and i’m not talking about assad jr, who is not really in charge) who think in terms of pan-arab hegemony, but are not averse to taking the shiite tack, as the alawites (of whom the assad family are members) are a shi’a sect; viz the alliance of convenience with iran. the syrians have long been contained – except in lebanon. the fact that the lebanese were getting fed up with them meant they needed to find a new strategic lever. their sponsorship of khaled meshaal, who operates from damascus and has been the motivating force behind the qassam rockets and kidnappings from gaza is one – and their assistance to hizbollah is another. and it is surely not coincidental that the hizbollah front was opened just as the iranian nuclear issue was about to be addressed. now that has dropped off the radar. if, however, you mean that israel has long planned to pound southern lebanon back into the 1980s, i doubt that. it is not in their interest. what is in their interest is to have a stable and strong government to their north, which is not under syrian – or iranian – control. just as obviously, it is clearly not in the interest of syria or iran for this to be the case and, even more obviously, they are not averse to the lebanese paying the price for the actions of their guerrilla proxies.

    As for Israel not quite getting enough time to deliver on any peace model – is false;
    really? the kadima government was democratically elected on the basis of the success of the unilateral withdrawal from gaza and a proposed unilateral withdrawal from the west bank. i hardly think that firing hundreds of qassams into sderot, ashkelon and elsewhere is calculated to convince the israelis that withdrawal is beneficial for them!

    Not enough coverage is being given to the Arab League offer of 2002, re-iterated by Saudi Arabia this week, full recognition and rapid normalisation. That is a failing of the media. It cannot be said the Arabs have not sought peace.
    you obviously haven’t read the small print, which continues to include the palestinian right of return and is therefore not feasible. there is also the small matter of israel having to do everything first and then maybe – just maybe – recognition might be offered. hah. what a fab offer that is. any peace plan that does not take account of the palestinian refugees IN LIGHT OF THE JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB LANDS (who make up half of the israeli population) is doomed to failure. with all that said i personally think that the endgame must necessarily include a possibility for jews to become palestinian and jordanian citizens if the israelis are constrained to accept more arab citizens. until then, any talk of the arab states seeking peace is pure spin – let’s not forget that the new, democratically elected iraqi government offers amnesty and reinstated citizenship to all iraqi exiles, emigrés and refugees – UNLESS THEY’RE JEWISH. “part of the region”? not likely at present.

    As for having no muslim Mandela, Martin Luther King, Gandhi – This is to misundertand what role muslims played in Mandela’s ANC, and Gandhi’s Independence campaign.
    actually, you’re misunderstanding me. i am more than aware of both and count amongst my friends a muslim theologian who has held senior posts in the ANC government. i am talking about muslims who could come to terms with the existence of israel and deal with it realistically rather than resorting to posturing, rhetoric and violence. arafat was unable to bring himself to truly change because he either didn’t truly believe in what he was doing or he was just too damn scared of getting assassinated like sadat and king abdallah I of jordan. and, as for gandhi, what i am talking about is the idea of non-violent non-cooperation. perhaps i was being a little dismissive at the lack of an MLK – except that the truly authoritative members of the ulema, with the possible exception of tantawi, refuse to break ranks. imagine the effect of, say, al-qaradawi or al-sistani changing their minds! now, the only candidate for a palestinian mandela at present is, of course, marwan barghouti, which is probably the only reason he’s still in jail – the longer he spends there the more credibility he has when he gets out. and it is also notable that his “prisoners’ charter” was presented just before the gaza kidnapping occurred. coincidence? not on your nelly.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  32. Ken — on 27th July, 2006 at 7:19 pm  

    An article in City Journal, about biased reporting by the BBC World Service.

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2006-07-21db.html

  33. Refresh — on 27th July, 2006 at 8:11 pm  

    Ken, read it. Everybody should read it.

    Fascinating insight to City Journal’s ethos and quality.

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