Friday, July 28, 2006

Day 16

Day 16: This war has gone on long enough for CNN to have accumulated "stock footage" to run as filler on all of its programming -- a woman wailing in a Haifa doorway, leaflets falling from the sky in Tyre, tanks lining the road on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border, motorbikes dodging rubble in southern Beirut. I keep waiting for that "Anderson Cooper/Katrina" moment when someone in the western media will finally have seen enough carnage and wanton destruction to finally question why 2,500 lb. bombs are falling on civilian slums and speak truth to power. Waiting. And waiting ...

Tonight I noticed that most of the coverage is coming from south of the blue line (because its far safer?) And the IDF will not allow embeds. So the few journalists left in Lebanon do "talking points" rather than actual reporting and answer only the questions that are asked, never deviating from the script.*

Much has been made of the ball bearings in the Katyusha rockets, designed to inflict "maximum civilian damage" -- Katyusha rockets which are basically "point and shoot" like my $6 camera, with no targeting capability. Yet there's little mention of cluster munitions and phosphorus bombs being dropped on civilian areas of Lebanon with great precision, except when one happens to take out a UN station or a string of Red Cross ambulances "by accident". Since the US is providing these laser guided missiles and bunker busters (on a rush basis, I might add), I wonder if they, too, are tipped with depleted uranium such as the US military has been using in Iraq and what the long term environmental/health effects will be.

So far, in addition to UN outposts and Red Cross vehicles, the IDF has managed to hit roads, bridges, food depots, airports, gas stations, fuel depots, Palestinian refugee camps (dating back to 1948), civilians holding white bedsheets out the windows of minivans while attempting to flee to higher ground, and even make several successful strikes against Lebanese Army barracks, the very same Army that the world is counting on to take up the slack (under UN Resolution #1559) once Hezbollah is eliminated, or at least contained. Does anyone else see parallels with Fallujah in this picture?

In addition to the stock footage, new myths (or talking points) have developed over the last 16 days: Hezbollah as Jihadist, ties to Syria, Iran and even Al-Qaeda, a new Caliphate from Iran to Spain, and the ever popular (and particularly disgusting) Islamo-Fascism. As Gaza and the West Bank fall off the media radar and Iraq and Afghanistan recede into the background, all the rhetoric is now applied to Lebanon. Shrill voices are calling for Lebanon to uphold UN Resolution #1559 while the 66 plus resolutions (beginning with 242 and 338) regarding Israel's occupation are forgotten. (And John Bolton will probably squeak through the Senate towards a permanent appointment to the UN and be in a better position to keep the 66 plus resolutions regarding occupied territories, apartheid walls, civilian infrastructure, water grabs, land grabs and the protection of civilian populations under occupation from ever being discussed, let alone enforced.)

The US is generously giving $30 million in emergency aid to Lebanon. That's 1% of the $3 Billion given annually to Israel. One percent. The Bush Regime likes quantifiable data and metrics, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld. How's this? The Bush Regime has quantified Lebanese (or Palestinian) life as worth one percent of Israeli life.

*A footnote: Did anyone else think that Prime Minister al-Malaki's speech before the bicameral session of congress sounded like it had been written by Karl Rove or Dick Cheney and then translated into Arabic?