Friday, September 29, 2006

Media War II

One of my favorite blogs is Crossroads Arabia. Its author is John Burgess, a retired U.S. diplomat with extensive experience, mostly in Saudi Arabia. His choices of tidbits from the Arab press, along with his commentary, are windows to cultures mostly unknown to Jewish Americans.

Today he chooses an article from Arab News about a recently concluded forum titled "In God's Name" sponsored by The Clinton Global Initiative. [Actually, it appears to have been a CNN Pipeline discussion on September 20th, no link available.]

What held the reporter's attention was the spectacle of Shimon Peres being grilled for "Israel's human rights abuses". The reporter was impressed that Peres did not shrink, rant, or interrupt when confronted by such accusations, but that he calmly waited until it was his turn to respond, whereupon "his artful Oscar-winning performance" won the crowd "in spite of all the facts statistics and odds so neatly and logically stacked up against him by the other more glamorous participants". The Arab representatives speaking there, whom she characterizes as "some of the best we have" were, it seems, mere bitter complainers and "no one likes people who whine and complain."

The reporter then argues that Arabs failed in the comparison as Jews didn't whine because "they were too busy educating themselves, working hard and buying up those very media institutions that are now allowing them to influence the world. They counteracted systematic campaigns of disinformation by spreading their own information...[and] turned the situation around making sure that everyone in the region danced to their tune."

Essentially, this article endorses the view that Arabs or Muslims should concentrate on increasing their appeal to and control of Western media, as The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) urged earlier this month.

Note the open acknowledgement that Jews are counteracting disinformation. I pointed out that:
Regardless of the presence of Jews in the newsroom, if there was a "Jewish" agenda controlling the Western press, wouldn't Israel and Jews worldwide would be portrayed far more favorably? However, organizations like AP Television News Middle East Services provide "customized" - that is to say, censored or restricted distribution - news to their Middle East "clients" via "dedicated Arabic-speaking production teams." APTN-MES probably controls a substantial fraction of the worldwide distribution of APTN images and video reporting from the Middle East. How likely is it that APTN-MES would be willing to record and distribute video that negatively portrayed such organizations as Hezbollah and Hamas?

Indeed, how do we know that this wasn't what happened during the recent Israel-Hezbollah war?

I wonder how much of APTV-MES reporting is actually propaganda or espionage carried out under the cover of "customized" reporting. I don't know if Reuters has an arrangement similar to AP, but Reuters has recently been accused of loaning armored vehicles to terrorists in Gaza, and the uproar over its role in wartime "fauxtography" resulted in Reuters firing one of its Lebanese correspondents.

Foreigners are forbidden under U.S. law to buying controlling stakes in U.S. defense firms, but the U.S. mainstream media are fair game. I suppose it is much easier for oil-rich Arabs and Muslims to buy large stakes in the MSM and insist upon being favorably portrayed than it is for them to actually make themselves and their causes more appealing, especially by dumping the anti-Semitic arguments as John Burgess suggests. I think everybody can expect the quality of MSM reporting to decline even further should the leaders of the Arab and Muslim world continue to pursue this course of action.

Update, 10/1

In God's Name was broadcast by CNN International last week. The transcript is here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Men of Letters

Taking advantage of a last-minute invitation, I'm liveblogging the PajamasMedia get-together at the National Press Club. My first time attending one of these things. It certainly is a pleasure to meet many people whom I've only read from before. I met hard-driving Pamela right at the door, and intrepid travel-blogger Michael Totten (does being taller make one braver?) a few moments later, publisher Adam Bellow, and many more.

(I no longer use a notebook computer at these events; I laboriously type everything into my handheld "toy" - a Dell Axim X51. With the rhinoskin cover, I can pretty much carry my computer in my back pocket. I'll do the editing later.)

As I meet and greet old friends for the first time, my mind fixes on an analogy to our little community of bloggers. The more I think about it, the more certain I am that it applies:

We bloggers are "men of letters".

Most people don't realize that what we call the mainstream media really only dates back to the first daily newspapers of the early eighteenth century. Before that, and for over a hundred years later, it was the letter-writers who shaped the world. The salons of the French and the coffee-houses of the English are the places where politics, science, and culture were shaped. Us bloggers use email and blog posts to communicate. Our spiritual predecessors used letters and
mass-produced pamphlets.

It was the letter-writers who have the fame and infamy for creating the French and American revolutions; newspapers were a poor accessory.

I date the end of the era of the dominance of the letter-writers to the election of Andrew Jackson in the nineteenth century. For the first time, the great size and ease of communications of the United States of America permitted an unprecedented campaign of national vilification of a devoted public servant...

Ah, I should be paying more attention to the lecture. Benjamin Franklin in a
green suit? I love it!...Reynolds talks about his invitation to the White House
today and the dangers of faction...

The men of letters essentially organized themselves to replace the monarchs and courtiers of their time with the rule of men like themselves. When newspapers grew more prominent in the public consciousness, the letter-men peacefully yielded leadership to the democratic majority -

Ah, Barone is striking near as he talks of drawing and quartering courtiers.
"Real partisanship", as he puts it...

Because of their scale and advertising support

- oh come on, the baby-boom generation wasn't ALL bad -

newspapers have displaced pamphlets for nearly two centuries. The rise of weblogs and the ease of email may now be swinging the reins of democratic power back into the hands of the class which created it in the first place.

May we use that power well and to the benefit of all mankind.

Update: A rebuttal from Tristam Shandy tries to trash us PJM folks by comparing us specifically to Thomas Paine. That's really good. Paine's Common Sense convinced many colonists of the tyranny of George III, just as Charles Johnson's exposure of the CBS "Rathergate" scandal convinced many Americans of the tyranny of the mainstream media. Later, Paine supported the French Revolution, but not the Regicide or the Terror.

When he died, one newspaper obituary read: "He had lived long, did some good and much harm." Perhaps when we pass on, we will have the honor of the MSM characterizing us the same way.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Hot Recipe

Courtesy Leilouta:

Recipe for Muslim Anger:
Take non-Muslim comment containing the word Mohammed.
Knead in distortion and lies.
Sprinkle with righteous indignation.
Let rise for a day or two.
Add demands for apology.
Set aside.
Reject explanations.
Distribute to hungry mouths.

This delicious dish will give the eater the strength and courage to burn flags, destroy property, and kill 70 year old women who spend their life in the service of God.

Flawless, yet I think the last ingredient is optional. The souls twisted by Islamofacism are hungry for righteous anger, not mouths.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

And now, something completely different...

I am a great fan of Marvel Comics, though I've had to give up reading them for more adult pursuits. However, The Origin of the Silver Surfer is now available on YouTube. Don't miss Stan Lee's timeless story of noble victory and sacrifice!

P.S: Can anyone make out the lyrics in the introduction? It's in at least three languages, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"What 1701 means for Lebanon's Security"

First, with respect to Israel, the resolution "calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon...the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations."

That leaves out a lot. In the full text of 1701 paragraph 3 states an unequivocal precondition:

"Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers."

There you have it. If Israel resumes "offensive military operations" it is not a violation of 1701 as long as its "abducted" soldiers are not returned. The current peace Lebanon enjoys, then, isn't due to any sort of international pressure upon Israel but is simply an expression of unmatched Israeli goodwill. Hezbollah has expressed its desires clearly but obviously considers itself too weak to dare resume hostilities itself.

If the Lebanese government feels threatened by a Chapter VII resolution due to Hizbollah noncompliance, UNSC 1559 calls for the disarming of Lebanese militias - meaning Hizbollah, as far as the international community is concerned - and nothing stops the Siniora government from simply asking U.N. forces to assist it in doing so. This assisted disarming of a recalcitrant Hezbollah would be advertised as a step at complying with 1701 and a way to forstall future Israeli "offensive military operations", and thus is the best course possible to increase Lebanon's security.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Moral Clarity in the Middle East"

Courtesy of Syria Comment, transcript and links to a speech at the New America Foundation by Ambassador James Robbins [excerpt]:
At one point the U.N. had circulated the first draft of the Bonn declaration, which is essentially Afghanistan’s interim constitution. It was the Iranian envoy who noted that there was no mention of democracy. “Maybe a document like this ought to mention democracy” he suggested. I allowed as how that was probably a good idea. I have to note that my instructions didn’t say anything about democracy. We weren’t on a democracy campaign at that stage.

Whether you agree with the Ambassador or not, this is thought-provoking stuff. The video offers a rebuttal w/Q&A.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why you should visit Solomon's House frequently

Do you not understand your heroes have destroyed a country for no good reason? come to spout your nonsense in the midst of their attempts to heal...Go away. Go be with your heroes and talk of your bombing successes... We don't care why you barged in.
- HB, September 4th, 2006

[we] did not think, even 1% that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not”.
Hassan Nasrallah, August 27th, 2006

Once upon a time, a country existed that rocketed its neighbors indiscrimately...when avenging Allied tanks encountered resisting German villages, they reduced the buildings to mere memorials, and the villagers to penury. No one seems to consider these actions a crime today. What would be wrong if Israel levelled Gaza and drove its inhabitants away tomorrow?
- Solomon2, July 9th, 2006

Look at that last date: three days before Hezbollah abducted the Israeli soldiers. If enough Lebanese had read those words might Nasrallah have aborted the operation, so that hundreds of Lebanese and Israelis would still be alive today, with their homes intact? Do you still think it is desirable for me to stop blogging and commenting?

I know that the Lebanese have had enough of war and wish to heal now. Yet Lebanon needs to do more before peace can be assured. Return the Israeli soldiers. Every other Arab nation - Syria, Egypt, and Jordan - has returned captured Israeli soldiers per agreement. Only Lebanon is breaking its word - and paragraph 3 of UNSC 1701 states that their UNCONDITIONAL return is a precondition of the cease-fire. For the sake of a last inhumane dig at Israel, are you not risking renewed war and violating Lebanon's national honor and unity?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Consumed by Demons

A few months ago a Lebanese-Canadian executive who blogs using the moniker Perpetual Refugee traveled to Israel to assume control of his company's subsidiary from the incompetent Israeli management. Expecting a hostile reception and prepared to wield his wrath as revenge for the humiliation he felt as a child in Israeli-occupied Lebanon, he instead discovered warmth, affection, and devotion as the Israelis looked to him as their leader. He thus experienced what he called "Decompression", feeling at ease encountering Israelis as people, not as an enemy. He accepted and dealt with the shock of meeting his former occupiers and "ghosts" --the Israeli Arabs whom other Arabs never seem to talk about. Soon he was dreaming of this future between the Lebanese and Israeli peoples:
I can image the drive up to Beirut from Tel Aviv. You'd of course take the scenic route. The Mediterranean always on your left hand side. I would assume you'd leave in the morning, the sun already having risen in the east. It would be sunny. It usually is. As you drive north past Haifa, the terrain starts to roll. The hills become mountains. Acrne. Nahariyya. Then the border. The Lebanese customs officer smiles and being Lebanese, starts to chat you up. He'll impress you with a 'Bokaltov' followed by 'Bienvenue a Liban'. You enter without any problems....

Then Hezbollah launched rockets into northern Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers. For their safe return, Hezbollah demanded nothing less than the release of a Lebanese criminal who proudly confessed to and was convicted of cruelly killing a four year-old Israeli girl after murdering her father. Had Israel accepted such an exchange, the freed criminal would have been hailed as a hero, a bold statement to the world that killing innocent Jews was an activity to be accepted and encouraged. A previous prisoner exchange in 2004 had thus demonstrably brought no peace. The Lebanese themselves seemed to have accepted that this was the proper state of affairs -- in my opinion, they felt no responsibility for Hezbollahs actions, even though Hezbollah was part of their elected government.

Faced by such an existential threat, Israel responded with a military offensive to greatly reduce Hezbollah's power and its entrenchment in the Shi'ite society of Southern Lebanon. Doubtless when Israelis stop thinking that Arabs are out to kill them, Israelis will stop attacking them in self-defense.

This summer's conflict puts a different perspective on our Perpetual Refugee. He saw his family and acquaintances as weak and defeated, and decided that was unacceptable. He has made a value choice: that for him and his kind to have power over others is more important than ideals of universal peace, freedom, and prosperity, and rule of law. To him, Israelis are now the terrorists, and it doesn't matter one little bit that had it not been for Hezbollah's attacks and kidnappings, Israel would never have responded with a military offensive.

Of all the acts Hezbollah has perpetrated, the creation and perpetuation of lasting hatreds is the most despicable, and probably one of the outcomes its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, desired most.

The Perpetual Refugee is now lost to us, consumed by the very demons he tried so hard to escape from. Let us mourn.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Why Aid to Lebanon?

Lebanon has 300 tons of gold in reserve. At $20 million a ton, that's about $6 billion. Why does Lebanon need more cash from international donors? And what portion of it is intended as "blood money" for the families, both Lebanese and Israeli, whose relatives were unjustly slain through Hezbollah's viciousness?

The pressing needs for Lebanon are material aid and the resumption of economic activity, correct? That can best be done by freeing up Lebanon's ports from the Israeli blockade, and probably the quickest way to do that is to release the prisoners unconditionally, as UNSC 1701 requires. True, UNSC 1701 doesn't require Israel to lift its blockade, but returning the prisoners will probably result in international pressure for Israel to do so.

Remember, in every war that Israel fought with Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, prisoners were returned per agreement afterwards. Only Lebanon has a history of reneging on such agreements. Siniora claims that Lebanon "will be the last country" to sign a peace treaty with Israel. I call that optimistic; if Lebanon maintains is present course, there will never be a peace treaty at all, perhaps not even a Lebanon to sign a peace treaty with.

Enjoy your $2 billion in "aid". Whether the money can actually deliver aid to suffering Lebanese I don't know. What the money can deliver to politicians who will control the funds everybody knows.