Monday, July 31, 2006

Watching Arab & US TV today on Qana

[Written Sunday night]

I’ve been watching the news on all the Arabic international, Lebanese, and US (yes, even Fox News) channels. It’s like watching two different worlds. In the US it’s “tragic”, “regrettable”, “collateral damage”, “painful”, etc. Yes it kind of shows something really bad happened, and the political message that this is not sustainable is coming through (even Fox News commentators in-between repeating Israeli propaganda lines and screeds against the UN were acknowledging this was a turning point), though no one is really showing how bad this was today, let alone how horrendous Israel’s assault has really been the past few weeks.

But even though people in the US recognize in a muted way this was really bad, in the Arab world this is 9/11. Images of children’s bodies are being replayed over, and over, and over again just as happened with the constant replay of the 9/11 attacks. Channels of every political persuasion (Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, NBN, New TV, LBC, and even the typically very pro-US Future/al-Mustaqbal) are showing the same thing and giving one unified message: there must be an immediate ceasefire with no-preconditions (i.e., no giving into Israeli demands), and Hizbullah has almost universal support even among a large and growing number of their traditional arch-rival Lebanese Christians. Al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Qana had an emotional breakdown as they pulled the children’s bodies out of the rubbles and one man helping to pull out bodies shouted at the TV crew “show the Arabs, show the Arabs!” expressing his disgust at the Arab rulers (read the Saudis, Jordanians, and Egyptians primarily) who have refused to help Lebanon.

Also, the US TV I saw today made some mention of the fact that this was the same place a similar thing had happened when the Israelis slaughtered over 100 civilians fleeing their shelling at a UN outpost in 1996, but in the Arab channels the logos on the screen were almost instantly reading “Qana Yet Again”, “The New Qana Massacre”, etc. and running video montages showing the massacres then and now. If “massacre” seems a strong word, I’ll just say it is the only word being used to describe this on all the Arab and Lebanese channels (well, sort of, they have two words that both mean massacre, majzara and madhbaha and they’re using both of them) and is not even questioned. Thus the US managing to get the word removed from the UN statement this evening along with any condemnation of Israel goes down as yet another black mark for the US in the region.

The east-west divide grows deeper and deeper…

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