August 2, 2006

Haveil havalim daily edition 08/01/2006

A quick note for new readers. A little more than a year and a half ago I started the Jewish/Israeli blogging carnival called Haveil Havalim. It is hosted by alternating hosts most Sundays. Last week I decided to use the name for a daily link roundup (mostly) related to Israel's war with Lebanon with a couple of extra features thrown in.
Haveil Havalim is Hebrew for "Vanity of Vanities" (according to one translation anyway). It was a play on Carnival of the Vanities.

In Depth:
Faced with a strong temptation, Israel fell into Hezbollah's carefully laid trap. That's the way David Ignatius reads the current situation.

The strategy of Israel's (and America's) enemies today is to lure the military superpower into a protracted conflict. To accept the bait, as the Israelis did in assaulting Lebanon and as America did in Iraq, is to risk stepping into a trap.

I hate to bring it up, but didn't a leader of Hezbollah say that the organization was surprised by Israel's reaction to its attack last month? Usually if you set a trap you intend to trap your enemy or prey. If Hezbollah wasn't expecting it how exactly was it a trap?

Well maybe it wasn't a trap, but still war won't help Israel achieve peace

The evidence grows that you can't achieve real security without negotiating with your adversaries, and you can't succeed in such negotiations without offering reasonable concessions.

What evidence? Really. Israel acceded to everyone's demands that it withdraw from Lebanon. It did. So what happened? Hezbollah at the behest of its Syrian and Iranian masters changed the game. Israel had to withdraw from Shebaa farms too and release terrorists from jail otherwise Hezbollah was justified in continuing cross border terror attacks. (Oh right, the weakness was that Israel didn't negotiate its withdrawal!)

Just like the inane "you can only make peace with your enemies" Ignatius's argument makes sense if your enemy believes that the negotiations are means to an end of hostilities. If the negotiations are simply a tactic for your enemy to achieve a better strategic position (see Arafat, Oslo) well negotiations aren't going to bring peace. Like the lightbulb in the joke you can make peace with your enemy (through negotiations) only if your enemy really wants to change (make peace.)

So the lesson of 1973 for David Ignatius is to use the stature Nasrallah has built up by getting his terror organization not to lose too badly to Israel and agree to a treaty with him. That worked really well with Arafat didn't it?

What I don't get is why so many in the punditry class think that making an argument that is counterintuitive at best or demonstratably wrong at worst is profound? When you argue against common sense you often come out looking foolish.

Faced with continuing provocations and an intolerable threat, Israel struck back at Hezbollah and attempted to disarm the terrorist organization so that it would no longer post a threat to Israel.

Doesn't that make a lot more sense?

Naturally Blue Crab Boulevard has beaten me to the punch. (Does he ever sleep?)

Washington Post opinion writer David Ignatius is rapidly turning himself into a pipeline for Hezbollah propaganda and an outright enabler of that organization.

UPDATE: Maryland Conservatarian adds some of his observations. (Hey MC, please do your work at 3 AM so I can include it in the morning instead of after the fact. Or maybe I'd just link to you and forget about blogging. It would save me a lot of time. :-) OK?) He concludes correctly

Maybe the better lesson of’73 is to remember that in the years leading up to that October, Anwar Sadat was quite vocal in his threats of war. It’s the lesson many have been preaching since 9/11 but apparently can’t be said enough: When someone threatens you, believe them.

I hadn't seen this before but as I expected Bullwinkle blog also commented on Ignatius. I think he's got Ignatius down pat

Ignatius seems to be advocating losing to keep from humiliating your enemy. In his dream world you want to build the schoolyard bully’s self-esteem because somehow once he learns he can beat you he’ll quit doing it.

More at memeorandum.

Regular Stuff:
Liveblogging the war:
I haven't done much of a roundup of the livebloggers. Of course there's Israelly Cool! who doesn't seem to miss a thing. But did he notice that Ismail Haniyeh and Taylor Hicks look like they were separated at birth? Well maybe not.

Interspersed with incisive commentary, West Bank Mama is also liveblogging.

Another liveblogger - from Maryland no less - introduced himself Red Meat Conservative.

And while he's not exactly liveblogging Israel Matzav seems to cover most events plus every single opinion piece. And he just reached 100,000 hits in only 7 months of blogging.

I'm sure that's not everyone, but that's all for now (I'll take suggestions.)

AbbaGav has dozens of links. Or maybe it's just that "dozen" is used a lot in the title.

SerAndEz links to a number of other bloggers. And he links to another Jimmy post that I missed at Life of Rubin.

Jack's Shack says that it's not Haveil Havalim but it covers Lebanon, Seattle and Mel Gibson.

Jewish Blogmeister lists a number of the more energetic bloggers.

(Thanks for the mentions.)

Other Stuff:

The Hashmonean is back from going AWOL :-). In force.

Thoughts by a Seawitch addresses the issue of Shebaa Farms in a letter to the President.

Assignment desk: The Qana photograph story won't go away. Instapundit.Megan McArdle argued that there is no evidence of malfeasance on the part of the photographers noting that the time stamps on the photos don't necessarily say when they were taken. And the delay in the collapse of the building doesn't prove that it wasn't the result of the Israeli attack.
The Volokh Conspiracy.David Bernstein does a nice job of pointing out that there were many more discrepencies than just the time stamps. He is bothered by AP's dismissal of the criticisms

I'm saying legitimate questions were raised about the possible staging of some of the most influential news photos of the year. For the news wire agencies to simply pooh-pooh the claims does not suggest a serious commitment to transparency.

Later in an update, though, he makes the essentail point

Just to be clear, I don't think the question of whether or not the photos were staged has any bearing on one's view of the Israel-Party of God conflict (even if they were actually faked, not just stage,that would be the least of Hezbollah's sins). It also doesn't change my view of the overall situation if 60 (original reports) 28 (more recent reports of how many bodies the Red Cross actually found there; of note that the reporters at the scene quoted the higher figure basd on pure hearsay;) or zero (conspiracy theorists) civilians were killed by an Israeli airstrike in Qana. So long as Israel has taken reasonable precautions to limit civilian casualties, as it has, the moral responsibility for any death lies with the Party of God for using Qana as a staging ground for attacks on Israel, knowing (far better than Israel) that civilians had remained in the village and were at risk.

Has your newspaper mentioned the controversy over the photographs? If not have you written a letter?

UPDATE: The Washington Post has decided how it will deal with inconvenient truths about Qana, they've allowed hatchet man Jefferson Morley to dismiss the doubts about Qana

This "story" is a useful companion to last week's post about watching the war as it unfolds on the Web. The Qana conspiracy theory not only underscores how the Internet can misinform (an old story), it also reveals a popular demand for online content that attempts to explain away news reports that Israel (and by proxy, its closest ally and arms supplier, the United States) was responsible for the deaths of dozens of women and children in a Hezbollah stronghold.

At a time when American and Israeli public opinion of the war diverge radically from the world opinion elsewhere, the emergence of a right-wing equivalent of the Sept. 11 conspiracy theories is worth noting.

Morley, who couldn't be bothered to get Reuven Koret's name right, wrote

That question has been definitively answered in the mainstream press. Almost all of the victims belonged to two extended families, the Hashems and the Shalhoubs, who lived in the area, according to the independent accounts of The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid and the Daily Star's Nicholas Blanford.

Actually, Blanford's article explains a lot that Shadid's doesn't. (Shadid's only interested in evoking pathos, not in explaining what happened.) Blanford writes that the people died after a second blast, that the building had been leaning all night and that rescue workers couldn't get there until the morning because of continued Israeli bombardment.

Yet there are still problems with the story as presented.

NRO's media blog noted that MSNBC's Richard Engel reported that no men were found in the building, directly contradicting Shadid and Blanford (and others).

Then, even after the Red Cross has reported that the number of dead in the building was 28, Morley is still citing 57 dead. Has the Washington Post revised its toll downward anywhere else?

And while Blanford gave a reason for the building collapse after 7 or 8 hours, Israeli military officials initially speculated that the building may have housed explosives. Apparently the IDF didn't notice that the building was tilting as Blanford's sources told him.

Finally there is the matter of past media malpractices of Israeli "atrocities" as HonestReporting noted

In past incidents such as the Mohammed Al-Dura affair, the "Jenin Massacre" and the Gaza Beach deaths, Israel has been castigated by the international media only for new evidence to emerge that has changed the nature of the story

The media's record of being willfully misled into exaggerations of Israel's culpability in violence is certainly reason to be suspicious in similar circumstances.

(In the case of the Washington Post consider Staying Power Adds To Hezbollah's Appeal by Edward Cody. The article can only be described as an admiring assessment of Hezbollah that gives weight to its views as if it were a political not a terrorist organization. For Cody this wouldn't be the first time, as I've noted before, in 1982 the Post featured a front page eulogy for a PLO terrorist written by Cody.)

Aside from the reasons cited above, my first impression of the tragedy in Qana was that this is war and that, in war, terrible things happen. I wrote at the time that when a NATO plane bombed a convoy of Kosovar refugees that the Washington Post was understanding of the accident.

Honest Reporting similarly observes

The Qana incident is likely to be a defining incident in this current conflict, aided by a media that lacks context and prefers to judge Israel by different standards to other nations involved in military actions. It is, for example, interesting to examine the record of NATO forces that bombed the Serb military in Kosovo in the late-1990s. In the face of an estimated 500 civilian deaths, NATO admits that: "Strikes were also complicated by the cynical Serb use of civilian homes and buildings to hide weapons and vehicles, the intermixing of military vehicles with civilian convoys and, sometimes, the use of human shields. In this way, NATO's concern to avoid civilian casualties was exploited by the Serbs."

If the media were providing the legal context for justifying Israel's actions and placing the blame for destruction on the responsible party Hezbollah (in this case; but Hamas and Fatah too).

The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

But they don't.

In the end Morley asks

North says he is just trying to "raise questions," which is certainly a legitimate goal. My question is: What is it about the photos from Qana that made Israel's supporters prefer fantasy to fact?

Actually we've been reading quite a bit of fantasy from the world Morley inhabits and we have seen the damage it does to Israel's standing in the world. The discrepancy in the death toll, the same ubiquitous rescue worker, and the delay in the collapse of the building are all reasons for an honest media to go and re-examine its assumptions.

But then, I don't believe the media to be honest. Morley does.

Strata-sphere has an excellent respose to Morley

I know Israeli bombs killed these poor children. And I know Israeli bombs were targetted there thanks to Hezbollah’s criminal acts of fighting from within civilian centers. And I am really confident the blue pacifier on that poor dead child’s shirt did not come through the devastation that blanketed that same child with dirt and debris. The crime of exploiting a dead baby’s corpse like that is sufficient moral rational to demand answers. The question is why is the media defending such acts instead of joining in the outcry. The first trajedy was the child’s unnecessary death, thanks to Hezbollah. The second trajedy was explouting that child’s corpse for propaganda. I don’t need a conspiracy theory to find out if the Lebanese man in the picture was indeed a Hezbollah PR expert, and whether the photographers at the scene played into his stagecraft (knowingly or naively). What I want is clear evidence of the timing of those photos, clear admission some of them I have pointed to were clearly staged, and some explanation about that brand new, clean pacifier hanging on a dead baby’s corpse for all the world to be exploited with. Answer the war crimes charges and I will rescind my concerns and admit I erred. But not until then.

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Posted by SoccerDad at August 2, 2006 6:28 AM
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