So many complained that Israel did not tell its story during the Lebanon war. Israel could not do it well because of its belief in a free press. It allowed almost any one to go anywhere and to see anything they wanted. Dictatorship and terrorists do not suffer from this problem, they select and manipulate the information. This is especially important because the global media cooperated with Hizbollha and some of the media is anti Israeli to start with. This media was eager to display anti Israeli stories and pictures without checking their validity.
Read the summary below to grasp better this critical issue that affected the war itself.
The Price of a Free Press - Anshel Pfeffer (Jerusalem Post)
An important study on last summer's war has just been published by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. It is the first to give a comprehensive explanation of how, in an asymmetrical war "between a state [Israel] and a militant, secretive, religiously fundamentalist sect or faction [Hizbullah]," the fight is just as much about information and image as it is about military gains.
"The Israeli-Hizbullah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict" by veteran reporter, author and broadcaster Marvin Kalb is a must-read for journalists, the military, politicians, spokesmen and news consumers.
Kalb writes that democratic societies living by the ideals of a free and unfettered press will always be at a disadvantage to dictatorships and oppressive ideologies, adept at manipulating the media. "A closed society conveys the impression of order and discipline; an open society, buffeted by the crosswinds of reality and rumor, criticism and revelation, conveys the impression of disorder, chaos and uncertainty."
* Israel's campaign was remarkably transparent. Even openly hostile Arab TV networks, such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, were allowed to operate in almost total freedom and film IDF units preparing for battle. Every failure and mishap on the battlefield - and relative chaos on the home front - was highlighted.
* On the other side, Hizbullah controlled the journalists covering Lebanon with an iron fist. Media tours of Hizbullah-controlled areas were tightly managed, with foreign reporters sternly warned against wandering off and talking to local residents unsupervised.
* Hizbullah also forbade any photographs of its fighters. Cameramen were warned never to show men with guns or ammunition. The only armed personnel seen during this war were IDF soldiers; Hizbullah remained throughout a phantom army.
* Another scene almost never shown was the hundreds of Hizbullah firing positions and missile launch sites within residential areas and private homes, the cause of many civilian deaths and a violation of international law.
* Footage coming out of Lebanon dealt almost exclusively with the results of the IDF bombing. Few news organizations made an effort to balance these pictures with those of the damage from Hizbullah's indiscriminate bombing of Israeli civilians.
I was trimming my roses that were damaged by the freezing weather in our central California yard and I started to complain to myself: look at all this damage. Despite all the work I had put into these plants for years, I could not prevent the damage. Then I started to laugh: look at me, I want the weather to be my way, I want the plants to behave my way, I want, I want..... And I realized how ludicrous it is.
I immediately was reminded of our attitude towards the security of Israel. We want peace. We complained: “how could it be that for sixty years the Arabs still do not accept Israel. We are outraged, justly so, by the continued attacks and killing of Israelis, either by Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah or whatever group you can name. The Israelis are not willing to give enough to gain peace, say some. Others have different ideas how to achieve peace in Israel. Most of us are frustrated that instead of the situation becoming better, Iran and its nuclear weapons are added to the dangerous mix.
We want it our way, and we believe we “know” how to achieve peace.
How unrealistic our attitude is. No, we do not have the answer. The Israelis have tried everything, actually too much in my judgment. The Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular do not want, and are not ready, to have peace with Israel You can not twist their arms and force them to accept with peace Israel’s existence. They have the oil wealth and there are many of them.
There are many things that are completely beyond our control. It is their Arab culture and it is the way they have been doing it for over a thousand years: Use force to achieve their goals. The Rule of Law, women equality, sanctity of life, freedom of religion are unacceptable to most Arabs, and a great many other Muslims. Just look around the Middle East, Arab country after Arab country. Look at the daily slaughter on the streets of Baghdad.
It took the Europeans a thousand years to arrive at the cooperation of the European Union. At least a hundred million Europeans died during those turbulent times. We hope it will take less time, and less casualties for the Arabs to realize that living in harmony among themselves, and with others is superior to murdering one another. Just note what they have been doing in Gaza, Darfur, Iraq, Iran- Iraq war, Lebanon, and untold other mini wars the Arabs fought with one another, and with Israel too.
There are over a billion Muslims in the world, and the great majority of them are silent about the slaughter of Muslims by Muslims. Of course there are many Muslims who wish to live in peace, however, there are enough Muslims who incite, support, and do not object to the extreme actions of extremists thus letting them dictate the Muslim’s agenda. Even if only one tenth of one percent of the world’s Muslims support and participate in the Jihad against the West, it is one million, yes, one million people. However, 65 to 75 percent of the Palestinians support suicide bombing of Israeli civilians.
So, let’s be realistic. Do not expect a viable, satisfactory solution to the Arab- Israeli struggle any time in the near future. It is simply not possible. Abbas of Fatah is not significantly different from Hamas leadership. Fatah groups continue to murder Israelis. Just because they fought with Hamas it does not mean that they want real peace with the Israelis. Hamas and Fatah are mainly struggling for power, for wealth, and for jobs.
It is not clear what the recent Mecca power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas will bring out. The power and persistence of the groups will decide the outcome, but even that may be temporary.
American support of Israel is crucial for Israel survival. We should not do what we did before WWII when the Germans started to murder Jews. We, American Jews, (and other Americans,) essentially kept quiet. We did not want to enrage the non Jewish community.
We must do all we can to support Israel, join AIPAC to educate Congress (American Israel Public Affair Committee- “The most important organization affecting America relationship with Israel”- the New York Times *). We should visit Israel. We should donate money to improve life there. The Israeli military budget is huge! Larger percentage then probably any other country, draining Israeli citizens by very high taxes. They do not have enough money to take care of their social needs.
It is not enough to feel good by reading, talking and emailing. We need to support Israel by our actions, by money too.
If we do not take those little actions, we may not be able to pray any longer towards Jerusalem. It may not be there.
*To join AIPAC: 202-639-6933, firstname.lastname@example.org
To comment on this post please visit this forum thread.
I watched recently several times a documentary of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) war against Hezbollah. It is in Hebrew and was easy for me to feels the emotions and grasp the thinking of those brave Israelis.
I have a mixed feeling about the way the IAF fought that war, according to this documentary, and I would like to hear your own opinion of the situation.
The documentary is called Winning Twice. The pilots explained that the IAF won the war twice since every time a large rocket was launched against a far target, such as Haifa and Hedera, within a short time the IAF destroyed the Hezbollah launchers. But the critical fact, they say, is that they used extreme restraints: the least possible weapons out of their huge arsenal to minimize almost all possible Lebanese civilian casualties.
It seems a marvelous approach, who wants to kill innocent people, until you start thinking about the implications. Let us look at three of the cases the IAF pilots were very proud of:
Case one: Around five PM on the first day of the war an Israeli pilot was ordered to destroy the bridge that connects much of Lebanon to Syria. When he saw the target he told mission control that he does not want to attack the bride then since it was full of civilian traffic. He was allowed to go back to base and attack around midnight when the pilot felt that is would cause no civilian casualties.
Can you fault him? Can you fault his mission control? It seems a humane solution to a war situation.
Now, I suggest we look at it from a broader sense. The Syrians, the suppliers of Hezbollah, would have done every thing they could to send support and supply to Hezbollah in the south via this very bridge. The distances are very short there, it stands to reason that during the many hours between five PM and midnight some assistance to Hezbollah passed this very bridge.
Also, this added support could have helped Hezbollah to kill more Israeli civilians and soldiers.
How do you decide if this delay in bombing was justified or not?
Case two: A pilot is shown locating a Hezbollah missile launcher on a street at night. He is about to fire his rockets to destroy the vehicle, then another pilot tells him: stop, there are three children nearby. The attacking pilot says (all on film) message received will not attack Hezbollah launcher.
Moral conduct no doubt, he chose to save the lives of three innocent Lebanese children. The IAF pilots discussing the case felt very proud of their conduct.
This Hezbollah missile launcher undauntedly was used later to send more missile into Israel, these Hezbollah missiles in all probability caused more damage and possibly killed some Israeli civilians.
What do you think?
Case three: While the documentary was filming a Shabat Friday night dinner on the base a phone call told the commander that a Hezbollah rocket was just launched towards Hedera, a fairly large city half way between Haifa and Tel Aviv. Several IAF aircrafts were ready to fly at a moment notice since the pilots were sitting in them ready for immediate attack. They found the target and destroyed it in less then an hour after missile launch. The pilots were very excited and happy when interviewed a brief time later.
Now, here is the key issue: Destroying the Hezbollah command center, the very people who gave the order to launch this and many other missiles. It was located in a big apartment building in a Lebanese city, the apartment number and its exact location on an elevated floor was told to the IAF. The following discussion [approximately] took place: We have three choices to destroy the command post:
1. Drop a five hundred pound bomb on the apartment building and destroy it all with hundred of civilian casualties. No danger to IAF and a sure kill.
2. Send a helicopter to direct a small missile into that apartment. Easily done, but, the rocket may also destroy a number of other apartments and still cause maybe some civilian deaths.
3. Send a special commando unit by helicopters to the building, climb the stairs, locate the apartment, attack and kill only the Hezbollah team in the apartment.
The Israeli military selected the last alternative-commando; one Israeli soldier died one injured severely.
The IAF pilots and commander were very proud: we took the high moral ground. We went to extreme since we do not want to kill innocent people. This is our heritage; this is the moral way to fight a war. Also we did not want to have Hezbollah propaganda against Israel blaming us for civilian casualties.
What do you think?
Next time the Lebanese civilians will not throw the Hezbollah team out of their apartment building. Why should they?
What was the thinking and feeling of the family and friends of the killed Israeli soldier and his injured friend?
I am proud on one hand by the morality the Israeli are showing, but I also believe it is counterproductive. In fact- destructive and will cause more damage both to Israel and the enemy also. Many Arabs believe that eventually Israel will be destroyed and will continue to fight to that end. Only when the Arabs have to pay a real price and realize it is not good for the Arabs themselves to continue this fight, I believe, they may settle down to live their own lives in peace.
Let me inject here information related to this story: Palestinians from Gaza were continuing to shell Israel with Kassam rockets from locations very close to Palestinian civilians. Israel responded by shelling the Kassam launch site. After a misguided Israeli shell killed a Palestinian family nearby a few weeks ago an outrage was expressed globally on the “mass murders” by Israel. Israel apologized profusely. However, a few days later Arab terrorists started to prepare to fire their Kassam rockets again near Palestinian civilians housing. A group of Arab civilians attacked the terrorists with guns and knives and forced them to go away- the civilians explained that they don’t want to be killed by Israeli shells like the other Palestinian family just a few days earlier.
Moral of the matter: the Palestinian themselves would opposed Kassam attacks near civilian areas if they feared for their own lives. And this is a serious problem for Israel- terrorists among civilians.
I wonder, is that the way to fight a war when your concern about the enemy civilians is larger than your concern about your own people? I admit that the security of my children is more important to me than that of someone who wants to destroy us.
I suggest that until the Arabs know full well, from actual experience, that Israel will use unpredictable power to counter attack, the terrorists will continue their murderous, unabated attacks against Israeli civilians. Any one who understands Arab mentality knows that fear is a necessary tool in the Middle East.
Prime minister Olmert said when he was visiting Russia recently: "The Iranians need to be afraid that something will happen that they do not want to happen to them,” The same way, I believe, Arabs in general, and Arab terrorists in particular, be it Hamas, Hezbollah or any other group, should be afraid from Israeli reactions. Those reactions, especially to rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon, were too subdued, too refined for too long, in my opinion.
The Arabs are not afraid of Israel. They should be.
Any belief that the Arabs will be eager for real peace with Israel if Israel will just be nice to them, accept their ever-increasing demands, is wishful thinking and counter to long demonstrated facts.
We must grasp that most Palestinians and many Arabs wish and work for the full destruction of Israel. Nothing less! The Nazis and Japan did not crumble in WWII because we were right or by our kindness and civility but the strength of our military might. I fail to understand why some people still believe that the laws of war have somehow changed when they apply to Israel.
Note: As the war continues with unrelenting Hezbollah attacks on Israeli civilians, the IAF pilots began to lose their patience, got angrier and angrier and were asking their commander how long do they have to wait before they unleash a real, powerful response on Lebanon. But they did not. It was not allowed.
I am eager to hear your own views of this difficult dilemma for Israel.
The IAF documentary- Hebrew only:
We are about to celebrate Hanukah, but the mood in Israel is not ready for celebration. Every time I call my family and friends in Israel since the Hezbollah war I feel their agony, sadness, and considerable lack of hope. They believe that all Israel’s neighbors want to kill them. First try to grasp it by reading the item below written during Saddam’s 1991 Scud rocket attacks on Israel, and then I will continue:
Why, as a matter of Fact?
By Yosef Lapid,
“The thought that scares me, in my sealed room with my mask on my face, is that all my life they have wanted to kill me.
Most of my childhood memories are connected to the fact that Germans and Hungarians were searching for me, and I was running away from them. Running away from a train, running away from the ghetto, running away from a group being led to extermination. There was something impolite, something provocative, in this stubbornness, in which I insisted on living. Had I agreed to die the Germans and t Hungarians would have been free to pursue more serious endeavors. I did not even ask myself, why, as a matter of fact, do they want to kill me? It seemed obvious to me. To the point where I felt guilty for not cooperating.
And now I sit with this absurd mask on my face, because some Arab in Baghdad wants to choke me. I do not know Saddam Hussein; I never did him any harm It's really strange that he has no more pressing and important a concern than this attempt to drop a missile on my head. He is really compulsive.
I guess there are people in the world who no one ever tried to kill. It must be an interesting feeling; you get up in the morning, and no one is trying to kill you.
This time I am not keeping quiet; I do not accept the judgment; this time I really want to know. With all due respect and in complete seriousness I ask: Why have they wanted to kill me all my life?”
Israelis see little hope and feel so powerless now because they believe their government is incompetent to deal with the mounting security crises. Theirs is a government without any military experience; no trusted figure of the old days is around any more: no Rabin, no Begin, Shamir, Sharon, or Dayan. The two remaining ex prime ministers, Netanyahu and Barak are not trusted; Barak for offering everything but the kitchen sink to Arafat and getting the Palestinian explosion in return.
They don’t see any leader there that can rise up to the multi challenges of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and all the other Muslim and especially Palestinian terrorist groups. Also the security Israel felt behind the mighty United States is now shaky in light of our failure to stem the uncontrolled religious wars in Iraq. The US Iran Study Group headed by ex Secretary of State James Baker is likely to sacrifice some of Israel’s interests to extract the US out of Iraq. Baker did pressure and scarified Israel’s interests under the previous Bush government on many occasions. Baker trust in negotiations with the enemy, now Syria and Iran, was proven mistaken before.
Everywhere the Israelis turn they see serious danger. And what makes it much worse, the Israeli feel they did all they could to be good neighbors. They, unlike any other country, do their utmost to minimize collateral killing of Arab civilians, often to the detriment of their own security. For example, both in the wars against Hezbollah and against Hamas in Gaza Israel made a mistake, in my opinion, by its gingerly counter attacks.
Israel tried Land for Peace with Egypt, and gave all the Sinai, but it is a farcical peace. True, Egypt has not gone to war against Israel for 33 years but there is no peace: no commerce, no tourism, and no cooperation from the Egyptian side. Oppositely, Egypt is the source of a lot of anti Israeli propaganda around the Arab world. Egypt is also reneging on its agreement with the US and Israel to stop the influx of more and more dangerous weapons into Gaza. Condoleezza Rice forced Israel to give control of the border with Egypt and she did it in a very undiplomatic way- take or we leave you.
Luckily, Jordan is still a reliable neighbor; it needs Israel’s protection to exist.
Israel dismantled all its communities in Gaza at tremendous monetary and emotional costs and several thousands Kassam rockets is the “reward.”
Even a temporary cease fire with Habbas and Hamas has not stopped the Kassam rockets from Gaza. The Palestinians use the tool Arabs have been using all the time: “it is not me”: another terrorist group emerges from nowhere to carry on the attacks; the PA and Hamas are thus innocent.
Hezbollah is rearmed by Iran via Syria while the multinational UNIFIL forces are doing nothing. Lebanon has its own continuous crises and is unable to control its own territory. Lebanon is on a shaky ground, a new civil war may emerge.
Iran is continuing rapidly to develop its nuclear weapons, and as any knowledgeable person would have known, the UN is unwilling to do anything about it. Russia and China, commercial partners of Iran, are opposing any effective UN action against Iran. A nuclear attack on Israel is well within the possibilities of a nuclear Iran. Mutual Assured Destruction [MAD] is not a threat to Iran’s “messianic” driven leadership.
However, some small lights are present in the economic area, which is critical to Israel security; the larger the economy the more money is available for a stronger defense.
One small light is a good relationship with the Indian government, who depends more and more on Israeli military technical know-how to improve its less than modern military. For a number of years now Israel upgraded fighters of the Indian Air force. Also, a few days ago India asked Israel to extract it from a technological mess in its military development program. If India relied on US or European companies to improve its military it could be subjected to political pressure, not so with Israel who needs India support.
On the other side, India is in serious competition with Israel high technology sector. As India continue to increase its penetration into the US as a low cost technology center, it competes with Israeli branches of important companies such as Motorola, Intel, Microsoft, that are a very important part of the Israeli economy.
China may be a possible source of light. A few days ago an eleven person delegation from the top political leadership of China came to evaluate potential relationships with Israel; no one can say what types and to what extent. Note that China is the biggest rising star in the global economic game growing at a rapid rate, more than twice the US economic growth rate, and it is already not so far behind the US in the size of its GDP.
Just ten years ago my brother, an editor of a prestigious Israeli historical journal, gave a series of talks in China on Israeli culture, Judaism and history to a country devoid of almost any grasp of these subjects. Let’s hope that China will pay some favorable attention to Israel industry because then their self interest may lead them to some support of Israel.
Another source of light comes from the second richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, who recently bought an Israeli manufacturing company for five billion dollars. Not only that, he announced that Israel is a very good place to do business in and he will advertise it in his famous yearly stockholders meeting where he is considered an oracle of sensible economic ownership.
Another positive item is the change in the media in the US and Canada, and sometimes even in Europe- they now see Israel in a new light. Gone are most of the one sided attacks on Israel and indirect support of “Palestinian Militants.” After Israel’s exit from Gaza more than a year ago that was rewarded by four thousands Kassam rockets on civilians, after Hezbollah indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilians, and also seeing how inhuman the Muslim’s sectarian wars in Iraq are, a new awakening is emerging in the media: maybe Israel is not always guilty.
As you see, Israelis have a lot to be concerned about and little to be hopeful for lately. However, their economy is doing much better than expected and the economic damage from the Lebanon war is lower than expected. Nonetheless, many are still suffering since the promised government compensation to the damaged North is still too little and too late. The current strike of much of the public sector is a serious burden to the economy losing over fifty million dollars in productivity every day. I believe it is driven by political forces rather than economic ones.
The list goes on, but this will give you a glimpse of the powerlessness that many Israelis feel and the lack of hope of finding a successful way out of the security dilemma they are in.
No clear, simple solution to any of these problems is evident now, and may not exist.
There are no good solutions; any direction Israeli will take will have serious negative impacts.
Life in Israel is rewarding, but also difficult and different from most places in the world; yet, there are well meaning people who do not live in Israel who “know” what is right for the Israelis. Let’s look at the current situation and try to help them, support them, and not pressure Israel to do what to us may seem sensible. We simply have no valid concept what it means to be an Israeli.
Please use DSL or CABLE to see a brief video on Hamas/Hezbollah dangers: http://www.jerusalemonline.com:80/4israel.asp
A friend of mine just wrote me how mad he is at the Los Angeles Times for putting on page 11, instead of page 1, the important statement by Richard Perl who now believes we should not have invaded Iraq.
I answered him the following:
I wonder why you are so mad at the Los Angeles Times. May be you want to direct your anger at the Bush team. However, it is also a mistake to blame that Bush team, and I am no supporter of them, for the unforeseen developments in Iraq, especially the endless atrocities against civilians. We, and I mean almost every one, did not grasp the lack of respect for human lives of these people: the terrorists, and many Iraqis themselves, who propagate these atrocities, both Shiites and Sunnis.
We need to stop focusing our anger at ourselves, but direct it at them- the murderers!
This does not mean supporting Bush, but anger? Direct it towards the Arab world that tolerates these atrocities and also support the terrorists.
Similarly in Israel. Most Israelis direct their anger at their government, instead of the Palestinians and Hezbollah who commit the atrocities and rocket firing.
See below what a Palestinian leader says about their Violent Society.
Americans, and I believe especially Jews, are so eager to despise, and fight with our brothers instead of focusing our anger on the real source of the agony. We can disagree as much as we wish among ourselves, but the anger should be directed towards those in the outside world who cause the murders and agonies.
PA Spokesman: Are the Palestinians a Violent Society?
Palestinian government spokesman Dr. Ghazi Hamad wrote in Al-Ayyam on October 17, 2006: "Are we really a violent society?...It has become the master that we obey everywhere - in the home, in the neighborhood, in the family....Our celebrations have no point or meaning, unless during them we fire a volley of bullets that echoes alongside the women's ululations of joy. Under sad circumstances and at funerals, our heroes volunteer to 'puncture' the air with hundreds of shots from their rifles. It is inconceivable for our marches - whatever their goals and political color - not to have dozens of rifles and armed gangs climbing on cars and aiming rifles, and youths leaning out of car windows waving the barrels of the Kalashnikovs and roaring with joy."
"When we are angry at the electric company, we have no solution but to shatter its [equipment] and break its furniture. When we are angry at the municipality or at the governor, we call in a group of masked gunmen - the heroes of our age - to climb on the rooftop and draw their weapons in front of the satellite TV [reporters]." (MEMRI)