Cognitive dissonance in Arab reporting about the Israel-Hezbollah War

Just because I was curious, I checked out the Kuwait Times online to see how an Arab nation that’s pretty much on the sidelines is reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah War. I didn’t have to look very far. One of the headlined articles is “Israel on baby-killing spree.” Bizarrely, the article not only does not support these extreme conclusion, it contains facts supporting the opposite conclusion — which is that Israel is trying not to hurt Lebanon’s civilian population.

For example, the first two paragraphs, which one might think would support the title’s proposition, contain some fairly straightforward reporting, including a statement from an Israeli spokeswoman to the effect that they tried to clear civilians from a Hezbollah target:

Israeli air strikes killed 14 villagers in south Lebanon yesterday as Beirut pleaded for a swift end to Israel’s war with Hezbollah guerrillas that has cost around 1,000 Lebanese and 101 Israeli lives in four weeks. Diplomats at the United Nations in New York said a vote on a resolution to end the war might not take place before tomorrow, as fighting in south Lebanon raged on. The vote has been delayed because Lebanon demanded the resolution include a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the south. “We are working to have a quick ceasefire or at the very minimum an end to acts of aggression,” said Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. “Then displaced people can return to their homes.” An Arab League delegation yesterday also called for the UN Security Council to order that Israeli forces be withdrawn from Lebanese territory as part of any UN resolution on a truce deal.

Israeli air raids killed 14 people and wounded 23 in the southern village of Ghaziyeh, rescue workers and hospital officials said. The bombs fell as mourners elsewhere in the village were burying 15 people killed by a raid there on Monday. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the building hit belonged to a senior Hezbollah member and was not near the funeral. She said all residents had been told in advance to leave. Four Israeli soldiers were killed fighting guerrillas, raising Israel’s military and civilian death toll to 101 in the war ignited by Hezbollah’s capture of two soldiers on July 12.  [Emphasis mine.]

The story then goes on to acknowledge the rain of Hezbollah rockets on Israel, as well as to report in straightforward fashion Israel’s statement that it will expand operations, dissatisfaction with the UN proposed peace plans, Beirut’s intention to send 15,000 troops to Southern Lebanon, etc.  From this news it switches to human interest stories about Hezbollah supporters complaining both about Israeli aggression and the passivity of the Lebanese government.  One of these people obliquely acknowledges Israel’s efforts to protect Lebanese civilians when he complains that his community didn’t get the usual Israel notice that the village was an imminent target.  I don’t know if that means Israel intentionally didn’t give notices, the civilians didn’t get the notices, or the village was an accidental target.  Because Israel is getting no credit for her efforts to insulate civilians — as is evidence by the article’s fact-unrelated headline — she may stop dropping the notices, because all they do is allow Hezbollah, which has mobile missile launchers, to relocate.

And that’s kind of the whole article.  There’s not a single word in the article to support the headline — indeed, there are at least two points in which the article points to Israel’s efforts to protect noncombatants — and yet there lies that horrible accusation — Israel is intentionally slaughtering Arab children.

It’s a peculiar cognitive dissonance that allows a newspaper to do what is, by MSM standards, a fairly straightforward report, but nevertheless to caption it with something that parallels a medieval blood libel.  I’d be curious to know about the effect on Kuwaiti readers of this chasm between lede and story.  Does the average reader even get to the story?  Does he read it and wonder, as I did, why the headline was attached and, if he does, does he start looking with a jaundiced eye at other, similar claims?  Or does he simply accept with equanimity an extreme claim for which there is no proof?

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  • jg

    When he initially began his reports inside the Iraq mission, Michael Yon had no outside support. No organizational ties, no US backers. Those who emailed in those times quite often got personal replies within the day, or, in this case, within hours.

    I had seen the blood on the newsline where ISLAMIC terrorists had DELIBERATELY blown apart MUSLIM children.
    It was in Iraq. The children had gathered near US soldiers who, among other things, had handed out candy.

    All were slaughtered by those animals who ravage the next door Arab neighbors of the Kuwaitis. My email to Michael was one of horror.
    He emailed back within the hour (as I remember) that his reaction was anguished. MUSLIMS AGAIN murdering innocent Muslims, thousands of them, over the decades in every part of the world, but more especially the children.

    As a civilised person, from an American, but especially an Israeli perspective, I condemn the Arab world. All of it. It lives to kill. It must face its own genocides, suicides, jihads, massacres. Then talk about what should be. Or propose the sins of others.

    An angry God owes the Muslim world much justice. Perhaps Israel represents that: a mirror detailing a monstrous Arab internal sickness.

  • d_Brit

    “An angry God owes the Muslim world much justice. Perhaps Israel represents that: a mirror detailing a monstrous Arab internal sickness.”Comment by jg

    When the left views the Muslim world in those terms, as one way or the other, in time it surely will, then Islam will reap the whirlwind they will have brought upon themselves.

  • Ymarsakar

    There’s a lot of rumours in the Arab world. I suppose people there have to compete for the juiciest titles.

  • Danny Lemieux

    No, D_Brit, the Left will never do so. They will simply arrange their various prisms of their kaleidoscope world view to accommodate the new reality, just like “Stalin was mislead by his advisors”, “the Khmer Rouge were driven made by B-52 bombs”, it was Gorbachev that ended the Cold War, not Reagan”, it is “America that is guilty of killing all the Iraqi civilians”. They live an Orwellian Nightmare where no facts will ever enlighten their deeper torments. During WWII, the Left could unite with us only after Hitler turned on Stalin. This, time, unfortunately, we have as much to fear from the Left as we do the Islamicists. Our successes will only drive them to further fury.

  • jg

    “..unfortunately, we have as much to fear from the Left as we do the Islamicists.” I fear this.

  • Danny Lemieux

    As a student, at home and abroad, I had many friends from the Middle East, Israeli, Iranian and Arab. I remember my shock, on day, when one of my friends, a Libyan, confided that he greatly admired Israel and wished that he could enjoy Israel’s democracy in his own country. I have since found that Israel has many silent admirers in the Arab and Persian world. Perhaps, one day, they will be able to speak out.