Tripoli 2007 vs. Jenin 2002: Even-handed Media’s Double Standards

Here’s a piece which puts things in perspective about the MSM and Muslims as victims. (Hat tip: fp)

Jenin comes to Lebanon. So where is the outcry?

Jonathan Kay
National Post

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Last week, the Lebanese army attacked a squalid Palestinian refugee camp that’s become infested with Islamist suicide terrorists and guerilla fighters. On May 20, government troops surrounded the camp, with tanks and artillery pieces shelling it at close range. Army snipers gunned down anything that moved. At least 18 civilians were killed, and dozens more injured. Water and electricity were cut off. By week’s end, much of the camp had been turned into deserted rubble. Thousands of terrified residents fleeing the camp reported harrowing stories of famished, parched families trapped in their basements.

How did the rest of the world react? The Arab League quickly condemned “the criminal and terrorist acts carried out by the terrorist group known as Fatah al-Islam,” and vowed to “give its full support to the efforts of the army and the Lebanese government.” EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana also condemned Fatah al-Islam, and declared Europe’s “support” for Lebanon. And the UN Security Council called the actions of Fatah al-Islam “an unacceptable attack” on Lebanon’s sovereignty. As for the Western media, most outlets ignored the story following the first flurry of news reports.

At this point, please indulge me by re-reading the first paragraph of this column — except this time, substitute the world “Israeli” for “Lebanese” in the first sentence. Let’s imagine what the world’s reaction would be if the ongoing siege were taking place in Gaza or the West Bank instead of the Nahr al Bared refugee camp on the outskirts of Tripoli, Lebanon.

First of all, a flood of foreign journalists would descend on the camp to document Israel’s cruelty and barbarism, and the story would remain front page news to this day. Al-Jazeera would be a 24/7 montage of grieving mothers swearing revenge on the Zionist butchers, and rumours would swirl of mass graves and poison gas. The Arab League, EU and United Nations would condemn Israeli aggression — as would the editorial board of The New York Times. The Independent would dispatch Robert Fisk to embed with Fatah al-Islam. And the newspaper’s cartoonist, Dave Brown, would produce another award-winning rendition of his signature theme: Jews eating Palestinian babies.

Actually, we don’t need to speculate: What I have just written is exactly what happened when the Israeli army invaded the Jenin refugee camp to root out terrorists in April, 2002, a battle that was similar in scale to this month’s siege at Nahr al Bared. (At Jenin, 52 refugee camp residents were killed — most of them gunmen, according to Human Rights Watch. At Nahr al Bared, the figure is 45 and climbing.) The main difference between the two sieges is that Israel’s army put its troops at far greater risk by invading Jenin with infantry — whereas the less humane Lebanese army has simply pummelled Nahr al Bared with explosives from a distance. Jews apparently care a lot more about saving Palestinian civilians than do Lebanese soldiers.

Another major difference: The Lebanese have not been suffering a year-and-a-half-long campaign of suicide terrorism in which people from this camp had spread out everywhere in the country blowing up people in buses, marketplaces, and restaurants. So even the provocation for the assault is nothing near as imperative as the Israeli one.

(Personal note: I was in an Arab-Israeli “dialogue” group from late 2000 onwards, and when Sharon was elected, the prediction of virtually everyone was that the butcher of Sabra and Shatilla would go back to his meat-cleaver tactics immediately. The fact that he waited over a year before responding to some really dastardly attacks never made the slightest dent in the universal distaste that members of the dialogue had for him.)

For years, we have been told that Palestinian suffering and “humiliation” is at the root of the Middle East conflict, as well as the Western-Muslim clash of civilizations more generally. This is nonsense: The 200,000-plus Palestinian refugees who live in Lebanese camps are treated worse than dogs — with no access to decent schools or good jobs — and no one in the Arab world cares a whit. In fact, many Arabs seem to embrace the same blind anti-Palestinian hatred of which Israel is typically accused. When Lebanese armoured personnel carriers rolled through Tripoli on May 20, they got a standing ovation from local residents. “We wish the government would destroy the whole camp and the rest of the camps,” one local told The New York Times. “Nothing good comes out of the Palestinians.”

Just as Lebanon’s stew of eternally warring Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Hezbollah terrorists and militarized clans serves as a Mediterranean microcosm for the political dysfunction of the Arab world, this month’s events capture perfectly the utter cynicism of the Islamic world’s trumped up vilification of Israel, and the West as a whole. As with the Muslim- on-Muslim slaughter in Darfur, Iraq, Pakistan, Gaza and a dozen other hot spots, the siege at Nahr al Bared shows that what inflames “the Muslim street” (for lack of a better cliche) isn’t Muslim suffering, but the relatively tiny fraction thereof that jihadi propagandists and their Western apologists can lay at the feet of Jews and Christians.

Muslim blood apparently comes cheap — but only when it’s drawn by other Muslims.

As Churchill once commented wryly: “The Arabs don’t mind being oppressed as long as it’s by other Arabs.” The point here being a matter of honor-shame. When an Arab strongman dominates others, they admire the strongman, when an outsider — or worse, a rebellious subject insider like the Jews — dominates Arabs, it’s an unbearable affront to honor. Thus when Assad killed 20,000 Arab Muslims in Hama in 1982 – the same year that the Phalange killed less than a thousand Palestinians in Sabra and Shatilla — the Arab world had nothing to say.

And neither did the media… which suggests the uncomfortable possibility that the media, in their coverage, reflect, conform to, and amplify the distorted world of Arab honor-shame concerns, highlighting not that which causes them real catastrophes, but what causes them narcissistic injury.

How’s that for a nice illustration of the superiority of the HJP over the PCP as an elegant (if tragic) explanation of the problem?

8 Responses to Tripoli 2007 vs. Jenin 2002: Even-handed Media’s Double Standards

  1. [...] the difference between how the media handles Palestinian suffering caused by Jews and that caused by “fellow” Arabs. [...]

  2. yo yo says:

    What you fail to see is that so far, only 1 Palistinian civilian has been reported dead, not 18. Another point being, the Lebanese soldiers did not invade, which is worse, not better, than only beseiging.

    The Lebanese army is now also evacuaitng the camp just in case more people die. You want one more? The two sides are also being provoked by another ‘third party’, which remains unknown. The Lebanese army only has a fighting time of 2 firm days, with the eventual outbreaks here and there, to allow politicians time to resolve the issue peavefully.

    Israel invaded to occupy and destroy Jenin, whereas the Lebanese army is respecting Palistinian territory, even if its on Lebanese land, for the sake of the Palistinian people, not the terrorists. I’ll chuk one more at you. The ‘terrorists’ who were being fought in Jenin are resistance fighters fighting the occupation because they desire freedom. The Fatah al-Islam is a US-Saudi-Lebanese government created organisation which is opposed by all Palistinians, and ofcourse hasn’t been elected into any government.

  3. Richard Landes says:

    to yo yo:

    thank you for your comments. very interesting what you say. some questions:

    What you fail to see is that so far, only 1 Palistinian civilian has been reported dead, not 18.

    what’s your source for “only one palestinian has been reported dead”? how reliable are they?

    Another point being, the Lebanese soldiers did not invade, which is worse, not better, than only beseiging.

    i assume you’re saying besieging is less bad than invading. but bombing from without (as Assad did in Hama) is actually far worse. the israelis went into the refugee camp near Jenin — at much greater risk to their own lives — because the Israeli supreme court ruled that bombing from without wd cause many more civilian casualties than going house-to-house. the easiest thing is to sit outside, safe, and bomb civilian houses as a way to get at an army hiding behind those civilians.

    The two sides are also being provoked by another ‘third party’, which remains unknown. The Lebanese army only has a fighting time of 2 firm days, with the eventual outbreaks here and there, to allow politicians time to resolve the issue peacefully.

    how do you know this? and what meaning does it have? are not the two sides responsible for what they do, no matter what the provocation?

    as for evacuating the camp, shouldn’t they have done that before shelling? did they not know they endangered civilians by just shooting?

    and what makes you think that things will be resolved peacefully? are these two armies not genuinely at war over the fate of Lebanon?

    Israel invaded to occupy and destroy Jenin, whereas the Lebanese army is respecting Palistinian territory, even if its on Lebanese land, for the sake of the Palistinian people, not the terrorists.

    Israel didn’t touch Jenin. They went after a three square block area of the refugee camp which was the center of the bomb-making factories for terrorist attacks.

    I’ll chuck one more at you. The ‘terrorists’ who were being fought in Jenin are resistance fighters fighting the occupation because they desire freedom.

    i’m not saying you’re wrong about the motivation of of the “resistance fighters” from Jenin “fighting the occupation because they desire freedom.” the evidence, however, is that Hamas is not interested in freedom but imposing Islam on everyone — Palestinians, Jews, Christians, etc. The behavior of Hamas in Gaza again suggests that they are far less interested in self-rule and their own people’s welfare than fighting, other Palestinians if necessary, with no concern for the lives of innocent standers-by including children. What if you’re wrong about their motivations? what does that do to your analysis?

    The Fatah al-Islam is a US-Saudi-Lebanese government created organisation which is opposed by all Palistinians, and of course hasn’t been elected into any government.

    US-Saudi-Lebanese govt creation? what’s your source on this? i haven’t heard that analysis yet.

    and of course, in 2002, Hamas also hadn’t been elected into any govt. on the contrary, they were forcing the PA into more and more violence with their suicide terror campaign.

  4. fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    rl,

    yoyo is a sort of troll. he has been cluttering the totten blog.

    he dumps nonsense, does not address the criticism and strives for attention by being contrarian on very shallow grounds.

    you’ve been warned.

  5. fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    if you thought jeffb was not an idiot (about which we could argue), yoyo is one. you’ll see.

    i would not feed him as there will be no end to it.

  6. Cynic says:

    yo yo said:
    The Fatah al-Islam is a US-Saudi-Lebanese government created organisation which is opposed by all Palistinians, and ofcourse hasn’t been elected into any government.

    Well you should read
    Syrian Intelligence and Fateh Islam

    I recently pointed out the article by Muhammad Choucair in al-Hayat, which quoted Palestinian sources as saying that the leadership of Fateh al-Islam comprised of three Syrians, one of whom, Abu Midian (alias), was a Syrian intelligence officer. The sources said that the terrorist Shaker al-Absi (indicted in Jordan for killing an American official, and released by the Syrians and sent to Lebanon) received directives from Abu Midian.
    Abu Midian was killed in the fighting in Nahr al-Bared, according to reports. Another member of the Syrian trio in the leadership, Abu Yazan [or Mizian, unclear] (alias), was also reportedly killed, and he was the military commander, and was suspected of being the mastermind of the Ain Alaq bombing in February. Shaker al-Absi is also said to be seriously wounded inside the camp.

    Read the rest and if you can read Arabic then get the actual al-Hayat article referred to above, at:
    Muhammad Choucair in al-Hayat

    As for that 1 Palestinian, who knows, but Lebanon’s Daily Star reports:
    22 troops, 19 Fatah al-Islam fighters dead
    By Rym Ghazal
    Daily Star staff
    Monday, May 21, 2007
    At least 41 people were killed Sunday in a fierce battle here and in the streets of nearby Tripoli between the Lebanese Army and members of an extreme Islamist group, in the deadliest clashes involving the army since the Civil War. “We are being heavily shelled and many houses have already been destroyed.

    and
    Lebanese Army resumes battle against Fatah al-Islam
    Three days of fierce fighting between Fatah al-Islam militants and the Lebanese Army have left 32 soldiers and dozens of civilians dead. Conflicting reports put the number of militants dead at between 22 and 60, making the clashes north of Tripoli the deadliest internal conflict the country has seen since the 1975-90 Civil War.

    Maybe Al Jazeera will also suffice:
    Relief agencies are hoping to get more aid to those still inside the once densely populated camp, which has been battered by army shelling.
    Thousands of people have fled the camp after a lull in fighting between the army and Fatah al-Islam in which 69 people died.

  7. fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    yoyo is a teenager starry-eyed about hezbollah whose parents sent to britain to “save” him.

    i don’t think he is an appropriate discussants of world politics.

  8. [...] 8220;We need to take out the whole camp. Just once.” I leave it to your imagination what this article would read like were it [...]

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