Olmert: foreign media biased in Hizbullah coverage (& Arnie for Israel)

July 24, 2006

* “If the Israelis really wanted to inflict civilian casualties from the air, they could kill 30,000 in a few hours as the U.S. and UK did in World War II”



1. “A twisted image is presented”
2. “Perhaps Israel should be congratulated”
3. Some parts of the British media prepared to stand up for Israel
4. Hizbullah “sleeper” terror cells activated outside Middle East
5. Ariel Sharon’s condition deteriorates
6. “Out of disproportion” (By Ben Stein, American Spectator, July 21, 2006)
7. “Jenin massacre syndrome” (By Sever Plocker, Yediot Ahronot, July 23, 2006)
8. “Now isn’t the time for restraint” (By Newt Gingrich, USA Today, July 18, 2006)
9. “Grapes of wrath” (By Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2006)
10. “It all boils down to Iran” (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, July 16, 2006)

[Note by Tom Gross]


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday accused the international media of bias by not properly reporting the attacks by Hizbullah.

“The massive, brutal and murderous viciousness of Hizbullah is unfortunately not represented in its full intensity on television screens outside of Israel,” Olmert told a gathering of reporters. “A twisted image is presented, where the victim is presented as an aggressor.”

At least 38 Israelis have been killed by Hizbullah since the recent round of fighting began. Over 1,300 Israelis have been injured, some seriously, and close to a quarter of a million Israelis have spent much of the last two weeks in bomb shelters. Thousands of Israeli refugees have fled south. There has been very little reporting of this on organizations like the BBC world service, which is increasingly becoming a 24-hour-a-day Hizbullah propaganda tool, as it desperately attempts to prove Israel is committing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”

CNN International, by contrast, is making at least some attempt to report on Israeli suffering, although one or two of its reporters, notably Christiane Amanpour and Ben Wedeman, are still displaying significant anti-Israeli bias.


Yesterday only 90 rockets fell on Israel, and only two Israeli civilians died, as opposed to 180 rockets that fell on Israel on Saturday. Lebanese security forces say a total of 271 people have so far died in Lebanon. Anti-Israel news media, like The Guardian, are desperate to increase the number of Lebanese dead and are claiming that over 430 Lebanese have died.

It is reported elsewhere that nine of the dead last week in Lebanon are Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Egyptian intelligence says their bodies have been transported to Syria and flown on to Teheran for burial.

Anti-Israeli demonstrations have taken place in recent days on the streets of Australia, New Zealand, the United States and across Europe. There was also an “anti-Zionist” demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

Yesterday, Olmert asked Vice Premier Shimon Peres to leave on an urgent tour of the United States and European countries to present Israel’s stance.


Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a crowd of 10,000 at a pro-Israel rally yesterday in Los Angeles. The Governor of California and former movie star told the crowd: “We are all here to support the State of Israel. While we all regret the loss of innocent life, there is no doubt that Israel has the right to take all appropriate steps to keep its people safe. There is nothing Israel wants more than to live in peace. That is why I am happy to be here today.” (For more on Schwarzenegger, please see Arnie and the Jews, Aug. 7, 2003.)

Several thousand people, mostly Ukrainian Jews, gathered in central Kiev today to voice support for Israel.

As reader Alastair Albright points out: “In the context of the Middle East, where thousands are killed every day and tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered within recent memory – in Sudan, in Iraq, in Iran, in Syria, in Ethiopia, in Somalia, in Chad – perhaps Israel should be congratulated for the relatively few deaths it has caused, despite the huge material damage inflicted upon Lebanon. A cynic might point out that ‘disproportionality’ only applies when it is Jews who are killing Muslims, albeit in their self-defense.”


Hizbullah “sleeper” terror cells set up outside Lebanon with Iranian assistance have been activated, according to Israeli intelligence sources. They are likely planning attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets throughout the world. In 1992, a Hizbullah organized bomb killed 29 people and wounded 242, in Buenos Aires. And in 1994, Hizbullah killed a further 85 people in a suicide attack on the Buenos Aires Jewish community building.


Amidst the mass of negative coverage of Israel, there has also been supportive coverage. For example, there are still some parts of the British media that are prepared to stand up for Israel.

The Business, which has a circulation of around 150,000 (mainly businessmen in the greater London area) has an editorial this week strongly supportive of Israel, as does The (UK) Spectator magazine. (Both The Business and The Spectator are part of the Press Holdings Group, which is owned by the Barclay brothers, who also own the (London) Daily Telegraph, which is now less supportive of Israel.)

The Spectator’s editorial this week says: “It is routinely alleged that Israel’s acts of self-defence and the West’s complicity in such self-defence are somehow a recruiting sergeant for Islamism in the region. On that ludicrous basis a sovereign state should never react against incursion lest its response upset the supporters of its attackers. It is just as plausible that any show of weakness by Israel under such intense provocation would be the real recruiting sergeant for the mullahs.”

The Business’s editorial this week says: “First (and less important), those who are so sure Israel’s response has been ‘disproportionate’ (the buzz word of Israel’s critics) are least able to tell us what a ‘proportionate’ response would have been. When a terrorist group too powerful to be destroyed by its host country (Lebanon) and bent on the destruction of another (Israel) kidnaps your soldiers, kills others in the process, then rains down hundreds of rockets indiscriminately on your towns and cities, what exactly is the ‘proportionate’ response?”

I have identified five more pieces sympathetic to Israel and attach extracts from them below. These are presented here as a counterweight to the distorted and anti-Israeli coverage which can be found throughout the mainstream international media.

-- Tom Gross


[Additional Note by Tom Gross]


The medical condition of Israel’s former prime minister Ariel Sharon took a serious turn for the worse over the weekend. He has been returned to the emergency hospital unit from the rehabilitation center to which he had been transferred two months ago. Doctors said his kidneys have all but ceased functioning. Sharon’s closest relatives were by his side today.



Out of disproportion
By Ben Stein
American Spectator
July 21, 2006

… Let’s see. In World War II, the Germans bombed exactly no United States cities or towns. We bombed the hell out of them, day and night, for more than two years, including helping the British with firebombing Dresden, one of the most appalling civilian killings by a free people of all time.

Was it disproportionate? Well, no. The Nazis had bombed our allies, the British, in terror raids for years. They had started a world war. They had created a genocide unspeakable in human history. So, yes, there was horrible killing, but is anyone now saying it was disproportionate? Maybe a few, but not many.

… The Lebanese have admitted the terrorists into dominant positions in their government. In every way, Lebanon has made itself a haven for terrorists bombing civilians day in and day out in Israel. Is Israel finally standing up and saying enough “disproportionate”? Yes, if you think Israel and Jews should be permanent victims who suffer, bleed, and die in silence. No, if you believe Jews have the same rights as other people to defend themselves.

Look, if the Israelis wanted to inflict a lot of casualties from the air, they could. They have the second best air force in the world. Clearly, they are showing restraint. Three hundred dead is a lot, and every human’s death is sad unless he’s a terrorist, but we were killing 30,000 in a few hours in World War II and glorying in it. No news shows were showing German civilians getting fried and saying how sad it was. It was war against butchers and war is horrible, but it’s war, and to defend human decency, sometimes war is necessary. By any historic measure, Israel’s response to a decade of torment is extremely restrained…

(For the full piece, see www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=10117.)



Jenin massacre syndrome
Just like the spring of 2002, the international press prefers hype to facts
By Sever Plocker
Yediot Ahronot
July 23, 2006

After a lot of hesitancy and a short-lived attempt to take balanced positions, the worldwide left-wing has returned in full force to the “Jenin massacre syndrome.”*

… It took months for human rights organizations, even the United Nations, to issue their reports refuting Palestinian claims. There was no massacre in Jenin, no ethnic cleansing, no intentional destruction of hospitals. There was a bloody battle in which soldiers died on each side.

The fairytale about the “Jenin massacre” may have died, but were lessons learned? Some were… But in other cases, no lessons were learned. During the second week of fighting, Israel’s military campaign in Lebanon is currently being portrayed as the total destruction of Lebanon, of essential civilian infrastructure, as a human tragedy on the level of the 2004 tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia.

Reading reports from left-leaning field reporters, one gets a picture that Beirut has been destroyed at least as badly as Dresden was during the Second World War. Foreign television channels use one section of footage over and over, showing the destruction of one neighborhood in south Beirut, to “show” what has happened throughout the city.

The most worrying thing about the current anti-Israel wave is its’ global scope: Leaders and opinion makers around Latin America, for example, have denounced Israel in some of the strongest terms imaginable. The UN Human Rights Commission has joined the chorus, as have international law organizations, cinema types, even journalists.

… And where is the truth in all this? The air force’s bombing of Lebanon have caused, as always happens in war, damage and destruction, but this damage has been extremely limited… In Beirut, to date, the airport has been hit, as have several strategic targets and buildings in the Shiite Quarter. That’s a far cry from the descriptions of horror being played out nightly on television screens, and of charges of war crimes.

The situation in south Lebanon is worse because of the planned civilian flight… civilians were forced to flee both southern Lebanon and northern Israel… talk of a humanitarian disaster that any honest person would feel revulsion about, fails to reflect reality. It is no more than horror propaganda that many prefer to believe, including many Israeli journalists. Analysts repeat the claims without verifying the facts, and preach moral lessons and philosophies based on these claims… There is no “destruction of Lebanon,” just like there was no “Jenin massacre.”

(For the full piece, see www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3280038,00.html.)

* For more on the “Jenin massacre syndrome,” see here.



Now isn’t the time for restraint
By Newt Gingrich
USA Today
July 18, 2006

… When compared with U.S. history lessons, the advice of the Group of Eight industrial nations to Israel is wrong. The communique says the No. 1 priority is a cease-fire that would effectively leave Hezbollah in possession of all its rockets. We’d never accept such advice for ourselves. The Israelis should not accept it for the same reasons: It would not end the threat.

Israel, a fellow democracy, has the same duty and right to protect its citizens from enemy attack. It is doing so while making every effort to avoid civilian casualties. The Israeli response is wholly justified based on a history where Israeli concessions to the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas terrorist alliance have consistently resulted in their enemies preparing for the next attack. The terrorists have been attacking with increased capability, brutality and violence aimed at civilians. This is only the latest cycle in an ongoing 58-year campaign to destroy Israel.

In 2000, the Israelis withdrew from southern Lebanon, creating an opportunity for peace. Instead of peace, for six years Iran, Syria and Hezbollah moved more than 10,000 missiles into the vacated area. More recently, the Israelis withdrew from Gaza to provide another circumstance for peace and an opportunity for a self-governing Palestinian people to work toward creating a place of prosperity, but instead Hamas created a place of terror. Now Israel is the target of more than 1,000 missiles from both Gaza and southern Lebanon in the past week alone.

… United Nations Resolution 1559, supported by the European Union, called for Hezbollah to be disarmed. If not now, when? If not by the Israelis, who?

… Finally, Iran and Syria must be forced to cease their support of Hezbollah and Hamas by the United States communicating to them such dire consequences that they could not sustain the relationships. And then we should be prepared, if necessary, to impose those consequences.

(For the full piece, see www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2006-07-18-gingrich-mideast-conflict_x.htm.)



Grapes of wrath
Israel hasn’t been so united since 1967
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
July 22, 2006

Bret Stephens reported on a tour of rocket-ravaged communities in northern Israel, and then went on to observe:

Tel Aviv may be the economic and cultural capital of Israel, Jerusalem its political and symbolic capital. But the Galilee is where Israelis come to play, the forested and breezy getaway from the sweltering coast and the incessant dramas of everyday life in this region. Israelis were prepared to give up sandy Gaza and might also have been prepared to do the same with the rocky West Bank, if only the Palestinians would behave themselves. Yet places make a nation as much as principles do, and the Galilee was one place no Israeli could part with if his country was still going to be worth living in.

So even as terror-stricken residents of the north flee, the rest of the country is prepared to fight, whatever the cost: A recent poll found that 80% of Israelis support the present military operations, and three-quarters of those would be prepared to launch a full-scale invasion of Lebanon if that is what it takes to defeat Hezbollah. No similar consensus has existed among Israelis since the 1967 Six Day War.

(For the full piece, see www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008692.)



It all boils down to Iran
By Jeff Jacoby
Boston Globe
July 16, 2006

Opening a security conference in Tehran on July 8, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad exhorted the Islamic world to mobilize against Israel and “remove the Zionist regime.” People in the region are growing furious, he said. “It will not be long before this intense fury will lead to a huge explosion.”

Four days later, Hezbollah terrorists staged a raid across Israel’s northern border, kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and killing eight more. Over the next day, more than 120 rockets rained down across northern Israel. [Tom Gross adds: since then, about 2000 more rockets have hit Israeli civilian areas.]

… The top Hamas mastermind held a press conference in a Damascus ballroom last week, where he extolled the Syrian regime that shelters him. Syria is in turn protected by Iran, with which it signed a military cooperation pact in June. So it came as no surprise when Ahmadinejad warned Israel not to extend its military offensive to Syria, and threatened “a crushing response” if it did.

… “No one should have any lingering doubts about what’s going on in the Middle East,” writes Michael Ledeen, an expert on terrorism and Iran. “It’s war, and it now runs from Gaza into Israel, through Lebanon and thence to Iraq via Syria. There are different instruments, ranging from Hamas in Gaza to Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon and on to the multifaceted ‘insurgency’ in Iraq. But there is a common prime mover, and that is the Iranian mullahcracy, the revolutionary Islamic fascist state that declared war on us 27 years ago and has yet to be held accountable.”

Twenty-seven years ago was 1979, the year that Islamist radicals loyal to the Ayatollah Khomeini invaded the US embassy in Tehran and held dozens of American diplomats hostage for the next 444 days. Washington’s response was weak and feckless, as it would be time and again in the years that followed. Only after 9/11 did the United States finally acknowledge that it was in a war with militant Islam and began fighting back in earnest. But not against Iran, which continues, unscathed and unrepentant, to stoke the terrorist fires. Its goals, unchanged since Khomeini’s day, are to become the dominant power in the Middle East, to create Islamist regimes worldwide, to annihilate Israel, and to kill Americans… Regime change in Tehran will require American resolve. Will we muster that resolve before – or only after – the mullahs get the bomb?

(For the full piece, see

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.