In the Media

07/20/06: Muslim and Arab Media Questions Justified

 Muslim and Arab Media Questions Justified          

New America Media, News Digest, Donal Brown, Jul 20, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO--Muslim and Arab media in the United States and beyond are challenging the justifications put forth by Israel and America for the attacks in Gaza and Lebanon.

The English-language Arab press in the United States is expressing outrage over the Israeli bombing and U.S. complicity in the attacks.

In the Arab American News, Aatif Ali Bokhari reports from Dearborn, Mich., one of the largest Arab and Muslim communities in America, that more than 1,500 protestors marched in the rain recently to show their opposition to Israeli aggression.

Arab American organizations issued statements condemning the air strikes on the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and called for the United States to work for an immediate ceasefire.

They expressed their concern for the safety of Detroit citizens on vacation in Lebanon to visit family.

"It is our hope that the Israeli government discontinues their assaults on the civilian populations of Palestine and Lebanon and accepts the calls [for a ceasefire] that have been made by the legitimate governments of Palestine and Lebanon," said Dawud Walid of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Bokhari also reported Imam Mohamed Ali Elahi saying that the Israelis are "making millions blind, just for two Israeli eyes." The immediate cause of the war was the kidnapping of one Israeli soldier by Hamas, which was followed by the abduction of two more by Hezbollah.

Osama Siblani, of the Congress of Arab-American Organizations criticized the United States for its support of Israel. The U.S. government, he said, is "encouraging the systematic destruction of two blooming democracies in the Middle East."

In other Muslim media reports, and in statements from Arab and Muslim groups, the U.S. media was also criticized for siding with Israel. In, Alison Weir wrote that the American media is not reporting that Israel is violating U.S. law in using U.S. weapons to attack civilians in Lebanon. The U.S. Arms Export Control Act restricts the use of U.S. weapons to self-defense and internal policing.

"U.S. weapons cannot be used to attack civilians in offensive operations," Weir wrote.

In one of several articles critical of the United States and Israel published in the Muslims Weekly, Ivan Eland pointed out that while the mainstream U.S. press focused on the kidnappings, Israel had committed a string of acts that should be labeled "terrorist" that led to the current state of hostilities.

A family of seven died in an explosion on a Gaza beach on June 9, most likely the result of Israeli shelling (Israel's military has so far denied responsibility). Nine more Palestinians, including two children, died in a June 13 Israeli missile strike on a van.

Eland said the U.S. declaration that "'Israel has right to defend itself,' is tacitly approving Israel's pounding Lebanon into rubble and reinvading Gaza."

Eland made the point that Israel can't hold the weak government of Lebanon responsible for containing Hezbollah. He also said that while Hamas and Hezbollah can't be excused for bombing towns and cities, "...neither should great powers, especially the United States look the other way while a government -- read Israel -- systematically kills many more civilians under the guise of a disingenuous claim of offensive self-defense."

Also in Muslims Weekly, Sam Bahour expressed a desire for the international community to live up to its responsibilities.

"Hopefully, the scenes of horror and sheer magnitude of death and destruction emerging from Lebanon will shock the international community to acknowledge their collective failure and emerge from their coma to finally and unequivocally impose international sanctions and a global boycott on Israel until it brings itself in line with the international rule of law. Anything less would be tantamount to merely turning a page of history in a blood-stained textbook that Palestinians and Lebanese, and now Israelis, are writing with their children's blood," he wrote.

Mideast expert Jamal Dajani, who monitors the Arab media for the New American Media said on July 19 on the NAM radio segment "Headlines from the Ethnic Media" that the Arab media is covering the events of the war and emphasizing that Israel is launching attacks on civilian targets.

"Israelis have been attacking Lebanese towns, villages, churches, hospitals, TV stations," Dajani said. 

Dajani said that Israel has not been able to crush Hezbollah and so has lost standing. Said Dajani, "For the first time since Saddam sent Scud missiles into Tel Aviv, Israel finds itself attacked in its own cities....they [Hezbollah] have been able to retaliate, and they have been able to answer for eight days, and it doesn't look like the fighting might stop anytime soon."

Dajani said both Arab and Western media see the delay in Secretary Condoleezza Rice's trip to the Middle East as giving Israel extra leash to attack Hezbollah following Israel's statement that they have destroyed 50 percent of Hezbollah's capability.

Dajani said that the United States is losing stature in the Middle East. "The U.S. will again become the alienated country in the region, looked upon as a country with only its own interests and its unwavering support for Israel, regardless of who's right or who's wrong," he said.

Israel, regardless of who's right or who's wrong," he said.