The Israeli newspaper Haaretz did a report Thursday (hat tip to Drudge) on the Hezbollah propaganda machine. As one reads the revelations about how this terrorist group uses the media to affect opinion in Lebanon, Israel, and across the globe, it is difficult not to wonder what impact similar efforts by liberal press representatives in America is having on the war in Iraq as well as the war on terrorism.
If Hezbollah-run media are to be believed, then 35 Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed or wounded in Aita Shaab, militants downed an Israeli helicopter and destroyed a house in which IDF soldiers were hiding, and IDF troops are always hit in the back because they are running away.
All these statements are baseless because - despite the impression Hezbollah has made for straight talk - credibility is not its strong suit.
To be sure, this is an Israeli news outlet talking about its enemy. As such, Haaretz has its own biases. However, could this statement concerning a lack of credibility be made about any number of mainstream media outlets in America?
How has the credibility of the New York Times been impacted by its releasing highly classified espionage secrets? Or CNN after one of its correspondents recently allowed himself to be a propaganda arm of this Hezbollah machine?
The article continued:
Hezbollah's reports have become less and less believable in recent days. On Monday, Al-Manar television - the central component of Hezbollah's well-oiled media empire - reported that the organization had destroyed an Israeli ship off the coast of Tyre, which had some 50 sailors aboard - a charge the IDF dismissed completely.
It's not clear what incident, if any, the report was referring to, and the Arab world has been asking questions. Al-Arabiya television asked Mahmoud Kamati, a member of the Hezbollah political bureau, about the Hezbollah claim and he repeated that an Israeli ship had been hit, but said no pictures were broadcast because visibility was poor.
Harken back to a report made by CBS’s “60 Minutes II” that included forged documents about a sitting president just before the 2004 presidential election. Or, to another high profile farce purported by the media in October 2004 concerning munitions at the al-Qa’qaa weapons facility in Iraq. You didn’t hear much more about that controversy once the election was over, did you?
The article continued:
Hezbollah's media empire - which includes the Al-Nur radio station and the Web site moqawama.net - has been an inseparable part of the psychological war. Sometimes, Hezbollah also transmits its messages through other media, such as the Iranian television station Al-Alam. The crown jewel of the empire, Al-Manar, is broadcast in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world, by satellite.
At every stage of the fighting, Al-Manar was the station that broadcast Hezbollah's messages. Its role in the war began the morning of July 12, when Hezbollah abducted IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Al-Manar was the first station to report the kidnapping, about two hours after it took place. Since the fighting began, the pronouncements of Al-Manar have had a major influence on other media.
"Al-Manar has had an enormous impact on all the Arab press, and in effect on the Hebrew press as well," said Amir Levy from Satlink Communications, which monitors Arab-language media.
Sounds a little like CNN, doesn’t it? Now, to be sure, this is an overstatement, and I don’t want the reader to infer that I am suggesting something so nefarious. Fortunately, I don’t have to, for radio talk show host Michael Reagan already did when he referred to this outlet as the Terrorist News Network.
As such, in light of the speculation that the residential building that was destroyed in Qana, Lebanon, last week might have been staged by Hezbollah to foster anti-Israeli sympathy across the globe, it seems prudent for citizens of the world to understand what this terrorist organization is willing to do to win.
Yet, there is clearly a larger issue here. As the American press have routinely demonstrated a proclivity to paint the most negative portrait of what is going on in Iraq – while normally ignoring or downplaying any and all successes – one has to wonder just how much the American media are behaving like Hezbollah whether intentionally or not.
With polls suggesting that the majority of Americans now believe it was wrong to go into Iraq regardless of how diametric this consensus was in March 2003, don’t the media share some responsibility in this dramatic change of heart? If the answer is “Yes,” have press representatives been truly impartial and honest disseminators of facts in the past 35 months? Or, have their anti-war proclivities clouded both their judgment of events in Iraq and, unfortunately, their depiction of them?
As Michael Reagan wrote a week ago, “Thanks to the mainstream media’s constant carping about alleged U.S. or Israeli ‘brutality,’ the hands of the American military in Iraq and the Israeli’s in Lebanon are tied up in all sorts of politically correct handicaps that prevent them from taking decisive action when that’s what is required to win.”
If this is the case, and Haaretz is correct about the Hezbollah propaganda machine, what does this say about the role of the media during wartime?