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Equivalence between Israeli Self-Defense and a Tyrant’s Crackdown

June 6 2011 at 2:29 PM

Provost  (Login MPOne)

Equivalence between Israeli Self-Defense and a Tyrants Crackdown
Omri Ceren 06.06.2011 - 12:39 PM

Yesterday was Naska Day, as Evelyn points out, the day on which the Syrians commemorate their failure to invade Israel by trying to invade Israel. Since we live in a media environment thats fundamentally insane, partisans with press cards lined up to condemn the Israelis for defending their borders. The problem, of course, is that its hard to justify hysteria over Israel when Assad has killed over 1,000 Syrians in the last few months. Critics would point to the disproportionate obsession with the Jewish State and suggest that it had long ago reached pathological levels.

The criticism would apply doubly since the IDF was blaring warning announcements across the border and limiting itself to shots at rioters feet. Assads snipers and thugs, in contrast, are mowing down people in the streets. Just yesterday 35 protesters were killed in Jisr al-Shughour and Khan Sheikhoun, a number that by qualitative and quantitative measures exceeds what happened at the Golan border.

Quite the quandary. How can one justify focusing on the Israeli-Syrian border when objectively worse violence is taking place deeper inside Syria? This is a problem analogous to the one that anti-Israel journalists and human rights activists always face. They have to justify condemning Israeli operations despite how Palestinian atrocities (brainwashing children into becoming terrorists, targeting civilian centers with rockets, etc.) are much worse. In response, an entire cottage industry has taken root to manufacture moral and tactical equivalences between Israelis and Palestinians.

Not coincidentally, media outlets yesterday stumbled into the same trick.

Yahoos approach was obnoxious but not blatant. Recognizing the need at least to gesture in the general direction of Assads atrocities in northern Syria, they posted a story about the violence headlined 35 reported killed in crackdown in northern Syria. To illustrate the post, however, they inserted pictures of the riot on the Golan with the caption Demonstrators flee Israeli fired tear gas as they gather along Syrias border with Israel.

Some people might accuse the editors of intentionally trying to obscure the nature of the violence, and of drawing a straightforward equivalence between Assads brutal crackdown and Israels defense of its sovereignty. But its more likely a function of how there just arent many pictures coming out of the cities that Assad is leveling, while the regime helpfully opened up the Golan area to stringers and journalists. Since Yahoos editors needed something to illustrate Syrian violence, they reached for the only pictures that were availablewhich is exactly, of course, what the regime was counting on. Why media outlets would want to make themselves willing dupes for tyrants is a different question, but at least this wasnt an issue of explicit equivocation.

Bloombergs editors and journalists dont have that excuse. The outlet published breathless a breathless report with the headline Syria, Israel Target Separate Protests in Middle East. The lead was even worse:

Israeli forces fired on a crowd marking the anniversary of the 1967 Middle East War by trying to cross the border from Syria, which Israelis said was an effort by Syrias regime to divert attention from its internal woes. Inside Syria, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed 25 protesters and a general strike took place for the second day yesterday in the Syrian city of Hama in mourning for dozens of people killed there last week, according to the Web site Syrian Observatory, which monitors the unrest.

Anti-Israel partisans really, really want an excuse to focus on Jerusalems self-defense rather than Damascuss atrocities. But this approach is lazy, and even putting aside the obvious lack of professionalism, its tired.

Media outlets should really switch back to the theory that Israeli self-defense on Golan bolsters Assad by giving him a distraction. Thats a transparently poor argumentSyrians know that Assad is just using the Golan to create a distraction, so in theory theyre not going to be unwillingly distracted if theyre already committed to reformbut at least its an argument. These equivocation gambits are just strained.


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