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November 02, 2005

For Washington Post Correspondent, Hurricane Is Like Israeli Bombs

Perhaps it was a visceral reaction to a family tragedy, a superficial analogy made under stress. But maybe the comparison of devastation caused by Hurricane Rita to “destruction in the Gaza Strip after Israeli bombs shattered neighborhoods” was a window into Washington Post correspondent Molly Moore’s thinking.

Moore’s feature article, “In La., Memories Stronger Than Rita” (Washington Post, October 31), begins:

I cover disasters for a living – hurricanes, earthquakes and wars in distant lands. As a foreign correspondent, I chronicle the plights of refugees, the destruction of villages, the deaths of the weak and helpless.

I recently came home to Lake Charles in southwestern Louisiana. Its disaster was Hurricane Rita, whose ruthless eastern eye wall sliced through the city like a buzz saw. The refugees were my family and friends. The destruction was in my front yard, and on every block .... The dead included my grandmother, one of the weak and helpless who didn’t survive the chaotic evacuation ....

Fronts were ripped off stores and apartment buildings, exposing their insides like untidy dollhouses. I’d seen that kind of destruction in the Gaza Strip after Israeli bombs shattered neighborhoods [emphasis added], in Nicaragua after mudslides, in Afghanistan during its civil wars.

Hurricanes, like mud slides, earthquakes, tsunamis, blizzards or volcanic eruptions frequently make news. The destruction, injury and death they cause are random, unintentional, and often widespread. Their victims did not cause these natural disasters.

On the other hand, Israeli bombs or rockets in the Gaza Strip are not “natural disasters”. They have damaged or destroyed individual or adjacent buildings in counter-terrorist attacks. They are man-made responses to man-made violence. Israeli bulldozers did, in limited areas including part of the town of Rafah along the Gaza-Egyptian border, level buildings used as cover for Palestinian smuggling tunnels and snipers. There is no accurate comparison between this and devastation caused by Hurricane Rita, no similarity between the injured and killed in a natural disaster and terrorists targeted by Israel, or even between non-combatants accidentally hurt in counter-terrorist operations, and Rita’s victims.

Moore covered the Gaza Strip, West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Israel for The Post’s Jerusalem bureau for several years until moving to the Paris bureau last summer. CAMERA frequently criticized her reporting as one-sided, skewed toward the Palestinian Arabs. Her egregious comparison between storm damage and Israeli self-defense suggests one reason why her coverage so often was off the mark – an emotional misunderstanding of the conflict that crams it into familiar but false categories of weak and helpless refugees and destroyed villages. This perspective inverts aggressor and defender, rejection and accommodation.

Zionism may not be racism, but when it comes to the Palestinian Arabs, for one Washington Post reporter and her copy editors, Israel is a hurricane.

Posted by ER at November 2, 2005 03:48 PM

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