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May 30, 2007

No Outcry for Palestinian Refugee Camp Under Attack by Lebanese Army

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The National Post of Canada carried a perceptive piece by Jonathan Kay on May 29, 2007 asking why the heavy-handed Lebanese army operation against Fatah-al-Islam in the Nahr al Barad refugee camp has not received the same critical coverage that the Israeli operation in Jenin did in April 2002.

Kay points out that both the Arab League and the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana have come out with a statement supporting the Lebanese army and condemning the terrorist group Fatah al-Islam that is holed up in the refugee camp. The UN Security Council called the actions of Fatah al-Islam "an unacceptable attack" on Lebanon's sovereignty. The fighting has received relatively little coverage in the international media beyond the initial burst of news. NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are noticeably restrained in their comments, in sharp contrast with their reflexive condemnation of Israel in 2002.

How different the response was after Israel's operation in Jenin, Kay notes:

First of all, a flood of foreign journalists would descend on the camp to document Israel's cruelty and barbarism, and the story would remain front page news to this day. Al-Jazeera would be a 24/7 montage of grieving mothers swearing revenge on the Zionist butchers, and rumours would swirl of mass graves and poison gas. The Arab League, EU and United Nations would condemn Israeli aggression -- as would the editorial board of The New York Times. The Independent would dispatch Robert Fisk to embed with Fatah al-Islam. And the newspaper's cartoonist, Dave Brown, would produce another award-winning rendition of his signature theme: Jews eating Palestinian babies.

Kay concludes that since Israel can't be blamed in this case, Muslims being killed by other Muslims is not particularly noteworthy or of much interest.

Posted by SS at May 30, 2007 02:34 PM

Comments

Perhaps what happens is that the Lebanese army operation against Fatah-al-Islam in the Nahr al Barad refugee camp is seen as a defense of Lebanon's sovereignty while the israeli operation in Jenim is seen mainly as an invasion of a somebody else's territory.

Posted by: Frank at May 30, 2007 10:27 PM

That's a fair point about public perception, Frank. That's why Israel gets a raw deal in the media. They report a lot on what people see Israeli policy as, and perhaps not what it is in realpolitik.

Posted by: Maven at June 1, 2007 07:30 PM

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