Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Syria is the new Israel

On the eve of the day that brought together over a million people a year ago, the Lebanese government announced that 4 prisoners have confessed to being responsible for the bus bombs on February 13, which was the eve of that other special day in Lebanese history. Purely a coincidence of course…

It’s fascinating to read how writes about these confessions. Without any evidence, the journalist makes wild claims about Syria’s involvement. It’s perfectly clear to Nahar that Syria is the big boogeyman. As such, it has pretty much taken over the position from Israel.

The Lebanese love to blame others for the misery in their country. Quite a few refer to the 1975-1990 not as a civil war, but as ‘la guerre des autres’, ‘the war of the others’. It’s a nice euphemism to deny any responsibility and instead blame the atrocities on others. What does not really help support this statement is that most Lebanese who got killed during this period were actually killed by Lebanese, but well, these are considered to be mere details by the denialists.

What boosted this perception even further, was that Israel decided to join the fighting. This proved to be a very effective deflector for any blaming on Lebanese militias. From that moment on, the whole situation was Israeli’s fault. Most Lebanese e.g., now consider the Sabra & Shatila massacre to be the full responsibility of Israel, conveniently forgetting that it was actually a Christian militia doing all the fighting.

Or what about the War of the Camps, which killed many more people than Sabra & Shatila, and was strictly a fight between various Muslim factions?

I remember hearing a Lebanese minister blaming Israel for the environmental problems somewhere in the north of Lebanon. He didn't explain how Israel could have possibly affected the water quality up north, but simply mentioning Israel was enough to ignore the violations of some factory that actually polluted the water stream nearby. No one even asked the question if perhaps the factory owner was more to blame than Israel.

This was fall 2001, when I was new to Lebanon. Lebanese politicians and other public figures level blind and often plain ignorant accusations against Israel with an amazing frequency. I’ve heard similar accusations so much more ever since, that you don’t notice them after a while.

But now there is a shift going on. More and more, Israel is being replaced by Syria as the source of all bad things that happen in Lebanon. Anything goes wrong? Blame it on Syria. It is becoming the Lebanese version of the Universal Theory that explains all.

Take a look at this recent article on the Nahar website about the confession of four prisoners, mentioned at the beginning of this blog entry. The title already is a fabrication. Neither the anti-Syrian government nor the pro-Syrian president have officially accused Syria of being behind the bus bombings, but that doesn’t stop Nahar to use it as a title. How did they come up with this? I’m guessing they held an opinion poll among Christian taxi drivers…

Later on, the article states that the four arrested belong to a group with the “objective of carrying out terrorist attacks to destabilize Lebanon”. Not that there’s any proof to support these accusations, but hey…it’s Syria so anything goes.

I am not defending Syria in any way, but I am placing question marks about journalistic values when it comes to reporting about the country. Sure, neutral journalism is an oxymoron in itself, but what we’re seeing here is the other end of the scale. Lebanon is a country that is rightfully proud of their relative press freedom within the Arab world. However, articles like the one discussed here, counteract this image. It shows Lebanese journalists who are obsessed with their own little issues instead of pursuing such a beautiful goal as the Truth.


Mustapha said...

Naharnet once headlined:
"“Northern High Noon Showdown Decides Who Will Rule Lebanon”

In addition to its sensationalism, The editorial policy is different than that of Annahar and is more pro-American.

Maybe you should ask nawfal daw why it is that way

fvdv said...

You wrote: "Christian militia doing all the fighting".
I guess you mean "killing". There was no fighting to speak of...
Furthermore, the "civil war" was not even a war!
It were "incidents", albeit a lot, but not a war, and certainly not called that way DURING the "war".
Come to think of it, the Lebanese usually don't speak about the "occupation" when referring to the 30 years presence of their neighbour.