August 03, 2006

Something Greater than Moral Equivalence

I sit here and watch the news most days when I get up, and listen to it through my hour-long recovery period. Obviously there has been much to report in the past weeks, but this particular piece of information catches my attention more than all the rest:

As the war between Israel and Hezbollah continues, more and more Lebanese people are converting to the Hezbollah cause. According to the reports I have heard recently, the majority of Lebanese civilians believe Hezbollah is fighting for their safety and freedom.

How is this possible? Does Lebanon have a free press? I have been led to believe this is so. It is true that Hezbollah undertakes many social challenges in addition to the jihad against Israel, but is that really enough to rally support with such a radical military agenda being common knowledge? Would we as Americans support an organization that, say, built hospitals and gave people jobs, then encouraged us to lend a hand while they attacked some Mexican children and attempted to iradicate Mexico completely? I can't imagine such a thing being possible here.

Day in and day out, our media parades on theoretically knowledgeable people who either oppose Hezbollah or do not, which saturates us with political ideology until we want to scream. The trouble is that nobody is asking the right question. When someone interviews a Lebanese-American who supports the Hezbollah, why is the reporter not then asking why it has such support when it might well be using that person's family back home as shields? Why aren't they asking that person how they justify Hezbollah's intentional targetting of Israeli children? If no answers are forthcoming, why is the reporter not then asking why?

The problem in part is that we ask the wrong people these questions. Political pundits and members of Congress always have something to say on those subjects, but what do they know about how the Lebanese mind works, or the mind of the typical moderate Arab in general? I really doubt the majority of them are psychopaths who love seeing people killed. (I find it unlikely that the Israeli and American flag-burning demonstrations we see in the Middle East during crises really tells us much about the views of the typical Arab.)

At the same time, I doubt that they are unaware of the tactics of groups like the Hezbollah. What is it that reconciles their hearts with such tactics? How does the Arab street view the actual formation of Israel or the violence that erupted as a result? Does the typical Arab know about the enormous influence Nazi doctrine has had on the leaders and former leaders of the most oppressive Arab states? For that matter, does the typical American know about said influence?

These are important questions that need to be answered for the benefit of the entire American (and European) public. People, especially those without much vested interest in politics, love to talk about the polarity in our country today. Incomplete and essential information like this is one enormous reason why this gulf exists.

We can unilaterally condemn terrorist groups on one hand while seeking to connect with average Arabs on the other. These choices are not mutually exclusive to a much larger extent than the media leads us (I believe unintentionally, in this case) to believe. Barring a wholesale change in the way the media works, the responsibility (perhaps unfortunately) falls on the individual to learn the history and try to make this connection. Fortunately, the internet provides some valuable resources to achieve this aim. Even a few brief Wikipedia searches on the formation of modern Israel, the Middle East during WWII, and Hezbollah can yield some fantastic information. The History Channel has aired some excellent programming along these lines lately as well if you care to watch.

Give it a try and let's talk about any conclusions you draw.

Posted by Andy at August 3, 2006 02:15 PM to the Politics category

Andy, you might not agree with me, but I think there is an extreme case of anti-semitism that is behind this. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, they will be biased against Israel. That's my take on it. I don't know if you've had interest or opportunity to view the movie I mentioned, "Obsession". It is very eye-opening, using their own tv to demonstrate their true feelings. Here's the link to my review which should have a link to the movie embedded in it, if you're interested.

Posted by: Anna Venger at August 6, 2006 03:52 PM

Oh no, I agree with you, hence my Nazi references. I just think we can't pin it to single elements and say we're done.

Posted by: Andy at August 6, 2006 06:46 PM
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