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The Israel-Lebanon Conflict: Media Opinion Essay

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Updated: Nov 18th, 2021

The demonization of Israel in the Islamic world has been well documented by web sites such as MEMRI, the Middle Eastern Media Research Institute which translates many articles from Arabic, Turkish and Farsi into English so that the West will know what is being said in those far-away countries. In doing so, MEMRI opened a Pandora’s box of anti-Semitism: on Hamas TV a drama portrayed Jews as blood drinkers (SD 2308), and also on Hamas TV the Friday sermon cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, calls on the faithful to annihilate the Jews and compares Jews to dogs (SD 2310).

In Saudi Arabia clerics teach children to hate the Jews (SD 2310). In Egypt a sheikh charged that Jews infect food with cancer and ship it to Muslim countries (SD 2259), and another calls for a jihad against the Jews, who are devils in human form (SD 2254). Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that to question the Holocaust is to cut the “vital arteries of the Zionist regime” (SD 2221). An Egyptian cleric says Israeli president Simon Peres has a helmet filled with the dried blood of Egyptian POWs he murdered in 1967, and repeats the widely believed idea that Jews are the sons of apes and pigs (SD 2198). Then there is the blood libel, which has Jews slaughtering Christians to use their blood for matzos (SD 1453), and so on.

The extreme anti-Israel propaganda of the Middle East has filtered into the Western media, although in a greatly diluted form. A good example of anti-Semitic demagoguery was provided by British Member of Parliament George Galloway while being interviewed by SkyNews reporter, Anna Botting in July, 2006. The subject was Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in retaliation against Hezbollah attacks.

During the interview the screen was split into three parts, a Google Earth map at the bottom, with scenes from Lebanon and Galloway’s image above. While one screen showed Israeli soldiers carrying wounded comrades to an ambulance, Botting introduced Galloway and posed her first question. Both were denounced by Galloway as “preposterous,” which was his way of establishing his dominant position in the interview. He was dressed in an open-necked black shirt and black jacket for effect, and held his head back as if to say he couldn’t quite take this exercise seriously.

His next move was to draw a parallel between the start of Israeli aggression against Lebanon and his daughter’s birth 24 years earlier, an appeal to the emotions designed to bring the viewer over to his side. Then he established a theme to which he returned at regular intervals, namely the thousands of Lebanese freedom fighters kidnapped by Israel and imprisoned in its dungeons. When Botting tried to get him to answer her question he launched a vicious ad hominem attack, saying that she was biased and that it showed “in every line in your face, in every question you ask.”

Galloway made it difficult for the interviewer to control the discussion by such means and also by talking over Botting, repeating the “thousands of prisoners in Israel’s dungeons” motif, and denigrating Botting at every opportunity. He used the politician’s tactic of answering the question he wanted to answer, rather than the one asked. When Botting asked him if Israel wasn’t justified in destroying the long-range missiles given to Hezbollah by Iran, he shouted that Israel had been given more missiles by the United States, including “hundreds of nuclear missiles!”

At the same time he was wagging his finger at the camera, pointing, shaking his head and smiling mockingly each time she tried to ask a question. He told her she was totally wrong, that everyone knew the facts except her, that she was old enough to know better than to say that and, finally, he said, “What a silly question! What a silly person you are!”

He also continued to employ certain rhetorical devices such as repetition (“Hezbollah is more popular among the Lebanese, more popular among Christians, more popular among Sunnis, more popular among Shiites ….”) before returning to the thousands of kidnapped prisoners in dungeons. In response to Botting’s claim that Hezbollah has only succeeded in bringing more Israeli troops onto Lebanese soil, he said the Israelis were “getting a bloody good hiding” so as to negate a position he couldn’t rebut in any other way. For effect, he ended his diatribe with a slogan borrowed from Al Sharpton: no justice, no peace!

Galloway may be an extreme example of a Westerner who has been influenced by anti-Zionism in the media but there are many more. Two years ago, Britain’s lecturers’ union gave its backing to a boycott of Israeli universities in protest over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. As the London Times reports,

Delegates to the inaugural congress of the University and College Union (UCU), which represents more than 120,000 academics, condemned Israel for denying Palestinians their “educational rights” and accused its academics of being complicit in “the occupation”. They voted by 158 to 99 in favour of a pro-boycott motion” (Blair).

That shows that the media, thought by some to be under the control of international Jewry, have turned public opinion against Israel.

Of course the Israel-Lebanon issue is more complex than Galloway or Britain’s lecturers make it out to be, and no one is claiming that Israel is guiltless. However, in most articles written about this event, even one in Al-Jazeera, the reporting is fairly balanced, admitting that Hezbollah initiated the 34-day war and that civilians were killed and wounded on both sides. In its Feedback section, Al-Jazeera has readers express their views openly, thus adding to the sense of dialogue set up by the article itself. The Guardian, which has a slight anti-Israel bias, also gives an accurate account including the political implications within Lebanon of Hezbollah’s actions..

Personal Rhetoric #2: The Doctor

Rhetoric is not just a matter of words, it is also expressed through appearance, style and interior decoration. People go to see the doctor when they know they have a health problem but do not know its extent. A doctor must therefore be reassuring first and foremost. Doctors put their diplomas on the wall for their patients’ inspection. Their waiting room is usually conservative in décor, they dress professionally, avoid any garment or adornment that might alarm their patients and any form of speech that may mark them as unorthodox. Doctors must be calm, quiet and confident. They do not laugh too loudly or sit too casually.

They test first, diagnose later. They rarely have religious symbols, Bibles or shrines in their office. Doctors like to keep their patients waiting. A full waiting room attests to their importance as well as to their healing powers. Doctors only listen to their patients for as long as they need to; they do not have time for chit-chat, they are busy, focused and professional.

If a doctor were to diverge from his profession’s rhetoric even for an instant, patients may begin to question his competence, and with that lose much of the benefit of the cure.

Works Cited

Anonymous. “Lebanon Rockets Wound Israelis.” Al Jazeera in English. Web.

Anonymous. Antisemitism Documentation Project. The Middle East Media Research Institute. Special Dispatch – No. 2308 – Antisemitism Documentation Project – 2009.

  • Special Dispatch – No. 2310 – Antisemitism Documentation Project – 2009
  • Special Dispatch – No. 2259 – Antisemitism Documentation Project – 2009
  • Special Dispatch – No. 2254 – Antisemitism Documentation Project – 2009
  • Special Dispatch – No. 2221 – Antisemitism Documentation Project – 2009
  • Special Dispatch – No. 2198 – Antisemitism Documentation Project – 2009
  • Special Dispatch – No. 1453 – Antisemitism Documentation Project – 2007

Blair, Alexandra. “Lecturers’ union votes to back Israel boycott.” Timesonline, 2007. Web.

Sky News. “Interview of MP George Galloway by Anna Botting.” 2006. Web.

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