How to Watch the War on the Web

You too can be a wartime news editor.

With the ubiquity of streaming video on the Internet and advances in search engines, RSS and self-publishing tools, anyone can bypass the editorial hierarchies of Western news organizations and assemble a personal newscast of the Israeli-Hezbollah war.

You can pick and choose from multiple news sources as a way to confirm your own point of view. Or you can access the many other points of view regarding a complex and deadly conflict. The point is that watching the war on the Web can give you a very different -- and potentially more complete -- picture of the conflict and its causes than if you rely on any one news source or perspective.

The most dramatic difference in coverage of the Middle East's latest war is the Internet's ability to deliver to Americans the television broadcasts aimed at audiences in the Middle East. As reported in Tuesday's Washington Post, the user-driven video warehouse YouTube provides hour after hour of clips not available on U.S.-based TV networks. But these clips usually lack context and there's no guarantee about the credibility of sources.

I prefer Link TV's Mosaic program, which compiles and translates daily news broadcast from leading broadcast outlets around the Middle East. Yesterday's broadcast, for example, featured Lebanon's Future TV on heavy fighting in south Lebanon; the Israeli Broadcast Association on the latest missile attacks in Haifa; Al Jazeera on the lack of air raid shelters for Israeli Arabs; and Iranian TV on U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's call for diplomacy.

All of these TV channels have their own perspectives, informed by ideology, ownership, nationality, emotion and myriad other factors. Before every broadcast Mosaic notes that that its sources include both independent and state-controlled outlets. But when viewed collectively, the limitations of any one of them can actually enhance the bigger picture.

Amidst the hours and hours footage of bombed buildings and frightened foreigners, the ground war between Israeli and Hezbollah has been under covered in the first two weeks of fighting. To get a sense of how that fight is going, I turn to Almanar, the Web site of Hezbollah's television station, in conjunction with Debkafile, an Israeli site that is sometimes alarmist but also reflective of Israeli military thinking. Both report that the Hezbollah fighters have held their own in initial fierce skirmishes.

The region's best news sites collectively provide deep and full coverage, but it helps to know their particular political perspectives.

In Israel, the coverage of YNetNews, the Web site of the country's most popular newspaper (Yedioth Ahronoth), is probably the best reflection of the majority of Israelis who support the military campaign in Lebanon. The Jerusalem Post and Arutz Sheva are ardent advocates of what they call the "Re-Engagement War." Haaretz, while supportive of the war, provides the most critical coverage (and receives the most accusations of anti-Semitism for its trouble.)

In Lebanon, Naharnet News is a strong guide to Lebanon's fragmented public opinion. The site was the voice of Lebanon's anti-Syrian opposition in 2005 when U.S.-backed popular protests forced the Syrian troops to withdraw from the country. Now it is fiercely critical of the Israeli bombing campaign and what it sees as the United States's failure to mediate the crisis. Dar Al Hayat, published in Beirut and London, reflects the secular and/or Sunni Arab point of view. The Daily Star, also a voice of reform, is critical of Israel but also publishes criticism of Hezbollah.

Among Arabic news sites, the Saudi-owned Asharq Alawsat is the most critical of Hezbollah. The pro-Israel Middle East Media Research Institute does useful, if selective, translations from the Arab media.

Bloggers caught up in the conflict may lack in perspective and sophistication, but at their best they more than make up for it with immediacy and emotion.

Want to know what it feels like to listen for Hezbollah's Katushya rockets in Haifa? Read the first-person accounts of a 17-year-old Israeli --

Want to know how it feels to hear Israeli bombs going off near a Tripoli internet café? Beirut Spring is the place for you --

Want to see graphic photos of Lebanese civilians killed in the conflict (images that Western news media organizations are hesitant to publish? See From Israel to Lebanon -- (viewer discretion advised).

Lebanese Blogger Forum and Lebanese Bloggers provide diverse compilations of posts from the country's beleaguered citizenry. Lebanon's Shiites, who tend to be poorer and less educated than citizens of other religious backgrounds, are underrepresented in the English-language blogosphere.

Temporarily forgotten with the explosion of war in Lebanon are the Palestinians, whose stateless situation underlies the Israeli-Arab conflict that has smoldered and flared for more than a half century. To get the Hamas perspective on the news, turn to the Palestine Information Center.

Wafa is a news agency that more closely reflects the views of the secular Fatah party and President Mahmoud Abbas. Electronic Intifada is a Chicago-based site that features diaries of Palestinians living in the occupied territories, including the story of a family whose home was hit by an Israeli missile that didn't explode.

What sites to you use to monitor the Middle East conflict? Post your tips in the comments section below.

-- Jefferson Morley

By Editors |  July 26, 2006; 7:38 AM ET  | Category:  Mideast
Previous: Iran -- Instigator or Bystander? | Next: As Diplomacy Falters, Military Struggle Deepens


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Having spent all my life following closely our media (beginning, as an 8 year old, with newspaper accounts of the Korean war) I always find it amusing, when our media professionals comment on those precious alternate sources of information, which have developed, all over the world, and become readily available to us, in recent years. Invariably, they feel that urge to point out that alternate sources "usually lack context","lack in perspective and sophistication", that "there's no guarantee about the credibility of sources" and, above all, that they "have their own perspectives, informed by ideology, ownership, nationality, emotion and myriad other factors."... That they can forget that all of the above are true (how true!) of our media, including the ones they are or have been in the employ of is what, in the end, always makes me roar with laughter.

But to be fair to Jefferson Morley (I much like and enjoyed his piece, above), he points out "that watching the war on the Web can give you a very different -- and potentially more complete -- picture of the conflict and its causes than if you rely on any one news source or perspective." And he adds, "when viewed collectively, the limitations of any one of them (TV channels) can actually enhance the bigger picture."

If I were allowed to be a bit rude, I would say this: Should one wish to see and understand how bias our media are (and ever so bias they are!), one should simply consult alternate sources of information on a regular basis. Thanks to such precious sources, at long last, each and everyone of us can now be "enlightened", to borrow the Zen master's word. Consult sites where pictures are to be found, and you will SEE! Jefferson Morley suggesting, I myself visited "Palestine Information Center" and thoroughly enjoyed seeing Israeli children sending Lebanese and Palestinian children messages they themselves wrote on shells soon to be dispatched by professional assassins to their young counterparts, across the border. How instructive both on fanaticism and on dehumanisation, don't you think?

I may post again, later, should I then be in a position to document my references fully, for everyone to consult.

Posted by: Robert Rose | July 26, 2006 09:43 AM

The Independent in the UK and especially Robert Fisk as he is more knowledgeable on Lebanon & Middle Eastern issues than anyone else I have read.

By the way keep up the good work with your columns and blogs - your location in the Nations Capital make it extremely important that politicians from both sides get the idea that there are people on both sides of these debates.

Posted by: Angus | July 26, 2006 10:19 AM

As this is all the same "war"... I would suggest a site called "Evolution Quebec" where many telling pictures of Iraqi children are to be found, under the derisive title, "La liberation des enfants irakiens" (The Liberation of Iraqi Children). No doubt, those pictures give us an insight into things to come, once that generation reaches adulthood.

I just checked by revisiting that site at:

Much much more is to be found, there, on the "liberation of Irak".

Please note that although those unforgettable pictures (some endearing) show nothing gory, people I know have understandably been profoundly disturbed and upset by them.

Posted by: Robert Rose | July 26, 2006 11:09 AM

Indeed Israel is at war - not with Hezbollah but with the Arab world. Israel is finished.

Posted by: Anagadir | July 26, 2006 11:35 AM


I have also enjoyed reading the Lebanese blog From Beirut to the Beltway.

The blogger is a Lebanese Shia recently based in DC and he has often given historical perspectives on the Lebanon quagmire--especially before all of this broke out.

Posted by: Rockville | July 26, 2006 12:22 PM

thank you so much for the info.

Posted by: wu | July 26, 2006 12:42 PM


On the Face is an excellent Israeli blog. It's creator was recently featured on CNN and NPR.

Check it out.

Posted by: saxyboy | July 26, 2006 01:02 PM


I'd be curious to see some examples of Ha'aretz being called "anti-Semitic" for its "critical coverage" of the war or anything else.

I do know that Ha'aretz has been accused of anti-Semitism in their uncritical embrace of certain Jewish writers who make one-sided denunciations about Jews and the Jewish state (Israel Shahaak, Uri Avnery).

It's a good publication, but it does have a soft spot for hard leftists, who skew their essays just as much as the right wingers doe for the Jerusalem Post.

"Critical coverage" of Israel isn't a problem. You seem to think that anyone who criticizes Israel is labeled an anti-Semite by us supporters. It's a theme that surfaces again in your Q&A's.

It's simply not true, and the implication is offensive.

Posted by: saxyboy | July 26, 2006 01:16 PM

I think the personal opinions and perspectived from the middle east is very important because the american news is so biased to the Israeli side and wont give you the full story

Posted by: Rami Khader | July 26, 2006 02:28 PM

Sorry to butt in off-topic, but I can't resist commenting on today's Bushism on Iraq:
"Conditions change inside a country," he added. "And the question is: Are we going to be facile enough to change with them? Will we be nimble enough?"

Google definition Facile:
- arrived at without due care or effort; lacking depth; "too facile a solution for so complex a problem"

Let no American doubt that their President is facile enough to boldly face the challenges ahead, with a clear, unshakeable, facile vision.

Posted by: OD | July 26, 2006 02:47 PM

I appreciate these new sources of information. Your column has often called my attention to good sources in the international media. I read Haaretz and Aljazeera on an almost daily basis. While representing their own point of view, they are both execellent news outlets.
I am by nature a skeptic,and, as a skeptic, I read or look at every news outlet with suspicion. I like to get, at least, three sources to confirm fact based items. However, opinion, particularly from government offical, often telegraphs the direction of government policy. For ordinary people opinion is often based on emotion, but shared feelings by a number of people influence government policy.
For example, the widely reported opposition to the Iraq war by the Arab street was an element that hardened my opposition to the war. We need the support of the Arab Street in the war on terror.
You do not need an intelligence service to get enough information to form policy. It is all there in open source material. In deed, this open source information gives you the information to check on the accuracy of "intelligence".
Like a previous blogger, I have always been a news and history nut. My first current event was Pearl Harbor when I was 4 year old. I was in Junior High and High School during the Korean War and have clear memories of that conflict. I was a distant witnessed to the various excitements of the Cold War while in the military in Europe. My two tours in Europe began with the Hungarian Uprising and ended after the Berlin Wall went up. I had a brief extention of my tour in Germany because of the latter event.
I have become very familiar with propaganda and disinformation. Related to that subject and the accusations of anti-semitism against Haartz, when a Jewish person disagrees with Israeli Policy, He or she is often accused of being a self-hating Jew. Any supporter of the concept of a greater Isreal, from the river to the sea, is instructed to refer to the occupied West Bank as "disputed territory". You know who you are dealing with by their language.
I can only hope that despite any pressures Mr. Morley will continue his excellent work. I don't require that he agree with me, because, even disagreement is a source of information.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | July 26, 2006 03:06 PM

I'm growing tired of the increasingly straw-man argument that "any critique of Israel is shut down with claims of anti-semitism."

While it occurs, it's not the pervasive, discussion stopping beast that some are trying to make it out to be. While I see this raised by some who are, rightfully, concerned about making sure that critique and critical thought about Israel's behavior is done. More often than not, in the "war of the web" going on, I see this being raised by people who are actually just trying to get the issue of anti-semitism entirely off the table, despite their own overtly anti-semitic rhetoric and wildly hypocritical (at best) double-standards in assigning blame and vilification to just a single member of the conflict system.

Posted by: John | July 26, 2006 03:49 PM

Who wants to watch the war? This is not movie people. Innocent people are killed by jews. And the world is doing nothing about it.

Seems like somewhere some evil is smiling at this oppurtunity.

The balance is tilting towards evil.

Where is the good? When america start taking side of satan?

America should stop electing IDIOTS as president. Put someone who can think.

Idiots are always has to depend on others and will be fundamentalist to save their stupidity.

Anyone fights for religion is an idiot!.

Posted by: Alex | July 26, 2006 04:30 PM

I just picked this up on the net, i think it's very insightful into western media performance:

Assaf Shariv, media adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, boasted to the Jerusalem Post last week that Israelis have been interviewed by the foreign press four times as much as spokespeople for the Palestinians and Lebanese. Shariv cited a poll of Sky News viewers that found that 80 percent believe Israel's attacks on Lebanon were justified. A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Gideon Meir, added: "We have never had it so good. The hasbara [propaganda] effort is a well-oiled machine." (Gil Hoffman, 'Israel calls up media "reserves",' Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2006

Posted by: Barabin | July 26, 2006 06:03 PM

I often go to google news, type in relavant search terms and browse through
1000's of different news sources from all over the world, from Iran and Sweden to Israel and the EU. The ones mentioned above are all represented, but many others are as well.
One can rather quickly get a sense of world opinion from picking through these sources while factoring out those that simply repeat AP news.


Posted by: J | July 26, 2006 06:16 PM

It's nice to see the Washington Post join the blogosphere as a peer.

I have not read here since the editorial "A Good Leak."

This is a very nice welcome back.

Thank you.

Posted by: AlexVA | July 26, 2006 08:29 PM

J.Morely has done well here. More such
activity of opening the range of viewpoint
and perspective would serve all taking an
interest in the Middle East better in many
ways. The open violence now raging again in
Lebanon is not singular or apart from what
safely can be described as several decades
of ongoing conflict. Israel has a story to
tell and does so everyday. The Americans
have a story to tell. The Arabs and the
Iranians as well. It is now possible to
more completely access this range of view
and perspective. Americans would do well
to become more open to this wealth of inet
portals as we surely have entered a much
more complicated era in the Middle East.
Congress appears often to fall short of
meaningful debate or deeper reveal of how
we should proceed in Middle East affairs.
American media to be honest can be as one
sided and biased in reporting and analysis
as they scorn other countries media of the
very same shortfalls. Cable news outlets
such as FOX or CNN have fallen short as
to objectiveness and balance plainly very
many times. CNN has for a very long time
been running that"IN THE NEW IRAQ" promo
which simply comes across as being in the
service of reinforcing a positive view of
the American War in Iraq. Stop it now CNN.
There is a big story to tell in the Middle
East and much of it must be sought out on
background basis. Americans get a steady
diet of casualty counts,video feeds of
warmaking machines and stenographering of
American viewpoints. Little meaningful
challenge being mounted or deeply planted
on American policy making precepts or any
sense of counter-prevail objectivity.
Coverage of Iraq has suffered much from
this. What is now happening in Lebanon is
already displaying similar shallow rooting
of counter-prevail storytell. Thankfully
the inet provides a remedy to this. Thanks
J.Morely for this useful and interesting
compilation. The days of radio,tv and print
media one-way point of view event reveal
will not ever return. As easily seen here
in the site. This is
good for all who want to participate more
completely with better understanding and
width of view. Bad for those who prefer to
keep information pipelines narrow,limited
in context and shaded with vested interest
on the story. The Middle East is a complex
story needful of wide view. Thankfully the
inet opens many more portals onto what is
being seen and thought in ME... this is as
powerful a force as any in the Middle East
today. An enabler for all to benefit from.

Posted by: R.ASHEN | July 26, 2006 11:08 PM

Mr. Morley is doing what very few journalists do. He offers the reader a chance to read what the world is thinking. What he clearly cannot write, (there is no such thing as true press freedom), the readers can discover for himself.

Thanks Mr. Morley

Posted by: Oscar Mayer | July 27, 2006 12:29 AM

"Congress appears often to fall short of
meaningful debate or deeper reveal of how
we should proceed in Middle East affairs.
American media to be honest can be as one
sided and biased in reporting and analysis
as they scorn other countries media of the
very same shortfalls".

I do not expect the media and congress biases to end. The lobbyist machine is too powerful for anything like the facts to debated in a meaningful way. Congress must worry about re-election and the newsmedia about advertising dollars.

Yet one should not be harsh. The same self-censure exists in the middle east, with one significant difference. Here the threat is loss of livelihood, there the risk is loss of life.

Posted by: Oscar Mayer | July 27, 2006 12:43 AM

"Israeli chief of Staff Dan Halutz this week ordered the Air Force to bomb 10 buildings in south Beirut"


That is what the Nazis did.
Stalin and other, Saddam Hussein etc prescribed to the same method of dealing with resistance. For any attack on them they would will kill 5 or 10 or 100. You pick the number.

I guess the Jews are not the helpless victims they are like to claim. More like Nazis or Stalinists or... You pick it.

Posted by: Joe | July 27, 2006 01:23 PM

So on NPR yesterday there was a news report that said the IDF had moved into Gaza and 23 people had been killed...14 of whom were militants!!

I was waiting to hear what came next but that was it .....didn't reporting used to be "x were civilians".....

Looks like even NPR is starting to knuckle under...

Posted by: Angus | July 27, 2006 03:52 PM

I just visited the Palestinian Information Center to see those photos spoken of above. People need to see the suffering and carnage that war causes. It is disturbing reminder that we need to do all we can to avoid war. It's also disturbing to see the Israeli children being led by adults to see bombs as their friends. The bombs that are falling on Lebanese and Palestinian children are no different than the ones that have fallen, and are falling, on Israeli children. You wont find many pictures of the Israeli children killed by suicide bombers because not much remains of the body to photograph. I'm not at all trying to minimize the death of Arab children. They deserve our love and sympathy, and our action. However, the caption on the Palestinian site is misleading. I can read both Hebrew and English, and the children are not writing messages to the children of Lebanon. They are addressing the bombs to the Hizbullah leader Nasrallah. That's not at all what the site is trying to imply about Israeli children. This is why you need to think critically and gather as much information as possible. It's what the point of Morley's article is -- achieving balance and a more complete understanding of the truth.

Posted by: David | July 27, 2006 04:38 PM

Just to be perfectly clear on essentials, at a time when, quite indiscriminately, precision and fragmentation bombs maim and kill thousands of innocent civilians, as well as loyal and devoted UN peace keepers, regardless of what anybody writes on them.

As a human being, I consider that be it a member of the US air force or an Israeli child, only someone engaged in a process of dehumanization, or dehumanized altogether, will write messages on bombs or address bombs to another human being.

As a human being, I consider that for adults to invite children to write messages on bombs or to address bombs to anybody, while other adults look on not disapprovingly, is insane.

As a human being and an educator, I consider children were not born to be dehumanized and to be turned into fanatics, the likes of Hitler's youths.

I will always be thankful to all those who have the courage to show the world that this process of dehumanization still exists, and who denounce it uncompromisingly.

Posted by: Robert Rose | July 27, 2006 08:03 PM

Article regarding Palestinian/American's in Gaza....

The same malign intent by Israel towards the Palestinians is stamped through its history like the lettering in a children's stick of seaside rock. But despite the consistent aim of Israeli policy, generation after generation of Western politicians, diplomats and journalists has shown a repeated inability to grasp what is happening before its very eyes.

The Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi once noted that the first goal of Israel's founders as they prepared to establish their Jewish state on a large swath of the Palestinian homeland in 1948 was to empty Palestine's urban heartlands of their educated elites.

Even before Israel's Declaration of Independence on 15 May 1948, most Palestinians had been terrified away from the two wealthiest cities in coastal Palestine, Jaffa and Haifa. Other Palestinian cities soon fell during the war of 1948: Israeli forces mostly cleansed Lydda, Ramle, Acre, Safad, Tiberias, Baysan and Bir Saba of their native populations. Today all these cities have been repopulated with Jews -- as well as renamed.

Khalidi has written: "These refugees from the urban areas of the country generally tended to be those Palestinians with the highest levels of literacy, skills, wealth, and education". Or, in other words, the small number of Palestinians allowed to remain in their homeland by Israel were peasant families living in isolated rural communities.

These Palestinians posed little threat to the new Jewish state: they lacked the education and tools to resist both the wholesale dispossession of their people and their own personal loss as their farm lands were expropriated by the state to establish the Jewish farming communes of the kibbutz and moshav movements.

And so history repeats itself. As Israel's violent siege of Gaza continues, the Associated Press reported this week that dozens of Palestinians with American passports have left Gaza, escorted out of the Strip in a convoy of United Nations vehicles. One Palestinian American mother said she and her children could no longer stand the terrifying sonic booms produced by Israeli aircraft flying overhead during the night.

These fleeing Palestinians have two things that most of their kin in Gaza lack: they have lots of money that they might have invested in rebuilding Gaza's economy were Israel not intent on destroying it; and they are familiar with a language and ideas that might have conveyed very effectively to Western audiences the horror currently being endured by Gaza's civilian population.

They are also among the least radicalised elements of Gaza's population and might have been the ones most willing to start a dialogue with Israel -- had Israel shown any interest in negotiating.

But of course their absence from Gaza, and flight to America, will not be mourned by Israel.

How much Israel fears the presence in the occupied territories of Palestinians who have lived in the West -- those who have money and influence, and speak in a language the non-Arab world can understand -- was highlighted in another piece of news this week that went mostly unnoticed.

According to the Haaretz newspaper, Israel's interior ministry has been quietly implementing a new rule since April that allows it to refuse entry to Palestinians holding foreign passports to Israel and the occupied territories. Most of those affected are Palestinians who today have citizenship in America or Europe.

Israel has this power over these Palestinians' lives because, since its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, it has usurped control of the borders of the Palestinian territories. In another sign of how mistaken Western observers are in believing that the occupation of Gaza somehow ended with the withdrawal of Jewish settlers last year, Israel is still able to prevent Palestinians with a foreign passport (as well as those from the West Bank) from entering Gaza.

This new policy of exclusion affects thousands of the wealthiest and most educated Palestinians, some of whom have been living in the occupied territories for a decade or more investing in the economy as entrepreneurs, teaching in the universities or establishing desperately needed civil society organisations.

In another irony, many of these Palestinians have a foreign passport only because Israel stripped them of their rights to residency in the occupied territories in violation of international law. Using its control of the area's borders since 1967, Israel revoked the residency of these Palestinians while they were studying or working abroad.

As the Israeli journalist Amira Hass has documented, some of these Palestinians eventually came back to the occupied territories after marrying a local Palestinian resident but were refused rights of residency they should be entitled to according to the normal principles of family unification.

Instead most Palestinians with foreign passports have remained in the occupied territories at Israel's discretion: as long as they renewed their tourist visa every three months by crossing the border into Jordan or Egypt, they were left in relative peace.

But Israel is now unilaterally changing the rules (as it always does), even if it has been too embarrassed to declare the fact openly. Apparently the US embassy has been aware of the change for some time but does not think it should intervene in the "sovereign decisions" of another country -- or, more accurately, in the decisions of a sovereign country, Israel, in violating the rights of an occupied people, the Palestinians.

Palestinians with US passports have been told by Israel that, when their three-month visas expire, they will no longer be entitled to enter the occupied territories to visit their families -- except in rare "humanitarian cases" such as a close relative dying. Some will be separated from their spouse and children, while others will lose their businesses and everything they have invested in them.

With these foreign passport holders forced to leave the occupied territories, the pressure is sure to grow on their families left behind in Gaza or the West Bank to seek ways to emigrate abroad to be with them again.

The purpose of Israel's current bureaucratic obscenity is the same as it was in 1948 when its highest priority was the clearing of the Palestinian cities of their elites to make way for the establishment of the Jewish state.

This time Israel needs to empty the ghettoes it is crafting for the Palestinians of the most educated and well-connected of their number so that it can more credibly claim that there is no one "moderate" to talk to. Any Palestinian with a stake in an Israeli-imposed peace, even one that damages Palestinian national interests, will have been forced out by Israel's policies long before.

Those who remain behind, trapped by walls of concrete and steel, will be powerless to resist the unilateral and illegal expansion of Israel's borders explicit in Ehud Olmert's convergence plan.

When the only noise heard from the Palestinians in their cages is the occasional whine of a home-made Qassam rocket flying out of the ghetto into the Jewish state, we will be told by Israel and its US ally that terror is the only language the Palestinians know.

But, in truth, it will be the only language we have left the Palestinians to speak.

Posted by: Angus | July 27, 2006 10:31 PM


Great comment.

I truly hope that at some time in the future this injustice will be corrected.

I myself used to believe that the Jews were the victims (which they truly were during the 30th and 40 of this century). It took me more the 30 years to look through the Jews and to see their deception.

It almost seems, that the Jews adapted their oppressors (the Nazis) methods, which worked well for the Nazis, at least for some time. Now the Jews are applying the same methods to oppress the Palestinians while America is marching in lockstep.

How sad.

Posted by: Joseph | July 28, 2006 09:56 AM has the best coverage of Syria. I try to cover as many views as possible on US relations with Syria and provide perspective on how Syrians view regional politics and relations with Lebnon. I have lived many years in Damascus, most recently as a Senior Fulbright Research Fellow during 2005. I teach Middle East history at the University of Oklahoma. Best, Joshua Landis

Posted by: Joshua Landis | July 28, 2006 11:40 AM

Between the lines Joseph Farah
WND Exclusive Commentary
A world without Israel

Posted: July 28, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

The world is full of Israel-haters.

I don't know why. It probably has something to do with anti-Semitism - and even more to do with lack of knowledge and understanding about the Middle East.

So, I thought it might be a good exercise to consider what the world would be like if Israel had never been reborn in 1948.

Let's suppose that United Nations vote to partition the Palestinian region into two - one Arab and one Jewish - went differently. Let's imagine the Soviet Union or some other nation that supported the Jewish state voted the other way. What would the Middle East be like today? What would the world be like?

Well, for starters, the blame-Israel-first crowd needs to remember that the bloodiest conflicts in the Middle East in the last 60 years would still have taken place - because they had nothing to do with the state of Israel.

For instance, does anyone doubt that the Iran-Iraq war, which killed more than 1 million people and featured the widespread use of chemical weapons, would still have taken place - even without an Israel on the map?

Not even Saddam Hussein or the Ayatollah Khomeini could suggest that Jews had anything to do with that little dust-up. It was simply the latest round in fighting between ancient enemies, a turf war between a Sunni Muslim dictator and a Shiite Muslim dictator.

But what might have happened to nearly 1 million Jews in Arab lands who found a home in Israel after 1948? Those million refugees often left hostile Arab lands with little more than the clothes on their back. They often risked their lives to flee. Today, those Jews, if they were lucky, would still be living under the yoke of Muslim tyranny, living in "dhimmi" status. Surely many would have been murdered in the kinds of pogroms that regularly occurred in Arab and Muslim countries while they still maintained Jewish communities.

We hear so much about the "Arab refugee crisis" that was created by the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The highest estimates of Arabs who fled Israel during that war are put at 500,000. They fled, most often, because they were instructed to do so by the Arab leaders who declared war on Israel at its very birth. Yet, nearly 60 years later, this refugee population hasn't decreased, it has increased exponentially!


Not because Israel has created any new Arab refugees. It is because the Arab nations have refused to settle the original refugees they encouraged into refugee status. They see them as critical pawns in their asymmetrical conflict with Israel.

One thing is certain. Without Israel, there would have been no Palestinian national movement. There would be no Palestinian Authority. There would be no future Palestinian state.


Because prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel conquered what we call the West Bank and East Jerusalem, there was no such movement. Even though there was no Palestinian Arab state and never had been, no one had ever promoted one. When Jordan controlled the West Bank, the so-called "Palestinians" were not agitating for a homeland. They'd never had a country of their own and apparently never wanted one. Suddenly, when Israel captured the ancient Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria, the Arabs discovered their sense of Palestinian nationalism for the first time ever.

I can also promise you that if Israel had not unified Jerusalem and declared it the eternal capital of the Jewish state, it would not be considered the third-holiest site in Islam.

How do I know this?

Because during the time that East Jerusalem was under the administration of King Hussein of Jordan, prior to June 1967, not a single Arab leader ever visited - including the king himself. It would seem that if Jerusalem had always been so important to the Muslims, their leaders would have expressed some interest in it before Israel captured the city in war.

The modern Islamic jihad movement is thought to have been launched in earnest in 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power from the overthrown shah. At the time, Khomeini made clear that the real enemy - "the Great Satan," as he called it - was the United States of America, not Israel.

No one, of course, knows what might have happened or not happened if Israel had never been reborn. But it does seem clear that most of the bad things that happened in the Middle East in the last 60 years would have happened anyway. Could it be that, if the Jewish state had never been, many more horrible things might have happened?

Personally, I suspect so.
Joseph Farah is founder, editor and CEO of WND and a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate.

Posted by: Amazing, isn't it? | July 29, 2006 12:46 AM

not really..

Posted by: Yawn | July 29, 2006 01:27 AM

Yawn -
Maybe it's time to wake up from your slumber and open your eyes to what's really going on.

Posted by: Amazing, isn't it? | July 29, 2006 02:25 PM

***Refresh my memory again, please.***Why does the US call Israel, an uncivilized, savage, bloodthirsty land grabbing obscenity for a friend? Pol Pot and other mass murderers aren't around to embrace? Or the US wants to be a hated and detested pariah nation as Israel is? (we got that today) Such fun.
Oh No, forgot. It's because the Jews and AIRPAC have bought and paid for onr congress and our idiot president. Good Show.

Posted by: Refreshing | July 30, 2006 12:33 PM

***Refresh my memory again, please.***Why does the US call Israel, an uncivilized, savage, bloodthirsty land grabbing obscenity for a friend? Pol Pot and other mass murderers aren't around to embrace? Or the US wants to be a hated and detested pariah nation as Israel is? (we got that today) Such fun.
Oh No, forgot. It's because the Jews and AIRPAC have bought and paid for onr congress and our idiot president. Good Show.

Posted by: Lamont | July 30, 2006 12:35 PM


1. Lebanon has 18 religious communities
2. It has 40 daily newspapers
3. It has 42 universities
4. It has over 100 banks (that is banks and not branches of a bank)
5. 70% of the students are in private schools
6. 40% of the Lebanese people are Christians (this is the highest
percent all the Arab countries)
7. There's 1 doctor per 10 people in Lebanon (In Europe & America,
there's 1 doctor per 100 people)
8. The name LEBANON appears 75 times in the Old Testament
9. The name CEDAR (Lebanon's tree) appears 75 times too in the Old
10. Beirut was destroyed and rebuilt 7 times (this is why it's
compared to The Phoenix).

11. There are 3.5 Million Lebanese in Lebanon
12. There are around 10 Million Lebanese outside Lebanon!


1. Byblos (city in Lebanon) is the oldest, continuously living city in the world.
2. Lebanon's name has been around for 4,000 yrs non- stop (it's the oldest
country/ nation's name in the world!)
3. Lebanon is the only Asian/African country that doesn't have a desert.
4. There are 15 rivers in Lebanon (all of them coming from its own mountains)
5. Lebanon is one of the most populated countries in its archeological
sites, in the world!!!
6. The first alphabet was created in Byblos (city in Lebanon)
7. The only remaining temple of Jupiter (the main Roman god) is in
Baalbeck, Lebanon (The City of the Sun)
8. The name of BYBLOS comes from the BIBLE!!!
9. Lebanon is the country that has the most books written about it.
10. The Phoenicians (Original People of Lebanon) built the 1st boat, and
they were the first to sail ever!
11. Phoenicians also reached America long before Christopher Columbus did.
12. The 1st law school in the world was built in Lebanon, in Downtown
Isn't it a real Crime Against Humanity to destroy a country with such history?

Posted by: Why? | August 2, 2006 11:25 AM

Uri Avnery Israel

In the Gunsight: Syria

or: A Nice Little War

IT IS the old story about the losing gambler: he cannot stop. He continues to play, in order to win his losses back. He continues to lose and continues to gamble, until he has lost everything: his ranch, his wife, his shirt.

The same thing happens in the biggest gamble of all: war. The leaders that start a war and get stuck in the mud are compelled to fight their way ever deeper into the mud. That is a part of the very essence of war: it is impossible to stop after a failure. Public opinion demands the promised victory. Incompetent generals need to cover up their failure. Military commentators and other armchair strategists demand a massive offensive. Cynical politicians are riding the wave. The government is carried away by the flood that they themselves have let loose.

That is what happened this week, following the battle of Bint-Jbeil, which the Arabs have already started to call proudly Nasrallahgrad. All over Israel the cry goes up: Get into it! Quicker! Further! Deeper!

A day after the bloody battle, the cabinet decided on a massive mobilization of the reserves. What for? The ministers do not know. But it does not depend on them anymore, nor on the generals. The political and military leadership is tossed about on the waves of war like a boat without a rudder.

As has been said before: it is much easier to start a war than to finish one. The cabinet believes that it controls the war, but in reality it is the war that controls them. They have mounted a tiger, and can't be sure of getting off without being torn to pieces.

War has its own rules. Unexpected things happen and dictate the next moves. And the next moves tend to be in one direction: escalation.

DAN HALUTZ, the father of this war, thought that he could eliminate Hizbullah by means of the Air Force, the most sophisticated, most efficient and the generally most-most air force in the world. A few days of massive pounding, thousands of tons of bombs on neighborhoods, roads, electricity works and ports - and that's it.

Well, that wasn't it, as it turned out. The Hizbullah rockets continued to land in the north of Israel, hundreds a day. The public cried out. There was no way round a ground operation. First, small, elite units were put in. That did not help. Then brigades were deployed. And now whole divisions are demanded.

First they wanted to annihilate the Hizbullah positions along the border. When it was seen that that was not enough, it was decided to conquer the hills that dominate the border. There, the Hizbullah fighters were waiting and caused heavy casualties. And the rockets continued to fly.

Now the generals are convinced that there is no alternative to occupying the whole area up to the Litani River, about 24 km from the border, in order to prevent the rockets from being launched from there. Then they will find out that they have to reach the Awali River, 40 km inside - the famous 40 km which Menachem Begin talked about in 1982.

And then? The Israeli army will be extended over a large area, and everywhere it will be exposed to guerilla attacks, of the sort Hizbullah excels in. And the missiles will continue to fly.

What next? One cannot stop. Public opinion will demand more decisive moves. Political demagogues will shout. Commentators will grumble. The people in the shelters will cry out. The generals will feel the heat. One cannot keep tens of thousands of reserve soldiers mobilized indefinitely. It is impossible to prolong a situation which paralyzes a third of the country.

Everybody will clamor to storm forwards. Where to? Towards Beirut in the North? Or towards Damascus, in the East?

THE CABINET ministers recite in unison: No! Never ever! We shall not attack Syria!

Perhaps some of them really don't intend to. They do not dream of a war with Syria. Definitely not. But the ministers only delude themselves when they believe that they control the war. The war controls them.

When it becomes clear that nothing is helping, that Hizbullah goes on fighting and the rockets continue to fly, the political and military leadership will face bankruptcy. They will need to pin the blame on somebody. On who? Well, on Assad, of course.

How is it possible that a small "terror organization", with a few thousand fighters altogether, goes on fighting? Where do they get the arms from? The finger will point towards Syria.

Even now, the army commanders assert that new rockets are flowing all the time from Syria to Hizbullah. True, the roads have been bombed, the bridges destroyed, but the arms somehow continue to arrive. The Israeli government demands that an international force be stationed not only along the Israeli-Lebanese border, but on the Lebanese-Syrian border, too. The queue of volunteers will not be long.

Then the generals will demand the bombing of roads and bridges inside Syria. For that, the Syrian Air Force will have to be neutralized. In short, a real war, with implications for the whole Middle East.

EHUD OLMERT and Amir Peretz did not think about that when they decided 17 days ago in haste and light heartedly, without serious debate, without examining other options, without calculating the risks, to attack Hizbullah. For politicians who do not know what war is, it was an irresistible temptation: there was a clear provocation by Hizbullah, international support was assured, what a wonderful opportunity! They would do what even Sharon did not dare.

Dan Halutz submitted an offer that could not be refused. A nice little war. Military plans were ready and well rehearsed. Certain victory. The more so, since on the other side there was no real enemy army, just a "terror organization".

How hotly the desire was burning in the hearts of Olmert and Peretz is attested by the fact that they did not even think about the lack of shelters in the Northern towns, not to mention the far-reaching economic and social implications. The main thing was to rush in and gather the laurels.

They had no time to think seriously about the war aim. Now they resemble archers who shoot their arrows at a blank sheet and then draw the rings around the arrow. The aims change daily: to destroy Hizbullah, to disarm them, to drive them out of South Lebanon, and perhaps just to "weaken" them. To kill Hassan Nasrallah. To bring the captured soldiers home. To extend the sovereignty of the Lebanese government over all of Lebanon. To establish a new-old Security Zone occupied by Israel. To deploy the Lebanese army and/or an international force along the border. To rehabilitate deterrence. To imprint into the consciousness of Hizbullah. (Our generals love imprinting into consciousnesses. That is a wonderfully safe aim, because it cannot be measured.)

THE MORE the nice little war continues, the clearer it becomes that these changing aims are not realistic. The Lebanese ruling group does not represent anybody but a small, rich and corrupt elite. The Lebanese army cannot and will not fight Hizbullah. The new "security zone" will be exposed to guerilla attacks and the international force will not enter the area without the agreement of Hizbullah. And this guerilla force, Hizbullah, the Israeli army cannot vanquish.

That is nothing to be ashamed of. Our army is in good - or, rather, bad - company. The term "guerilla" ("small war") was coined in Spain, during the occupation of the country by Napoleon. Irregular bands of Spanish fighters attacked the occupiers and beat them. The same happened to the Russians in Afghanistan, to the French in Algeria, to the British in Palestine and a dozen other colonies, to the Americans in Vietnam, and is happening to them now in Iraq. Even assuming that Dan Halutz and Udi Adam are greater commanders than Napoleon and his marshals, they will not succeed where those failed.

When Napoleon did not know what to do next, he invaded Russia. If we don't stop the operation, it will lead us to war with Syria.

Condoleezza Rice's stubborn struggle against any attempt to stop the war shows that this is indeed the aim of the United States. From the first day of George Bush's presidency, the neo-cons have been calling for the elimination of Syria. The deeper Bush sinks into the Iraqi quagmire, the more he needs to divert attention with another adventure.

By the way: One day before the outbreak of this war, our Minister of National Infrastructures, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, took part in the inauguration ceremony of the big pipeline that will conduct oil from the huge Caspian Sea reserves to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, just next to the Syrian border. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline avoids Russia and passes through Azerbaijan and Georgia, two countries closely aligned with Israel, like Turkey itself. There is a plan to bring a part of the oil from there along the Syrian and Lebanese coast to Ashkelon, where an existing pipeline will conduct it to Eilat, to be exported to the Far East. Israel and Turkey are to secure the area for the United States.

MUST THE sliding into a war with Syria happen? Is there no alternative?

Of course there is. To stop now, at once.

When President Lyndon Johnson felt that he was sinking into the morass of Vietnam, he asked his friends for advice. One of them answered with five words: "Declare victory and get out!"

We can do that. To stop investing more and more in a losing business. To be satisfied with what we can get now. For example: an agreement that will move Hizbullah a few kilometers from the border, along which an international force and/or the Lebanese army will be deployed, and to exchange prisoners. Olmert will be able to present that as a great victory, to claim that we have got what we wanted, that we have taught the Arabs a lesson, that anyhow we had no intention of achieving more. Nasrallah will also claim a great victory, asserting that he has taught the Zionist Enemy a lesson it will not forget, that Hizbullah remains alive, strong and armed, that he has brought back the Lebanese prisoners.

True, it will not be much. But that is what can be done to cut losses, as they say in the business world.

That can happen. If Olmert is clever enough to extricate himself from the trap, before it closes entirely. (As folk wisdom says: a clever person is one that gets out of a trap that a wise one would not have got into in the first place.) And if Condoleezza gets orders from her boss to allow it.

ON THE 17th day of the war , we must recognize that soon we will be faced with a clear choice: to slide into a war with Syria, intentionally or unintentionally, or to get a general agreement in the North, that will necessarily involve also Hizbullah and Syria. At the center of such an agreement will be the Golan Heights.

Olmert and Peretz did not think about that in those intoxicating moments on July 12, when they jumped at the opportunity to start a nice little war. But then, were they thinking at all?

Posted by: Aba | August 2, 2006 02:36 PM

Great article! You actually cited several news sources I didn't know about. As far as the best Middle East coverage, I can only say again what many have said before me:

Al-Jazeera. Period. It's the only place to go for thorough, on the spot, no-stone-left-unturned coverage of the Middle East.

Even if you don't speak Arabic, you can learn a lot just by seeing what the lead stories are and looking at the amazing footage their reporters gather. If you DO speak Arabic, then their documentaries, talking heads shows, news analysis (and blessed lack of advertising interruptions!) are fabulous. They are truly on the level of Jim Lehrer, 60 Minutes, and the best the BBC has to offer.

We Americans need to stand up for our freedom to get uncensored news. Al-Jazeera has been trying for years to set up an English-language affiliate in the US, and getting nowhere ... even though Sky News already runs hours of English language Al-Jazeera feed for British viewers. Heck, even Israelis get to watch Al-Jazeera -- and many of my Israeli friends claim it's the best West Bank coverage in town.

It would be a great thing if Americans had access to this news channel. Not only would it dispell all the silly myths about "Al-Qaeda News," it would also let Americans hear moderate, reasonable, educated Arabs speaking about US foreign policy in a forum where their governments cannot censor them.

Al-Jazeera has the smarts to make fools of the various Arab governments who've tried to censor them (e.g., by reading the snotty communiques of Syria and other bad actors on the air, which can be truly hilarious). But they don't have the financial clout to get around America's more subtle forms of corporate censorship. Too bad for us!

Posted by: Jessica | August 5, 2006 11:16 AM

Al-Jazeera credible? What have you been smoking?ds

Posted by: Bubba | September 15, 2006 01:11 PM

Al-Jazeera credible? What have you been smoking?

Posted by: Bubba | September 15, 2006 01:11 PM

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Posted by: ali | October 4, 2006 12:17 AM

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