Prague Twin

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Qana Revisited

When I first posted on the Qana bombing, I said that there were 60 civilians killed. Obviously I was just repeating what was being reported at the time. We all know that I am not in Qana. But it has come to light that only 25 were actually killed there. Or were they killed there?

Many on the right are entertaining conspiracy theories that the children killed were actually killed in Tyre, and trucked in for the purpose of propoganda. They cite inconsistencies in the time stamps. They also point out the discrepancy in the facts surrounding the time of the bombing and the actual collapse of the building.

The news agencies who covered the event have catagorically denied the allegations of staging. Three different agencies covered this event: AP, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse. It is one thing when a single reporter engages in doctoring as did a Lebanese free-lance reporter who was sacked. In this case, Hajj had doctored photos for effect. Darker smoke was added to a photograph, and more bombs coming out of an Israeli jet had been added to another. Hajj was immediately fired and all of his photos removed from the wires.

In Qana, you would have to have three news agencies (two of the largest in the world included) conspire together. At least three independent reporters would have to actually take part in a fabricated event. All of these reporters would have to hold this secret for their entire lives. This is a jump that I just can not make. Sadly, all of this has distracted from more important issues.

Qana was, in fact, bombed. To date, Israel has provided no evidence of any Hezbollah activity in the area. Unless the conspiracy theorists believe that the conspirators killed those kids, those kids were killed by Israeli bombs, most likely in Qana. The last time I checked, the Lebanese civilian death toll was above 700. The Israeli civilian death toll was at about 70. That is at least 770 civilians too many.

What is really bugging me is that it takes a Qana incident to get people outraged enough to do something. Even if there had been 75 people in the building, why is it that they are more important than the other 770 people who have already been killed? Shouldn't the first 770 people killed elicit sufficient response from the world?

The same can be said for 9/11. As horible as it is for 3,000 people to die all at once in such horrid fashion, does that justify everything that has been done since then? I don't mean justify in the moral sense, but in the sense of resources spent countering the force that caused those deaths. For example, nearly 50,000 people die in the U.S. every year due to auto accidents. About the same number of high-school students die in alcohol related accidents each year as did in the 9/11 attack.

As human beings, it seems we are unable to grasp the significance of life and death unless it is personal (someone we know) or dramatic (plane crashes, Qana). This is a limit on our ability to sympathise with individuals with whom we are not aquainted.

For most, the 25 people killed in Qana are more important than the 700 Lebanese and the 70 Israelis, who have lost their lives since this war began about four weeks ago. They are infinately more important than the nearly 100 people killed in sectarian violence in Iraq on any given day and even more important than the 10 high school kids who die each day in automobiles due to alchohol.

But to me, they each count as one. And each one is one more too many.


  • I am not trying to get on your good side but, this was an absolutely magnificent posting. Wow!

    Tribalism is still going strong even with us "sophisticated" Westerners and capacity to feel for those that are "them" instead of "us" is in limited supply, to say the least. I am so glad that you have retained empathy for those who are not us and I am also glad to share this feeling with you.

    By Anonymous pekka, at 12:00 AM  

  • Yes PT, an excellent post.
    I'm finding it increasingly difficult to analyse these conflicts. If there was hope of some reasonable outcome it might look a little different.
    As it is, regardless of who is hurting whom, the balance of local support is swinging to the extremists (Arab extremistst to bo more precise).
    The whole thing is futile as a security exersise.

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 4:55 AM  

  • Human Rights Watch is a good third party organization that doesn't spin this stuff. I believe what they put out. The MSM..not so much.

    By Blogger dusty, at 7:57 PM  

  • Thanks all for reading. It was kind of a long post. One of those things that has been running around in my head for a while and I just had to get it out.

    Pekka, Us and Them. The key problem facing humanity.

    Cartledge, I couldn't agree more. The forces of extremism seem to be taking hold on both sides of the equation. I fear we've already gone to far. Sanity is now considered weakness.

    Dusty, spin is one thing. Staging a news event is completely another.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:53 AM  

  • As to the disproportionate civilian casualty count, here’s wherein lies the difference and this is what people who have any sympathies for life in general need to understand. Israel to this point has used munitions that are guided/aimed and intended for specific strategic and military targets. On the other hand Hezbollah has modified the bulk of its Katusha rockets to maximize civilian casualties and has sent them indiscriminately into Israel while in Lebanon it hides at times amongst civilians. What’s really bugging me is that the moral relativists amongst us are unwilling to make this distinction. What will the world say if and when Hezbollah uses chemical munitions?

    As to the justification of post 9/11 aggression on the part of the U.S. in the middle east and its “value” one needs to ask themselves the question: If on 9/11 if Al queda had the ability to detonate an atomic device on the Pentagon (an action that Hezbollah might approve of) or in N.Y. city, would they have? When I have asked this question in the past to people of many different political orientations generally speaking the bulk have said yes, some have refused to answer but none have said no. Unfortunately it will probably require that many people be irradiated or subjected to horrors of chemical weapons before the naysayers will understand the face of this enemy. Sadly still, even in light of that event there will be people who will blame the West once again.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:26 PM  

  • Arch,

    You said: "Israel to this point has used munitions that are guided/aimed and intended for specific strategic and military targets. On the other hand Hezbollah has modified the bulk of it's Katusha rockets to maximize civilian causualties..."

    My unsolicited answer to you is folowing.

    You fight with the weapons at your disposal. If you have no arms you throw rocks and if even this is not doable you use your fists.

    Israelis has the most advanced fruits of the war technology availab to them sponsored by Uncle Sam. Those bombs they keep "dropping" are breath takingly accurate and yet the distruction in Lebanon looks eerily similar than the scenes in bombed cities sixty years ago. Death tally so far has been one sidedly around ten civilians to one Hezbollah fighter. The "excuse" to this, that one hears about, seems to be that Hezbollah is hiding among the civilians. If it came as a suprise to Israelis that resistance fighters/guerillas don't wear easily identifiable uniforms and line up in the regular fighting formations to meet them head on, my name Lyndon B. Johnson.

    Those Katusha rockets, although nasty as the killing implements tend to be, are technologically ancient and quite frankly always had more of a demoralizing effect than anything else. You are right that they have been modified by inserting some nasty stuff into them to "improve" the shrapnel effect but all and all with their poor accuracy and not too great of a bang, they are the third world weapons. Hezbollah would be more than happy to swap weapons with the IDF.

    Your last paragraph veered off from the reality and became an excericise of what ifs, maybes and all sorts of ideas that your Commander in Chief and other neo-cons have been scaring you with for too long now. These short sighted scare tacticts have served them well and more panicky you get easier it is for them to advance their causes. Instead of making you more secure, exactly the opposite is the case and strangely enough more people like you want these devious men to "look after" you. Of course, those sick bastards like al-Queda would blow you up in a minute if they only could. They can't bacause they don't have any resources to do it. The gross exaterations by these gangsters in the White House have lit up your collective hair on fire, and it would be comical if it wasn't so serious. There are ever increasing number of people every where that would kick your ass only because of Junior and his buddies. If you would take a poll in downtown Stockholm, I bet you would get a fair number of Swedes telling that they would like to launch a presision guided missile to the White House. You just has to remember that they don't have a missile and if they had, propably wouldn't launch it. The hate would be real, though, and under this administration it's growing and thus your security cannot be taken care of by these incompetent ideologs that are hated by the vast majority of the world's population.

    I wish that one day you will rejoin the civilized world! We miss you.

    By Anonymous pekka, at 1:30 AM  

  • Pekka

    It is truly only the coward who picks a fight and then in the middle of having his ass handed to him resorts to the intentional indiscriminate killing of civilians. Surely if the IDF and Hezbollah had each-others weapons, there would be no Israel. It is your inability to acknowledge this that is so frustrating for me. Perhaps before you so eagerly jump to the defense of those poor under-armed people that are Hezbollah you should recall who threw the first punch. Do you think that Hezbollah’s actions are appropriate? Enough of the apologist rhetoric.

    Funny, you also answered yes to the second question.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 4:30 AM  

  • I think the 'hit' the 9/11 terrorist act did to the economy (especially in New York City) was what made it such a big deal not to say that 3,000 innocent people is chopped liver; but sufficient hits to the economy and the economy tanks. I don't think it was a conspiracy beyond a Schultz like I see nuz-sing from the gaggle of journalists in Qana, if even that. Finally, all modern jet warplanes can pump out, periodically, flares in the hope a heat seaking missile will follow them and not the jet. There is no warning from a heat seeking missile because its guidance is passive (unlike missiles that use radar to find the target) so the flares are dropped constantly, just in case. Flares, not bombs. Good posting.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 4:04 PM  

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