UN Secretary General Throws Shade on Israel from Lebanon

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, visited Lebanon on December 20, 2021 to show support for the country as it continued fail on multiple fronts. Already floundering due to an economic crisis, Lebanon’s falling fortunes are being exacerbated by the pandemic since March 2020, the explosion in the port that damaged much of the capital in August 2020 and infighting between various factions that make up the country’s political landscape and demographic mix.

Guterres spoke to the Lebanese cabinet in a lengthy speech that painted the people of Lebanon as particularly warm and welcoming in the face of adversity. However, various comments made – and parties unmentioned – reveal a dangerous UN bias for the future of the country and region.

Guterres called out Israel both directly and indirectly, and never favorably.

Palestinian refugees. The UNSG recalled Lebanon’s welcome of Syrian refugees and then appended “not to mention the old Palestinian community of a million.” That’s a complete lie. Lebanon welcomed several thousand Palestinian Arabs in 1948-9, and that total grew to 568,000 in 2021, half of Guterres’s figure. Further, Lebanon places severe restrictions on the professions for the stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs), forcing two-thirds of the population into poverty.

Coexistence. Guterres continued that Lebanon was an “extraordinary example of religious tolerance of the capacity to create a diverse society that was harmonious, that was prosperous and that was, I would say, the centre of the region.” Lebanon was engaged in a religious civil war from 1976 to 1990, a point completely omitted and whitewashed in the speech. It has been nearly fifty years since the country had a semblance of religious tolerance. Such tolerance at the “centre of the region” is found in Israel today, not Lebanon.

But Guterres wanted to castigate Israel in his remarks, not elevate it as an example of coexistence.

Israel’s belligerence. While noting for a just a second that Lebanon bore some responsibility for its current state of affairs, Guterres called out outside actors that hurt Lebanon, in particular “the Israeli invasion several years ago.” That invasion in 1982 was in the midst of Lebanon’s Civil War in which the country acted as a terrorist save haven for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that repeatedly attacked Israel, forcing a response from Israel.

The unmentioned evil actors. Not only did the PLO go unmentioned in the speech, so did Hezbollah, the terrorist group that controls southern Lebanon, as well as Iran, which backs that terrorist group.

Hezbollah was directly responsible for the Beirut port blast which exacerbated the current situation. It has threatened judges investigating the case, lest the terrorist group be cast in a negative light before elections scheduled for March 2022.

Hezbollah is estimated to have well over 120,000 missiles with a range that covers all of northern Israel. The missile launch sites are nestled among 230 Shiite villages in southern Lebanon. Those rockets were purchased with funds from Iran, including the $400 million in cash sent by President Obama to seal the Iranian nuclear deal. This terrorist army was armed and missiles deployed right under the nose of the United Nations, where UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) is charged with maintaining the peace with Israel and keeping Hezbollah from rearming as part of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006).

Hezbollah is likely to become fully active over the next several months as the Lebanese economy collapses, elections happen or are canceled, and the terrorist group’s sponsors in Iran are forced to either accept de-nuclearlization or full economic sanctions. Hezbollah has already begun to test the situation, firing 19 missiles into the Jewish State in August 2021. The UN did nothing, other than voting to continue to fund UNIFIL while it berated Israel and refused to mention Hezbollah.

Which begs the question of what was being accomplished with the head of the United Nations visiting Lebanon at this time. Was it seeking an economic package from world governments? That was mentioned (as was promoting the involvement of women in government), but so was this troubling statement:

I want to say that our mission is essentially a mission of solidarity.  You can be sure that Lebanon is today in the centre of all our strategies and efforts, both at the level of the Secretariat and at the level of the different agencies that are cooperating with the Lebanese authorities, not to mention our two missions, and in particular now, UNIFIL that we want to be more and more actively cooperating with the Lebanese army as a fundamental factor of stability and security in the southern part of Lebanon.

UNIFIL and the Lebanese army have no sway in southern Lebanon. Guterres’s refusal to call out the main troubling actor in the region that has been firing missiles at its neighbor to the south is outrageous, dangerous and ominous.

Israeli forces fire artillery from their position on the border with Lebanon after a barrage of rockets were fired from Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. The militant Hezbollah group said it fired rockets near Israeli positions close to the Lebanese border, calling it retaliation for Israeli airstrikes on southern Lebanon a day earlier. (Ayal Margolin/JINIPIX via AP)

The UN Secretary General came to stand in solidarity with Lebanon and ignored the dangerous and dominant role that the terrorist group Hezbollah has in the failing state. In the likely upcoming war with the Israel, it appears that Guterres just placed his chips with the puppet state controlled by Iran.

Related articles:

The Scary Growth of Terrorist Propaganda

UN Secretary General Guterres is Losing the Confidence of Decent People

The UN Does Not Want Palestinian Terrorists to be Held Accountable

The Scary Growth of Terrorist Propaganda

In just a single week, two governments took long overdue steps to label all branches of terrorist groups as part of the same poisonous tree. It was not without reason.

On November 19, 2021, the United Kingdom announced that it would add the political wing of Hamas onto the list of terrorist groups, joining the military branch which already had the designation. On November 24th, the government of Australia announced that it was adding all branches of Hezbollah to its terrorist list. They joined many countries in recognizing that the entirety of these organizations mobilized forces of hatred and terror, and facilitated the actual attacks of its military wings.

The propaganda arms of the two groups – al Aqsa and al Manar – are no longer fringe sources of extremism. They have been growing in popularity and are now at parity with more mainstream Muslim Arab media.

Al Manar is the media arm of Hezbollah in Lebanon. It routinely puts out the statements of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah demonizing the United States and Israel. The group defines itself as the official Islamic resistance of Lebanon to combat the atrocities and invasions of western powers.

Al Aqsa is the media arm of Hamas. It also defines itself as the official Islamic resistance of the Palestinian people against western and Jewish forces, advocating violence in its various programming.

Dateal Arabia & Al Jazeeraal Manar & Al Aqsa
Sept 200572.5%4.8%
Sept 201060.7%16.8%
Sept 201536.2%25.4%
Sept 202127.3%25.5%
Media viewership in Gaza over time. Gazans preferences for terrorist sources has grown according to Palestinian polls

As the table above shows, the preference for the programming of mainstream media like al Arabia from Dubai and al Jazeera from Qatar has dropped dramatically, even though those media outlets also demonize the west. The Gazans have become drawn to more radical calls for terrorism.

While the Gazans preference for violence against Israelis surpasses West Bankers, the trend lines for watching terrorist television is much the same in the Palestinian Authority-ruled areas.

Dateal arabia & al jazeeraal manar & al aqsa
Sept 200568.2%8.0%
Sept 201070.5%9.1%
Sept 201528.6%13.0%
Sept 202126.6%23.2%
Media viewership in the West Bank over time. West Bankers preferences for terrorist programming jumped significantly this year according to Palestinian polls

The spike in West Bankers watching Hamas media has a lot to do with Palestinians dislike of PA President Mahmoud Abbas from the rival Fatah party, his cancelling elections earlier this year and Hamas’s missile attacks against Israel in May, a war crime celebrated by West Bankers as a defense for Jerusalem. But the overall trends are much the same as in Gaza: Palestinians are now watching terrorist television at the same rates as mainstream Arabic media.

The United Nations long ago realized that terrorist propaganda fuels violence, but it primarily focused attention on ISIS and al Qaeda and their usage of social media. Hopefully the recent actions of Australia and the UK in labelling the political and media arms of Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organizations will help reduce the vile calls to violence.

A picture taken on November 12, 2018, shows a ball of fire above the building housing the Hamas-run television station al-Aqsa TV in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli air strike after a barrage of rocket fire from the enclave. Israeli security group Shin Bet accused al Aqsa journalists of using codes and being agents in attacks on Israel (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Related articles:

Hamas’s Willing Executioners

The West Definitively Concludes Hamas is a Terrorist Group

Excerpt of Hamas Charter to Share with Your Elected Officials

Actions and Adjectives: Cluster Bombs

Summary: When it comes to reporting on the death of civilians, it is interesting to review how and when some media outlets choose to simply report facts, rather than delve into critical reporting. Here is a comparison of the New York Times discussion of cluster bombs being used by Syria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Remarkably, the party that is lambasted the most in the articles is Israel.

 Actions and Adjectives

The “Actions and Adjectives” series discusses the media’s use of language. Oftentimes, the press chooses to be fairly clinical in describing a situation, while at other times, it chooses to direct (or redirect) the conversation in a particular fashion.

For an example, an article can have different ways of describing a car crash:

  1. “Three people died in a car crash,” is purely factual.
  2. “Three people were killed in a car crash when a teenager crashed his car into oncoming traffic,” provides more color about the incident, giving an account of how the crash happened.
  3. “Three innocent people were killed when an irate teenager plowed his car into oncoming traffic after the teen had a big fight with his girlfriend,” takes the article to an entirely different place.

While all of the sentences are factual, the third description does two significant things:

  • It gets the reader to be more engaged- “innocent people were killed” by an “irate teenager,” phraseology gets the reader more excited and angry.
  • Further, the conversation moves the reader away from the victims, towards the driver. The reader is intentionally led towards possible motivation and background which caused the incident. Most likely, a more detailed description of the driver and his relationship would follow in the article. Should the balance of the article focus on teenage relationships, the headline would unlikely be about the car crash; the accident was there solely as a tool to delve into the main focus, which in this example, is the potential danger and ramifications of teenage love.

With that general overview about word choice and focus, consider the New York Times description of the use cluster bombs by Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Cluster Bombs Used by Saudi Arabia

On May 3, 2015, the New York Times published a piece entitled “Saudi-led Group Said to Use Cluster Bombs in Yemen“. The 14 -paragraph article showed up at the bottom of page 10 and discussed a report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) which concluded that Saudi Arabia used cluster bombs on at least two occasions. No casualty figures were supplied.

Saudi Arabia cluster bombs

The article made clear that “cluster munitions, which are banned by much of the world, though not by the United States, Saudi Arabia or Yemen,… pose a long-term danger to civilians because of the unexploded bomblets they leave behind.” The article included a single condemnation of KSA for its use of the weapons: “Saudi Arabia has come under growing international criticism for the high civilian death toll during its aerial campaign, which has been carried out over more than five weeks alongside a coalition of Arab states and with intelligence and logistical support from the United States. More than 1,000 people have been killed in fighting since late March, when Saudis said their military was intervening to roll back gains by the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group that had captured large parts of Yemen and forced the president, supported by Saudi Arabia, into exile.

These sentences may look unremarkable on their own, but consider what was actually written and the direction of the article as a whole:

  • It was clear that the parties that engaged in the use of the cluster bombs had not signed onto the treaty barring their usage
  • The “unexploded bomblets” were left behind by the cluster bombs, not by the Saudis which were a step removed
  • KSA was portrayed in a negative manner only a single time in the article: “growing international criticism
  • The aerial campaign was described as having wide support from a “coalition” which included “support from the United States”
  • A rationale was given for the KSA military attack- to “roll back” a “rebel group

The article stayed roughly true to the HRW report. This was in very stark comparison to an article in the New York Times published on August 28, 2014 called “Heavy Use of Banned Cluster Bombs Reported in Syria”

Cluster Bombs Used by Syria

In September, FirstOneThrough wrote a detailed analysis of the August 2014 article which outlined how the story about Syria’s use of cluster bombs ended up becoming harsh a critique of Israel. Below is some added comparisons to this week’s NYT article.

The 2014 article had a single negative comment for Syria’s use of cluster bombs, attributed to a HRW lawyer: “This year’s use of cluster munitions shows that while these weapons have been banned by most countries of the world, some actors still flout international opinion and standards,” Mary Wareham, the advocacy director of Human Rights Watch’s arms division,” in a statement that did not specifically mention Syria.

However, the Times did heap condemnation many times upon Israel, even though it was presumably not the focus of the article.  The author, Rick Gladstone, redirected the timely article about Syria towards Israel’s use of the cluster bombs eight years earlier.

 “Israel-Lebanon conflict that triggered global outrage and contributed to the establishment of the ban convention. Israel’s military was widely criticized at home and abroad for its heavy cluster-bomb use in Lebanon,”

Gladstone’s 16-paragraph article mentioned Israel in six of the paragraphs. In almost each case, Israel was lambasted.

  • In the 2015 article, KSA had “growing international criticism” while in 2014, Israel had “global outrage” and was “widely criticized” and many other uses of such critical language for Israel, including “insane and monstrous”  and “completely immoral.” Syria was not condemned by name.
  • In 2015, KSA fought against “the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group,”  However, in the 2014 article, Hezbollah, a Shiite army that is considered a terrorist group by the United States, was mentioned only once while “Israel-Lebanon” was used repeatedly.
  • The 2015 article articulated the reason KSA waged its aerial campaign; the 2014 article did not describe Hezbollah’s firing rockets into Israel and blowing up military vehicles which initiated the war.

 

As evidenced in this week’s KSA article on cluster bombs, the Times can write an article about the current news when it desires. It has also shown that it is deft at inflaming passion and redirecting an article towards Israel, as it did in August 27, 2014.  Why did the New York Times report on cluster bombs in such a different manner?

In August 2014, Israel and Hamas had just ended a bloody war in which the New York Times covered Israel as an evil, murderous aggressor against civilians.  The story of cluster bombs in Syria served as an excuse to continue to portray Israel as indifferent to the lives of civilians in a war.  The choice of critical adjectives and adverbs such as “insane,”  “monstrous” and “immoral” for Israel were meant as permanent monikers.

Other questions arise when reviewing the two cluster bomb -articles:

  • Why does the New York Times goes out of its way to portray Saudi Arabia as an ally of the United States that receives “support” but does not do the same for Israel?
  • Why was the United States’ usage of cluster bombs in 2009 buried at the bottom of the 2015 article, and the thousands that the US dropped in Vietnam mentioned in passing in the 2014 article?

Articles do not just convey facts. They tell a story that the editors want you to follow and believe. What do you believe?


Related First One Through articles:

Every Picture Tells a Story- Whitewashing the World (except Israel) 

New York Times Talking Turkey