Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Truth Is...

...hard to discern, when it comes to reports out of Lebanon, for most people. After all, who to believe? Most news organizations report that of about 540 dead Lebanese, just 46 are Hezbollah fighters; Israel claims to have killed over 300. Hezbollah claims to have murdered 35 IDF soldiers in battle yesterday, while Israel confirms the deaths of three.

Hezbollah claims that included among the five people Israel captured are just a "grocer and two relatives of his in construction", while Israel says they were captured in battle. Hezbollah claims that Israel attacked them in a hospital, to which Israel responded Hezbollah was basing attacks out of it; when reporters asked Hezbollah why they were in the hospital in the first place, they claimed that all the patients had been removed.

Thankfully, the media is slowly improving its reporting as the war progresses. The further Israel pushes, the clearer the truth behind the stories becomes - and often, it is clear that Hezbollah has exaggerated and sometimes outright lied. While still reporting Hezbollah claims, sometimes uncritically, many in the media are finally at least putting in important aspects - little details such as "Hezbollah would not allow any reporters into the hospital" or "Hezbollah would not allow reporters near the building that collapsed [in Qana]" or "All the dead bodies were taken from the same hole, of which reporters could only see the exterior."
WestBankMama pointed to two good articles today, one of them on this subject - it's quite good, check it out. The other one is from speaking to sources inside Lebanon discussing how Hezbollah is being beaten.
In one of those articles was the following:
If Hezbollah-run media are to be believed, then 35 Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed or wounded in Ayta a-Shab , militants downed an Israeli helicopter and destroyed a house in which IDF soldiers were hiding, and IDF troops are always hit in the back because they are running away.

All these statements are baseless because - despite the impression Hezbollah has made for straight talk - credibility is not its strong suit.

Hezbollah's reports have become less and less believable in recent days. On Monday, Al-Manar television - the central component of Hezbollah's well-oiled media empire - reported that the organization had destroyed an Israeli ship off the coast of Tyre, which had some 50 sailors aboard - a charge the IDF dismissed completely.

Many people (including myself) have talked about the third front in this war, that of the battle of world opinion. We have said that even if winning the battles on the ground, Israel could be forced to stop unless they also fight in the court of world opinion. This remains true, but perhaps it is more hand-in-hand than we thought: The more Israel wins on the ground, the more clear the truth becomes when fighting in the court of world opinion. Meanwhile...

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