Friday, August 04, 2006


Geez, and that's Jesus, it's hard to keep up. What is the value of information, when there's so much of it AND it's so dispersed that giving it unity is impossible? Maybe that's the point. And then again we may be informed but we're powerless. The wars go on. The NZ government remains equivocal. Better to just dig our hands in our pockets and send money to the damaged. I feel like screaming.

But here goes anyway:

Thanks to all those at the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies, University of Auckland who responded to my call for media resources on the War on Lebanon and the 'New Middle East' to quote Dr Condoleezza Rice. Special big ups to Roger for most of these links, and thanks to Nick, Nick, Rebecca, Kevin, David, Virginia, Bruce, Damien, for other citations.

I'm not experienced at this sort of archival thing so this is what I've done so far in considering the last couple of days e-mails and links.

I figured I would just put those sites that feature regular commentary on politics and the war(s) on/of terror from a 'left-democratic-progressive' perspective in the links section. So I/you can just look left. The list will get longer quite quickly, I imagine.

I'm not sure how best to archive other resources but I'll leave it to the limits of this particular software for the moment and rethink things at a later date.

Otherwise, I'll just comment or simply add links to stories that seem significant, useful or just interesting for other reasons. I will include stuff that I don't agree with, since this is part of the mediascape of conflict. Inevitably there will be a media focus in here so it might be helpful for potential researchers.

I probably won't have the time to comment at length or even cursorily on many of these links since my wife is ill, I'm teaching two courses this semester, and have several deadlines for academic writing. More screaming.


I see that there has been some commentary in the Arab media (also picked up by the New York Times and other 'western' publications) about Jordanian cartoonist Emad Hajjaj's cartoon of a building under an Israeli tank with the broken walls taking the shape of the Arab world. You can see this cartoon along with others at the Al-Jazeera site. Some amazing stuff here. I love another one on the same page that compares and contrasts Condi's visits to Tel Aviv and Beirut. The site gives a good idea of the graphic intensity of these cartoons and while it's almost all critical of Israel, its a useful reminder that anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-semitism. Many media reports a few months ago conflated the two (yet again) after anti-semitic cartoons were juxtaposed against the Danish cartoons.

Trust me to choose cartoons before the 'more serious' matters of war. To poetry...

Remi Kanazi is a Palestinian-American writer and poet who is the main writer at Poetic Injustice. This site is enlightening about the shifts in Arab-American political opinion. The vast majority supported Bush and the Republican Party before 9/11. The detentions and surveillance of Arab-Americans, and the war on Iraq and now Lebanon have alienated many of them.

Sidney Blumenthal on the US neo-cons' longterm 'Domino Diplomacy'.

A piece from a pro-Israel American publication, American Thinker, looks at the military strategy of the Israeli Defence Force. It's more Monty than Patton, apparently. The confidence about 'winning the day' over a well-organized guerilla force seems rather optimistic, given the details of Hezbollah's infrastructure.

Another perspective on Hezbollah's military preparation and Iran's hand comes from the Jamestown Foundation. Its Terrorism Monitor, which on a quick glance and scan of a few pages, began after September 11, 2001, looks like your usual Washington-based think-tank on the right, with a focus on Al Qaeda and the rise of Islamism in 'Eurasia', West and Central Asia. It also keeps an eye on China. The JF looks like it's also got a few 'house Arabs'. Man, there must be a ton of Arab and Iranian academics and journalists getting gigs in Washington right now. 'You speak Arabic or Farsee? Yes! You're in, bud.' Of course, the white Americans are the ones from this organization who are called in as experts on CNN and the other US networks.

If they came downunder these guys would also be approached by the Sunday Herald Sun, an Australian rag I know nothing about. But its prose style is familiarly nauseating. A story with photos of Hezbollah taken by a Melbourne resident that 'damn' the organization, since they show it waging war from suburbia. They are in the 'hood with missiles, so they're bringing death and destruction to the communities. What more could you expect from the Israelis than to bomb the houses around there. Haven't these Australians heard of guerrilla warfare?

In contrast, features a story on the 'Hiding amongst civilians myth'.

The media war or, should I say, wars. There have been a number of stories about how coverage has varied from country to country, network to network.

The Guardian's Washington correspondent, Julian Borger says It's like watching two different wars in the US and Europe.

Jamal Dajani, a US-based Arab television and documentary producer also remarks on the US and Arab network reportage.

In today's Media Guardian, John Plunkett surveys the coverage of US and UK networks.

Jonathan Cook, a writer in Nazareth, focuses on the militarization of the media in Israel, with critical voices absent from the television.

Had a quick scan of Abu Aardvark, a blog by Marc Lynch which is thorough and scholarly and focuses on the new Arab public and the role of the media in its formation. Much about the variation in Arab networks here and the 'revolutionary' impact of media in the region since the late 90s. Also gets to the Sunni-Shia mythologies currently being propogated as part of the imperial project.

I haven't watched that much of the coverage on the NZ media, turning instead to BBC World since I'm a Sky subscriber. But tonight Prime News seemed to be more fair in its coverage of both sides as compared with TV3's evening bulletin which concentrated on the shelling of Israelis and described the demonstration of a few hundred in Wellington as 'peaceful but rowdy'. The last shot was of a pile of placards on the ground. TV3 also failed to mention, unlike Prime, that Nasrallah said that Hezbollah would stop shelling if Israel withdrew its troops and stopped bombing.

Lara Deeb, a cultural anthropologist, and assistant professor of women’s studies at the University of California-Irvine, is author of An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi‘i Lebanon. She has a primer on Hezbollah which appears on many sites.

Quoted at Mike Toppa's blog, Chas Freeman, former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and former Asst. Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, gives a realpolitikal description of what he sees is the relationship of Hezbollah to Iran and Syria. You can judge for yourself though I think as a former US diplomat he underplays the Bush Administration's green light to the Israelis and their agenda to remap the region:

The assumption in Israel and here is that Iran and Syria put Hezbollah up to its provocative gesture of solidarity with the beleaguered Palestians in Gaza. The assumption in the Arab world is that the U.S. put Israel up to what it is doing in Gaza and Lebanon. Both assertions remain politically convenient assertions that are almost certainly wrong. There is no evidence for either.

The relationship between Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran is analogous to that between Israel and the United States. Syria is the quartermaster and Iran the external financier and munitions supplier to Hezbollah; we play all three roles in support of Israel.

There is no reason to believe that Hezbollah, which is an authentic expression of Lebanese Sh'ia nationalism birthed by the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon in 1982, is any less unilateralist or prone to consult its patrons before it does things it sees as in its interest than Israel, which is an authentic expression of Jewish nationalism birthed by European racism, is in relation to us.

Remember the assertions that Vietnamese expansionism was controlled and directed by the Chinese? similar stuff. Chinese backing for the Viet Minh and the Hanoi regime did not equate to Chinese control or direction of North Vietnam, its armed forces, or its agents in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Consider the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war.

The irony now is that the most likely candidate to back Hezbollah in the long term is no longer Iran but the Arab Shiite tyranny of the majority we have installed in Baghdad. But that will not mean that the successors of Nouri Al-Maliki control Sheikh Nasrullah. Sometimes clients direct the policies of their patrons, not the other way around. This is a point exemplified by the dynamic of Israeli-American relations but far from unique to them.

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