31 December 2013

Judges and Jurors in Beirut


On Friday morning, my Beirut apartment shook to the sound of an explosion. My roommate and I made our way to the site of the blast downtown with the help of a man on a street corner who, pointing in two different directions, remarked drily: “If you want to see the bomb go that way. If you want to go shopping go that way.”

To be sure, such violence has long been a part of the Lebanese landscape. So too have the self-appointed tribunals that spring up in the aftermath of political assassinations. READ MORE AT JACOBIN.

29 December 2013

Fun with chronology: misreporting the Israeli assault on Gaza

Al Jazeera

The New York Times' rendering of recent violence on the border between Gaza and Israel is a shining example of the chronological sleights of hand that have come to characterise mainstream reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Isabel Kershner's December 24 dispatch, "Killing and Retaliation at Gaza-Israel Border Continue Violent Cycle", sets up the timeline as follows:
"An Israeli labourer who was repairing the security fence along the border with Gaza was fatally shot on Tuesday by a Palestinian sniper, according to the Israeli military, and Israel immediately responded with airstrikes and tank and infantry fire against targets it associated with militant groups in the Palestinian coastal territory."

The seeming cause-and-effect relationship is emphasised by two photographs appearing side by side at the top of the article. On the left: the body of the sniper victim. On the right: the body of the three-year-old Palestinian girl cast as unintended collateral damage in the photograph's caption: "A shell killed her as Israel, responding to the sniper attack, struck targets it associated with militant groups."

Buried in a paragraph in the second half of the article, however, is the following detail: "On Friday, Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian man who approached the border fence separating Gaza from Israel."

As it turns out, the Friday in question occurred four days prior to the Tuesday sniper fire and military assault. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

16 December 2013

Fighting terror with terror

Al Jazeera

On December 12, the New York Times reported that "what appeared to be the second American drone strike in the past week" had killed at least 11 people in Yemen, as they drove home from a wedding. The article offered additional noncommittal details such as that "[m]ost of the dead appeared to be people suspected of being militants linked to Al Qaeda."

Reuters supplied a different version of the incident, citing 15 fatalities and a claim from local security officials that a party of wedding attendees had been "mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy".

The ease of confusing wedding guests with terrorists has, of course, been demonstrated time and again in the war on terror, as evidenced by mainstream media headlines over the years such as "US bomb blunder kills 30 at Afghan wedding". Funeral attendees have also been popular targets, a practice discussed in Glenn Greenwald's 2012 dispatch for Salon: "US again bombs mourners." READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.