A conspiracy so vast …

by Daniel on September 1, 2006

The International Committee of the Red Cross is very serious indeed about its neutrality. There is an obvious reason for this; neutrality underpins its special status, and if its neutrality is compromised, its personnel may be placed directly in danger and its ability to do its job is reduced. In other words, to impugn the neutrality of the Red Cross is a very serious charge indeed, and ought to only be made on the basis of very strong evidence indeed.

So it is perhaps odd to see Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer (who comes across as a hell of a moron; could any Aussie readers confirm this?) merrily asserting that the Lebanese Red Cross conspired with Hezbollah to fake an attack on one of its ambulances, seemingly as collateral damage to a broadside against the media for being biased against Israel.

In fact, his source was a blog, “Zombietime“, which has looked through news agency photos of the ambulance and proved to its own satisfaction that they are fakes. I must say that their case seems pretty unconvincing to me, since it appears to be based on some very strong conditional statements about what “a missile” can and can’t do, and “a missile” is a really quite generic category to be making such statements about.

I think that if I was the Australian foreign minister, I would have considered the pros and cons of undermining the credibility of the Red Cross (particularly as the ICRC is an important provider of the humanitarian aid which supports a lot of the things that the USA, UK and Australia want to do in the sphere of foreign policy) and decided that a political slam on the mainstream media was not worth it, particularly since nobody actually disputes that civilians were killed and ambulances were hit during the Lebanese invasion. Blogosphere triumphalism doesn’t really seem all that important compared to the neutrality of the Red Cross.

Of course, we all remember Rathergate, so it is silly to say out of hand that some people working diligently on a blog might not be able to fact check a story, albeit that of course an ambulance is a lot more difficult to assess from photos than a document. However, there is no need to get into the whys and wherefores of the matter at issue, because the IDF did, in fact, admit that they had hit some ambulances.

If there was a conspiracy to make up a fake ambulance, it appears that the IDF press office is involved and are producing propaganda for Hezbollah – pretty exciting if true. Zombietown have some fairly convoluted theories on their blog about how this statement can be made consistent with the hoax theory, along the lines of saying that the IDF regularly apologises for accidental killings first and then investigates later (a practice which would seem to me to be suicidal in a world of personal injury liability, and which was not followed in the case of the Gaza beach blast, for example). But it hardly matters, because at this point the “media bias” and “irresponsible journalism” angles are shot, aren’t they?

If the Red Cross says “an ambulance was hit” and the IDF says “yep, we hit an ambulance”, what on earth should you print? The bloggers and Mr Downer are implicitly saying with a straight face that “responsbible journalism” requires an editor to say “well, the Red Cross say the IDF hit their ambulance, the IDF say that they hit the Red Cross’s ambulance … I’d better send someone down to find out what really happened. We can take Steve and Bob off the newsdesk, it’s not like they are busy or anything, there’s only a war on”.  If this were truly “responsible journalism”, then responsible journalists might, if they were lucky, be in a position to tell us that Osama bin Laden was behind the Twin Towers attack, some time around 2018.

Melanie Phillips (by the way, the “Melanie Phillips Naziometer” currently counts 7 mentions of the Nazis on her blog front page) has perhaps gone a step further than Mr Downer and Zombietown, asserting that not only was there a Red Cross conspiracy and that the mainstream media were irresponsible to have failed to uncover it, but that this is evidence of a media conspiracy to promote a Big Lie and smear Israel, because the liberal media are motivated by blind hatred and anti-Semitism.

I was quite surprised to see that this view was endorsed on Harry’s Place, a site which I do not usually regard as a part of the nuttersphere. It takes quite some brass neck to claim that the overall effect of newspaper coverage was to sustain a Big Lie that the invasion of Lebanon caused substantial civilian casualties (it is rather like, in form if not remotely in scale, those websites which make exaggerated claims about the importance of small technical errors in historical accounts of the Holocaust whenever they find one). At the most, the public might have been misled into believing that some vehicles were hit by missiles when they were actually hit by other munitions, or that there were 52 casualties of the Qana bombing[1] rather than 28, for the day and a half it took for the figures to be corrected.

This is a completely unserious charge; the very fact that this ambulance thing is the best piece of evidence the denialists have rather throws into relief the fact that the overall impression given by the media of the Lebanon invasion (that it was completely horrible and Lebanese civilians were the primary victims) is correct.

In general, if you are consistently finding yourself to be more “pro-Israel” than the army of Israel, it might be time to step back and have a bit of a think.

[1] I actually can’t remember whether Qana was hit by an air raid or by missiles, although if I am wrong I am sure there is a blog out there that can exhaustively prove that it was one or the other and attribute my mistake to anti-Semitism.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Ambulance chasers » The Road to Surfdom
09.03.06 at 6:40 pm
Crooked Timber » » Why oh why can’t we get a better press corps? Oz edition
09.06.06 at 6:25 pm

{ 242 comments }

1

Daniel 09.01.06 at 6:37 am

by the way, I hope that this new WordPress interface is quick-running and easy to use on Macs, because it is damn near intolerable in Windows.

2

Scott Martens 09.01.06 at 6:50 am

I’m sure someone will find comparing the defense of Israel’s war in Lebanon to Holocaust denial profoundly offensive.

There’s a distinctly anti-ICRC tendency in the American right. Much the same things you’ve said could have been said about the people who claimed the ICRC was anti-semitic because it couldn’t admit Israel until recently. The Magen David Adom was generally quite happy with its relations with the ICRC, in sharp contrast to the (largely American) commenters who saw Swiss anti-semitism in every action it took. When you find yourself more hostile to the ICRC over the MDA than the MDA is, some reality check is necessary.

I’m not quite sure what the root of this hostility is, except perhaps that any international organization that even gives lip-service to treating America the same way it treats everyone else is automatically suspect.

I can only assume the Australian right is following the same pattern as in the US.

3

Ray 09.01.06 at 6:53 am

You see, that’s what you get for that “incomprehensible mindless contrarians” bit. Next thing you know, articles posted from a Windows machine will automatically have incriminatory phrases added.

4

Dan 09.01.06 at 7:00 am

Alexander Downer, it’s fair to say, is not renowned in Australia for being an intellectual giant.

5

John Quiggin 09.01.06 at 7:03 am

Indeed not

6

Adam 09.01.06 at 7:06 am

I am glad we all have such a faith in the press, considering that Reuters photos were doctored, the BBC feld false info on the number of casualties in Jenin 2002, Qana 2006, as well as another village whose name escapes me in Lebanon but the number of dead fell from 40 to 1, where a BBC report on Bint Jabil was proved false by Channel 4 News. Maybe the Australian Foreign Minister had a point; I’m not saying there is a conspiracy in the press, but they seem to accept anything that they were told in Southern Lebanon, an area controlled by Hezbollah. CNN’s Nic Robertson admitted that Hezbollah controlled his report, “They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn’t have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath”.

People complain that Israeli bombs destroy houses, whereas Katyusha rockets make dents; but then how does an ambulance receive damage only where the air vent is?

7

Ben 09.01.06 at 7:10 am

You’re not really surprised by Harry’s Place, are you? Let’s be honest.

8

abb1 09.01.06 at 7:18 am

Come on, admit it: it’s almost impossible to resist hitting an ambulance – colorful object moving fast with flashing lights all over. You hypocrites; let him who has never hit an ambulance cast the first stone.

Removing fertile topsoil from Labanese fields and moving it over the border to Israel in 1999 should be a bit harder to explain.

9

Patrick S. O'Donnell 09.01.06 at 7:21 am

I’m waiting to learn how the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and even the US State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, conspired with Lebanese civilians, the Lebanese government and news organizations to claim that Israel used cluster bombs during the conflict, indeed that reports of thousands of such bomblets found at 359 separate sites are completely fabricated. Moreover, the aforementioned have furthered conspired to claim that 90% of the cluster bomb strikes ‘occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict when a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution was pending.’ Further evidence of this conspiracy is the utterly fanatastical belief by many human rights activists that such cluster munitions are illegal under multiple provisions of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions (1977) as they are notoriously inaccurate weapons that spread damage indiscriminately. How can we not accept the Israeli government’s categorical denial that it engaged in the unauthorized use of cluster munitions in Lebanon, knowing in our heart of hearts that its weaponry and the use thereof invariably, consistently and closely conforms to international standards. It is exquisitely clear that this is an immense conspiracy against the good name of the Israeli Defense Forces when we hear a UN relief coordinator making the extravagant if not delusional claim that ‘Every day, people are maimed, wounded and are killed by these ordnances,’ or when others unnecessarily create a state of alarm by asserting thousands of Lebanese men, women and children remain at risk from unexploded munitions.

10

schwa 09.01.06 at 7:29 am

The worst thing about Downer is that he’s not even close to being the biggest wanker in the government. (Tony Abbott, anyone?)

11

Kevin Donoghue 09.01.06 at 7:32 am

I was quite surprised to see that this view was endorsed on Harry’s Place, a site which I do not usually regard as a part of the nuttersphere.

C’mon now. Who was it dubbed HP “Little Green Soceerbals”, then?

12

Kevin Donoghue 09.01.06 at 7:33 am

Sorry, Soccerballs.

13

Daniel 09.01.06 at 7:39 am

7, 11, 12 – yes, I suppose what I meant was that I was surprised that it was David T who posted it as he is pretty much the only sane regular contributor (actually some of the new ones might or might not be but they all rather blur into one for me).

tangentially to which, I was checking back on David Bernstein’s laughable and disgusting efforts on the Volokh website around the time of the Qana bombing and lots of them have been substantially edited.

14

Ajax 09.01.06 at 7:40 am

“I think that if I was the Australian foreign minister, I would have considered the pros and cons of . . .”

Alexander Downer considering something before speaking? Now there’s a novel idea!

15

David Kane 09.01.06 at 8:45 am

However, there is no need to get into the whys and wherefores of the matter at issue, because the IDF did, in fact, admit that they had hit some ambulances.

Get serious! Zombietime is not claiming that the IDF never hits any ambulances. He is claiming that this specific ambulance — the most highly publicized ambulance strike of the war — was not hit, that the evidence in this specific case was fabricated. Please address the claims that he is making. Do you think that ambulance 782, as pictured in papers around the world, was hit by the IDF?

16

Steve 09.01.06 at 8:49 am

“which has looked through news agency photos of the ambulance and proved to its own satisfaction that they are fakes. I must say that their case seems pretty unconvincing to me, since it appears to be based on some very strong conditional statements about what “a missile” can and can’t do, and “a missile” “

That’s interesting. When I looked at the pictures, it seemed self-evident that they were fakes. The ‘missile’ hole is very clearly a mounting bracket for the red whoopy light on top of the vehicle (in some pictures you can even see the screw holes for the whoopy light mounts, still silver and unpainted). This is independent of all the other arguments-what a missile strike would do to the inside of a vehicle, the remarkable coincidence of a missile hitting the direct center of the red cross on the roof, etc etc. Whether the press was compliant in the fakes, or merely lazy I don’t know. But the missile hole is clearly mythical. You’ve seen those pictures, and don’t see the obvious fakes? Leading a horse to water and all that.

Steve

17

Kelly 09.01.06 at 8:52 am

and attribute my mistake to anti-Semitism.
Of course. Any time you disagree with Israel’s actions, you’re anti-Semitic. I think perhaps it’s handier these days, even, than calling someone a Nazi (although they seem to go rather hand in hand…).

18

james 09.01.06 at 9:00 am

Shutting down all debate by name calling is a time honored tradition. Welcome to the consequences of supporting victim hood as the de facto moral high ground.

19

Daniel 09.01.06 at 9:09 am

Steve and Dave; you, like your mate at Zombietime, seem to be very sure indeed that you know everything about what happens when “a missile” hits “an ambulance”. You remind me a lot of those “professional structural engineers” who knew all about what happens when “an airplane” hits “a steel frame building”, and my opinion is that you are bullshitting just as hard as they were.

If I were to, by way of experiment, chuck a grenade onto the roof of an ambulance, I would expect:

1. That there would be significant concussion, denting the roof of the ambulance in a concave manner.

2. That there would be a pattern of holes and shrapnel damage radiating out from the point where the grenade exploded.

3. That any weak points in the roof, like the light fitting, would be blown through, particularly if these were very near the point of the explosion (which I remind, would also be the point from which the roof damage would appear to radiate).

4. That anyone inside would be hurt, probably quite badly, by the blast and the shrapnel, but that nevertheless, since the roof would not be completely blown away, there wouldn’t be fire damage or really serious structural damage to the inside of the vehicle.

All of these things appear to be true of the ambulance shown. So I conclude that it was, in fact, hit by something like a rock-propelled grenade. Since the IDF was using drones in and around that area which fired munitions roughly equivalent to RPGs, Occam’s Razor leads me to believe that this ambulance was probably hit by one of them, and that the Red Cross volunteers who were operating it, one of whom had his leg blown off, were telling the truth.

It might be that I am mistaken in this view. However, even if I am, my point stands; there is a perfectly sensible version of events in which there was no conspiracy, so newspapers cannot be blamed for not constructing a conspiracy theory.

20

Daniel 09.01.06 at 9:12 am

Zombietime is not claiming that the IDF never hits any ambulances. He is claiming that this specific ambulance—- the most highly publicized ambulance strike of the war—- was not hit, that the evidence in this specific case was fabricated

I note (and I am not going to be sidetracked from this point by people waving versions of Godwin’s Law), that you can find any number of “scholars” on the internet who claim that they have never denied that there was a massacre of Jews in Europe, just that the specific configuration of the buildings of Auschwitz was not consistent with their having been used as gas chambers. Indeed, I think that for a long time this was David Irving’s actual defence.

21

A. Nevelichko 09.01.06 at 9:23 am

some fairly convoluted theories … along the lines of saying that the IDF regularly apologises for accidental killings first and then investigates later (a practice … which was not followed in the case of the Gaza beach blast, for example).
This is simply false (and easy to check by searching the news archives). The IDF initially issued a statement of regret and retracted it later when the internal investigation indicated discrepancies in timing of the last shell and the actual blast.

and attribute my mistake to anti-Semitism.
It is much more tempting to attribute your mistakes to an arrogant refusal to accept any evidence contradicting an array of your preconceived notions (geopolitical, sociological, etc).

There is an increasing amount of evidence that personnel and vehicles of relief agencies at times perform functions incompatible with their mandate in conflict zones. Instead of blaming someone for refusing to ignore it, perhaps one should consider it seriously and discuss the responsibility of those responsible for the outrage.

I am not a right-wing fanatic nor an unconditional supporter of Israeli policy by any means, but one-sided statements like yours make me roll my eyes just as much as the “unbiased” coverage of Fox News.

22

Steven Poole 09.01.06 at 9:27 am

the remarkable coincidence of a missile hitting the direct center of the red cross on the roof

It sure is a remarkable coincidence that everything that has ever happened didn’t happen in a slightly different way.

23

alkali 09.01.06 at 9:46 am

I write solely to laud D^2′s coining the term “nuttersphere.”

24

Steve 09.01.06 at 9:48 am

I repeat: you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Steve
+

25

Brendan 09.01.06 at 9:49 am

I think here we have to start off with the basics. The blogosphere (or at least the American part of it) seems to be filled with white heterosexual males, all (so far as I can tell) in their 30s or 40s, all of whom, apparently, have nothing better to do with their time than pore over photos produced by Reuters and others that question (so it seems) their political views. What would we say about people who pored over the photos of 9/11 looking for inconsistencies and ‘shadows that don’t add up’ and ‘people who are seen in the same place hours apart’ or so forth, in an attempt to demonstrate (or hint) that the 9/11 was an elaborate charade? We would call them nutters, and their views incredibly offensive.

The very fact that they are actually looking for these ‘inconsistencies’ and so forth and etc. in the first place strikes me as being dubious.

However the key problem with their views isn’t about photos at all. It’s about motivation. OK: there is we are told, a liberal bias in the media. OK. Let’s pretend that might be true for a moment. The problem is: what’s the motivation? Why should journalists have a liberal bias? Whatever one might think about the MediaLens/Noam Chomsky ‘propaganda model’ at least I understand it. The idea is that Rupert Murdoch is an extreme right winger (which is demonstrably true) that he sets the agenda for his newspapers and TV stations (again, something which is demonstrably true) and that you won’t get a job on his papers/TV stations unless you have the ‘right’ (pun intended) politics. And there are numerous other examples (Conrad Black, Richard Desmond etc.).

But who are the ‘left wing’ newspaper proprietors? What’s their motivation? Why should Reuters be biased towards Hizbollah?

I’m not being smart here: I would like someone from the ‘nuttosphere’ to actually answer this question and explain why they think the media should be biased against the Right, when it is obviously in newspaper owner’s interests to be biased in favour of the Right?

26

Daniel 09.01.06 at 9:50 am

#23: It is actually, to the best of my knowledge, a coinage of Jamie Kenny‘s.

27

Paul C 09.01.06 at 9:51 am

I write to #6 (adam), #15 (david kane) and #16 (steve):

I am assuming that most people reading this blog do not believe that the press is wholly accurate all the time. On that basis, if this incident was not misreported, what impact do you believe that has in the context of the war as a whole?

28

Paul C 09.01.06 at 9:52 am

Of course, I meant to say “misreported”, rather than “not misreported”.

From this I deduce that it’s one of those days.

29

abb1 09.01.06 at 9:59 am

What’s their motivation?

In this case their motivation is simply that they are anti-Semites, Brendan.

In other cases their motivation is a product of them being rootless secular cosmopolitans; godless, unpatriotic transnational elite.

30

jamie k 09.01.06 at 10:08 am

My word, fame at last.

Meanwhile, on topic

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20307128-7582,00.html

excerpt:

Downer’s spokesman, Tony Parkinson, said on Tuesday: “Those (website) pictures do not show an ambulance that has been struck by a missile nor do they sustain the argument the ambulance was struck by a missile.”

He is wrong. The damage done was consistent with ruined cars and vans that I saw elsewhere in Lebanon and earlier in Gaza, which had been hit by a missile fired from a drone. The Israeli-made drones have many types of missiles, but the most regularly used has a small warhead designed for use in urban areas. It aims not to kill anyone outside a small zone and rarely leaves a calling card outside its target.

Downer and Parkinson should know this. The Australian Government last year signed a deal to buy drones from Israel. They would surely have come with a buyer’s guide.

31

engels 09.01.06 at 10:37 am

I’m not quite sure what the root of this hostility is [of the American right towards the Red Cross

It sounds awful, but there does seems to be a cultural animus in some quarters towards any person or organisation, with the possible exception of the US, who sets themselves up as a moral agent in the world, and this seems to lead to a hatred of international organisations in general.

This might arise mainly from two factions.

i) War on Morality “conservatives”, who can’t stomach the idea that anyone might act out of motives other than self-interest.

ii) Extreme American nationalists, who resent the fact that any organisation other than the US could possibly claim to be a force for good in the world.

This is very simplistic, obviously, but I don’t think it’s too far-fetched, as I have come across both these kinds of people on the internet, and they do seem hold the attitudes I’m describing.

32

Steve 09.01.06 at 10:43 am

“What would we say about people who pored over the photos of 9/11 looking for inconsistencies and ‘shadows that don’t add up’ and ‘people who are seen in the same place hours apart’ or so forth, in an attempt to demonstrate (or hint) that the 9/11 was an elaborate charade? We would call them nutters, and their views incredibly offensive.”

Only if they are wrong.

“However the key problem with their views isn’t about photos at all. It’s about motivation.”

What do ‘their’ views have to do with anything? The topic of this post is fraud by the Red Cross, and a website that makes the charge. You’re suggesting that photos implying fraud by the Red Cross have nothing to do with fraud by the Red Cross, and the accuracy of that argument has nothing to do with whether the Red Cross is in fact fraudulent?

Just a weird, weird post.

Steve

33

Steve 09.01.06 at 10:48 am

A funny summary of the argument I found elsewhere.

“The Israeli missile unbolted the ventilation cover of the ambulance, flamelessly detonated itself sending shrapnel inwards instead of outwards, then left no trace of itself while leaving the ambulance largely intact. Boy, has Israel taken “smart bomb” technology to new heights.”

Steve

34

Steve 09.01.06 at 10:57 am

“But who are the ‘left wing’ newspaper proprietors? What’s their motivation? Why should Reuters be biased towards Hizbollah?”

By the way; a pretty bad choice of hypotheticals. Reuters has actually admitted that their photographer photoshopped his work (the smoky city-scape photos), and have withdrawn hundreds of his photos from their database. Maybe you should rewrite the example to use CBS, or BBC, or someone who is not obviously guilty as charged.

Steve

35

Daniel 09.01.06 at 11:01 am

#33: Steve, that is not a summary of my argument at all. Did you even read my post #19 (you responded to it at #24 but not in a way that gives me confidence that you’d read it).

36

Andrew Brown 09.01.06 at 11:06 am

One reuters freelance photoshopping something and being sacked as soon as he is caught does not seem to me institutional bias. I have known a lot of Reuters journalists, and the idea that they are left-wing porpagandists is absurd.

[Tangentially, his photoshopping did not of course give the impression that a bomb had been dropped where none had in fact been dropped. Everyone agrees that the Israeli air foce did in fact drop the bomb whose plume of smoke he photoshopped to be darker than it was in reality. So I don't see that anythin gis proved about _Israeli_ conduct by the affair.

37

engels 09.01.06 at 11:08 am

Just a weird, weird post.

Fascinating stuff, Steve. Although you have the same inchoate reaction to almost every post you see here, it’s always interesting to read about this, day after day.

38

belle le triste 09.01.06 at 11:21 am

you can lead steve to writing but you can’t make him read!

39

Barry 09.01.06 at 11:29 am

Steve: “By the way; a pretty bad choice of hypotheticals. Reuters has actually admitted that their photographer photoshopped his work (the smoky city-scape photos), and have withdrawn hundreds of his photos from their database. Maybe you should rewrite the example to use CBS, or BBC, or someone who is not obviously guilty as charged.”

Just piling on, because you deserve it: that’s an extremely dumb argument. Once that guy was demonstrated to have altered a photgraph, he was fired, and all of his pictures on Reuters were withdrawn, under the assumption that he was not trustworthy, and that Reuters would no longer be associated with *any* prior work that he had done.

That’s the mark of an honest corporation.

40

Daniel 09.01.06 at 11:38 am

not fired; he was a freelance who was never employed by them.

41

Martin James 09.01.06 at 11:39 am

Engels,

My only quesiton about your analysis is why has the Pope been getting a free pass on this lately?

42

Brett Bellmore 09.01.06 at 11:47 am

That’s the mark of a corporation doing damage control after they got caught, and their guilt was being trumpeted all over the web. Let them assign a few photo analysts to look for other fraudsters, and then I’ll be impressed with their belated honesty.

43

engels 09.01.06 at 12:05 pm

Ok, Martin, sometimes Christians (and possibly Jews) are allowed to have genuine humanitarian motives, and are patronised and ignored, rather than treated with contempt, but the general claim stands.

44

Jack 09.01.06 at 12:07 pm

Brett, that applies to the blog inspectorate too. They only look hard at things they don’t like too. Do they really think that photos are only sexed up when they are of damage done by Israelis? Or is it more likely that photographers often doctor things to sell a picture?

Steve, that summary is eerily reminiscent of the cruise missiles supposedly turning round street corners and disappearing down chimneys. Are these things surgically accurate or not?

45

Seymour Paine 09.01.06 at 12:24 pm

First, c’mon. If a car is hit by a missile, it’s gone. Even the damn windows are intact; the story of the ambulance hit was changed several times; the ambulance roof is full of rust marks. And, this is the second (or third) time Israeli missles managed to hit the exact center of the red cross.

You mention Zombietime; but there is also EU Referedum which published a very long analysis of the many apparently faked and staged photographs.

No one disputes, as you pretend they do, that there wasn’t lots of destruction in Lebanon (and, oh, don’t forget, as everyone seems to, Israel as well). The issue is fakery and staged photographs for propaganda purposes.

The Times published a faked photo here. If they haven’t taken this down yet, notice the black man’s head and the weird “halo” around it. I’m a fairly heavy Photoshop user and it’s clearly a bad fake job; I’ve shown it to a person I know in pre-press who concurs.

Why would someone clone a black man’s head in a picture of Lebanese? I haven’t a clue.

But faked it is.

Another point: The Times had a slide show about Lebanon and Israel (purportedly about the damage etc.) The Lebanese slide show had many images of destruction and suffering; the Israeli slides where all of peaceful, pleasant scenes.

Why should major news organizations be so anti-Israel? Again, I don’t know. I can speculate; but I don’t know the reason. Maybe it’s because Israel is small and Muslims are many (more money for them)? Who knows? Perhaps there are different reasons.

The UK press is wildly anti-Semitic; that includes the BBC as well as the Guardian and Telegraph. But then again, Britain itself has not been overly inclined to Jews, right? Didn’t they ship Nazis to help the Arabs in 1947 (according to The Nation)?

46

Martin Bento 09.01.06 at 12:31 pm

Yep, sounds like the work of the Learned Elders of Anti-Zion, all right.

You’d think extreme Zionists, of all people, would steer clear of these kinds of allegations. The worst conspiratorial abuse of conspiracy theory was directed at the Jews, and Israel’s clout in America invites that sort of thing to make a comeback. By “conspiratorial abuse of conspiracy theory” I mean, of course, that the Protocols were themselves a conspiracy by the Russian government.

47

Maurice Meilleur 09.01.06 at 12:34 pm

To whom does one write to complain about the quality of the trolls around here? Come on: “seymour paine,” “a. nevelichko,” “steve”–these aren’t even very funny noms de blog. And the arguments are just phoned in. Can’t we even get a FrontPage or a LGF link?

Let’s go, trolls–pick it up! Go big or go home.

48

Steve 09.01.06 at 12:51 pm

I’m just embittered that Other Steve has tainted my name.

I’m not quite sure what the root of this hostility is, except perhaps that any international organization that even gives lip-service to treating America the same way it treats everyone else is automatically suspect.

I think a great deal of it relates to MDA not being an official Red Cross/Red Crescent organization until quite recently; people seemed willing to chalk this up to anti-Israeli animus. The IRC’s point, that the rules require adoption of one of the Geneva Conventions’ specified symbols (including the red cross, the red crescent, and the now-defunct red lion, but not the red Shield of David), seemed perfectly valid to me. Eventually they adopted a new international symbol that countries wishing to avoid either the Cross or the Crescent could use, but I imagine that for years there’s going to be bad blood from people who took it personally.

49

Martin James 09.01.06 at 12:52 pm

Engels,

Again, I agree. I acutally think that Bono is a more interesting case than the Pope. He is probably patronized and ignored by the groups you are referring to, rather than vilified, but maybe not.

Regardless, I think he is viewed differently than other Europeans with a humanistic cause because he took Warren Buffet’s advice in his campaign for Africa, which is appeal to America’s pride not its sense of charity.

I agree with your analysis, I’m just a little surprised that you are surprised that people take umbrage to moralistic do-gooders, particularly those that are somehow outsiders.

50

james 09.01.06 at 12:55 pm

The IRC now recongnizes the Israeli symbol Magen David Adom.

51

anonymous 09.01.06 at 12:57 pm

“The International Committee of the Red Cross is very serious indeed about its neutrality.”

Which is why, of course, they refused to allow the Israeli Red Cross to be part of the ICRC over more than half a century. While allowing Arab Red Cross organizations full membership.

Daniel, do you really mean to imply that a consistenly anti-Israel focus and attitude is merely ‘neutral’?

I suppose you do.

Since that is the same some of ‘neutrality’ constantly displayed by the majority of bloggers and posters on this web site. Whose foci and attitudes you whole-heartedly support on a daily basis.

52

Steve 09.01.06 at 1:11 pm

jeez folks-

I can appreciate not liking trolls, but really-I’ve made two claims in my four posts:
1) I accept Zombietimes’ claim that the ambulance missile strike was staged, and said the missile hole is really just a whoopy light mounting hole, and
2) Reuters is a bad example to use for journalistic neutrality the week after they had to release one of their photographers, and delete a slew of photos for being photoshopped.

If that represents ‘troll,’ then you have very thin skins indeed.

Steve

53

Sebastian Holsclaw 09.01.06 at 1:19 pm

I think the issue of faking the ambulance photos and whether or not the Red Cross was involved in faking the ambulance photos are very different questions.

I’m surprised that so many people treat it as if it is the same.

In terms of evidence of faking, the discussion looks pretty damning to me.

Contra daniel at comment 19, the photographs are not consistent with an explosion taking place from the outside blowing off the middle vent (The depression centering around that cross isn’t consistent with the outside holes being caused by the same external explosion in that they are on the outside of the cratering, not the inside). The rusting is not consistent with the timeline given. The claims of the “eyewitnesses” are not at all consistent with daniel’s scenario. In general the whole thing is very suspicious.

Be that as it may, that in no way suggests that the Red Cross organization was complicit in the fraud. Suggesting (much less simply stating) an accusation of that magnitude is a whole different thing.

Now, I would say that the news media was insufficiently skeptical when reporting the “bombing” of the ambulance, but that is a completely different issue.

54

Jeff R. 09.01.06 at 1:23 pm


The IRC now recongnizes the Israeli symbol Magen David Adom.

Magen David Adom is the national aid society of Israel and was just recently recognized by the ICRC. According to the new protocol, Magen David Adom may continue to use the red shield of David inside Israel, but that doesn’t mean the ICRC recognizes it. Outside Israel, it must place the shield inside the red crystal for indicative purposes and use the crystal alone for protective purposes.

55

Seymour Paine 09.01.06 at 1:30 pm

As if the faux french “Maurice Meilleur” is better?

56

Dan Simon 09.01.06 at 1:42 pm

However, there is no need to get into the whys and wherefores of the matter at issue, because the IDF did, in fact, admit that they had hit some ambulances.

Actually, that’s incorrect. The link you provided includes no such admission whatsoever. Moreover, the IDF routinely expresses “regret” over reported incidents of civilian casualties that it may conceivably have caused, without actually admitting (or denying) blame until its own investigation is complete. (This may be, as you say, a foolish policy in an era of liability lawsuits, but it’s the IDF’s policy nonetheless. And as A. Nevelichko has pointed out, it was, in fact, followed in the case of the “Gaza beach incident”, your claim to the contrary notwithstanding.) It appears that such a boilerplate statement was made in this case–but in no way does this imply that the IDF has accepted any of the Lebanese Red Crescent’s claims about the ambulance in question.

Given, then, that most of your defense of the reporters who accepted the ambulance story at face value relies on the IDF’s nonexistent admission of culpability, perhaps you should revisit the question of whether those reporters should have been so credulous. After all, while you may not be familiar with the ins and outs of IDF PR policy, a competent Middle East correspondent would surely know that an initial IDF statement regretting a claimed incident of civilian casualties actually says nothing about the IDF’s beliefs regarding whether the incident even occurred, let alone who might have been responsible for it.

57

Steve 09.01.06 at 1:43 pm

Which is why, of course, they refused to allow the Israeli Red Cross to be part of the ICRC over more than half a century. While allowing Arab Red Cross organizations full membership.

This is exactly what I’m talking about. The Red Crescents was already in the Geneva Convention and had been since 1949. It took an amendment add the Red Crystal to the list of approved symbols; until then, the IRC was bound by its own rules not to admit the MDA unless they wanted to display the Red Cross or Red Crescent. You can and should blame the Arab block for making the process of approval so incredibly difficult, but people start darkly muttering about the IRC acknowledging Arabs instead of using Occam’s Razor and accepting that giant Swiss bureaucracies might move slowly. Sri Lanka and Eritrea wished to avoid using the Cross or the Cresent, proposed variants, and had similarly difficulties getting them approved (I think Eritrea simply gave up on the idea of joining the IRC entirely), but nobody blames anti-Sri Lankan prejudice. Similarly, nobody seems to think that the Indian Red Swastika was a brilliant idea that the Swiss should have immediately adopted.

58

Jim Harrison 09.01.06 at 1:43 pm

Since Israel grossly violated many laws of war in its recent attack on Lebanon, complicated discussions of what did or did not happen to a single ambulance are kinda beside the point. Of course supporters of a regime that increasingly resembles Serbia or apartheit South Africa have every reason to try to change the subject.

59

abb1 09.01.06 at 1:45 pm

In terms of evidence of faking, the discussion looks pretty damning to me.

But is the evidence of faking faked too?

I dunno, Suzanne Goldenberg was right there and she says two ambulances were hit. And you looked at some photographs posted on some website and say they weren’t. I’m all conflicted now…

60

Brendan 09.01.06 at 2:16 pm

There’s an excellent piece here (http://www.dvrepublic.com/story.php?n=546&x=5, originally published in Salon) about this.

61

Steve 09.01.06 at 2:20 pm

“Since Israel grossly violated many laws of war in its recent attack on Lebanon, complicated discussions of what did or did not happen to a single ambulance are kinda beside the point.”

This may be true. But the question of what did or did not happen to a single ambulance is not beside the point OF THIS POST. Go back and read the original post-see in particular the third paragraph.

Steve

62

Jim Harrison 09.01.06 at 2:33 pm

Steve,

Where is it ever appropriate to attack the agenda-capturing that this sort of faux controversy represents? No place, evidently, which is why it the tactic works so well. The heck with that.

63

abb1 09.01.06 at 2:36 pm

BTW, for some excellent artistic fakery watch this.

64

A. Nevelichko 09.01.06 at 3:58 pm

I come from the world of hard sciences. In my world, a person, who goes on record stating something subsequently shown to be wrong, starts by apologizing for an (inadvertently) misleading statement and only then proceeds to explain why that snafu does not invalidate his or her entire argument. Also, in that strange world of mine, people are not branded as “trolls” merely for pointing out factual and logical inaccuracies in somebody else’s statements.

65

minerva 09.01.06 at 3:58 pm

Phillips does not argue, directly, that the main issue is anti-semitism.

You say her argument is “because the liberal media are motivated by blind hatred and anti-Semitism.”

I think it is more subtle than this. I admit–she doesn’t make the most compelling arguments. however, she says people “hate Israel.” Which, it should be admitted, a lot of people do. Claiming there is an irrational hatred of Israel (she also claims there is an irrational hatred of America) is not the same as claiming anti-semitism is the reason for a media distortion. She has some other reasons that are also not directly charges of anti-semitism.

By claiming that her argument simply amounts to a charge of anti-semitism you jump on a rather tired rhetorical bandwagon.

“You’d think extreme Zionists, of all people, would steer clear of these kinds of allegations.” What? Israelis are not allowed to ever imagine that others are biased against them or lie about them or even conspire to do so? Because they might sound like the Jews in the Elders of Zion? I don’t get it.

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Dan Simon 09.01.06 at 4:19 pm

This is a completely unserious charge; the very fact that this ambulance thing is the best piece of evidence the denialists have rather throws into relief the fact that the overall impression given by the media of the Lebanon invasion (that it was completely horrible and Lebanese civilians were the primary victims) is correct.

I think you’re missing the point here, Daniel. Although many facts about the war are not in dispute–yes, this war, like all wars, was “completely horrible”, and the Lebanese civilians living near where most of the fighting occurred were doomed to be its “primary victims”–certain rather important issues are, in fact, disputed.

In particular, the Israeli government claims that Hezbollah routinely used civilians as human shields, that the IDF nevertheless did its level best to avoid causing civilian casualties, and that it was successful within the bounds of its capabilities in doing so. Hezbollah, in contrast, claims that it was not using civilians as human shields, that the IDF was deliberately or at least recklessly targeting civilians, and that the civilian toll was therefore much more massive than it would have been had the IDF exercised reasonable caution.

It would be nice if impartial investigators–Western journalists, for example–could investigate these claims and counterclaims, gather evidence in a careful and skeptical manner, and come to a plausible, trustworthy conclusion as to which parts of which account are more correct.

The ambulance incident, however, suggests–as do the “fauxtography” scandals and many other suspicious cases–that representatives of many of the best-known and best-trusted Western journalistic organizations, far from conducting an impartial investigation, are in fact happily cooperating with Hezbollah propagandists, and accepting their claims at face value with zero skepticism and no investigation whatsoever.

Now, perhaps you don’t care whether the Israeli effort to spare Lebanese civilians was heroic, perfunctory, or somewhere in between. (For example, you might believe that a single Lebanese civilian, accidentally killed while hanging around a Hezbollah rocket launcher, is enough reason to condemn Israel unconditionally for war crimes.) But there are those of us who make distinctions between the deliberate or reckless slaughter of civilians and the regrettable failure of attempts to spare them during a self-defense operation. And for us, it matters a great deal that journalists are proving themselves untrustworthy gatherers of the crucial information we need to make those distinctions.

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Brett Bellmore 09.01.06 at 4:19 pm

I think the media are mostly motivated in this by the fact that only one side in this conflict starts slitting journalists’ throats if they get ticked off at a media company’s policies.

It’s dangerous to notice that Hezbollah is feeding you faked photos.

68

Dan Simon 09.01.06 at 4:32 pm

If that represents ‘troll,’ then you have very thin skins indeed.

Yeah, tell me about it….

69

Chris Bertram 09.01.06 at 4:42 pm

Brett Bellmore:

only one side in this conflict starts slitting journalists’ throats

I seem to have missed the report of journalists’ throats being cut during the Lebanon war. Perhaps you could enlighten us on deaths among journalists during the conflict, their causes, those responsible. etc.?

Dan Simon:

the Israeli effort to spare Lebanese civilians

Huh?

70

Dan Simon 09.01.06 at 5:09 pm

That’s an impressively dishonest out-of-context quotation, Chris. Makes me just a little bit proud of myself, to think that someone who would do something like that would also ban my thoughtful, serious arguments from the comments section of his postings.

The entire sentence you butchered was,

Now, perhaps you don’t care whether the Israeli effort to spare Lebanese civilians was heroic, perfunctory, or somewhere in between.

Now, Israel is well-known to have made some effort to spare Lebanese civilians–calling off all its airstrikes for 48 hours, for instance, while it investigated a particular strike that killed a number of civilians. The question of whether that effort was perfunctory, heroic, or somewhere in between is, as I explained, a matter that one would have hoped that journalists would have been interested in investigating seriously–instead of simply taking Hezbollah propaganda at face value.

By “one”, of course, I mean reasonable, fair-minded people.

71

sniflheim 09.01.06 at 5:50 pm

Never mind Hezb propaganda Dan, do you take Israeli military at their word? They at one point said they’d hit any vehicle that moved. Dan Halutz promised 10 buildings would drop for every rocket that fell on Israel. They bombed the highways, the Beirut airport, and the Lebanese army in its barracks… It didn’t even honor its 48-hour moratorium. They dropped a scad of cluster bombs AFTER they knew there would be a ceasefire. I don’t know what more you would expect from them in order to take them at their word. As for the photo issues I’d refer you to Greg Mitchell’s columns. And come straight–do you seriously think ICRC, Reuters et al. are organizationally dedicated to hating Jews?

72

David Kane 09.01.06 at 6:28 pm

I appreciate Daniel’s comments in 19. I remain skeptical about whether it is possible to a fair minded dispute in the CT comment section, especially given the lack of ideological diversity among CT authors and the resulting amen corner aspect of the regulars. But let’s give it a shot. To Daniel:

1) Do you agree that we are talking about this specific ambulance, number 782 and pictured in the Boston Globe? There may be other ambulances that have been shot, but this specific one is the one that Zombietime is talking about.

2) Do you accept (for the purposes of this discussion) that Zombietime is honest in his quotes and his pictures? He may be totally wrong in his analysis, but do you accept that his quotes are correct, his pictures not forged and so on? We can revise this judgment going forward, but if you think that the raw evidence at his site is not accurate, there isn’t much point in talking.

Once we get these preliminaries out of the way, we can move forward. For the record, “chuck a grenade onto the roof of an ambulance” is fairly different from launching a “rock-propelled grenade.” And rock-propelled grenades are not launched from helicopters or jets. I assume you know all this, but just wanted to point out the a reasonable discussion will need to be precise about what you claimed happened.

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Dan Simon 09.01.06 at 6:49 pm

Never mind Hezb propaganda Dan, do you take Israeli military at their word?

Generally, although not always. The key thing to understand about them is that they face an aggressive domestic press that is happy to catch them out on any lies they tell. That doesn’t mean they won’t try to shade the truth if they think they can get away with it–just that they don’t usually think that they can.

And none of your quotes from them are at all inconsistent with their claims to have tried very hard to minimize civilian casualties in Lebanon.

do you seriously think ICRC, Reuters et al. are organizationally dedicated to hating Jews?

While both organizations clearly have their share of Jew-haters, one hardly needs to resort to anti-Semitism to explain their actions. The Lebanese Red Crescent–at least the part of it that operates in Hezbollah-dominated regions of Lebanon–is as wholly a creature of Hezbollah as are any of the ICRC member organizations in countries ruled by totalitarian regimes. And ICRC is in turn simply a creature of its member organizations–enough of which are beholden to such regimes that they’re not about to let the ICRC adopt a policy of skepticism towards any claim that emanates from any one of them.

As for Reuters and the other major news outlets, they’re in the business of supplying engaging news copy, striking photos and riveting footage to their editor customers. If Hezbollah supplies all of these things in a nicely packaged form–and if the editors don’t object–then why wouldn’t they pass them on, just as if they were generated by impartial reporters?

And why, in turn, would the editors object? They’re in no position to question the legitimacy of the material in question, and they have column inches or television minutes to fill with juicy stuff. And if anybody complains, who’s going to blame them for trusting a reputable organization like Reuters?

What’s striking about the nonsense we’ve seen exposed lately–like the ambulance incident–is just how laughable a lot of it is: photography and footage that’s so obviously faked or staged that bloggers can recognize it as such just by looking at it. What this demonstrates to me is that the charade has been going on for so long that the whole industry has long since stopped taking any care to make its output even remotely plausible to even the most cursorily-examining eye.

There’s no conspiracy here–just a complete failure of accountability. When criticism of obviously bogus charges leveled by the likes of Reuters and the ICRC can be responded to with Daniel’s retort of, “to impugn the neutrality of the Red Cross is a very serious charge indeed, and ought to only be made on the basis of very strong evidence indeed”–well, it’s no wonder that the ICRC doesn’t take much care to ensure the accuracy of its claims.

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KCinDC 09.01.06 at 7:08 pm

Brendan, the Slate version of the article is better, since it includes the photos and links that were dropped in DV Republic’s copy.

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A. Nevelichko 09.01.06 at 7:12 pm

It would be strange to take either of the parties to an armed conflict “at their word”. That grey matter in our brains can be well applied to consider critically & (as much as possible) objectively all the evidence presented. Bearing in mind various biases of those offering their interpretations, but not dismissing the factual evidence simply because we don’t share the bias of those, who uncovered that evidence.

In my opinion, ICRC and Reuters (+ many other “liberal” news agencies) certainly are not “organizationally dedicated to hating Jews”. Their noticeable anti-Israeli bias is (again, IMHO) rooted in the fundamental role of the contemporary European intelligentsia: to unconditionally (and, alas, unthinkingly) defend the “underdog” (those exploited, malnourished, persecuted) against the “bully” (those aggressively developing, western-civilized, etc). By projecting their own post-imperialist guilt onto Israelis, many western Europeans intellectuals see them as a party guilty-by-default in all the Middle-Eastern conflicts. (The Israel is stronger, hence it should know better than to quarrel with the “weak” — or something to that effect.)

In practice this organizational bias is often exacerbated by hiring the local staffers/free-lancers, whose allegiances (political & otherwise) are almost always strongly anti-Israeli. [This makes perfect economic/organizational sense – an ambulance worker (or photographer) who does not "coordinate" with the local powers would have much more difficulty operating in Southern Lebanon...]

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Roy Belmont 09.01.06 at 8:47 pm

#31:
“…but there does seems to be a cultural animus in some quarters towards any person or organisation, with the possible exception of the US, who sets themselves up as a moral agent in the world, and this seems to lead to…”

A third possibility is the immoral actors’ response to the prosthetic conscience of these “moral agents”.
Somebody doing bad things who wants to continue doing them unimpeded would naturally attack the legitimacy of anyone who got in their way with accusations of immorality. And since it’s in the nature of immoral actors to disregard the truth or falsity of things, caring only for the pragmatic effect, well, there you go.
#73:
“There’s no conspiracy here—just a complete failure of accountability.”
Yep. Cluster bombs, just sitting there waiting for some kid to stumble across them. The closest thing to accountability is some mealy-mouthed “urging”, here and there, that Israel lighten up. Cluster bombs trump wrecking ambulances, at least a little.
While that’s outside the narrow focus of whether or not the particular ambulance was punched in the particular cross it does point to the immoral character of the bombing agency generally.
#65:
“‘hate Israel.’ Which, it should be admitted, a lot of people do.”
It should also be admitted that the word “Israel” has so many interpretations now it’s becoms a term of convenience for almost everyone using it.
Many people in the world these days hate “America”.
If I was an actor in the events that are creating that hatred I could hide my own perfidy behind that shield and pretend I’m hated for my immoral acts because I’m an American, but that would be deceitful.
In fact I am an American, but I have almost no complicity in the actions and events that are causing that hatred.

77

John Quiggin 09.01.06 at 8:55 pm

The big difficulty, not being discussed by the conspiracy theorists is the number of eyewitnesses on the record supporting the legitimacy of the Red Cross claims. These include numerous Western journalists who saw the ambulance and interviewed the driver within a day of the attack. Notable examples cited above are the correspondent for the (Murdoch-owned and strongly pro-Israel) Australian and his photographer.

78

rd 09.01.06 at 9:01 pm

But note that the story of the said correspondent has changed substantially from his first report to his current account of the event:

http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/letters/index.php/theaustralian/comments/it_has_become_a_different_story_to_that_reported_on_july_26/

79

John Quiggin 09.01.06 at 9:14 pm

The “substantial changes” referred to are (according to Downer’s representative, Martin Parkinson)

“This time, he reported the ambulance driver as saying he was closing the vehicle’s rear ramp when it was hit, and was not in the driver’s canopy as reported on July 26. Presumably, to be closing the ramp of the ambulance required that the vehicle be stationary, and had not “veered off the road” as reported on July 26. This time, readers were told, the “munitions” had been fired by an Israeli drone, not an Apache helicopter as reported on July 26.”

All this kind of nitpicking shows is that Downer is into Zombietime territory himself.

80

anon 09.01.06 at 9:29 pm

“fake but accurate”

Where or where have we heard that one before?

81

Brett Bellmore 09.01.06 at 9:37 pm

“If Hezbollah supplies all of these things in a nicely packaged form—and if the editors don’t object—then why wouldn’t they pass them on, just as if they were generated by impartial reporters?”

Um, because they weren’t. But you are right, they do something similar domestically; Lightly edited press releases frequently go out over the wire services as objective news.

The key point to consider, though, is that the wire services are generally selective about which organizations’ press releases they pass off as objective news coverage. That Hezbollah makes the cut is the thing that’s really damning.

82

Dan Simon 09.01.06 at 9:57 pm

Cluster bombs trump wrecking ambulances, at least a little.

Oddly enough, I don’t remember any coverage of Lebanese civilians hurt by cluster bombs during the fighting. All of the reports I saw talked about civilians killed by building collapses due to bomb blast damage. That’s a striking contrast to the coverage of Israeli casualties, which frequently mentioned the deadly ball bearing-laden payloads of Hezbollah rockets.

Does that mean that Israeli cluster bombs were used carefully enough to prevent significant civilian casualties? We don’t know, because the reporters on the scene were busy parroting Hezbollah propaganda instead of finding out what was going on. It could be that the civilian slaughter wrought by Israeli cluster bombs during the fighting is the big untold story of the war. We’ll never know unless reporters covering the story start doing their jobs properly.

Of course, if you don’t need honestly reported information in order to “know” what happened in Lebanon, then I suppose it doesn’t matter in the least whether journalists are competent, lazy or even fraudulent.

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Dan Simon 09.01.06 at 10:04 pm

The big difficulty, not being discussed by the conspiracy theorists is the number of eyewitnesses on the record supporting the legitimacy of the Red Cross claims. These include numerous Western journalists who saw the ambulance and interviewed the driver within a day of the attack.

Oh, for pity’s sake….

Nobody’s arguing that there was no ambulance, or that there was no ambulance driver with a story to tell–we’ve all seen numerous pictures of both. The problem is that the story he told–at least the first one he told–so flagrantly contradicts the physical evidence provided by the ambulance that the most plausible conclusion is that they’re both transparent fakes.

That numerous Western journalists were gulled by them reflects on the journalists’ credulity (or worse), not on the credibility of the story.

84

engels 09.01.06 at 10:29 pm

Dan Simon – Why do you hate America (as well as journalists, the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations)?

85

Dan Simon 09.01.06 at 11:41 pm

Dan Simon – Why do you hate America (as well as journalists, the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations)?

Well, I don’t really hate any of these things (except maybe the UN). But since you ask, I’ll just direct you to my previous critiques of Americans, journalists (especially foreign correspondents), and Amnesty International. I’ve already explained my objection to the ICRC above, so I won’t reiterate it. And I know little about HRW other than the hash it made of its investigation of the “Gaza Beach incident”, so I won’t say any more.

As for the UN–well, if you don’t understand just how corrupt and pernicious it is, you may be beyond hope. But you can start here.

(Sorry, Daniel–but he did ask….)

86

lmao 09.02.06 at 12:09 am

lol. crookedtimber has lost it on this one. denials and circling of the wagons from bertram, quiggin et al. over a convincing case of journalistic fraud in Lebanon. Yet not a single critic of Zombietime’s article tackles it argument by argument, on the merits. Instead, there is a lot of hand-waving and false ledes on Israel “admitting culpability” (your link shows no such thing). Bull.

Address the actual arguments on Zombietime or don’t claim to have done anything more than engage in elaborate hand-waving. Have a modicum of intellectually honesty or at least try.

87

Neil 09.02.06 at 12:20 am

From today’s Age

Ambulance attack evidence stands the test

Sarah Smiles, Beirut
September 2, 2006

AHMED Fawaz sits in a wheelchair in a sweat-stained hospital gown, smoking a cigarette in sweltering heat.

He was discharged from a Beirut hospital this week after losing his leg when a Lebanese Red Cross ambulance he was in with his family came under an Israeli air attack in south Lebanon on July 23.

The attack on the ambulance near the village of Qana left his 12-year-old son Mohammed scarred by shrapnel wounds to the head.

The attack on two ambulances ferrying mildly injured people from the village of Tibnin to Tyre was widely reported by international media, including The Age.

But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has condemned press coverage of the incident, suggesting it was a hoax. He appears to have drawn his conclusions from right-wing US website zombietime.com that debunks all reporting on the incident using available press photos and television footage as “evidence”.

An Israeli army spokesman told The Age yesterday that the army had not yet established what happened and the incident was under investigation.

“We were in a war,” the spokesman said. “It takes time to find out exactly what happened and whose fault it was and why. We are not saying it was an accident or that we take responsibility. We only say that the incident in question occurred in an area used to fire hundreds of rockets into Israel … The army warned the population in the area to stay clear of rocket launching sites because we intended to operate there against activity by Hezbollah terrorists.” It is believed that the Israeli army’s investigation will rely on images and video footage taken by Israeli drones.

While some reporters wrote that an Israeli missile ripped a hole in the roof of one ambulance that was directly hit, the zombietime.com site argues a missile would have caused much wider damage. It argues the hole appears to be where there was an existing circular vent, with rust on some of the exposed metal showing that damage to vehicle happened before the reported time of the attack.

However, Red Cross volunteers manning the ambulances and Mr Fawaz insist the hit was caused by small weapons fired from unmanned drones that they heard circling above after the attack.

The Age visited the yard where the bombed out ambulances are now parked. This reporter saw the ambulance that Mr Fawaz was in. It appeared to have been hit by a weapon that punctured a huge hole through the back. The zombietime.com only shows the picture of the second ambulance that had a smaller puncture through the top where there was a pre-existing vent in the centre of the vehicle.

The holes in the ambulances, parked in the coastal town of Tyre on the Mediterranean, are now covered in rust.

Based on photos of the ambulance’s exterior that do not reveal any blood, the site suggests that Mr Fawaz incurred his injury elsewhere and was “paraded before the cameras as a victim of an Israeli missile”.

While the interior of the ambulance has been gutted, a Red Cross volunteer who was in the same ambulance as Mr Fawaz said he did bleed onto his stretcher, but not excessively as his leg had been cauterised.

At a speech on the Gold Coast this week, Mr Downer relied on the limited and selective images on zombietime.com to criticise journalists for poor reporting on the war in Lebanon.

“After closer study of the images of the damage to the ambulance, it is beyond serious dispute that this episode has all the makings of a hoax,” he said.

For Mr Fawaz, 41, a mechanic from the village of Tibnin, life without his leg is no hoax.

Mohammed Hassan, 35, a Red Cross Cross volunteer in the ambulance with Mr Fawaz when it was hit, said three volunteers fled to a nearby building after the attack.

Mr Fawaz’s elderly mother Jamila crawled out of the vehicle while the volunteers carried Mohammed, Ahmed’s son, who was unconscious. They could not reach Mr Fawaz with rockets from drones hitting around the ambulance and the building they were in.

“If (Alexander Downer) thinks it was a hoax, he should come and see the ambulances himself,” said Sami Yazbek, the head of the Lebanese Red Cross in Tyre.

“What, he thinks we lied?” said Mr Hassan in disbelief. He said he was saved by a helmet and bulletproof armour he was wearing that was strafed at the back. He said his helmet is pocked where shrapnel hit.

The Lebanese Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross have confirmed that two ambulances came under Israeli air attack near the village of Qana on the night of July 23.

Lebanese Red Cross volunteers are certain the weapons were fired from a drone.

Mr Fawaz, who slipped in and out of consciousness after the blast, remembers hearing the sound of a drone whirring above him when he came to. “It sounds like a motorcycle.”

Soon after, through the door of the ambulance that had been blasted open, he recalls seeing a second strike on the ground.

“It was a drone because if it was a warplane we wouldn’t be alive,” he said.

When he came to after the blast, he remembers reaching for his glasses that were knocked to the back of his head, adjusting them and then feeling a sense of malaise. “I put my hand on my leg and I couldn’t feel it,” he said. “I tried to take the cord of the IV drip to tie up my leg to stop it bleeding, but I couldn’t manage it.”

While the Lebanese Red Cross said that Israel had issued a “verbal” unofficial apology for the strike, ICRC spokesman in Beirut Hisham Hassan did not want to confirm it, saying its discussions with Israel were private.

The reader representative for The Los Angeles Times, Jamie Gold said she was aware of internet chatter about the story, but the paper had received no official complaint.

She also said the Israeli Government had not complained about the story, and they were not reluctant to point out errors.

With JONATHAN PEARLMAN

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tib 09.02.06 at 1:28 am

The commenter at 86 must not to have read daniel’s point by point rebuttal to zombietime at 19. One other point is rust. Zombietime has apparently never noticed what happens to metal in an intense fire: it oxidizes, or rusts. Fire is rapid oxidation.

It surprises me how much of this stuff is just a regurgitation of whatever Rush Limbaugh said most recently. I don’t listen to his show so I often miss the connection between troll-fests on comment threads and whatever cyst he last popped on air. As this, his Qana claims and his Abu Ghraib description demonstrate, the man is a truly disgusting human being. His acolytes spew a pale echo of the filth that erupts from him.

Israel deserves better defenders.

89

lmao 09.02.06 at 1:38 am

Wow. The story changes YET AGAIN. First it was claimed that a missile penetrated the top of the ambulance just where a pre-existing vent happened to be. Now it’s claimed that “small weapons fire” took a different trajectory through a hole at the back of the ambulance.

Then it was planes and apaches. Now it’s an Israeli drone or UAV (btw, which UAV in operation now has a small arms weapons platform – someone enlighten me?).

Then the man who lost a leg claims he couldn’t stop the bleeding: “I put my hand on my leg and I couldn’t feel it,” he said. “I tried to take the cord of the IV drip to tie up my leg to stop it bleeding, but I couldn’t manage it.” Now he claims it was magically cauterized by a missile/fire/small weapons magic laser beam.

So which is it. Missile or “small weapons” (is there even such a small weapons platform on UAVs?)?

Through the hole in the roof or through the back of the ambulance?

C’mon guys, surely you’re not so gullible? :-)

90

lmao 09.02.06 at 1:40 am

tib, do you see any evidence of “an intense fire” in the photographs? Point it out please. If not, stay your tongue and desist from your self imploding ad hominems. We don’t get Rush whoever in Singapore.

91

Sebastian Holsclaw 09.02.06 at 1:44 am

“One other point is rust. Zombietime has apparently never noticed what happens to metal in an intense fire: it oxidizes, or rusts. Fire is rapid oxidation.”

There wasn’t an intense fire. You can see the unburned equipment inside the ambulance.

92

lmao 09.02.06 at 1:53 am

It seems that whenever someone questions the prevailing liberal orthodoxies and left wing pieties one is automatically regarded as a “troll” when that appellation is better reserved for those who CLEARLY have not read the Zombietime report with any degree of care.

Hi tib!

93

tib 09.02.06 at 2:27 am

Ask an honest question, get an honest answer: The US has had armed drones for some time, now there are Israeli UCAVs . Via freerepublic, believe it or not. See Israeli-Weapons for more on the Heron and Spike systems.

As for fire, the rust is evidence of an intense fire from the impact and explosion of a weapon on the top of the vehicle as described in comment 19.

The echo is so distant in Singapore they can’t even tell its origin.

94

lmao 09.02.06 at 2:38 am

tib you’re funny in that your ignorance prevents you from even understanding my question. No one was asking if there are armed UAVs. EVERYONE knows that Israeli UAVs are armed with hellfires and other missile variants. What was asked was whether there was an operational UAV platform with small weapons fire capability (i.e., a weapons platform with small calibre weapons or a payload less destructive than run of the mill hellfire missiles).

So your response, in an attempt to display erudition, was just a laughably inept non-answer to my question.

“As for fire, the rust is evidence of an intense fire from the impact and explosion of a weapon on the top of the vehicle as described in comment 19.”

LOL! There is rust on my bicycle. Is that evidence of an intense fire? Is that really the argument you’re making?

Give it up tib. You’re hosed. Even trolls don’t persist in self humiliation as you do. lmao!

95

Brendan 09.02.06 at 3:43 am

Incidentally, to lmao and Sebastian et al. You are aware that in providing your objective, scientific, rational arguments against the ‘ambulance was blown up’ theory, you sound exactly like those drones who argue that a plane ‘could not’ have crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 because (insert loonbat argument here). You are aware that’s exactly who you sound like, yes?

96

abb1 09.02.06 at 4:18 am

Does that mean that Israeli cluster bombs were used carefully enough to prevent significant civilian casualties?

It appears to me that dropping massive amount of cluster bombs (that left tens of thousands of unexploded munitions all over Southern Lebanon) during the last 72 hours of the conflict, was clearly intended as a means of ethnic cleansing, depopulation of the region.

97

lmao 09.02.06 at 4:27 am

And you sound like someone who believed that there was WMD in Iraq.

See how easy it is? I can do it too.

Yet no one on this blog has managed to refute Zombietime, while 911 conspiracy theorists have been refuted, point for point, ad nauseum. But I suppose that is a subtle difference that less rational minds have difficulty grasping. And so we must make allowances for the likes of “brendan” whose snark boomerangs in his face :-)

Meanwhile, we have humourous commenters like “tib” who make funny arguments like “rust is evidence of an intense fire” – you couldn’t make it up. Really people, stop being a parody of yourselves.

98

James Wimberley 09.02.06 at 4:56 am

Scott Martens, in comment 2: possibly the American media confuse the ICRC (the custodian of the Geneva Conventions, statutorily composed of Swiss citizens) with the League of Red Cross Societies, a disaster relief network. The latter indeed had a long problem over admitting Israel – something to do with the Star of David symbol as I recall.

99

John Quiggin 09.02.06 at 5:26 am

“And you sound like someone who believed that there was WMD in Iraq.”

WTF?? Everyone I’ve seen backing this conspiracy theory bought the WMD story 100 per cent (more in some cases, since they persisted even after the Bushies gave up). The kind of stuff Zombietime is pushing now is exactly the same as the way they pushed the ‘germ-lab’ trailers (remember them) that turned out to produce hydrogen for balloons. And no one could you refute them to their own satisfaction then, either.

100

Jack 09.02.06 at 5:40 am

Is the ITN video on the Zombietime site genuine and verbatim or doctored?

I rather think that the repeated use of Jacob Dallal’s The Israeli army never intentionally targets ambulances to innocent civilians was added for rhetorical effect somewhere between broadcast and posing on YouTube.

Certainly I have never seen UK TV news video edited like that.

101

Jack 09.02.06 at 6:15 am

“I rather think that the repeated use of Jacob Dallal’s The Israeli army never intentionally targets ambulances to innocent civilians was added for rhetorical effect somewhere between broadcast and posing on YouTube.”

should of course be

“I rather think that the repeated use of Jacob Dallal’s “The Israeli army never intentionally targets ambulances or innocent civilians” was added for rhetorical effect somewhere between broadcast and posting on YouTube.”

102

Kevin Donoghue 09.02.06 at 6:30 am

Downer seems to have some lucid moments:

ALEXANDER Downer conceded yesterday he could have been wrong when he claimed the media was duped about an Israeli missile attack on an ambulance in southern Lebanon.

But he isn’t really backing down. The last time I noticed Downer was during the debate about whether Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” or “erased from the pages of history”. (No, I’m not suggesting that either version is appealing, but there is a difference; and it’s at least as important as whether a projectile went through the roof of an ambulance or merely knocked something off the roof.) According to Downer, Ahmadinejad wants Israel “wiped off the face of the earth”. AFAICT this is entirely his own translation.

Slightly OT, Bruce R links to a very interesting video of IDF infantry operations in Lebanon. Coincidentally, there is some confirmation for the (uncontroversial) claim that metal corrodes very quickly in that part of the world. (Breaking news: explosions create intense heat, which in turn affects the chemical properties of steel.)

103

belle le triste 09.02.06 at 7:26 am

“At the conclusion of the fire-fighting effort, conditions are optimum for rapid corrosion: hot, wet, acidic and highly halogenated. It is not entirely surprising to see moist brown rust appearing on steel surfaces even before the firemen have left the building.”

CSI: Varied War Zones wd be an interesting and instructive TV drama

104

lmao 09.02.06 at 7:57 am

Yes belle, except for the photos showing no evidence of a fire, let alone an intense fire, for the interior of the ambulance does not look burnt or charred at all.

Is this so difficult to understand? Rust ALONE is not “evidence” that there was a fire, the silly argument that “tib” was attempting to make. And this is doubly so when the photos indicate that the paintwork, interior AND exterior of the ambulance appear unscathed by fire.

John Quiggin, and your point is? I could just as well reply: WTF?? Leftwing liberal loons buy 911 conspiracy theories too!! OMG LOLZ what a retort.

Really. You guys continue to respond anything but substantively, and none have the intellectual backbone to engage Zombietime on the merits. I would say pwned but you already know that. :)

105

lmao 09.02.06 at 8:04 am

Kevin, and why should he back down if the evidence was anything but conclusive? He is just admitting fallibility, that yes, he might be wrong (a rational admission), unlike those here who have already made up their minds that the strike did indeed occur, and did occur as described, despite the various holes and contradictions in the reportage of the story – about which – I hasten to add – none of you have responded to substantively, choosing instead to babble some irrelevant snark while engaging in fervent hand-waving.

Spare me.

106

Jack 09.02.06 at 8:26 am

The “ITN” video linked on Zombietime is indeed a remix and not the genuine broadcast.

Zombietime and its readers are obviously only critical when what they see doesn’t fit their worldview.

107

Nell 09.02.06 at 8:32 am

Harry’s Place, a site which I do not usually regard as a part of the nuttersphere

Well, now you know. It is.

108

A. Nevelichko 09.02.06 at 8:35 am

/rather amused/
It’s not every day that I am called a follower of Rush Limbaugh…

The story might be real or fake (we might learn more on this over time), the arguments might be true or false, but their (in?)validity is unlikely to change simply because one or another pundit tries to use them to support his cause.

109

Kevin Donoghue 09.02.06 at 8:50 am

Kevin, and why should he back down if the evidence was anything but conclusive? He is just admitting fallibility….

Well, that’s big of him, isn’t it? If a government minister chooses to attack the Red Cross, whose members do much more difficult and dangerous work than he does, it seems to me that he should wait until he has some evidence to present which is conclusive. One of the qualities of a statesman is the ability to keep his trap shut when he has nothing worthwhile to say.

Now Lmao, I know from your earlier comments that you would like to presented with the refined style of argument you find persuasive, so allow me to indulge you:

ROTFLMAO! LOL! Spare me! Pull the other one, it has bells on!

In more adult language: if you think Downer has acted responsibly in this instance, please explain why.

110

belle le triste 09.02.06 at 9:18 am

substantively, zombietime’s original rust argument has obviously been damaged — where s/he claimed that rust only EVER develops slowly, turns out there are conditions when it develops unexpectedly quickly

whether the damage to the rust argument is fatal remains to be seen — it’s not enough to say “Fire CAN’T have happened INSIDE so this can ONLY be slow rust”: we need to know what are the other possible causes of fast rust in wartime in mediterranean climates, and eliminate them all — until this is done, zombietime’s section two just doesn’t function as a solid part of his argument; it certainly isn’t on its own a clincher either way absent further knowledge

(to be honest i mainly linked that page because i found the facts in it interesting and surprising in themselves, not because i have much of a dog in this race) (which was a v.dumb thing to do on an israel pro or con thread)

111

engels 09.02.06 at 9:25 am

But since you ask, I’ll just direct you to [orgy of links to obscure website]

It was a rhetorical question, Dan, not an opportunity for you to try to boost your Google rankings. Still, if anyone is searching for “long-winded wingnut apologetics for state sanctioned atrocities” I’m sure you’ll be near the top of their results.

112

David Kane 09.02.06 at 10:14 am

This discussion might be more productive if we could narrow the focus. Consider the claim that a rocket or missile created the hole in the roof of the ambulance. I find this claim (despite Daniel’s charming ramblings above) to be ridiculous. More commentary here. What are the arguments in favor of a rocket or missile?

113

david tiley 09.02.06 at 10:41 am

Yes, Downer is a moron. He is the foreign minister of a modern first world country. He is supposed to behave diplomatically, with gravitas, and for strategic reasons. Whether you do or do not believe the story, why on earth would he pick a fight with the International Red Cross,at some insignificant trade conference, based without corroboration on the amateur sleuthing of a single website? He is using an example to make a rhetorical point, and it would surely be sensible to use a generally accepted case. He has a large government department at his beck and call to check the story, and advise him on the wisdom of the attack.

Aside from everything else, slagging off a group of journalists on the ground in a dangerous situation is small minded.

The Zombietime argument relies on four pillars. 1.The hole is made by the red light. 2. The ambulance driver is up and about in a variety of places too early. 3. Rust. 4. The van doesn’t look like it has been hit.

On 1, he is right. The hole in the photo is caused because the red light was blown up, either because it is plastic and demolished, or the ordnance went into the mathematical centre of the roof. However, the wounded people were hit by ordnance which went into the back door of the other vehicle, which didn’t have the visually compelling hole in the red cross.

On 2, I don’t believe the photos prove what he alleges. He has confused people. The person moving around is not the ambo.

On 3, we have a journalist saying that he was there the next day and the ambulance was not rusted. Eyewitness account.

On 4, we have eyewitnesses to the wreckage – plural – Western journalists who claim the wreckage compares to other attacked vehicles. Another photo of a Reuters vehicle attacked a month ago shows a bloodstained interior with a similar lack of scorch marks.

It doesn’t wash. We too can play the amateur sleuth, with evidence that points the other way. The confusion about the ambo suggests just how biassed the zombie was.

114

david tiley 09.02.06 at 10:47 am

Oh, and presenting a mashed version of the ITN report is just childish. How are we supposed to see that as evidence?

On my safari browser, the sound track to that account also sounds hysterical and hectoring, because it is running too fast. I am left to wonder if that has been manipulated as well. Sheesh.

115

Jack 09.02.06 at 11:21 am

The “ITN report” is in fact a mash, I asked the author. I imagine Zombietime picked it up and either preconceptions made it look like the real thing or it worked as propaganda. Fool or liar? Who knows.

The report is a scene setter not part of the argument but it does leave Zombietime looking horribly blinkered and partisan and not a little hypocritical.

116

engels 09.02.06 at 11:32 am

Oh, and presenting a mashed version of the ITN report is just childish.

Actually the whole site is childish in the extreme. It’s a guy who goes around stalking and secretly photographing political protesters, so he can later post what he hopes are embarrassing pictures on his website along with his juvenile commentary.

“Look Mom, I’m just like J. Edgar Hoover!”

117

Kevin Donoghue 09.02.06 at 11:57 am

Daniel Davies: “a missile” is a really quite generic category to be making such statements about.

David Kane: Consider the claim that a rocket or missile created the hole in the roof of the ambulance. I find this claim (despite Daniel’s charming ramblings above) to be ridiculous.

David, it seems to me that Daniel is being more cautious here than you are. I’m no expert, but I gather munitions (the term used by the Red Cross) come in many shapes and sizes. Is there any reason to rule out some sort of cluster bomblet (if that’s what they are called) going off on the roof of the ambulance, driving shrapnel through the roof and blasting away the gadget in the centre of the cross?

118

Kevin Donoghue 09.02.06 at 12:08 pm

Perhaps the word I’m looking for is submunitions:

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/dumb/cluster.htm

I’ve no idea really, which I suspect puts me on a par with Andrew Downer. But if I was a minister I’d call the army before shooting my mouth off.

119

Dan Simon 09.02.06 at 12:17 pm

Incidentally, to lmao and Sebastian et al. You are aware that in providing your objective, scientific, rational arguments against the ‘ambulance was blown up’ theory, you sound exactly like those drones who argue that a plane ‘could not’ have crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 because (insert loonbat argument here).

This, I think, is the heart of the question. The title of Daniel’s post is “A Conspiracy So Vast…”, and the thrust of it is that if the “ambulance incident” story is a hoax, then many, many people have to be complicit in it.

Now, we’ve already disposed of Daniel’s claim that the IDF acknowledged the story’s veracity, but there remains a large number of participants–chiefly Western journalists–and one could well ask whether they could really all be, at best, willing dupes of Hezbollah’s propaganda machine. Phrased that way, I concede, the hypothesis really does sound like a wacky conspiracy theory along the lines of the various 9/11 conspiracy theories floating around the Internet.

The key difference, though, is that the portions of Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah are not a free, open society. In a country like the US, one would indeed expect any widely-held “secret”–let alone one as shocking as a 9/11 conspiracy–to leak eventually, and some journalist (or blogger) to pick up the story and disseminate it. In Hezbollah-stan, however, the Party keeps a tight lid on the information flow–including the information flowing to journalists–through intimidation and violence. The rules are simple: accept Hezbollah’s control over your content, or, as the phrase goes, “we can’t guarantee your safety”.

We know what happens in such cases, because we’ve seen it before–in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, for example. Foreign journalists with integrity and impartiality simply refuse the deal, leaving the field to those (CNN’s Eason Jordan, for instance) comfortable working under those constraints, out of some combination of sympathy for the news controllers and cynical unconcern for the balance, or even the veracity, of what they report. And once the media have been so self-selected, their pliability follows naturally.

One of the running themes of my criticisms of Crooked Timber postings is Crooked Timberites’ frequent failure to recognize the profound differences between free, democratic societies and repressive dictatorships. (For example, CT posters and commentators routinely place their faith in international organizations, such as the UN, that are dominated by their non-democratic members, as if allowing representatives of the world’s tyrants to vote on various issues made the organization meaningfully democratic.) The comparison of the press’ credulous treatment of the “ambulance incident” with 9/11 conspiracy theories is an example of the same myopia: comparing a Western press corps that has agreed to be shepherded around by Hezbollah handlers with the entire body of American journalists reporting on 9/11 is like–well, like comparing the UN with a democratic government.

120

David Kane 09.02.06 at 12:26 pm

Is there any reason to rule out some sort of cluster bomblet (if that’s what they are called) going off on the roof of the ambulance, driving shrapnel through the roof and blasting away the gadget in the centre of the cross?

Sure, the nice round hole. Although I am not a weapons expert, nice round holes are not made with bomblets.

121

abb1 09.02.06 at 12:31 pm

…democratic societies…

This [2000] election marked the fourth time in United States history, and the first time in over 100 years, that a candidate had won the Presidency while losing the nationwide popular vote. (The other times were the elections of 1824, 1876, and 1888.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presidential_election%2C_2000

…repressive dictatorships…

Hezbollah participates in the Parliament of Lebanon.[66] In 1992, it participated in Lebanese elections for the first time, winning 12 out of 128 seats in parliament. It won 10 seats in 1996, and 8 in 2000. In the general election of 2005, it won 14 seats nationwide (of 128 total), and an Amal-Hezbollah alliance won all 23 seats in Southern Lebanon. The bloc it forms with others, the Resistance and Development Bloc, took 27.3% of the seats (see Lebanese general election, 2005). Also When municipal elections were held in 1998 this party won control of about 15 percent of contested municipalities. With a proven track record by the second round of elections, in spring 2004, the party won control of 21 percent of the municipalities. [61]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezbollah

122

Dan Simon 09.02.06 at 12:40 pm

an Amal-Hezbollah alliance won all 23 seats in Southern Lebanon.

Ah, but with what percentage of the vote? As I recall, Saddam Hussein drew something like 99 percent. I wonder if Hezbollah settled for less…

123

abb1 09.02.06 at 12:47 pm

Are you trying to argue that Hezbollah is less popular in Lebanon than the US congress and US president in the US? If not, what is your point? Elaborate, please.

124

Dan Simon 09.02.06 at 12:59 pm

Are you trying to argue that Hezbollah is less popular in Lebanon than the US congress and US president in the US? If not, what is your point? Elaborate, please.

This is tiresome, but for the benefit of those unfortunates who inadvertently share the ignorance that Abb1 carefully cultivates in himself:

We have no idea how popular Hezbollah is or isn’t in (Southern) Lebanon, because open criticism of Hezbollah there–let alone political organization in oppostition to it–is extremely hazardous to one’s health.

(In other parts of Lebanon, of course, Hezbollah is widely reviled–although in some of those parts, such expressions may be similarly constrained by different local tyrants, and therefore similarly meaningless.)

125

Chris Bertram 09.02.06 at 1:09 pm

We have no idea how popular Hezbollah is or isn’t in (Southern) Lebanon,

Well we know roughly how popular they were at the last election don’t we?

http://www.cfr.org/publication/8195/lebanon.html

“Lebanon allowed international election observers to monitor the ballot, a first in Lebanese history. A 100-member European Union (EU) delegation monitored voter registration, campaigns, and voting, and approved the election as free of foreign influence and fair, despite some late accusations of vote-buying.”

126

engels 09.02.06 at 1:21 pm

We have no idea how popular Hezbollah is or isn’t in (Southern) Lebanon

Actually, we do. Hezbollah is very popular indeed.

127

Jack 09.02.06 at 1:42 pm

Dan, do you ever actually wonder if you could be wrong?

What could demonstrate to your satisfaction that Hizbollah enjoyed popular support among the South Lebanese Shia? In your judgement is the balance of probabilities really that it is deeply unpopular?

128

Kevin Donoghue 09.02.06 at 2:39 pm

Although I am not a weapons expert, nice round holes are not made with bomblets.

If an accessory is fitted over a nice round hole, can’t a small explosion remove it, leaving a (reasonably) nice round hole?

129

Dan Simon 09.02.06 at 3:15 pm

What could demonstrate to your satisfaction that Hizbollah enjoyed popular support among the South Lebanese Shia?

This question perfectly demonstrates the point I was making earlier about Crooked Timberites not understanding the difference between democracy and dictatorship. What does “popular support” even mean in a country or region controlled by a regime like Hezbollah’s in Southern Lebanon? It’s easy to forget that when we talk about “popular support” in democratic countries, there’s always an implied alternative in the background–another party, another politician, another government. But what if there is no alternative–if the regime in power simply is? Could the Tsar in pre-revolutionary Russia be said to have had (or not to have had) “popular support”? It would be meaningless to say one way or the other–he was the Tsar, period.

Surely I’m not the only person to notice that protest against repressive dictatorships–in Zimbabwe, say, or Burma, or the Philippines, or pre-1989 Poland–invariably coalesces around a single opposition group, led by a single charismatic leader. I would hope that nobody would thus infer that prior to the rise of their respective opposition parties, the governments in question had “popular support”, which they subsequently lost. Rather, in order for the notion of “popular support” for these governments even to have had any meaning, there had to be a credible alternative available, which could then be said to have drained “popular support” away from the government. And as long as a government can prevent–by violence, if necessary–such a credible alternative from arising, talk of its “popular support” is simply meaningless: the government is simply the government.

That’s what I meant when I said that “[w]e have no idea how popular Hezbollah is or isn’t in (Southern) Lebanon, because open criticism of Hezbollah there—-let alone political organization in oppostition to it—-is extremely hazardous to one’s health.” When a ruling party uses violence to stifle all opposition, earning 100 percent representation in parliament, it’s reasonable to assume that its “popular support” is the kind the Tsar had, not the kind that, say George W. Bush has (or doesn’t have). That is, it’s supported against external enemies (in Hezbollah’s case, perhaps Israel, perhaps other Lebanese non-Shi’ites), simply because it’s the (de facto) government. As for whether it has “popular support” in the democratic sense–that is, whether voters would select it over an alternative, were one available–there’s simply no way of knowing, as long as such alternatives simply don’t exist.

130

BruceR 09.02.06 at 3:17 pm

Post 19: “If I were to, by way of experiment, chuck a grenade onto the roof of an ambulance, I would expect…”

The poster clearly has no real-world experience with grenades, “rock-propelled” [sic] grenades, or missiles, their behaviour or characteristics. Others do, and those that have wasted time thinking it over have almost universally drawn opposite conclusions about the photo in question. I doubt you could find anyone with military expertise that would conclude that photo was as it was originally advertised by Lebanese Red Cross staff, to whit, a deliberate and direct hit by Israeli ordnance right through the center of a highly visible Red Cross.

I always find it fascinating how academics insist upon the importance of credentials in their own area of expertise, but feel highly confident in whatever ignorant spoutings they may have that lie in someone else’s (for instance, military science).

A couple other points: if the Israeli initial statement of regret is to have any evidentiary value, then surely so does the recent removal by the Red Cross of this image from their website, implying they no longer believe the photo in question was what was it was first claimed to be, either.

Second, it is not a contradiction to say that one photographic record was faked, and yet still concede that another Lebanese ambulance or ambulances were probably damaged and their occupants injured in the recent conflict. Just not this one.

Finally, re #113: other photos of the Reuters hit in Gaza show pretty conclusively that it was some kind of an explosion or other impact on the rear roof of that vehicle, not inside, that nevertheless injured its occupants, wrecked the front windshield, etc. It does not in any way impeach the general truth that a high explosive warhead going off *inside* a civilian vehicle will cause considerable charring the vehicle interior, blow out window glass, etc.

131

BruceR 09.02.06 at 3:28 pm

“If an accessory is fitted over a nice round hole, can’t a small explosion remove it, leaving a (reasonably) nice round hole?”

Whether it could or not is irrelevant. The original story didn’t say the ambulance in question had its vent cover neatly snipped off by a missile, it said it was *blown up*.

That original claim was tenable so long as there was only the roof photo to go on, but fell apart as soon as sideviews of the still largely intact vehicle became available.

There are all kinds of possible explanations for the observed discrepancies so far, most of them fairly obvious, but maintaining a belief that a blown up vehicle and a mostly intact vehicle missing its roof cover are one and the same (and that you must have ultraright political beliefs if you think that they can’t be) is a lot closer to the work of certain 9/11 theorists than the other side of the argument is at this point.

132

Kevin Donoghue 09.02.06 at 3:49 pm

I doubt you could find anyone with military expertise that would conclude that photo was as it was originally advertised by Lebanese Red Cross staff, to whit, a deliberate and direct hit by Israeli ordnance right through the center of a highly visible Red Cross.

Bruce R,

What the Red Cross reported was:

According to Lebanese Red Cross reports, two of its ambulances were struck by munitions, although both vehicles were clearly marked by the red cross emblem and flashing lights that were visible at a great distance. The incident happened while first-aid workers were transferring wounded patients from one ambulance to another. As a result, nine people including six Red Cross volunteers were wounded.

Other reports, mostly based on interviews with an ambulance man who had been knocked over by the explosion, were of course a lot more spectacular. But AFAIK the above was the story as “originally advertised”; please note that it does not say that the ambulance was “blown up”.

If Downer had contented himself with criticising the way the media handled the story I wouldn’t fault him at all. But his swipe at the Red Cross was uncalled for.

…maintaining a belief that a blown up vehicle and a mostly intact vehicle missing its roof cover are one and the same….

What an utterly ludicrous straw man.

133

BruceR 09.02.06 at 4:37 pm

Straw man, Kevin?

Boston Globe, July 25:

“So Kasim Shaalan, who thought nothing more could shock him in this 13-day war, was shocked Sunday night when he closed the rear door of his ambulance and *it exploded*, seriously wounding two patients inside… A rocket or missile had made a direct hit through the roof, Shaalan said…”

The Australian, July 26:

“…two ambulances travelling in convoy were fired on by an Israeli Apache helicopter as they sped to the besieged port city of Tyre. One of the Israeli rockets pierced the centre of the large red cross marked on the roof of one of the ambulances, as if it was used as a target.”

San Francisco Chronicle, July 25:

“In Sunday’s attack, Chaalan was thrown backward while the other medics rushed to pull the wounded from the smashed vehicle. As they pulled the child out, the Israelis struck again, *blowing up* the second ambulance.”

134

BruceR 09.02.06 at 4:52 pm

Given that multiple reporters went with the “through the cross, blown up” angle, and that their only source could have been the LRC or its members, I’m not sure the LRC can completely escape responsibility.

I note the Australian papers have changed their story again this week, saying it was now the *other* ambulance, the one *without* the hole in the roof, in which all the casualties occurred. This story has been so thoroughly muddied and revised over the last five weeks that one can only assume some combination of extreme gullibility and anti-Israeli malice on the part of the reporters who covered it and/or their sources. The fact that most of that flip-flopping is the result of blogger pressure is undeniable.

Look, both sides’ extremists have overstated their case here. There is no evidence that the fellow missing a leg did not incur that injury in this incident, so claims of a “hoax” of course are overblown (although it would be nice if the papers could at least agree which leg it was). But saying that this is some kind of unjustified blogger denialism is just as wrong.

The news value here was always the intent agnle. A hole right through a cross, as if crosshairs had been lined up on it, screamed intentionality on the part of an Israeli pilot (the only side in the conflict with weapons that accurate). All that’s left without that now is that two ambulances came under fire in a war zone, without further tangible evidence about intent, weapons system, or even which side it might have come from. As far as we know from the remaining unimpeached evidence, this could have been a misplaced artillery barrage, a mine strike, or a Hezbollah mistake. We simply don’t know. I doubt the victims do, either.

135

Kevin Donoghue 09.02.06 at 5:54 pm

Bruce R,

We simply don’t know. I doubt the victims do, either.

Agreed; but that didn’t stop Downer from saying “it is beyond serious dispute that this episode has all the makings of a hoax”. Not only is that not beyond dispute, there is precious little evidence of a hoax. I don’t begrudge bloggers their fun, but a minister has an obligation to inform himself before sounding off.

I don’t think we disagree on the facts, which is just as well since you know about military matters and I don’t. (BTW that’s an excellent blog you have.) We probably differ a bit on what’s important here. I regard sloppy reporting as normal. The cost of getting the facts right is very high, especially in a war zone, while the benefit to the reporter is minimal.

136

Jim Harrison 09.02.06 at 6:11 pm

Not only was the ambulance story a fake, but it was Hezbollah that reduced South Beruit to rubble and subjected Lebanon to a blockade.

137

roger 09.02.06 at 6:22 pm

Dan Simon, I really think that totally misrepresents Hezbollah. The censorship of the American occupiers in Iraq involved killing at least three journalists at the beginning of the war, targetting Al Jazeera, shutting down al Sadr’s newspapers, and periodic attempts by the Iraqi government to kick al jazeera out of the country. Contrast this with Lebanon, in which, in the capital city, Beirut, you can find any number of papers, including some that habitually and violently denounce Hezbollah. Michael Young’s Daily star is among them. I don’t think any of the militias in Lebanon are altogether happy about bad press, but Hezbollah has no worse a record than Amal, or any other other group.
Furthermore, Israel has, of course, used the excuse of defense to do plenty of censoring on its own. One has only to look at the blackout of the nuclear program – Israel has consistently censored and imprisoned journalists who dare to penetrate that barrier.

I thought, before this war, that Hezbollah was your standard paramilitary group. However, their defense of Lebanon has been quite spectacular. Narsullah is at the moment one of the most honest Arabic leaders in the region — far more honest than, say, the DAWA or SCIRI leadership in Iraq, and far more competent. That’s good — if Lebanon can successfully assimilate Hezbollah into its political structure, it can use the armed faction to create a real military force, and perhaps it can even make the next painful move towards democracy, which would be a real census of the population, adjusting the representation of each group accordingly.

Reporters without Frontiers ranks Israel, domestically, much higher than lebanon in terms of press freedom. But they add an interesting caveat:

Special situation of the United States and Israel The ranking distinguishes behaviour at home and abroad in the cases of the United States and Israel. They are ranked in 31st and 44th positions respectively as regards respect for freedom of expression on their own territory, but they fall to the 135th and 146th positions as regards behaviour beyond their borders.

“The Israeli army’s repeated abuses against journalists in the occupied territories and the US army’s responsibility in the death of several reporters during the war in Iraq constitute unacceptable behaviour by two nations that never stop stressing their commitment to freedom of expression.”

138

David Kane 09.02.06 at 9:16 pm

“Hoax” is a fair description of the affair if many of the people telling the story are lying. Now, no one is claiming that, say, the editors of the Time are knowingly now or 6 weeks ago publishing lies. When they published the story (and perhaps still today), they thought it — “a missile punched through the roof of the vehicle and exploded inside” — was the truth. They are not involved in a “hoax.”

But, at the same time, it is clear that the testimony of many ICRC employees/volunteers is not truthful. They are engaged in a “hoax.” Where this leaves the ICRC as an organization is unclear to me.

By the way, claims have been made that the ICRC removed a key picture from its website. Is this true? Is there proof? This would seem to me to be damning evidence against it.

139

lmao 09.02.06 at 9:45 pm

Oh, now it’s munitions that have “blown away” the cover of the vent? When before it was a missile that flew through the vent causing an “intense fire” for which the evidence is non-existent, or indeed, contrary? Good grief.

Basic logic Kevin: contradictions entail falsity.

Downer is completely within his rational faculties when he says that the event _as reported_ is a hoax.

I find it hilarious is that some of the sheep here still think the rust riposte viable when there is no evidence of fire – let alone an “intense fire” – from the photos. The evidence that this has all the makings of a hoax is incontrovertible. None here have refuted a single Zombietime argument. The closest you have come to doing so was with the rust argument – which was refuted as soon as it was pointed out that the ambulance interior AND exterior was unscorched by flame.

I could understand discrepancies and contradictions in reporting when there are several witnesses involved with conflicting accounts – it happens, people are confused, they see things differently. But when it is the same people giving wildly different accounts from report to report – coupled with photographic analysis of the ambulance in question – the evidence is clear that there has been hoaxing going on from the same unreliable “witnesses”. In a court of law, when a witness contradicts himself, it is called “lying”. Something Kevin seems unable to comprehend perhaps because his notion of truth is flexible like his mangled logic.

One thing is clear. Even the defenders of the hoax like Kevin do not now claim that a missile was fired through the red cross vent. He tries to tell a different story – claiming that “bomblets” caused it fly off. Really? I was unaware that drones (the latest version – before it was planes and helicopters) had a cluster bomb payload.

You sound like certain unreliable conspiracy theorists when you squirm and change your story, inventing ad hoc accusations for which you have no proof, whenever the previous story gets refuted! Give up already.

“…maintaining a belief that a blown up vehicle and a mostly intact vehicle missing its roof cover are one and the same (and that you must have ultraright political beliefs if you think that they can’t be) is a lot closer to the work of certain 9/11 theorists than the other side of the argument is at this point.”

Exactly. Some gullible sheep can’t seem to see this. :)

140

lmao 09.02.06 at 9:56 pm

“Well, that’s big of him, isn’t it? If a government minister chooses to attack the Red Cross, whose members do much more difficult and dangerous work than he does, it seems to me that he should wait until he has some evidence to present which is conclusive.”

When I say “anything but conclusive” I mean when the evidence for an Israeli missile attack is anything but conclusive. The evidence for a hoax though, is pretty damning. Oops.

141

nick s 09.02.06 at 10:49 pm

Basic logic Kevin: contradictions entail falsity.

That’s neither basic nor logic, as proved by the contradictory opinions on whether you’re full of shit. LMAO, indeed.

Yet not a single critic of Zombietime’s article tackles it argument by argument, on the merits.

It would help if it had any.

One issue here is that the keyboard army is providing a travesty of journalistic analysis and . People who’ve been online for a while sort of get used to monomaniacs, such as the fake moon landing people, but pols like Downer look at a 28-page ‘in-depth’ piece written from an American basement and think that because it’s identical in form to a true research-based piece, its content is of equal value.

142

David Sucher 09.02.06 at 11:00 pm

Defeees,

Du yuoo theenk ooff unytheeng beseedes Isreel?

I hefee’t beee here-a fur a vheele-a und I cume-a beck und vhet du I see-a boot unuzeer pust infulfeeng Isreel.

It’s cumeecel. Trooly. Bork bork bork!

I em nut ifee reecheeng zee veesdum oor fuuleeshness ooff yuoor pust boot seemply cummenteeng oon vhet seems tu be-a a seengle-a-meended fesceeneshun veet Isreel.

Emezeeng.

[DD notes: I have filtered this comment through the Dialectizer in accordance with a brand new policy, that if you make nasty little passive-aggressive accusations, you're going to end up sounding like a Swedish Muppet.  This thread appears to have quite a lot of trolls and morons in it, but Sucher is the only one as far as I can see who is accusing me of anti-Semitism.  Dan Simon, thank your lucky stars that I decided it would be too much work to make the policy retrospective]

143

Donald Johnson 09.02.06 at 11:36 pm

David Sucher, you don’t read dsquared very much and it shows. Your sense of humor also appears to be largely a put-up job. I somehow doubt you actually find it amusing that DD has written another article on Israel–instead, you seem to be making a veiled accusation.

I came here mainly to say that I have no opinion on the ambulance story itself, not having slogged through the details, but the way Israel-defenders have latched onto it you would think it was supposed to demonstrate something larger. And apparently they do think that–this story along with the darkened smoke incident are somehow supposed to show that Israel didn’t kill hundreds of civilians through criminal negligence or deliberate malice. Nope, it was all a hoax.

144

engels 09.02.06 at 11:39 pm

The last post on this site concerning Israel, as far as I can see, was on August 4, ie. nearly a month ago. Apparently for David Sucher two posts concerning Israel in a one month period (during and following which Israel was a protagonist in a brutal war) is evidence of an obsessional, anti-Israel bias. I think I have a pretty good idea what the optimum, unbiased number of posts criticising Israel is for people like David…

But I’ll let David speak for himself. Is any criticism of Israel ever justified, or does “balance” dictate that bloggers and the media should always find other issues to talk about? Or is there an absolute upper limit of one post per month?

145

lmao 09.02.06 at 11:41 pm

nick s please relax you silly languagenazi. I can’t even speak colloquially without people nitpicking on language because they have nothing substantive to add.

Let me rephrase: contradictions are necessarily false. Basic logic. As the witnesses contradict themselves, they were basically holding up a placard saying “I’m hoaxing you!” (their self-contradictory accounts were necessarily false).

nick s is just agitated because he can’t deny this. Owned. :)

146

lmao 09.02.06 at 11:48 pm

Yeah “engels”, CT should post more about the Plame game nowadays instead of Israel. Oh wait – apparently anti-war Armitage was the leaker, so there’s no story there.

Meanwhile, the hoax defenders on this blog are reduced to babbling about moon landings and whatnot when yet again they have zero arguments against Zombietime’s analysis. The ad hominem (comparison of your interlocutors to conspiracy theorists) is a logical fallacy btw. Something “nick s” and assorted gullible hoax defenders are adept at.

Why? Because they have no substantive response. You’d think that after repeated challenges they would rise to the occasion, but they fail, repeatedly. Too funny.

147

engels 09.02.06 at 11:50 pm

Come again?

148

Charles S 09.03.06 at 12:34 am

lmao,

contradictions are necessarily false. Basic logic.

It is painfully apparent that you know absolutely nothing about eye-witness accounts.

149

Dan Simon 09.03.06 at 12:39 am

in the capital city, Beirut, you can find any number of papers, including some that habitually and violently denounce Hezbollah. Michael Young’s Daily star is among them.

That’s nothing–you should see what some American newspapers say about Hezbollah.

Yes, of course, in parts of Lebanon where Hezbollah has no control, it has many vocal critics who lambaste it with impunity. In the areas that Hezbollah controls, though, people tend to be much more circumspect.

As for people who actually dare to oppose Hezbollah’s total control over its fiefdom–well, ask Walid Jumblatt.

150

lmao 09.03.06 at 12:53 am

charles s, it is painfully obvious you’re not too bright. I addressed the misgivings you hinted at, earlier:

‘I could understand discrepancies and contradictions in reporting when there are several witnesses involved with conflicting accounts – it happens, people are confused, they see things differently. But when it is the _same people_ giving wildly different accounts from report to report – coupled with photographic analysis of the ambulance in question – the evidence is clear that there has been hoaxing going on from the same unreliable “witnesses” [and not simply conflicting accounts from different persons]. In a court of law, when a witness contradicts himself, it is called “lying”.’

Dig?

:)

151

Kevin Donoghue 09.03.06 at 2:49 am

David Kane,

…it is clear that the testimony of many ICRC employees/volunteers is not truthful. They are engaged in a “hoax.”

Details, please? Are you really saying that if (for example) a man who is knocked flat by an explosion, jumps to the conclusion that his vehicle was struck by a missile, you feel entitled to conclude that he is a liar?

Your comments are brief, so I don’t really know where you are coming from on this. But it seems to me that you too are jumping to conclusions.

Lmao,

Even the defenders of the hoax like Kevin do not now claim that a missile was fired through the red cross vent.

Did I ever claim that the vehicle was struck by a missile? Link, please.

Also, if you want to describe me as a defender of a hoax, you really should start by establishing that there was a hoax. Even Alexander Downer has acknowledged that “he could have been wrong when he claimed the media was duped”.

152

Alex 09.03.06 at 5:48 am

Armour-piercing weapons (like the Hellfire or anything else originally designed for use against tanks) are designed only to go off after they, well, pierce armour – that’s the point. The fuze is designed to be triggered by hitting something hard, like a tank, and then detonate after an instant’s delay. The delay ensures the fire and blast and shrapnel happens inside the tank. The fuze ensures it doesn’t go off outside it.

Ambulance coachwork isn’t tank armour. 1mm thick perhaps. Such a weapon would go straight through the roof and out the other side without exploding – although the rocket exhaust, splintered metal etc wouldn’t do you any good were you inside it.

If, however, the thing hit the engine block, the rear axle, a chassis member – a big lump of cast steel, essentially – it would detonate quite happily. Also, if it penetrated the vehicle and hit the ground beneath it, it would explode and quite probably blow the driver’s legs off…wait a moment – where have we heard this before? Assuming it was fired from above and behind, that’s exactly what one would expect to happen.

Another possibility – reference is made to Apache helicopters. Those have guns as well as missiles. The 30mm GAU-8 cannon is another specifically developed armour-penetrating weapon – its ammunition is usually, I think, just a very heavy depleted-uranium bullet rather than a shell.

Can I be Australian foreign minister?

153

Jack 09.03.06 at 8:04 am

Zombietime is itself happily using a misrepresented video that the most straightforward fact checking reveals as such.

It then goes on a straw man murder frenzy. The only claim it comes close to establishing is that one of the two ambulances allegedly attacked was not the victime of a successful direct hit by a large missile. Nevertheless I would still be unhappy to be in a car while it was being made to look like that and whatever happened would have been very noisy and frightening.

Some claims made in the process are manifestly false, one side of the hole in question certainly is turned down for example. Many of the other points raise questions that a complete examination of the issue might answer but that are hardly compelling — the rust for example.

In the end the approach is far too unbalanced to be compelling, ZT’s actual conclusion

“So even if the “Exaggerated Bullets” theory is true, the majority of the story as definitively reported in the press (missiles, fire, etc.) would still be false. “

is pretty weak and uses an odd definition of majority. It would be quite shocking if Israeli soldiers had merely spat on an ambulance, whether or not an ambulanceman knew exactly what he had been hit by is of little import.

Zombietime’s proprietor would be far more convincing if he got his facts straight and cared about the veracity of news reports in general, such things as yellow cake documents, reports of Iraqis stealing baby incubators, the rescue of female soldiers or claims that Germans are turning Belgians into margarine.

154

abb1 09.03.06 at 9:10 am

Hey Dan, Uri Avnery doesn’t seem very happy about Israeli free and democratic press. Give it a read, you’ll find words “pervasive brainwashing” in there.

155

Uncle Kvetch 09.03.06 at 9:37 am

this story along with the darkened smoke incident are somehow supposed to show that Israel didn’t kill hundreds of civilians through criminal negligence or deliberate malice. Nope, it was all a hoax.

You’re absolutely right, Donald–and it’s amazing how few people on the right will show the requisite backbone to stand up and say it. Instead it’s all of this “let’s just stick to this one incident” nonsense.

Show some cojones, folks: if you think Israel was blameless, either because (1) it really didn’t kill innocent civilians through negligence/malice in the recent war or (2) there’s no such thing as an “innocent Lebanese civilian,”* then say so.

*Again, something I’ve seen implied any number of times lately, but never quite stated.

156

engels 09.03.06 at 10:50 am

Threads like this actually make me feel sorry for the Israeli foreign ministry. With friends like David Kane, “Angry” Dan Simon and the cretinous “lmao”, who needs enemies?

157

lmao 09.03.06 at 12:25 pm

rofl. Upset, engels?

:-)

158

David Kane 09.03.06 at 2:54 pm

Kevin,

Although I ocasionally hope that CT might develop into something more than the Little Green Footballs of the academic left, as long as dsquared refers to people like me as “trolls and morons” it is tough to hold out hope for reasonable dialogue in this forum.

But, briefly again, the claim made by western media was that a missile/rocket went through the roof and exploded. This claim is clearly false. Now, does this mean that the reporters were lying then? No. I believe that they wrote what they thought the truth was. Does this mean that the witnesses quoted were lying then? Probably.

But, assume for the moment No, assume that there was some sort of military action going on, Israeli aircraft in the area, perhaps firing machine guns, perhaps bombing a nearby building. Zombietime discusses this scenario. In other words, the witnesses honestly thought, at the time, that an Isreali missile/rocket had gone through the roof and blown up.

So far, so good. No one has lied and no one is at fault — the fog of war and all that. There is no “hoax.”

But now we know that this did not happen, that no Israeli missile went through the roof and exploded. But, there is no admissions by the witnesses that, perhaps, they were wrong. There is no correction from Time magazine and others. The ICRC is removing evidence from its website.

Assume, for the moment, that no missile/rocket went through the roof and exploded. If this is true, isn’t there a “hoax” going on now?

159

David Kane 09.03.06 at 2:59 pm

engels writes

Threads like this actually make me feel sorry for the Israeli foreign ministry. With friends like David Kane, “Angry” Dan Simon and the cretinous “lmao”, who needs enemies?

It sure would be nice if dsquared and other CT authors could comment on this. I can’t speak for Dan Simon or lmao, but if the authors of CT don’t think that my comments add value to the discussion, they need only let me know. If, on the other hand, they think that engels and others should tone down the vitriol, that would be good to be clear about.

What kind of place do you want the comment section of CT to be?

160

abb1 09.03.06 at 3:11 pm

Has this link been posted: Downer’s unfounded faith in the internet.

161

Dan Simon 09.03.06 at 3:23 pm

Hey Dan, Uri Avnery doesn’t seem very happy about Israeli free and democratic press. Give it a read, you’ll find words “pervasive brainwashing” in there.

Abb1, the article is in Counterpunch, for pity’s sake. Last I heard, they have an editorial policy requiring all articles about the press to use the phrase, “pervasive brainwashing” at least once. Am I supposed to draw some kind of new inference from the fact that their take on the Israeli press adopts their standard boilerplate explanation for why a given country’s people consider the Counterpunch staff’s opinion on a given issue to be deluded and idiotic?

162

abb1 09.03.06 at 3:30 pm

It’s an opinion piece by Uri Avnery, Dan. Significance of the fact that it happens to be in CounterPunch is unclear to me.

163

roger 09.03.06 at 3:33 pm

Dan, the NYT Magazine has a little article about Tyre today. A southern lebanese town. One that had an election before the war. Now, given that your theory is that Hezbollah will kill or intimidate any opponents, we have a reality check:

“In the most recent elections for Tyre City Council, Amal, the other principal Shiite political party in Lebanon, ran a quiet scare campaign suggesting a Hezbollah victory would mean segregated beaches and a ban on outdoor cafes serving alcohol. The tactic apparently worked; in the council elections, the Amal slate (with the support of the Christian minority) swept Hezbollah.”

This doesn’t sound like an area of petrified subjects over which Hezbollah bullies. In fact, it sounds like Southern Lebanon’s political culture is a lot more democratic than, say, present day Baghdad.

On the other hand, the justified suspicion of a party named the Party of God was wiped away by the moronic Israeli attack. If Israel had responded with even a little proportion, the unpopularity of Hezbollah for starting the thing might have spiked. But no — Israel was bent on doing much more than that. And Hezbollah held them off, unlike the PLO in the 80s. So the end has been a rise in Hezbollah’s popularity throughout Lebanon. This is the consequence of pursuing the neo-con policy of tough action/tough talk/fantasy tactics/wishful thinking strategy. That is very good when you are playing a computer game. Just don’t implement it in reality.

164

dsquared 09.03.06 at 4:20 pm

It sure would be nice if dsquared and other CT authors could comment on this.

my current official position is: “lmao” is a troll and a moron and I will probably delete any further comments by him if I can be bothered. Dan Simon is not a moron and probably not intentionally a troll, but he is a partisan of the Israeli cause and often quite offensive in his partisanship; he has been banned from threads by other CT authors and although I don’t think he’s crossed the line here, neither do I think that any of his bans were unjustified.

David Kane appears to be maintaining a point of view that I disagree with (I don’t think that the “Western media”‘s reports are falsified if the missile in question was an RPG rather than a Hellfire or equivalent) but he is being reasonably civil and not playing unfairly. David Sucher was completely out of order and as a result got dialecticized.

165

engels 09.03.06 at 5:21 pm

David Kane, to repeat the claim in question, in my view your aggressive attempts to defend the IDF, and your contumelious attempts to slander the Red Cross, are not doing Israel any favours. This is my honest opinion and I do not think that stating it in the way I did was “vitriolic”. Saying this is not the same as calling for you to be banned.

The one thing you are right about is that the quality of comments in this thread has been remarkably poor, and that’s why I have been trying to avoid being drawn into a “serious” discussion, with you or anyone else. Lmao’s numerous comments, to repeat, have been almost uniformly idiotic.

Your comments have generally been better but I personally think that your insistence that fair discussion is impossible at this blog until a rightwing blogger is appointed is pretty stupid, and does not get any less stupid the more you repeat it. I also do not find your tactic of calling on others to “comment” on my comments a very congenial style of argument.

166

Dan Simon 09.03.06 at 7:20 pm

Dan Simon is not a moron and probably not intentionally a troll, but he is a partisan of the Israeli cause and often quite offensive in his partisanship; he has been banned from threads by other CT authors and although I don’t think he’s crossed the line here, neither do I think that any of his bans were unjustified.

For the record, I believe only John’s ban had anything to do with Israel. Henry banned me because in the course of calling him on an odious analogy, I made a remark along the lines of, “like you, the Nazis used to make odious analogies”–as a lighthearted way of pointing out how odious analogies can be unfair to people. Henry took my remark to be actually accusing him of being a Nazi, and promptly banned me. (There was, of course, previous bad blood, revolving around my doubts about his theory that the OSCE/CSCE played a major role in the democratization of Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.)

Chris banned me after a sequence of arguments in which I took the position that his ideas of global justice should take into account the distinction between democratic and non-democratic states. So if there’s a common thread here, it’s not Israel, but rather my willingness to challenge CTites on the topics of their own published research. That may be presumptuous of me, but it’s not behavior one normally associates with the word, “troll”.

In any event, it’s not my place to judge the value of my own contributions to CT. But if there’s anything that threatens to reduce this blog to, in David Kane’s words, “the Little Green Footballs of the academic left”, it’s the proliferation of utterly content-free ad hominem comments of the “aren’t those/you people we disagree with such sub-human monsters!” variety from the comment section’s far left wing. Even LMAO, who seems to be universally regarded as a troll here, intersperses his taunts with actual points, whereas some of the leftist posters–have a look further up–seem to think that a string of personal insults is argument enough.

If the proprietors of CT really want to improve the tenor of debate around here–and presumably they do, if they’re willing to take the trouble to ban people–then the gratuitous, content-free personal attacks would seem to be a good place to start.

167

Dan Simon 09.03.06 at 7:25 pm

It’s an opinion piece by Uri Avnery, Dan. Significance of the fact that it happens to be in CounterPunch is unclear to me.

I explained the significance of CounterPunch. Significance of the fact that it happens to be by Uri Avnery is unclear to me (except, perhaps, that one can infer that it’s not worth reading)

168

Dan Simon 09.03.06 at 10:19 pm

“In the most recent elections for Tyre City Council, Amal, the other principal Shiite political party in Lebanon, ran a quiet scare campaign suggesting a Hezbollah victory would mean segregated beaches and a ban on outdoor cafes serving alcohol. The tactic apparently worked; in the council elections, the Amal slate (with the support of the Christian minority) swept Hezbollah.”

This doesn’t sound like an area of petrified subjects over which Hezbollah bullies. In fact, it sounds like Southern Lebanon’s political culture is a lot more democratic than, say, present day Baghdad.

Actually, it sounds just like the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat. Hamas would routinely sweep municipal councils in its strongholds, but nobody doubted who ultimately ruled the territory. And at the regional level, Hamas coordinated fully with Fatah–just as, in Lebanon, Hezbollah and Amal run on a combined ticket in national elections.

On the other hand, the justified suspicion of a party named the Party of God was wiped away by the moronic Israeli attack.

And to think that, but for its decision to destroy the missile launchers with which Hezbollah was blasting Haifa, Israel might have won the sympathy of the Tyre municipal council!

Look, all that pre-existing “justified suspicion of a party named the Party of God” on the part of Tyre’s more cosmopolitan residents didn’t stop Tyre from being a nerve center of Hezbollah military activity, including multiple long-range missile launchers capable of firing on major Israeli cities. And conversely, the alleged surge in Hezbollah’s popularity following the conflict with Israel won’t exactly bolster Hezbollah, either. (Remember, their alliance with Amal–which they dominate–had already captured every single Southern seat in the Lebanese parliament, “justified suspicion” and all.)

If this were really a battle for the hearts and minds of the Lebanese people, or even the Southern Lebanese people, then Israel would no doubt require a very different strategy from its current one. (And I have no doubt that by adopting the right tack, it could win them over to peaceful coexistence in short order.) Unfortunately, though, this is a battle against a Syrian/Iranian proxy quasi-regime dedicated to building up its own, and hence its masters’, military and terrorist capabilities for use against Israel. The voters selecting the Tyre municipal council simply aren’t a factor in that battle.

169

David Kane 09.03.06 at 10:30 pm

Engels objects to my “aggressive attempts to defend the IDF.” Well, what attempts? I do not think that a missile his ambulance 782. This is not a defence of or an attack on the IDF. It is an empirical claim.

David Kane appears to be maintaining a point of view that I disagree with (I don’t think that the “Western media”’s reports are falsified if the missile in question was an RPG rather than a Hellfire or equivalent) but he is being reasonably civil and not playing unfairly.

Thanks, I think. But I did not claim that “the “Western media”’s reports are falsified if the missile in question was an RPG rather than a Hellfire or equivalent.” I claim that no rocket/missile (including an RPG) went through the roof of ambulance 782 and exploded. I am making an empirical claim about the world. Maybe the Israelis are all angels. Maybe the Lebanese are all wonderful. I don’t know. I just want to talk about what happened to that vehicle.

[Side note: Is there some overall CT philosophy on comments? I could imagine a blog that took no comments (Instapundit). I could imagine allowing comments but refusing to accept any responsibility for what goes on there (LGF). But CT seems to aim for a quality comment section in which people of goodwill discuss difficult issues. Is that a goal? If so, then ideological diversity among the authors would have two good effects. First, it would encourage non-left participants in the comments. Second, I think that it would encourage other CT authors to participate more fully.

Now, dsquared is a busy guy. He has better things to do than argue with me, to respond, for example, to my good faith efforts to focus the discussion in #72. But I think that the CT comment section would be better if a more serious effort were made to communicate with the opposition.]

Anyway, let me repeat. The Boston Globe, among others, provided a picture of ambulance 782 and claimed that a “rocket or missile had made a direct hit through the roof.” I do not think that this is a true statemnt. My goal is to explore its truth. If you don’t want to come along, that’s fine, but my view is not uncommon among those on the right. That doesn’t mean it is correct, but we do (think that) we have reasons for what we believe.

By the way, here is a discussion of the claim that the ICRC is hiding evidence. Now, LGF is not the most reliable site, so if anyone has links which debunk this, please provide them.

170

lmao 09.03.06 at 11:58 pm

[LMAO, saying "nobody has addressed any of my points" over and over again doesn't make it true, although if you do it often enough you will apparently annoy the management enough for them to do something about you -DD]

171

engels 09.04.06 at 12:10 am

No, David, I don’t object to you defending the IDF. I said that your manner of doing so was probably not helping your cause. Above all, I felt this applied to your ill-considered slanders against the Red Cross, which, I must say, I do object to. (But I quite clearly did not say that you should be banned, or call you a troll or a moron, for that matter.) In your last post, though, you seem to have cleaned up your act a bit.

BTW what’s the point of denying you are defending the IDF, and claiming that you don’t have any opinions at all on the larger issues? Apart from being patently silly, it doesn’t really tally with the irritable dismissals of other people’s views with which you began your comments on this thread.

As I said before, I’m not interested in getting into a discussion about amateur military forensics with you. The original post wasn’t, as I read it, an invitation to begin a detailed evaluation of each of “Zombietime”‘s claims, but perhaps it is inevitable that people like you and “lmao” would interpret it in this way. Whatever: I’ve got no interest in doing that.

As for the side issue of whether a greater “ideological diversity” of authors is of benefit to a blog, this is a somewhat weaker claim than the one you started with

I remain skeptical about whether it is possible to a fair minded dispute in the CT comment section, especially given the lack of ideological diversity among CT authors and the resulting amen corner aspect of the regulars

which I still think is rather silly and pathetic. But if you really want more “ideological diversity”, perhaps CT could add a few communists or Islamists to its ranks? Would that make you happy?

172

lmao 09.04.06 at 12:11 am

[comment deleted - DD]

173

lmao 09.04.06 at 12:16 am

[apparently, I do have enough energy to remember to sort out the comments! -DD]

174

engels 09.04.06 at 12:39 am

In other words, you have no coherent riposte to the points “Zombietime” raised.

Who would have thunk it.

Eh?

:)

Why, God? Why?

175

abb1 09.04.06 at 1:10 am

Well, Dan, prehaps you’re not familiar, but Uri Avnery is quite a famous guy. Try his name in google – get a million hits. There’s at least one book written about his life.

So, now when you know all this – why would it make any difference where his opinion is published? I just can’t figure it out.

176

Daniel 09.04.06 at 1:37 am

David K: with reference to your #72 above, I would say 1) yes, we are talking about the specific ambulance that was in the Reuters photographs, 2) I have no opinion one way or another; the Zombietime blog is clearly misrepresenting an ITN video so I would not trust their independent word, but I have no particular reason to believe that they have faked photos, and 3) a lot of people seem to believe that there were drones present which were firing munitions similar to hand grenades.

But in general, as I think I said pretty clearly above, I am not that interested in adding to the reams of amateur-hour ballistics, because the whole pass has been sold; the IDF put out an official statement on the matter, and so it would have been ridiculous for any news organisation to gainsay them.

177

Dan Simon 09.04.06 at 1:42 am

Well, Dan, prehaps you’re not familiar, but Uri Avnery is quite a famous guy.

So’s Rush Limbaugh. Do you give a crap what he thinks about his country’s press?

why would it make any difference where his opinion is published?

It just makes his opinion that much more predictable. Sort of like Rush Limbaugh writing about the American press in, say, National Review. Instead of “pervasive brainwashing”, the mandated catchphrase would be something like “reflexively anti-American MSM”.

178

RobW 09.04.06 at 1:43 am

Alexander Downer (who comes across as a hell of a moron; could any Aussie readers confirm this?)

Some of Dolly’s greatest hits:

East Timor I (militias)

East Timor II (Timor Gap treaty)

Australian Wheat Board scandal

Remarks on Martinkus abduction

Remarks on North Korean missiles

Downer also famously lost the leadership of the Liberal Party (while in opposition) after riffing at a formal dinner on the party’s new slogan of “The Things That Matter” that, among other lame puns, the new domestic violence policy would be known as “the Things That Batter.” Well, for that and all the other gaffes.

179

Chris Bertram 09.04.06 at 1:51 am

Dan Simon writes:

“Chris banned me after a sequence of arguments in which I took the position that his ideas of global justice should take into account the distinction between democratic and non-democratic states.”

Actually, he was banned after his contributions to this thread:

http://crookedtimber.org/2006/08/09/war-crimes-again/

180

abb1 09.04.06 at 1:58 am

May I once again suggest http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20307128-7582,00.html

We inspected both ambulances, whose mangled roofs were not rusting at the time. By the time the photos used on the blog site were taken, rust had appeared. But this is entirely normal in Lebanon’s sultry summer climate, where humidity on the coast does not drop below 70per cent.

Downer’s spokesman, Tony Parkinson, said on Tuesday: “Those (website) pictures do not show an ambulance that has been struck by a missile nor do they sustain the argument the ambulance was struck by a missile.”

He is wrong. The damage done was consistent with ruined cars and vans that I saw elsewhere in Lebanon and earlier in Gaza, which had been hit by a missile fired from a drone. The Israeli-made drones have many types of missiles, but the most regularly used has a small warhead designed for use in urban areas. It aims not to kill anyone outside a small zone and rarely leaves a calling card outside its target.

This Australian ME correspondent (Martin Chulov) and his photographer Stewart Innes – are they a part of the conspiracy?

Thanks.

181

lmao 09.04.06 at 2:00 am

Deleted [JQ]

182

lmao 09.04.06 at 2:04 am

Since Daniel must be asleep by now, I’m cleaning up the garbage for him -JQ

183

Brendan 09.04.06 at 2:09 am

I would just like to go on the record and agree with lmao. I, personally, have not attempted to refute any of Zombietime’s (what an apt name!) arguments.

Other arguments I have not attempted to refute are:

a: The theory that Neil Armstrong ‘didn’t really’ land on the moon, but that the whole moon landing was a hoax perpetrated by NASA to get more money for other missions

b: The theory that JFK was not assassinated by Oswald but was instead killed by a conspiracy involving the Mafia and the Russians (and possibly the Masons and the Martians too)

c: The theory, popularised by David Icke, that the Royal family are not really human but are, instead, shape shifting lizards who control time and space from another dimension.

In all these cases the reasons why I am not providing arguments to refute them are the same.

184

abb1 09.04.06 at 2:10 am

So’s Rush Limbaugh.

Well, I heard many times that Rush is an entertainer, a self-proclaimed entertainer in fact, not a journalist.

Also, you seem to grant instant credibility to any daming reports about Hezbollah by anyone anywhere, why so finicky in this case?

185

Dan Simon 09.04.06 at 2:27 am

the IDF put out an official statement on the matter, and so it would have been ridiculous for any news organisation to gainsay them.

As I explained, Daniel, the IDF’s statement was a boilerplate expression of “regret” that any competent Middle Eastern journalist would have recognized as admitting nothing whatsoever about culpability. For example, a similar statement was issued (contrary to your claim) following the previous “Gaza beach” incident, and was later supplemented by an explicit denial of responsibility.

In short, you’ve gotten this key part of your argument flat wrong in every detail, and your best bet would be a straightforward concession on the point, to save you further embarrassment.

186

Dan Simon 09.04.06 at 2:43 am

Actually, he was banned after his contributions to this thread

True enough–but that was just the tail end of a running discussion on the subject of treating democracies differently from non-democracies, whose previous round–this thread–had you responding to my comment (#154) by calling me (to my shock) “Dan-troll”. Hence I don’t think I was incorrect in describing the ban as arising out of our conflict over that subject.

[No, you were banned after your stupid "feces" comments, and for no other reason. CB]

187

lmao 09.04.06 at 3:00 am

[I think Dan must be awake now John, but no harm in us all bearing the burden of this. CB]

188

abb1 09.04.06 at 3:16 am

As I explained, Daniel, the IDF’s statement was a boilerplate expression of “regret”…

Dan, JTA link in the post above reads:

“The incident in which vehicles were hit last night occurred in an area known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles,” an Israeli army spokesman said Monday.

Does it sound like a boilerplate expression of “regret” to you?

189

Kevin Donoghue 09.04.06 at 3:44 am

By the way, here is a discussion of the claim that the ICRC is hiding evidence. Now, LGF is not the most reliable site, so if anyone has links which debunk this, please provide them.

David Kane,

The photo you refer to isn’t on the ICRC website. However I’ve no reason to doubt that it was there before. So what? What is it evidence for? The proposition that the ambulance had rust on it when the picture was taken, at 9:02AM on 1st August? The picture is still available via LGF or Zombietime. I don’t think it tells us much.

Do you buy the idea that the rust formed too quickly? I don’t. But then my painful experience with a second-hand car in Galway is not applicable to Lebanon, which is a lot warmer but not nearly as damp. Also, if explosives leave chemical residues that would surely affect the rate of corrosion, as would the heat from the blast. If you’ve seen any expert commentary on this I’d like to see it.

The mere fact (if it is a fact) that the ICRC took down a (now) controversial photo isn’t evidence of bad faith. The point of such pictures is to highlight the difficulties faced by Red Cross volunteers, not to fuel political controversy, which is something the ICRC generally tries to avoid.

190

Chris Bertram 09.04.06 at 3:59 am

Let me remind people, btw, of our announced policy on trolls etc.

http://crookedtimber.org/2006/07/26/ct-policy-on-trolls-sockpuppets-and-other-pests/

bq. We welcome comments from readers on posts, but you do so as guests in our private space. If your comments are blatantly racist, sexist or homophobic we may well delete them. The same goes for comments which are personally defamatory or insulting or which seek to derail a thread through provocation of one kind or another. If your comments strike us as stupid or irrelevant we may also delete them in the interests of keeping the conversation at a reasonable level. Likewise, commenters who routinely seek to make marginally relevant debating points may be barred to make room for those with a substantive contribution to the discussion. It is up to us.

bq. We are happy to accept pseudonymous comments but we will not knowingly accept comments from individuals using more than one id and thereby giving the impression that their comments originate from more that one person. The only exception to this that is acceptable is where a person who normally comments under their own name needs to comment pseudonymously for clear professional or personal reasons. Commenters should normally provide a valid, working email address. Such addresses are only visible to members of the CT collective (and not to casual readers). Commenters who provide addresses like noone@nowhere.net may find their comments deleted without warning.

IMHO, DS’s contributions often fail on many of the criteria listed (though that is a matter left to each CT contributor on their own threads). I note, however, that Dan does not provide a working email address but prefers to use dummy@dummy.com and so could not have any complaint were any of his comments summarily deleted.

191

neil morrison 09.04.06 at 4:54 am

Dan Simon provides a valid email via the web page he links to. So what are you talking about CB?

[Neil: when you filled out the comment form to make a comment, you entered an email address that I presume to be valid. Dan Simon did not. The fact that people might be able to work out what his email address is by following links or whatever doesn't change that. CB]

192

Ray 09.04.06 at 5:40 am

Dan Simon 124 – (any reporting coming out of southern Lebanon is effectively a Hezbollah press release, because) “We have no idea how popular Hezbollah is or isn’t in (Southern) Lebanon, because open criticism of Hezbollah there—let alone political organization in oppostition to it—is extremely hazardous to one’s health.”

Dan Simon 169 – okay, so people in southern Lebanon criticise Hezbollah in election campaigns, and vote for other parties, and so on, but that’s not as important as the fact that Hezbollah had missile launchers in Tyre

okay, I realise most sane people stopped reading this thread about 150 comments ago, but surely someone else noticed this

193

soru 09.04.06 at 5:40 am

The Israeli-made drones have many types of missiles, but the most regularly used has a small warhead designed for use in urban areas.

Can someone who knows about ‘amateur military forensics’ clarify exactly what is the popint of a weapon that will dent but not penetrate a typical steel car or van roof?

Are top Hizbollah leaders noted as owners of convertible sports cars?

194

Daniel 09.04.06 at 6:11 am

Can someone who knows about ‘amateur military forensics’ clarify exactly what is the popint of a weapon that will dent but not penetrate a typical steel car or van roof?

See, this is the level that the whole debate is being conducted at, and it’s a wildly ill-formed question. A weapon that in one instance will “dent but not penetrate” might quite possibly in different circumstances ricochet off harmlessly and in a third set of circumstances blow the damn thing to smithereens. And “different circumstances” here might mean something as trivial as the angle of impact or whether or not a particular munition worked as planned. Real-world weapons are much less predictable in their effects than their videogame counterparts, which is why wars are so difficult, and also why anyone making definitive statements about ballistics without a) relevant training as a forensic scientist and b) access to the actual site is probably flapping their gums.

195

John Quiggin 09.04.06 at 6:17 am

If I could stress one point in the comments policy, it’s this

“Likewise, commenters who routinely seek to make marginally relevant debating points may be barred to make room for those with a substantive contribution to the discussion.”

Several of the regulars who’ve weighed into this discussion in support of Zombietime fit into this category, and I’ve banned them accordingly from my threads.

196

Ben 09.04.06 at 6:23 am

#195 – Absolutely. For example, I know of an incident around Basra where an RPG was fired at a British Land Rover and, due to the short distance, passed straight through without detonating.

Is this characteristic of RPGs? Probably not, but it may be characteristic of RPG’s fired from very short distances, which is itself unusual.

197

Alex 09.04.06 at 9:08 am

It is indeed characteristic of them. The fuze can be adjusted to explode after a set time-of-flight, so the RPG explodes in the air as a shrapnel bomb rather than just after contact. It also prevents the contact fuze from detonating the thing before it has travelled for time x – so as to prevent the user from blowing themselves up. Either could mean that the warhead didn’t go off.

Can someone who knows about ‘amateur military forensics’ clarify exactly what is the popint of a weapon that will dent but not penetrate a typical steel car or van roof?

Shameless, whorish strawman. Destroying a typical car is precisely what they want it for. Nobody has suggested a weapon that will etc etc.

198

lmao 09.04.06 at 9:18 am

[this is like house-training a dog, you have to be patient but in the end they get the message - DD]

199

anthony baxter 09.04.06 at 11:52 am

On a related note, it appears that Downer’s spokesman “Tony Parkinson” is the same person as the former Fairfax journalist and international affairs editor. I’d wondered why The Age’s coverage of the world had improved so much lately – but Parkinson’s absence would definitely have something to do with that!

200

a. nevelichko 09.04.06 at 2:57 pm

#196
“Likewise, commenters who routinely seek to make marginally relevant debating points may be barred to make room for those with a substantive contribution to the discussion.”

Several of the regulars who’ve weighed into this discussion in support of Zombietime fit into this category, and I’ve banned them accordingly from my threads.

I’ve been reading this blog (& frequently found it quite interesting) for the last year and a half. But this column is the first or second time that I tried to participate in a discussion in the comments section. The level of hostility, close-mindedness and intolerance to different opinions demonstrated by the proprietors & some of the regulars was a huge disappointment. It seems that many here are interested in making the opponents look stupid rather than in understanding what they are trying to say. (Any psychologist will confirm that listening-to-reply and listening-to-understand are two very different types of cognitive activity.) I’ll do my best not to bother the esteemed local pundits with my meager opinions in the future. I am sorry to conclude that the Crooked Timber is a bit too crooked for my taste.

Best regards, warm wishes, suchlike.

A. Nevelichko, /a left leaning conservative interested in opinions different from his own but rather tired of people whose political alegiances prevent them from using their brain/

201

Dan Simon 09.04.06 at 4:46 pm

“The incident in which vehicles were hit last night occurred in an area known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles,” an Israeli army spokesman said Monday.

Does it sound like a boilerplate expression of “regret” to you?

Yes, it does. Basically, the IDF’s policy in these situations is to say immediately, on hearing any claim of IDF-caused civilian deaths, “We have no idea what happened here, but in case we turn out to be responsible, we regret all civilian deaths, we try our best to avoid them, sometimes bad things happen in war, etc., etc.” Then they try to investigate whether the claim has any merit or not.

I agree completely with Daniel that this is a stupid policy–it’s certainly confused a lot of people here. My assumption is that it was adopted in response to Israel’s own domestic Crooked Timberite community, who used to berate the IDF ruthlessly for being too slow to acknowledge guilt in cases of (eventually verified) IDF-caused civilian casualties.

Dan Simon 124 – (any reporting coming out of southern Lebanon is effectively a Hezbollah press release, because) “We have no idea how popular Hezbollah is or isn’t in (Southern) Lebanon, because open criticism of Hezbollah there—let alone political organization in oppostition to it—is extremely hazardous to one’s health.”

No, we know that most reporting coming out of Southern Lebanon is effectively a Hezbollah press release because a few scrupulous journalists have reported on the tight control Hezbollah exerts over the journalists in its territory, and the carefully scripted news stories it feeds them–and as it turns out, the vast majority of journalists have simply reported the stories as fed to them.

Dan Simon 169 – okay, so people in southern Lebanon criticise Hezbollah in election campaigns, and vote for other parties, and so on,

In local elections, on strictly local issues, perhaps–but note that the only other party mentioned is Amal, which is officially allied with Hezbollah at the national level. Challenging Hezbollah on a regional issue–such as its operations against Israel–is an entirely different matter.

This sort of distinction between local, limited letting off of steam and actual challenges to the regime is extremely common in non-democratic societies. The endemic lack of understanding in the West of how these societies work is understandable, I suppose, given our fortunate circumstances–but worrysome nonetheless.

If your comments are blatantly racist, sexist or homophobic we may well delete them. The same goes for comments which are personally defamatory or insulting or which seek to derail a thread through provocation of one kind or another.

Funny–judging by the amount of truly ugly, ignorant personal venom directed at me, among many others, by the local leftist hecklers–without so much as an occasional friendly caution, as far as I can tell–this policy is, shall we say, rather selectively enforced.

Und vheele-a creeticism–heck, hete-a-feelled deneegreshun–ooff cuoontreees is reelly nu beeg deel (cuoontreees beeeng a beet mure-a theeck-skeenned thun peuple-a, effter ell), zee ettecks oon Isreel eruoond here-a ruooteenely flurt oopenly veet untee-Semeetism–ellegeeng Isreelee cuntrul ooff zee US gufernment, fur instunce-a (feea vhet mechuneesm, I vunder?), oor fucooseeng inurdeenetely oon zee ithneec hereetege-a ooff Isreelee Joos. Um gesh dee bork, bork! Egeeen, puleecing ooff sooch qooesshuneble-a cundooct is, es fer es I cun tell, nun-ixeestent. Um de hur de hur de hur. Und Cruuked Teember is mooch zee puurer plece-a es a resoolt. Um de hur de hur de hur.

[DD notes: I think I told David Sucher about this one, Dan - these nasty little insinuations get transmuted into Swedish Chef on my threads now]

[No, you were banned after your stupid “feces” comments, and for no other reason. CB]

Really? Okay, then. I thought my comments were actually extremely pertinent and rather clever, if somewhat pointed–but, as I said, that’s not for me to judge.

I do, however, invite readers to inspect those comments (Chris linked to them above) to decide for themselves if they’re really so beyond the pale here at CT (especially in light of my above observations) as to constitute a banning offense.

I note, however, that Dan does not provide a working email address but prefers to use dummy@dummy.com

I adopted that habit long ago as an anti-spam measure, after my email address was once inadvertently displayed on a blog to which I’d posted a comment. As has been pointed out, my email address is in any event on display at the URL I provide with my comments. And if you can absolutely, positively guarantee that my email address will never be exposed as a result of doing so, I’ll be happy to fill in my real email address from now on.

202

dsquared 09.04.06 at 5:30 pm

The IDF has no such policy and as I mentioned above, did not make such a statement with respect to the Gaza beach blast; they thought the shell was not one of theirs and said so.

203

Dan Simon 09.04.06 at 6:37 pm

The IDF has no such policy and as I mentioned above, did not make such a statement with respect to the Gaza beach blast; they thought the shell was not one of theirs and said so.

Hmm, I guess CNN lied, then. Thanks for setting us straight! (Damn media conspiracy…)

You know, over at LGF, when Charles makes a mistake like this, he always updates his post with a correction. And he’s pretty quick to acknowledge them, too.

Just sayin’…

204

Dan Simon 09.04.06 at 7:04 pm

[Deleted by DD.  Dan, this breached the comments policy in two regards.  First, despite being asked to by Chris you are not providing an email address, which I think is quite disrespectful.  Second, a 200-word rant on the injustices of our comments policy falls under the category of "derailing the debate".  The purpose of the comments policy is not to protect you from the consequences of sniping at other people.  Lots of other commenters manage to raise the question of whether criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism without making personal attacks on CT contributors, and the fact that you can't manage this is going to have consequences from here on in.

 I note that you are now seperating your substantive points from your content-free whinges and jibes; in a way I appreciate this because it is the first step to getting rid of the second category altogether.  In another way, however, it is strong circumstantial evidence that you know when you are making a point and when you are trolling, and that you are thus doing it on purpose.  Stop.]

205

J Thomas 09.04.06 at 11:15 pm

OK I looked at the photos and to me it looks like a RPG that hit from above. It looks like it hit the vent thingie at about a 70 degree angle and exploded, driving at least part of the vent down and spraying the roof with shrapnel.

I couldn’t tell much about the rest of the claims, the two other explicit photos didn’t show where the guy’s leg ought to be. The freeze-frame was so murky I couldn’t tell what was going on at all. It didn’t mean much of anything that the windshield was sagging inward. An RPG exploding above the car might not have hit the front windshield at all but just fragmented it from the small blast, and then it could, well, sag. Since it was still in place.

If you want to assume it was a hoax then you could suppose that the lebanese happened to have a rusty ambulance with a bunch of holes in the roof, and they brought it out as fake evidence of an israeli strike. They could have found somebody with a leg blown off to be part of the fake, there was no shortage of lebanese men with recent blown-off legs to pose for it. Etc. I don’t favor that view because Hezbollah had no warning an attack was coming. They got taken by surprise, and so they probably didn’t have anything like this ready to roll.

But if we suppose that this was actually an ambulance in operation, then no, they wouldn’t have been operating it torn up like that. They’d have patched it up before they used it to carry wounded. If it was carrying people then it got attacked from above during the war.

No way to prove it from a few photos. Any real attack could be successfully faked with enough attention to detail. But the claims that it couldn’t be real are silly. Claiming that lebanon is too dry to get quick rust is just like claiming that california is too dry for things to rust quickly. Park your scratched-up car in LA half a mile from the beach and see how long the rust takes. The later photos were taken in *Tyre*. Enough said.

The argument that the ambulance driver had fake bandages looks pretty weak to me. He could easily have had stitches in his chin and had the bulky bandages removed in 5 days, the later photos didn’t show the underside of his chin at all. And the one photo which claimed to show his right ear intact didn’t give any detail to show it wasn’t flipflopped. Very often news photos get left-right reversed by accident. And since this is a political issue, we have strong reason to think that someone at zombiesite or before intentionally switched it to make it look like it was his right ear instead of his left, to create fake evidence that favors their position.

So far no one has suggested that the second ambulance wasn’t actually attacked.

But what does it matter? The story is that these two ambulances were hit by drones in one single incident. Are there other stories that say there’s an israeli policy to hit ambulances? I haven’t heard of it. It sounds like one mistake by one or two low-ranking soldiers. Not like when we were taking out ambulances in fallujah. Our guys said that the bad guys were using ambulances for military transportation. There was a story about one ambulance that 13 arabs used to hit a US position, with a named US officer telling the story about his experience. While we said it wasn’t our policy to attack ambulances, it clearly was. And we hit a lot more than two of them in that one city. This is minor. Not unlikely the israelis will eventually admit to it and apologise and say they’ve disciplined the people responsible. Not such a big deal.

Of course the Red Cross is going to make a big deal of it. They’re going to get upset whenever they lose an ambulance. If they don’t make a big deal about it when it’s one or two ambulances then next time it will be ten or twenty. But in the bigger scheme of things a couple of ambulances getting attacked by drones is nothing compared to the cluster bomb problem.

After I wrote I did a quick lit search and noticed this criticism by the guy that zombiesite was parasitising.
http://riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2006/08/id_advise_the_b.html

206

Daniel 09.05.06 at 1:21 am

#204: You will note that my original post linked to a story which contained a quotation from the IDF press office. Your CNN story quotes the office of Ehud Olmert.

207

David Kane 09.05.06 at 7:01 am

Daniel writes:

Real-world weapons are much less predictable in their effects than their videogame counterparts, which is why wars are so difficult, and also why anyone making definitive statements about ballistics without a) relevant training as a forensic scientist and b) access to the actual site is probably flapping their gums.

Well, there is gum-flapping and gum-flapping. This seems equivalent to Ph.D. in economics claiming that everything that Daniel writes about economics — you know, all those “definitive statements” he makes all the time — is just gum flapping since he doesn’t have the “relevant training.” I, on the other hand, think that smart people often have interesting and accurate things to say about topics on which they are self-taught.

Recall, also, in Rathergate, that the fraud was discovered, not be someone with the relevant training but by some lawyer on a Free Republic thread, and then pursued by more lawyers at Powerline. Now, just because some smart non-experts discovered fraud in that case does not mean that all such claims of fraud are correct. We all, obviously, gave a lot more credence to the typesetting experts who then wrote on the topic, but the conversation began with the amateurs.

This is a completely unserious charge; the very fact that this ambulance thing is the best piece of evidence the denialists have rather throws into relief the fact that the overall impression given by the media of the Lebanon invasion (that it was completely horrible and Lebanese civilians were the primary victims) is correct.

All war is horrible and civilians always suffer the most. This is news? More to the point, although I don’t consider myself a “denialist,” I did, prior to the war, but X amount of faith into the pronouncements of places like Reuters reporting from places like Lebanon, where X is about the amount of faith I place on places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal — never perfect and sometimes slanted but basically correct on who, what, when and where. I now put X/2 faith in such reports. Haven’t the photoshopping scandals caused you to change your estimates, even slightly?

And, to the extent Daniel wants to better understand the denialists’ thinking, he should rethink his claim that the ambulance issue is the “best evidence” that we have. It isn’t. The best evidence is Qana. It might be useful for him to write on that topic. Oh, wait! He doesn’t have the “relevant training.” Too bad.

208

J Thomas 09.05.06 at 7:33 am

Recall, also, in Rathergate, that the fraud was discovered, not be someone with the relevant training but by some lawyer on a Free Republic thread, and then pursued by more lawyers at Powerline.

Is there some particular reason to think the fraud was discovered by some lawyer on a freeper thread, instead of being discovered by the perp who then gave somebody a tip?

The guy who did the fraud in the first place would have completely wasted it if nobody found out, after all. Unless he was only in it for the money Rather paid him; doesn’t that seem unlikely?

209

J Thomas 09.05.06 at 7:50 am

And, to the extent Daniel wants to better understand the denialists’ thinking, he should rethink his claim that the ambulance issue is the “best evidence” that we have. It isn’t. The best evidence is Qana.

Have you ever had any faith whatsoever in the images they show on TV news? If so, why?

Have you ever seen those guys operate? My first year in grad school the TV guys came in to do an interview with my major professor. Everybody in the department was all excited about it. They asked him for a day to do the shooting. So they did the interview, and then they weren’t quite satisfied and they did it again. And again. They gave him a teleprompter to follow after the exact wording was set. They recorded the whole thing 17 times. Then when they showed it, they showed less than a minute of it in 3 segments of about 20 seconds each. He looked tired. He was sweating. He stumbled some of his words. He kept looking a little to the side like he was trying to think of something to say. He didn’t sound convincing at all, he sounded like somebody who was just mouthing lines. They kept shooting until they got just exactly the effect they wanted and then they used that. He’d have done better to give them one interview and taken pot luck with the results.

*Of course* everything you see on TV news is staged. Guess what happens when you point a camera at things that aren’t staged. They look like CSPAN only worse.

You’d do better to just listen to the words. Or better yet, turn off that TV.

210

Jack 09.05.06 at 9:31 am

David,
what is your opinion of the credibility of Zombietime now?

211

David Kane 09.05.06 at 10:29 am

I think that Zombietime raises a host of interesting issues. Many parts are unpersuasive (i.e., rust) but the central claim — that a missle/rocket did not go through the roof of ambulance 782 and explode — seems, on a preponderance of the evidence, correct. But, in the “nuttershere,” as Daniel kindly calls it, there is a hesitancy and a desire for more information.

I find the fact that the ICRC is now hiding pictures to be pretty damning. Now, they may just be getting bad advice, they may just want to avoid the “controversy”. But they would be much better off — assuming their accounts are true — to just publish a million photos and videos of the ambulance(s) for all to see. In the end, the evidence will out.

212

Daniel 09.05.06 at 10:48 am

But, in the “nuttershere,” as Daniel kindly calls it, there is a hesitancy and a desire for more information.

Yes, “Hesitancy and a desire for information”, that’s certainly what I think when I see “Little Green Footballs”. Gosh they’re hesitant. And that Tim Blair, what a hesitant bloke. Powerline – they practically define hesitancy. If only Alexander Downer could have been as hesitant and cautious in his claims as right wing blogs.

The ICRC “hiding” pictures? How would the ICRC go about “hiding” pictures? Are these the Reuters photos which are no longer on the ICRC website?

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Kevin Donoghue 09.05.06 at 10:54 am

“According to Lebanese Red Cross reports, two of its ambulances were struck by munitions….”

Has the ICRC, as distinct from actual witnesses, made any controversial claim at all?

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Kevin Donoghue 09.05.06 at 11:17 am

David Kane,

Since you commend Dan Riehl for his caution, you might like to consider what he says about the removal of the photo from the ICRC website:

They rotate images there all the time. The fact is it was down weeks ago. Haven’t you noticed that other images have changed, as well? Because they have. I have a copy of the 4mb image, as do plenty of others because “they’d” made it available. Listen, I am no friend of the ICRC given that they admit to helping enemy combatants the second they lay down their guns after being hurt. And I would support a boycoot on donations to the ICRC until that practice is stoppped. But I am not going to see a consipracy when a website graphioc is rotated without somehting else to hang my hat upon.

Needless to say, his buddies in the nuttersphere aren’t following him down that road, although I’m sure the “boycoot” meets with their approval.

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Jack 09.05.06 at 11:43 am

So David, the “fact” that the ICRC is “hiding” one version of a not at all important photo is “pretty damning” but you are not at all perturbed by Zombietime passing off a mash-up as actual UK broadcast footage?

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abb1 09.05.06 at 11:49 am

…they admit to helping enemy combatants…

Huh? Whose enemy? Sounds stupid.

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Dan Simon 09.05.06 at 12:21 pm

#204: You will note that my original post linked to a story which contained a quotation from the IDF press office. Your CNN story quotes the office of Ehud Olmert.

The previous news item I linked to specifically mentioned an IDF statement of regret. The CNN link was provided in order to refute your claim that the IDF, presumably despite its statement of regret, “thought the shell was not one of theirs and said so.” Or are you now claiming that the prime minister was ill-informed or mendacious regarding the IDF’s official position?

I guess it’s no wonder you’d enthusiastically defend the journalists who based their ambulance attack story on transparent falsehoods, then shifted and dodged as the falsehoods were exposed, insisting all the while that their original story “stands the test”….

(Interesting philosophical question: if a blogger makes a false statement, a commenter patiently presents the evidence for its falsity, and the blogger simply ignores the evidence and repeats the false statement over and over again, then which one is the true troll?)

218

engels 09.05.06 at 1:01 pm

Riehl’s page has a very large number of caveats and it’s a pity that rightleaning commenters here don’t appear to read him, preferring apparently to get their information from Little Green Footballs.

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dsquared 09.05.06 at 4:08 pm

The previous news item I linked to specifically mentioned an IDF statement of regret.

No it didn’t. It mentioned someone having said that there was an IDF statement of regret, and the same person saying that the IDF did not admit responsibility. Did you think I wasn’t going to check?

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Sebastian Holsclaw 09.05.06 at 4:32 pm

Daniel’s comment:

The IDF has no such policy and as I mentioned above, did not make such a statement with respect to the Gaza beach blast; they thought the shell was not one of theirs and said so.

From Simon’s CNN link:

“Over the weekend, serious events occurred in the Gaza Strip area. As a result of an incident which has yet to be fully inquired into, seven members of one family were killed on the Gaza beach.

“We have expressed our deep regret over the death of seven innocent civilians, we truly regret this. Defense Minister Amir Peretz has instructed that an inquiry be held into the exact circumstances of the event. Of course, the exact details and the conclusions of the inquiry will be made public.”

From Daniel’s BBC link

An Israeli army spokesman said Chief of Staff Dan Halutz had ordered an immediate stop to all artillery shelling of Gaza while an investigation was carried out into the beach shelling.

The spokesman told the BBC initial findings suggested the shell which killed the people could not have been fired from an Israeli naval vessel or from the air.

He said the army was investigating the possibility that it may have been fired by ground-based artillery.

It appears to me that in the Gaza incident Israel initially stated that they regreted the loss of human life, were certain that it wasn’t a naval shell and were investigating further. This isn’t the type of denial that Simon seems to think, but it does suggest that Israel pre-emptively takes more responsibility than they take after further investigation. (In this particular incident they found that they weren’t responsible, though HRW disagreed). This suggests to me that daniel’s use and constant reliance on the inital and uninvestigated Israeli statement is rather weak.

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Ray 09.05.06 at 4:49 pm

(I thought I posted this earlier, but apparently not…)
Dan Simon – This sort of distinction between local, limited letting off of steam and actual challenges to the regime is extremely common in non-democratic societies.

I’m curious – what is the model non-democratic society which southern Lebanon is so similar to? It must be a non-democratic society where one group completely controls what foreign journalists see and are allowed report, but that group is only a minority party in the government, and has no control over what other parties organise, or what those other parties say about it, or what candidates run for election. Because this doesn’t sound like one of the more famous non-democratic societies.
I’m also wondering – if there’s an “endemic lack of understanding in the West of how these societies work”, what makes you so different? Do you have much direct experience of non-democratic societies? (down, abb1!)

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Dan Simon 09.05.06 at 6:37 pm

It mentioned someone having said that there was an IDF statement of regret, and the same person saying that the IDF did not admit responsibility.

That “someone”, in case you’re wondering, is IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz. And you’re absolutely right–they did not admit responsibility when they issued the statement of regret. To quote the article,

Halutz said that, while the IDF expressed regret immediately following the incident, it did not mean to take upon itself responsibility for the explosion.

And, as the Olmert statement makes clear, neither did they deny responsibility immediately following the incident. Rather, they spent some time investigating the possibility that they caused the deaths, before ultimately denying responsibility.

This is exactly what I’ve been trying to get through to you the entire time: the IDF’s boilerplate expressions of regret following reported incidents neither admit nor deny responsibility for them. They typically simply announce that the IDF is “investigating”.

We can thus infer that the IDF’s statement of regret following the Lebanese ambulance incident likewise neither admitted nor denied responsibility. The reporters covering the incident should have known that, even if you didn’t. And even you should know that now, after my umpteenth reiteration of this simple explanation.

Did you think I wasn’t going to check?

Well, let’s put it this way: I assumed that if you were going to check, you’d have the basic comprehension skills to understand what you were reading, the basic cognitive skills to figure out that they proved you wrong, and the decency at least to give up, if not to concede error. Don’t worry–I know better now.

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Dan Simon 09.05.06 at 6:50 pm

I’m curious – what is the model non-democratic society which southern Lebanon is so similar to? It must be a non-democratic society where one group completely controls what foreign journalists see and are allowed report, but that group is only a minority party in the government, and has no control over what other parties organise, or what those other parties say about it, or what candidates run for election.

Yes, it’s a fairly unusual arrangement–it’s called a “state-within-a-state”. In Lebanon as a whole, Hezbollah is a minority party with influence but no absolute control. In its “home” region, however, it has absolute political and journalistic control, and won all 23 of the region’s seats in the last election–six of them without any opposition at all.

Do you have much direct experience of non-democratic societies?

No, but members of my family have extensive experience with them. I hypothesize that people for whom even such indirect experience is lacking have more difficulty understanding how such societies work.

224

Ray 09.06.06 at 3:21 am

Tyre is in southern Lebanon, and Tyre is where Amal swept the council elections, running a campaign critical of Hezbollah. So how does “absolute political and journalistic control” equal losing council elections to parties that criticise you? What non-democratic state is southern Lebanon like?

225

dsquared 09.06.06 at 3:24 am

IDF’s boilerplate expressions of regret

Dan, “this was an area in which we were being fired at” is not an “expression of regret”. It’s an attempt at exculpation.

226

dsquared 09.06.06 at 3:35 am

and “vehicles were hit”, despite its use of the passive voice, is in fact, an admission that the IDF was shooting.

227

J Thomas 09.06.06 at 10:11 am

Still, how many ambulances have been claimed to be shot at? Is it only two? Have there been other ambulances that disappeared, presumed destroyed? If it’s just two ambulances and they weren’t carrying anybody important, it was probably a mistake. We don’t want to cut anybody slack to do that, it’s a serious single incident, but still they probably didn’t mean to except for the particular guys who did it, and maybe their supervisor.

The cluster bombs were policy. They were american cluster bombs, it was US policy to give those bombs to israel. Why are we devoting so much attention to two ambulances and so little to cluster bombs?

Is it because this one is at least debatable? While there’s no arguing in favor of the cluster bomb policy.

228

Dan Simon 09.06.06 at 1:07 pm

Dan, “this was an area in which we were being fired at” is not an “expression of regret”. It’s an attempt at exculpation.

and “vehicles were hit”, despite its use of the passive voice, is in fact, an admission that the IDF was shooting.

(Sighs heavily)

From The Age’s defense of their ambulance story:

An Israeli army spokesman told The Age yesterday that the army had not yet established what happened and the incident was under investigation.

“We were in a war,” the spokesman said. “It takes time to find out exactly what happened and whose fault it was and why. We are not saying it was an accident or that we take responsibility. We only say that the incident in question occurred in an area used to fire hundreds of rockets into Israel … The army warned the population in the area to stay clear of rocket launching sites because we intended to operate there against activity by Hezbollah terrorists.”

Look, Daniel, I understand that you don’t follow Middle Eastern news as closely as some of us, so you probably don’t see phrases like “an IDF spokesperson expressed ‘regret’ for the civilian deaths, and said that it was investigating the incident”, often enough to recognize it as boilerplate. Still, after being proven completely wrong about the IDF’s reaction to the Gaza beach incident, I’d have hoped (naively, perhaps) for a little less confidence from you in interpreting the IDF’s response to the Lebanese ambulance incident.

Here’s another example: despite initial doubts (which I believe were later resolved), the IDF immediately expressed regret for the civilian casualties caused by the building collapse in Qana.

Note two other features of the IDF’s reaction in this case:

(1) The IDF and the civilian government were completely in sync in their public statements, as in the case of the Gaza beach incident. Your harping on the distinction was a red herring.

(2) Despite the IDF’s publicly stated uncertainty about Israeli responsibility for the specific event, it nevertheless justified its attacks in the area, in case it turned out to have been responsible after all–just as it did in the case of the Lebanese ambulance incident.

I could probably find you another dozen examples of the same pattern, but I’ve already wasted far too much time trying to drag you, kicking and screaming, towards basic factual accuracy. I suggest you do a little investigating of your own–as you should have done before you posted this nonsense in the first place.

229

abb1 09.06.06 at 1:23 pm

Dan,
I don’t see a slightest sign of regret in “The incident in which vehicles were hit last night occurred in an area known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles,” and it sounds exactly like an admission, no matter what they said later.

Btw, it’s been, what – about 2 weeks now? How’s investigation going?

230

dsquared 09.06.06 at 2:03 pm

An Israeli army spokesman told The Age yesterday (in a story dated 2 September)

So the claim is now that the ICRC and the news media in August should have foreseen that there would be another statement along in a couple of weeks’ time? Also note that:

We are not saying it was an accident or that we take responsibility.

The referent of “it” here can only be “the ambulance having been hit by a missile”, which is the event that was reported.

In related news, you have not “proved me wrong on the Gaza beach incident”, and the IDF and civilian government stories differed in the crucial regard that the IDF one said that they did not believe they had shelled the Gaza beach at that time.

Here’s another example: despite initial doubts (which I believe were later resolved), the IDF immediately expressed regret for the civilian casualties caused by the building collapse in Qana.

The “initial doubts” here were expressed by wingnut websites (and the Volokh Conspiracy IIRC; but here I repeat myself) and they were “resolved” by everyone saying “don’t be a fucking idiot, of course the IDF bombed it, they’ve admitted they bombed it, stop blethering on about this stupid conspiracy theory that Hezbollah faked the whole thing”. As far as I can see, this supports my case, not yours.

231

lmao 09.06.06 at 2:41 pm

[dog training still needed I see, happy to help out. cb]

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Dan Simon 09.06.06 at 3:50 pm

So the claim is now that the ICRC and the news media in August should have foreseen that there would be another statement along in a couple of weeks’ time?

Of course not–only that the initial statement was boilerplate, and didn’t imply a confession of responsibility.

The referent of “it” here can only be “the ambulance having been hit by a missile”, which is the event that was reported.

The referent is clearly “what happened”, which they make clear is unclear to them and “under investigation”. And they explicitly refuse to accept responsibility for it. Can’t you frickin’ read?

the IDF and civilian government stories differed in the crucial regard that the IDF one said that they did not believe they had shelled the Gaza beach at that time.

No, the IDF didn’t say anything of the kind at the time of the initial statement of regret. They later denied responsibility, following an investigation, adding that their initial expression of regret did not mean to imply an admission of guilt. However, they never said anything in or about their initial statement of regret that in any way suggested the slightest difference between it and the civilian government’s version. Can’t you frickin’ read?

The “initial doubts” here were expressed by wingnut websites

….And by the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Air Force. Can’t you frickin’ read?

(Yes, the investigation eventually pointed to an IDF strike. Regardless, the IDF expressed regret–without admitting or denying responsibility–immediately following reports of the event, and while the head of the Israeli Air Force was still expressing skepticism about their own involvement. The statement of regret included an explanation of why the IDF was firing in the general area–even though the IDF wasn’t yet certain that it was even responsible. Does this pattern sound just a tiny bit familiar to you?)

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abb1 09.06.06 at 4:38 pm

Dan, are you saying that the statement “The incident in which vehicles were hit last night occurred in an area known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles,” was just an observation?

Like this: “oh, you know, that general area where two ambulances were hit last night – it’s known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles! What a coincidence; weird, uh?”

Is that it?

234

Kevin Donoghue 09.06.06 at 4:58 pm

C’mon folks, basically the dialogue goes something like this:

Reporter: The Red Cross says two ambulances got hit near Qana. What can you tell us?

IDF: Lots of missiles were being launched from that area.

Now, clearly the IDF is not confirming that they hit the ambulances. The reporter wouldn’t expect that. They are confirming that the story is plausible, because the IDF was striking targets in the area at the time. Since the Lebanese witnesses are pretty credible, the story goes to print.

Dan Simon,

…I’ve already wasted far too much time….

You surely have. In the hope that you will waste less time in future, please note that when somebody says:

Statement A is not of type R

you do not advance the discussion by replying:

Statements of type R are very commonly made by party I.

I understand that you don’t follow arguments as closely as some of us, so you probably don’t see very clearly when your proposed response is completely beside the point. The trick is to read what the other guy has written and work out where the difference of opinion lies. Once you have done that you will often find that you can respond quite briefly and waste less time – your own and the reader’s.

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Kevin Donoghue 09.06.06 at 5:12 pm

Also, Dan, it might move things along if, instead of posting stage directions like “sighs heavily”, you would simply say whether you agree with this statement of dsquared’s: “vehicles were hit”, despite its use of the passive voice, is in fact, an admission that the IDF was shooting [at vehicles].

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Dan Simon 09.06.06 at 7:18 pm

please note that when somebody says:

Statement A is not of type R

you do not advance the discussion by replying:

Statements of type R are very commonly made by party I.

On the other hand, if someone says:

Statement A by party I has properties S and T, and is therefore not of type R

Then a response like:

Statements with properties S and T are very commonly made by party I, and in every other case is demonstrably of type R

should at least give “somebody” a hint that maybe their reasoning is ever-so-slightly flawed.

I understand that you don’t follow arguments as closely as some of us, so you probably don’t see very clearly when your proposed response is completely beside the point.

Exactly the same to you, only even more rudely and condescendingly.

237

Dan Simon 09.06.06 at 7:49 pm

Also, Dan, it might move things along if, instead of posting stage directions like “sighs heavily”, you would simply say whether you agree with this statement of dsquared’s: “vehicles were hit”, despite its use of the passive voice, is in fact, an admission that the IDF was shooting [at vehicles].

No, it isn’t any such admission at all–let alone an admission that it was shooting at those particular vehicles. It’s simply a recognition that according to reports coming out of Lebanon, “vehicles were hit”.

In the Gaza beach incident, in which it was recognized immediately that civilians were killed, it was later concluded that the civilians were killed by Palestinian munitions (probably a mine). In the Qana case, in which it was again immediately recognized that a building had collapsed, killing civilians, “senior IAF officers” speculated that “the explosion could have been caused by an unexploded missile or by a Hizbullah-planted explosive device.”

Of course, we don’t have to rely on this pattern to infer that the IDF did not mean to admit responsibility for hitting the ambulances, because the IDF has explicitly made it clear that they didn’t.

Can’t you frickin’ read?

238

David Kane 09.06.06 at 9:51 pm

For those still interested, Zombietime has updated his post with further arguments.

239

J Thomas 09.06.06 at 10:17 pm

I don’t understand why this stupid argument is continuing.

I understand why it’s reasonable for zionists to continue it. While people are distracted by stupid claims about how maybe the israelis didn’t attack two ambulances after all, those people are not considering evidence about significant israeli war crimes. OK, that makes sense. But why are the supposedly rational people falling for it?

Just suppose that the israeli report comes out and it says that yes, a couple of israeli drones did it, they are going to court-martial the three technicians responsible, it was against orders and such things have always been against orders. And imagine that after that happens the israel-apologists here say “OK, yes, it really was an israeli strike that did it, we see the truth now.” What’s the big deal? Every now and then soldiers disobey orders and mess things up. It happens. It’s not a great thing that it happened to israel once, but how could it possibly be worth the amount of attention it’s gotten?

The blockade of all of lebanon was official israeli policy. The cluster bombs were official israeli policy. The *invasion* was official israeli policy. How did you let these idiots sucker you into a 6 day PU239 discussion — 239 comments and counting — about two ambulances?

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Dan Simon 09.06.06 at 11:07 pm

How did you let these idiots sucker you into a 6 day PU239 discussion—239 comments and counting—about two ambulances?

The issue here isn’t Israel or Hezbollah, it’s the press. Frankly, I have no idea why so many people in the US and Europe care in the slightest about what’s basically a tiny little regional conflict that’s dwarfed by probably dozens around the world. But I also have no idea why so few people care that they have to rely for information on the kind of lazy, propaganda-parroting pack journalism represented by this story.

241

J Thomas 09.06.06 at 11:35 pm

Dan, have you had a direct experience with the press where they got things right?

In this particular example it was wartime. The israeli government hasn’t been able to get the details of the story right in 6 weeks, why would you expect the press to get all the details right quickly?

They took reports from people who were there, and the people who were there didn’t know all that much about what was going on. It tends to go that way when you’re getting shot at.

So anyway, you want to complain about the press, how about all those stories about the WMDs in iraq before the war. A lot of the press uncritically took that lying disinformation without a second thought. The NYT pushed it like a dealer giving out free methedrine samples.

And look at the consequences. The media got some details wrong about a minor israeli war crime. Net effect — a bunch of wingnuts invent a giant conspiracy theory and get in a tizzy over it.

The media backs administration lies about iraqi WMDs. We wind up in a tarpit of a war.

Which is worse?

242

Dan Simon 09.07.06 at 12:45 am

Dan, have you had a direct experience with the press where they got things right?

In every detail? Certainly not. Overall? Very occasionally, but it happens–and is therefore possible. It would happen a lot more, of course, if journalism’s consumers held the product to higher standards than they do.

In this particular example it was wartime. The israeli government hasn’t been able to get the details of the story right in 6 weeks, why would you expect the press to get all the details right quickly?

They obviously can’t have been expected to “get all the details right quickly”. They can, however, be expected not to pass on as their own on-the-scene reporting an obviously bogus story handed to them by Hezbollah flacks. (Or by Israeli flacks, for that matter–although I certainly haven’t seen them do that very often.)

Which is worse?

It’s not clear that the WMD fiasco should be described as a failure of journalism. One can certainly fault the NYT’s coverage for becoming overly enamored of its not-entirely-trustworthy sources–an endemic and important journalistic sin, to be sure, and one people should definitely worry about. (One could in fact argue that the Lebanese ambulance story is a variation on that theme.) But had the coverage been better, it’s hard to see how it could have presented a more accurate picture–after all, pretty much all of Western intelligence had reached a consensus that Iraq had WMD to some degree, and it’s not clear to me how journalism could have improved on that mistaken perception.

In the Lebanese ambulance case, on the other hand, it’s obvious that some basic competent journalism would have resulted in a much more accurate, trustworthy story.

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