The St. Petersburg Times
has a column today describing the differences between war coverage on Western and Arab TV. While the differences are striking, moreso is this paragraph tucked down in the middle:
"At the start of the war, I used to watch Fox News every day and I'd get frustrated and angry," said Iyad Kayyali, a Jordanian factory owner who attended college in Texas. "They give just one side of the story and are very prejudiced. It's like they are supporting the Jewish people and all Arabs are terrorists."
Here, in a nutshell, is everything that's wrong with the liberal way of looking at the Middle East. This is a middle-to-upper-class Jordanian (not prey to despair or hopelessness), educated in the United States (where he had ample opportunity to learn about us and from us) who still thinks this war is about Jews. I watched Fox News for the first 48 hours or so nonstop, and while they had a corspondent in Tel Aviv, they went to her a couple of times a day, mostly to see if any Scud-enhanced gassings had taken place. That's it. I don't even think the word "Jews" crossed the lips of any anchor or reporter that I can remember.
The most that can be said about Fox News is that they're rooting for US to win. Well, why not? In fact, the question should be why the Texas-educated Mr. Kayyali isn't rooting for us to win. I realize that once you've been to what Harlem was it's hard to go home to what Harlem is. But you don't make things better for yourself by lionizing the street thugs and alienating the one neighbor who has something to offer you besides blood, toil, sweat, and tears.
Of course, Mrs. Martin is oblivious to all this. In her eyes, it's perfectly natural that the Arabs, including their television, should root for the Arabs, and that we, well, maybe not her, but we, the unwashed masses, the kind who watch Fox News, should root for the US. (I'm not surprised, by the way, that military analysis by retired Egyptian generals would focus on American losses. Losses by attempted invasion with overwhelming numbers are what they know best. But I'm not surprised they don't mention the 1967 war in connection with the current efficiency of the Iraqi Air Force, batting average 0 of 0.)
There was another article in the Washington Post about Palestinian youth looking at the Iraq War and seeing the West Bank. People killed (by "overanxious troops") at checkpoints, destroyed neighborhoods, suicide bombings. Naturally, they conclude that the Americans are just like the Israelis, without bringing up the obvious corollary that that's because Saddam is a hell of a lot like Arafat's twin brother, only with a better barber. Leaving aside the obvious tendency for one bombed-out building to closely resemble another, they've got a point. But they don't talk about the other ways that the Americans resemble the Israelis - placing their own soldiers at risk to avoid killing civilians, democracy, freedom of religion (even for Muslims).
Look, war stinks, and Palestinian students are as immature and unformed as the Bozos from Berkeley screaming about "Blood for Oil." That's why they repeat the al-Jazeera line about our showing Iraqi POWs etc., etc. But there's a reason that we focus on the big picture, rather than on the civilians. We're trying to focus on the good we intend to do, and the restraint we're showing in doing it. We're trying to appeal to the best in people, hoping to build something valuable ver there. Al-Jazeera is just trying to whip up emotion and is appealing to the worst in people. Which is the surest way to make the Iraqis look a lot more like the Palestinians.