NATO in Libya vs. Israel in Gaza: a study in bias and hypocrisy

Arab League condemns NATO bombing

Arab League condemns bombing of "civilians"

A minor article in the Guardian caught my eye today and almost made me laugh for its faux naivete.  Yet despite its minimal size, the article is extremely illuminating as to how bias against Israel works in the international media.

We start with the title. “NATO accuses Gaddafi of using mosques and children’s parks as shields“.  What?! You don’t say! You mean Muslim terrorists use civilians and civilian infrastructure as human shields? I can’t believe it!

Of course you realize I am being ironic here. I can certainly believe it, and so can every Israeli and other right-thinking citizen.  The only trouble is, when Israel accuses its own enemies of these exact crimes Israel’s complaints are either ignored or waved away in contempt while Israel itself is accused of targeting those same human-shield citizens.

Let us compare this article with similar events that happened during Operation Cast Lead of 2009:

Nato has accused Muammar Gaddafi of using mosques and children’s parks as shields after the Libyan leader taunted the alliance in an address broadcast to protesters in Tripoli.


Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu dismissed Gaddafi’s speech as propaganda, and countered claims from Libya’s prime minister on Friday that the alliance was deliberately targeting civilian buildings. “We are saving countless lives every day across the country,” she said. “We are conducting operations with utmost care and precision to avoid civilian casualties. Civilian casualties figures mentioned by the Libyan regime are pure propaganda.”

The comparison to Israel’s actions in Gaza and the international reaction is overwhelming.  Israel was accused by Richard Goldstone in his infamous report of deliberately targeting civilians. The numbers of civilian casualties provided by the Palestinians was accepted wholesale without the slightest blink of suspicion.  When Israel protested its innocence it was judged, convicted and condemned in the court of international opinion – and almost in the real International Criminal Court, without being given the slightest benefit of the doubt.

Officials on Saturday took journalists to visit a university building that the government claims was hit by a Nato air strike. Students and staff told reporters that an explosion that tore a hole in a three-story building housing classrooms and offices happened sometime on Friday, though accounts differed on the timing. No one was reported injured or killed.

One English-speaking student interviewed by the Associated Press was told what to say in Arabic by a plainclothes government official standing nearby.

Once again the similarities between this attack and the attacks of which Israel was accused, of deliberately targeting mosques and hospitals, are clearly evident. Also the student being prompted what to say can be compared to the various “civilians” who were always conveniently at hand to wail in perfect English and wring their hands in dismay at Israel’s “war crimes”. And all this was swallowed up whole by the same media that is now reporting in outrage on Ghaddafi’s treachery.

Libya’s health ministry released new casualty figures that put the number of civilians killed in Nato air strikes up until 7 June at 856. There was no way to independently verify the figure and previous government-announced tolls from individual strikes have proven to be exaggerated.

Too true, and as we Israelis well know, the Arabs have no compunction in inflating figures when it suits them, and shrinking those same figures when it suits them.

If this war were not so serious and it was not NATO that was involved, I would be dancing in delight and schadenfreude at their discomfiture. As I am a seasoned cynic, I very much doubt the media and international community will draw any practical lessons from Ghaddafi’s outrageous actions, and their condemnations of Israel will continue as usual.

But just remember, you international reporters and politicians: What goes around comes around.  You too might well find yourselves dragged to the ICC in the Hague.

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2 Responses to NATO in Libya vs. Israel in Gaza: a study in bias and hypocrisy

  1. reality says:

    can anyone (like us) instigate a war crimes trial? Can we say that if the Nato officers come here they’ll be jailed here until trial for war crimes? Why are we so slow to react? why hasn’t anyone apart from You written in about this?

    • anneinpt says:

      I’m not sure if Israel can instigate a war crimes trial. Certainly we’d want to step very carefully so as not to create a precedent and end up shooting ourselves in the foot, with Israel being dragged to the courts too.

      As for who has written about this, I’m not the only one (but thanks for the compliment!). Robin Shepherd in The Commentator wrote about it (after me, I think) and also Honest Reporting – in more depth than my article. I only covered the Guardian’s reaction, the others covered all the media. But I’m proud to be in such illustrious company. 🙂

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