Libya Coverage Exposes Media Double Standards

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With the turmoil and upheaval in the Middle East, it is always interesting to examine how the media is covering events compared with coverage of Israel. Particularly in a situation where Western nations are involved in a military campaign, as in the case of Libya, it can be enlightening to contrast how the coverage stands up to comparable situations that Israel has found itself in.

A few deliberate changes to this original Associated Press article that cites a NATO spokesperson talking about Libyan human shields, illustrates the point:

“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 casualty figures mentioned by the Libyan regime Hamas regime are pure propaganda.”

government forces Hamas terrorists “have been shelling cities, mining ports and using mosques and children’s parks as shields.”

Lungescu’s The IDF Spokesman’s comments also counter allegations from Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who accused NATO the IDF on Friday of a “new level of aggression” and said the military alliance has intentionally targeted civilian buildings in recent days, including a hotel and a university.

“It has become clear to us that NATO the IDF has moved on to deliberately hitting civilian buildings. … This is a crime against humanity,” he told reporters in the capital.

Sound familiar? Replace references to NATO and Libya in the story with the IDF and Hamas and the story bears remarkable similarity to that of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

But here’s where the similarity ends. During Operation Cast Lead and the fallout from the Goldstone Report, Israel also made it clear that Hamas was hiding behind the civilian population, while the world media parroted accusations that the IDF was deliberately targeting civilians and carrying out “war crimes”.

Why is it that the media is prepared to accept the concept that an enemy could be so cynical as to store weapons in a house of worship or fire missiles from the vicinity of a school when that enemy is the Libyan regime but not when Hamas is accused of the very same thing by Israel?

Why does the media rightly question the veracity of Colonel Gadaffi’s claims over casualty figures yet have  have little problem publishing casualty figures provided by Hamas terrorists?

NATO acknowledged Saturday that its aircraft had mistakenly hit a column of rebel military vehicles last week near the Libyan oil port of Brega, and early Sunday morning the Qaddafi government showed reporters a destroyed cinder-block house that neighbors and the government said was hit by an errant NATO airstrike in the capital. …

It was the first time in three months of airstrikes that the Qaddafi government has presented credible evidence of what appeared to be direct civilian casualties of NATO attacks. Although the government has often claimed large numbers of civilian deaths, it has never previously presented bodies or consistent facts about the dead.

The destroyed building was far from any obvious military facility, in the Souq al Juma area, which is known for its hostility to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and some neighbors who said they opposed him nonetheless confirmed the government’s account of an airstrike. Still, journalists visiting the site found no pieces of a bomb. NATO could not be reached for comment, and it was impossible to rule out another explanation.

So reads a report from the New York Times. In the fog of war, it is unclear the exact circumstances behind the incidents mentioned above. Clearly though, there is a level of acceptance that even the most sophisticated militaries can make mistakes and that enemies can engage in deliberately misleading propaganda.

As Sky News reports:

It could not be immediately verified whether the three bodies had come from the destroyed building in the Arada district.

Arada is a neighbourhood in the Souq al-Juma district, which is known for anti-Gaddafi sentiment.

One man told reporters at the scene that anti-aircraft guns were located nearby, fuelling suspicions that the strike may have been aimed close to the actual impact zone.

Two weeks ago, Libyan government officials were accused by a staff member at the same hospital in a note passed to journalists of falsely labelling a child hurt in a car crash as the victim of a Nato attack.

Yet, nobody (other than the Libyan regime) is accusing NATO of deliberately targeting civilians or calling for a Goldstone-style inquiry. Likewise, NATO suffered similar errors in Afghanistan with regard to “collateral damage”.

So why the double standards?

Libya isn’t the only example. Take a look at the media’s treatment of Israel when Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin was killed compared with the US killing of Osama bin Laden. (Courtesy of The Israel Project)

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