Shortsighted CoverageMay 13, 2007 1:43 by BackSpin Editor
Jerusalem Post columnist Calev Ben-David wonders about the MSM’s disinterest in internal Arab affairs until it’s too late. Ben-David reacts to Syria convictingtwo leading dissidents: lawyer Anwar al-Bunni and Dr. Kamal al-Labwani.
Shortsighted coverage leads to misconceptions ;that put the West — including reporters like Alan Johnston — at risk.
But without knowing what was happening in Lebanon in the months leading up to Hizbullah’s attack-kidnapping across Israel’s border on July 12 – how the Iran-directed Islamic militia was being pressured by the new Beirut government to put its forces under governmental authority – the public would find it difficult to understand why Hassan Nasrallah felt so compelled to create a provocation with Israel.
The international media failed in large part to give the proper background behind the causes for the outbreak of the war because it wasn’t all that interested in reporting on those growing internal tensions in Lebanon.
THAT WAS a mistake – just like it is to ignore the Bunni case, part of a growing crackdown in Syria on any internal opposition to Assad’s despotic regime, a policy in line with its expanding links to Iran’s radical Islamic leadership and its continued shipping of arms across the Lebanese border to Hizbullah. These crucial developments, which could well be major factors in the next regional conflict, get fairly little play in comparison to what are largely meaningless stories about even the most minor efforts to get Syria and Israel back to the negotiating table. And that’s not just because it’s easier for journalists to report from Jerusalem than from Damascus; it’s also because the international media has developed a mind-set that stories about Syria only count for much if somehow they’re directly connected to stories about Israel. [emphasis added]
That’s a major misconception, one the international press should have learned to discard following the 9/11 attacks. Prior to that, the rise of al-Qaida didn’t get nearly the media attention it should have, barely a fraction of what was devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s the same with most internal Arab-Islamic issues until they finally impact directly in some way on Israel or the West; indeed, how much serious reportage of Sunni-Shi’ite divisions was there prior to 9/11 and the subsequent American occupation of Iraq? Journalists often realize the importance of these stories and play catch-up on them only after it’s too late – sometimes even for themselves.
FOR EXAMPLE, ever hear of the Dagmoush clan? They’re a large Palestinian tribal unit, estimated at 15,000 strong, some of whose members are suspected of conducting criminal operations in Gaza for many years now. Media coverage of their activities has been almost nonexistent. Two months ago, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin gave a rare interview to The New York Times about the radicalizing situation in Gaza, noting that “elements of what he called ‘global jihad’ are creating ‘ties’ and ‘connections’ to local Gaza groups, especially to Mumtaz Dagmoush of the powerful Dagmoush clan.”….
Unfortunately, so many other important stories in the region aren’t getting their due attention because of varying degrees of difficulty, disinterest and a disinclination to break from old reporting habits. And it’s only when an Anwar al-Bunni or the Dagmoush clan get the attention they deserve that the public will get a firmer grip on what is really happening in this troubled corner of the world.
Is the MSM giving you the full picture?