Question to Time Magazine: Who Are Hezbollah’s Intended Targets?

[T]he most remarkable element of the Time report is that one could read the magazine cover to cover and never know that any Israelis had been killed and injured in their homes, in the street, in a train depot, by Hezbollah missiles, as Bradley Burston of Haaretz commented about a July 31 Time Magazine photo essay.

Maybe Burston’s criticism came across the desk of Time editors. Or maybe not. But either way, two weeks later, the Aug. 14 issue does carry a half-page photo of an injured Israeli, a child.
The caption reads:

Noa Tamam clings to her mother Tzvia in an emergency room in Nahariya on Aug. 3. Both were wounded by a Hizballah missile that killed two family members, including Noa’s father. The ER was moved to the basement to guard against rockets, one of which hit the hospital on July 28.

So, Burston and other media observers might now be satisfied, knowing that a modicum of balance has been introduced into the Lebanon war coverage, right?

Wrong. The photo, paired with a full-page facing page image of a Lebanese child in a body bag, appears under the headline “Unintended Targets: Fighting between Israel and Hizballah takes its toll on the most vulnerable.” Israeli children are unintended targets? Nasrallah doesn’t really mean to hit them? Indeed, the notoriously imprecise katyusha rockets are launched indiscriminately at northern Israel precisely because all Israelis–children included–are fair game for Hezbollah. Far from being an “unintended target” Noa and her parents represent a direct hit for Nasrallah.

In contrast, Lebanese children truly are unintended targets of Israel who are all too often caught in the fray because Hezbollah has embedded itself in the civilian population. To draw any comparison between Israeli children killed by Hezbollah rocket attacks which directly target civilians and Lebanese children killed in Israeli strikes against Hezbollah positions is a false moral equivalency which blurs reality.

Facts Take a Back Seat

Time’s unfortunate headline brings to mind a July 27 Op-Ed in the International Herald Tribune by Bernard Haykel, an associate professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University (“Al Qaeda takes a back seat”). He wrote:

Nasrallah is extremely careful to hew closely to the dictates of Islamic law in his military attacks. These include such principles as advance notice, discrimination in selecting targets and proportionality.

The claim that Nasrallah exercises “discrimination in selecting targets” is utter nonsense. The July 30 International Herald Tribune article by Steven Erlanger, “In Israel, rockets strike targets of all faiths,” underscores that fact. As Maalot-Tarshiha Mayor Shlomo Bohbot is quoted as saying: “The Katyushas are like Russian roulette. They don’t discriminate.” No one knows that better than the Abbas family, Muslims of M’ghar, who lost their daughter to Hezbollah’s rockets in the week before Haykel’s Op-Ed. Likewise, the Taluzis, an Arab family from Nazareth, know that Nasrallah was clearly not discriminating when a rocket killed their sons, Rabia, 7, and Mahmoud, 3, on July 20 (IHT, “A town’s quiet grief mirrors conflict,” July 20). More recently, Nasrallah called on Israeli Arabs to leave Haifa so that they will not be harmed in future attacks on the city—and indication that he regards Israeli Arabs at least as “unintended targets.” As for the rest of the population, children included, they apparently are his “intended targets.”

And what about the claim that Nasrallah has “hew[ed] closely” to the dictate to provide advance notice? While Hezbollah has threatened Haifa and beyond with rockets, in no way has he provided actual advance notice to the residents of Akko, Nahariya, Piki’in, Haifa, Carmiel, Tsfat, etc., about the 1500 rockets he launched their way. The only advance notice they received was the Israeli siren warning system, which gives about a half a minute notice. (Perhaps Haykel has Nasrallah confused with Israeli forces, which have leafleted villages in southern Lebanon warning of impending bombing raids?) (Haykel’s Op-Ed predates Nasrallah’s call to Haifa’s Arab citizens; thus it cannot even be argued that he gave his Arab brethren advance notice.)

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