Friday, January 9, 2009

More Junk Journalism

Here's how the Sydney Morning Herald's Middle East correspondent, Jason Koutsoukis, kicked off his front page article Israel attacked on two fronts: rockets from Lebanon (9/1/09): "Israeli fears of a war on two fronts intensified yesterday after Palestinian militants in southern Lebanon backed by the radical Islamic Hezbollah movement launched a missile attack on Israel that wounded two people. Up to 5 Katyusha rockets struck northern Israel... An official military source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Herald that between 3 and 5 rockets had landed in Israel."

That's right, it's categorical: Hezbollah-backed Palestinian militants in Lebanon are opening up a second front against poor, peaceful Israel. No doubt about it, according to our Jason. Still, why is his Israeli source so coy? Smell a rat? Read on to the bitter end and this is what you'll find:

"The military source refused to comment on who might have been responsible for the rocket attacks. Although southern Lebanon is controlled by Hezbollah, there are several large Palestinian refugee camps in the area that are home to a number of militant Palestinian groups. 'The area where the rockets were fired from appears to be close to a Palestinian refugee camp', the source said. Even if yesterday's rocket attacks were by Palestinian militants, it is unlikely they were launched without the tacit approval of Hezbollah."

That note of certainty in the first paragraph has gone. Could've been anyone - even Israeli agents in Lebanon*, right? No, not as far as our Jason's concerned, because deep throat - "the source" - reckons "the area where the rockets were fired from appears to be close to a Palestinian refugee camp." Oh? According to Lebanon's The Daily Star, the rockets came from the village of Tair Harfa, more than 10 km south of the southernmost Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, Rashidieh. But Hezbollah gave the culprits the thumbs up, didn't it? Well, no: "Hezbollah was thought not to be behind the attack, and assured other members of the [Lebanese] government that it is still committed to Security Council Resolution 1701." (Tensions rise as rockets hit Israel from South Lebanon, Andrew Wander & Mohammed Zaatari, 9/1/09)

[*See Mike Whitney's Israel's Dress Rehearsal for Lebanon,, 8/1/09]

Koutsoukis even manage to make Murdoch fishwrapper look better: "... sources suggested the 3 Katyushas [3!] might have been fired by militants in support of Hamas..." (Lebanese rockets fire on Israel, John Lyons, The Australian, 9/1/09)

Of Koutsoukis' reporting, Tzvi Fleischer of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has written: "Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis remains a huge improvement over his predecessor Ed O'Loughlin, with most of his repoting reasonable." (Surprised for the better? The Australian Jewish News, 9/1/09) Enough said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you. When I read that headline in the SMH I could not bring myself to read the rest of the article.

However, reading through the letters page I was amazed to see published a letter from Gordon Drennan reading :
"I applaud Sara Dowse for being able and willing to publicly put being a human being above being a jew."

Considering how many letters they must receive condemning Israel that they do not publish, why publish this one? Any ideas?