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Dead children and bloody shirts

Posted by Richard on August 1, 2006

On July 18th, in The war for public opinion, I noted neo-neocon’s contention that Hezbollah isn’t just indifferent to civilian casualties, it wants them, and I speculated that they might do more than just put civilians at risk (emphasis added):

The Islamofascists will make sure, via their tactics, that even a cautious and measured response results in sufficient collateral damage for their propaganda purposes. Heck, I suspect that if there weren’t enough collateral damage, they’d secretly create it.

It now seems to me that there’s a real question about the civilian deaths at the village of Qana: did Hezbollah merely manipulate the media and exploit an unfortunate event with cheap theatrics, or did they go even further?

Item: We’ve had numerous reports of Hezbollah holding civilians hostage, using them as human shields. The spokesmen from Qana/Hezbollah said the civilians couldn’t leave because the Israelis had destroyed all the roads and bridges. But rescue workers and media crews by the score had no trouble getting to Qana when summoned in the morning.

Item: A remarkable story in Australia’s Sunday Mail, documented with clandestine photos smuggled out of Beirut, shows how Hezbollah fighters operate amidst apartment buildings and homes.

Item: Initial news reports made it sound like the 3-story house was destroyed immediately when hit by an Israeli missile. But it turned out that the building was hit between midnight and 1 AM, and it collapsed around 8 AM. The delay could be explained in several ways. But it’s hard to explain the inconsistent stories of the purported survivors (who said the missile strike and collapse were contemporaneous). It’s even harder to understand why more than 50 people would remain in a severely-damaged building after the attack, apparently just going back to sleep (since rescue workers have told us the children were killed in their sleep).

Item: A pair of remarkable posts (warning: lots of pictures of the dead) by Richard at EU Referendum — Milking it? and Who is this man? — illustrated just how staged, manipulative, and contrived the news photos of the dead children are. People without a smudge on them emerged from the rubble with bodies. The same "rescue worker" posed with the same dead kids in photos taken hours apart, displaying them to the cameras like bowling trophies. Richard even discovered that the same gentleman posed with dead kids in Qana in 1996!

Item: Reuven Koret at israelinsider laid out the case for suspecting a hoax — or at least embellishment of the incident, perhaps by adding bodies killed elsewhere. There’s enough to make you wonder. Riehl World View and Confederate Yankee offered additional thoughts on the possibility of a fraud.

Regardless of what exactly happened at the village of Qana, one thing’s for sure: there is no better commentary on the situation than Gerard Van der Leun’s The Weaponization of Children. Of course, it’s usually the case that there’s no better commentary on anything to which Van der Leun turns his attention. On this subject, he’s understandably somewhat grim:

THE NEW BATTLE FLAG now being waved high over the armies of Allah mustering across the world is not the banner of Muhammad, but a flag almost as ancient as the prophet, the Bloody Shirt. Among the weak in arms and courage and righteousness, the Bloody Shirt is their weapon of mass distraction; their attempt to storm the moral high ground and hold it as they wait for their reinforcements of love, peace, compassion and truce to flow in from the far corners of the world screaming "Stop this barbaric war that slaughters, for God’s sake, innocent women and children!"

The cynical create and present the daily dead baby exhibit. And the fools of the world oblige them with their compassionate echoes sent out with the numbing predictability and regularity of a New York Times editorial or, worse still, a mushy screed from our high-priest of compassion, Jimmy Carter.

Am I marooned forever on John Donne’s continent where "any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in all mankind?" I suppose that, since I am yet of the world, this remains true in some sense. But at the same time I am convinced that while compassion remains within me, the expression of it is currently overwhelmed and what I feel, much more than compassion, is a grinding sense of "compassion fatigue."

I feel this not so much because of the platters of dead babies being served up in Gaza and Lebanon, but rather because I know it for what it is — the cynical attempt by a weak and cowardly cadre of killers to manipulate my compassion gland that is just as base and unrelenting as the attempts of pornographers across the internet to manipulate my lust. …

If you aren’t sure exactly who has the moral high ground in the current struggle in Lebanon, you might reflect that while it is possible to see a grown man on the Lebanese side of the struggle dangle a shredded child by an ankle for the world’s cameras, you don’t ever see that sort of thing at an Israeli funeral, do you?

Needless to say, you should RTWT. For one thing, you’ll learn the origin of the concept of "waving the bloody shirt" — I suspect you’ll be surprised.

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One Response to “Dead children and bloody shirts”

  1. Enlightened said

    I agree with your thoughts about them WANTING dead women and children. I found this article and I find this passage very disturbing. The mother (most likely indoctrinated herself) is clearly coaching her children. And I think this type of indoctrination basically nullifies any emotion they have towards death. It is not a dead child – it is a martyr. There is a huge disconnect there. I can feel the utter lack of humanity – the mother is almost robotically reciting as from a memo or guidebook.

    “Of course, this is hard for all of us,” said Rima, who already has two sons, Hassan, 6, and Mohamed, 3 and is seven months pregnant, her belly swollen under the folds of a black mourning cloak.

    “Come here, Hassan; come, Mohamed,” Rima called, gathering her sons next to her on a floral-print sofa. “Where is Daddy?”

    The boys appeared confused, so their mother prompted them again.

    “Tell us where daddy is,” she said sweetly.

    “Dead,” Mohamed replied in a tiny voice.

    “No,” his mother chided. “What’s the word we use?”

    “Martyred,” he said.

    “And when he wore his army clothes, who was he with? Who do we love?” she asked.

    “Hezbollah,” the boys answered in unison”


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