Friday, July 28, 2006

Bombing terrorist ideas 

Amongst those who like to debate politics reference is often made to "a battle of ideas". That of course refers to people advancing competing ideas or agendas by argueing over their relative merrit. Or at least that is what it usually means. Unfortunately, for some, like the leaders of Israel and the U.S., the "battle" of ideas is meant literally as is shown in this article from today's Wall Street Journal:

Beirut Lebanon - Soon after the fighting began here, Israeli jets were dispatched on a mission: Take Al-Manar Television, off the air. The jets destroyed the sation's five-story headquarters in a southern suburb of the city, then returned to strafe the rubble in case the network was broadcasting from underground, say Al-Manar executives.

But thanks to elaborate advance planning, Al-Manar's signal returned after just two minutes of downtime, filling Middle East airwaves with the channel's unique mix of frontline war reporting and overt anti-Israel and anti-U.S. propaganda. Faced with more Israeli raids on its telecommunications infra-structure, Al-Manar's staff vows to press on.


Both the U.S. and Israel have branded Al-Manar a terrorist organization.


Israel and the U.S. are trying to shut down Al-Manar's operations, in part by interfering with its satellite signal and its advertising base. U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola Co. and Procter & Gamble Co. stopped advertising on Al-Manar in recent years. Two years ago, a French court prohibited Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat SA from carrying the channel. In March, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Al-Manar and its parent company, the Lebanese Media Group, as terrorist entities, making it illegal for U.S. firms to do business with them.


When the conflict erupted in teh Palestinian territories in 2000 - the so-called second Intifada - Al-Manar was one of the few media outlets that regularly sent reporters into the center of the fighting, according to media analysts. Pro-Israel think tanks in the U.S. and Europe and American counterterrorism officials took notice. One Washington based think tank that focuses on counter-terrorism, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, provided clips to U.S. law-makers of Al-Manar raising money for Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups by broadcasting bank-account numbers of charitable organizations. The foundation says other Al-Manar programs glorified suicide bombers and incited viewers to fight against Israeli and American troops fighting in the Middle East. "It's a terrorist organization masquerading as a television station," says Mark Dubowitz, the foundation's chief operating officer. "It crosses all lines of free speech".

As in Serbia where they bombed TV stations, in Iraq where they just down newspapers they didn't like and now in Lebanon we can see that the leaders of leaders of the U.S. and Israel consider it acceptable to blowup ideas they don't like. Doesn't sound right to me but I suppose they have the power to get away with it. They would do well to realize that others might have the same idea and might think that their ideas should be blown up, literally.


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