Monday, February 11, 2013

WaPo gives Hezb'allah Terrorist Killings the Chamberlain Treatment

WaPo gives Hezb'allah Terrorist Killings the Chamberlain Treatment

Leo Rennert

Hezb'allah is a terrorist group with a global reach. Except for al-Qaeda, it has murdered more Americans than any other terrorist group. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Bulgaria, after a lengthy and exhaustive investigation, found ample evidence to conclude that Hezbollah was behind the killing of five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver in the seaside resort of Burgas last year.

Both the United States and Israel have designated Hezb'allah as a terrorist organization. However, the 27-member European Union, true to Neville Chamberlain's legacy, has declined to do so, citing Hezb'allah's political and social activities in Lebanon. By taking a soft approach, European leaders probably hoped that Hezb'allah would perform its bloody deeds elsewhere. But any such expectation now has been shattered by the terrorist killings in Bulgaria, a bona fide EU member.

And while both Washington and Jerusalem immediately urged the EU to follow their example and finally use the "T" word for Hezb'allah, all indications point to continued appeasement by European leaders.

In writing about this development, the Washington Post showed that both in how it describes Hezb'allah and in what it fails to report, its style book tracks the weak-kneed European model. ("U.S. steps up pressure on Europe about Hezbollah" by Anne Gearan, Feb. 6, page A10). Gearan's lead paragraph immediately makes clear that, while the U.S. and Israel may label Hezbollah a terrorist outfit, the Washington Post will not follow suit.

"The Obama administration," Gearan writes, "sought to increase pressure on Europe to brand Hezb'allah a terrorist group after the Bulgarian government implicated the MILITANTS in a fatal attack on Israeli tourists last summer." Militants, but not terrorists. At the Post, Bulgarian findings of Hezb'allah terrorism evidently are not persuasive.

Another eyebrow-raising point about Gearan's soft approach toward Hezb''allah: Missing entirely from her piece was the reaction of the Israeli government to Bulgaria's confirmation that Hezb'allah terrorism was responsible for the Burgas bloodbath.

It's not that Jersualem was asleep at the switch. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately issued a blistering response and a gloves-off challenge to European leaders to finally show some Churchillian backbone.

Netanyahu started by refuting a favorite European dodge in the face of terrorism -- that Hezb'allah somehow is a multi-headed movement, with a separate military wing. "There is only one Hezb'allah," Netanyahu declared. "It is one organization with one leadership."

Netanyahu went on to establish a direct link between Hezb'allah and Iran, its prime patron, blaming both for a "worldwide campaign of terrorism," with previous attacks on civilians in Turkey, India, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Thailand, Kenya, and Georgia, plus of course their support of Assad's murderous regime in Syria.

None of this was reported by the Post. Five Israelis are killed in a terrorist attack but their prime minister's response is totally ignored in Gearan's piece. One wonders whether other world leaders would be subjected to similar dismissive treatment if and when terrorists killed their people on foreign soil.

Finally, some sloppy non-editing by the Post. Gearan writes that the Bulgarian findings endorsed "what U.S. and Israeli terrorism officials had alleged from the start." American and Israeli "terrorism officials"? While the Post is unable to discover Hezb'allah terrorists, it somehow does find them among higher-ups in the U.S. and Israeli governments? Evidently, one assumes, Gearan meant to write "U.S. and Israeli counter-terrorism officials." But why add sloppiness to the other journalistic wounds in Gearan's article?

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers