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Bombing Of Hezbollah Station Leads To Controversy

(AP/Al-Manar)
Israel bombed al-Manar, Hezbollah's television station in Beirut. The International Federation of Journalists condemned the bombing. As a result, group of Israeli journalists renounced their membership in IFJ, reports Haaretz. (Hat tip Spruiell.)

The IFJ statement said the bombing was "a clear demonstration that Israel has a policy of using violence to silence media it does not agree with." Outraged Israei journalists then demanded a retraction and asked why the organization did not condemn Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Israeli journalists.

"I have no intention of being a card-carrying member of an organization that would give a similar card to a Hezbollah member, whether he is firing a Katyusha or serving as the group's propaganda officer at its TV station," Yaron Anosh told Haaretz. "A terrorist is not a journalist, and if an international organization prefers to have terrorists as members - then count us out."

The Jerusalem Post has more, noting:

In a strongly worded letter, the Israeli journalists accused IFJ general secretary Aidan White of "cowardice" for not retracting the organization's condemnation of Israel and said White deserved a "badge of shame" for calling the Hizbullah propaganda tool "free press."

"Al Manar gets its budget from the same people firing upon us," said the Israeli representative on the IFJ executive, Israel Radio broadcaster Yaron Enosh.

The IFJ represents more than half a million journalists, the Post notes, in more than 100 countries, and the news outlets with which its members are affiliated have diverse and conflicting opinions. It's understandable that the organization's immediate reaction to any attack on a media outlet is not to question that outlet's legitimacy but to condemn the attack. That said, if al-Manar is what Enosh says it is, doesn't the IFJ have a responsibility to treat it differently than legitimate media outlets – and not simply rally to its defense?

According to Mark Dubowitz, "Al-Manar television is the communications arm of Hezbollah, owned and operated by Hezbollah guerillas and financed by the Iranian regime. No mere propaganda tool, al-Manar is used by Hezbollah to broadcast its message of hatred, recruit suicide bombers, raise money for its terrorist activities and those of its Palestinian affiliates, conduct operational surveillance, and incite attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians and American soldiers in Iraq."

Dubowitz also writes that "Its programming includes children's shows glorifying suicide bombers, videos calling for jihadists to kill Coalition soldiers in Iraq, and vile anti-American and anti-Semitic material." The U.S. government has designated al-Manar as a terrorist organization, and the European Union and many European countries have banned the station, saying it violates European law.