Thursday, November 29, 2012

They were cameramen

After David Carr accused Israel of targeting journalists, the hasbarahniks offered three general defenses:

(1) Never mind the substance of the article: Carr accused Israel of launching the war for the purpose of offing some media workers, that's inexcusable.
(2) The men discussed in Car's article weren't journalist or media workers. All of that was a cover. In reality, they were dangerous terrorists.
(3) They were journalists, but they were employed by a terror organization. So if Israel thinks killing them protects Israelis, then Israel can kill them.

Now, that the IDF has published it own version of the events, we can respond to those defenses

(1) The first complaint is a misreading of a headline that Carr likely did not write ("Using War as Cover to Target Journalists") It hinges on the meaning of the word  "cover." Though I don't read the headline in the way the hasbarahniks do, I can see their point.  

(2) The IDF has confirmed (and confessed) that two of the men Carr wrote about were, in fact, cameramen. Here's the nut:
Al-Shamalah had no connection to anything media-related. But that isn’t the case for all Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives who try to claim the title of “journalist”. Some of them do, in fact, carry cameras, but they are paid by a terrorist organization, and they are serving the goals of a terrorist organization. For example, Mahmoud Al-Kumi and Hussam Salama were Hamas operatives and cameramen for Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television network, which regularly features programming that encourages and praises attacks on Israeli civilians. The IDF targeted Al-Kumi and Salama on Nov. 20.
So those of you who complained that they weren't really media workers were wrong. Again, the IDF has admitted that they were cameramen, and that  they were targeted.

(3) Now that we've established that the men were not murderers themselves, we get to the difficult question. Does Israel have the right to kill people who help to spread offensive messages? Let's stipulate Al-Kumi and Salama were in the business of propaganda, propaganda designed to incite violence. And let's even stipulate that by killing two cameramen Israel was actually able to make a dent in Hamas's capacity to spread violence-inciting propaganda  Does any of that justify an attack on people who are in the business of spreading ideas, however hate-filled those ideas might be?

As a free-speech absolutists, of course I think the answer to this question is no. Moreover, I don't think a government should claim for itself the right to specifically target people who aren't guilty of violent crimes (If you're fighting a war and such people die collaterally, that's another matter. In this case the two cameramen were targeted.) This was the jist of Carr's article, and I still think he's right.

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1 comment:

joshwaxman said...

read the paragraph that has "in other words" as part of it, though.