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Arab media demonizing U.S. troops

Our military officials are getting a taste of what it’s like for Israel to deal with the Arab media.

Earlier this week General John Abizaid, American commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East, complained that “the Arab press, in particular, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, are portraying American troops as purposely targeting civilians and yet, we absolutely do not do that, and I think everybody knows that.”

Well, we know that, but I assure you many in the Arab world do not, thanks to inaccurate instigators in the Arab media. They do the same to Israeli troops, falsely reporting or suggesting that Israel is somehow deliberately killing civilians. Of course, if Israel wanted to kill Palestinian civilians, they could take out the entire population of the West Bank, no problem. But instead they go out of their way to avoid it, and as a result, even miss out on opportunities to kill terrorists.

Now, one can legitimately argue that Israel needs to take more care to avoid civilian casualties when targeting terrorists and that Israel needs to make more compromises when it comes to the settlements. But no one remotely objective can suggest that Israeli or U.S. troops actually seek to kill civilians. But the facts don’t matter when it comes to much of the Arab media. They show photos or video of dead “civilians,” and Al Jazeera then frames it in a way with analysis and interviews that suggest it was or might have been intentional. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must be for General Abizaid trying to protect American lives while also going to great lengths to protect Iraqis as well.

Then rather than getting any credit for those efforts in the Arab world, these media provocateurs suggest our troops or Israeli troops for that matter are moral equivalents to the savages who blow themselves up on airplanes or on buses with bombs covered in nails dipped in rat poison. They even refer to suicide bombers who try to maim and harm civilians as martyrs. It doesn’t matter to Al Jazeera that for the so-called martyrs civilian deaths are the goal, while for American and military officials, civilian deaths are nothing but trouble.

General Abizaid is right that everyone should know that. But unfortunately, objective truth often doesn’t play well in the Arab media.