Alex Harrowell has a post on a poll in Lebanon, which ranks the local population favorite’s nations and world leaders. It turns out that in Chirac is the most admired Western leader and that Hugo Chávez is as popular as Ahmadinejad.
Alex Harrowell has a post on a poll in Lebanon, which ranks the local population favorite’s nations and world leaders. It turns out that in Chirac is the most admired Western leader and that Hugo Chávez is as popular as Ahmadinejad.
I just read this disturbing (and biased) post on Bullwinkle blog written by Maggie about Ségolène Royal and her supposed anti-Semitism and I think that it shows how easy it is to jump on a French politician without knowing or wanting to know the fact. Contrary to what is implied in the post, the supposed incident had nothing to do with anti-Semitism and the supposed preference of France for Arabs, but it simply had to do with a problem of translation. The French Ambassador to Lebanon who was present when the Hezbollah member of parliament made that hateful remark about Israel and he didn’t leave either, which means that he didn’t hear and more importantly, Ségolène Royal made the strong point that Israel was not entity, but a state, which had the right to defend herself. I would also inform Maggie that during the debate with her socialist rivals, Madame Royal was the only one who was against allowing Iran even to get nuclear energy for civilian purposes because she believed that Iran shouldn’t be trusted given the threats of Ahmadinejad against Israel. The best proof that whoever wrote this biased post on Ségolène Royal just wanted to make a hateful and prejudicial point about the French is that she dined Tzipi Livni last night and met with Ehud Olmert today. Therefore, unless the argument is Livni and Olmert are less concerned about anti-Semitism than Maggie is and that they are, to use an expression, which I despise, self-hating Jews, this whole affair is much ado about nothing.
“As the realists again rise triumphant, stability will trump reform. […] These realists did not blanch as Saddam massacred tens of thousands of civilians.
New policies may revive old dictatorships. European governments find it easier to trade with the Revolutionary Guards-operated companies in Iran than press for economic opportunities for ordinary Iranians. […] Hatred of Bush trumps declared principles. Because Bush made democratization and reform the centerpiece of his Middle East strategy, many Western progressives dismiss them as priorities or even as desirable. After all, in progressive rhetoric how can Bush be both an idiot and correct?
Instead of democracy, many progressives have come to romanticize "resistance." They have become attracted to the same rhetorical motifs projected by liberation movements of a generation past and Islamists today. Embrace of multiculturalism has morphed into a cultural relativism that justifies oppression in the name of culture.
The majority of Arab civil society may celebrate Bush's election rebuke and welcome the end of the Bush years but, as anger fades and Washington re-embraces realism, Arab reformers from Rabat to Riyadh may find they have missed their best opportunity, while dictators and theocrats seize theirs.” Michael Rubin, “Arabs may one day miss George W. Bush.”
Juan Cole argues that the assassination of Pierre Gemayel is yet another example of the Bush's foreign policy and of its "dishonest rhetoric of democratization". Money quote:
The problem is that when you crush the Pushtuns of Afghanistan, who traditionally ruled the country, they have means of hitting back (ask the Canadian troops in Qandahar). When you crush the Sunni Arabs of Iraq, who had traditionally ruled they have ways of organizing a guerrilla movement and acting as spoilers of Bush's new Kurdish-Shiite axis in Baghdad. When you crush Hamas even after they won the elections in early 2006, they have means of continuing to struggle.
In Lebanon, Bush egged on the pro-Hariri movement against the Syrians and their allies. Then he egged on Israel to bomb the Shiites of southern Lebanon (and, mysteriously, the rest of Lebanon, too). So he tried to create the March 14th alliance around Hariri as the winners who take all in Lebanon.
So obviously there will be trouble about this. Everything Bush touches turns to ashes, bombings, assassinations. He doesn't know how to compromise and he doesn't know how to influence his neo-colonial possessions so that they can compromise.
I wonder if what is happening right now wasn't unavoidable given the fact that the only thing, which the Lebanon War conflict accomplish was the weakening of the Siniora Government and through it the empowerment of Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran. The problem is that there are no course of action, which can temperate the situation, which doesn't involve the eating of humble pie by the administration. However, we know from experience that humility isn't something, which this administration is good at demonstrating, especially when it still has the ability of framing the debate in absolute terms to avoid making the difficult decision of bargaining with the devil to avoid the explosion of the region.
All the assassination victims after Rafik Hariri, a Sunni, have been Christians. But the most heated sectarian tension right now is between Sunnis and Shias. The Christians aren't in a fighting mood, but many say the Sunnis are. The Syrian regime cannot restrain itself from butchering its Lebanese enemies, but it looks to me like someone in Damascus just flinched.
I wonder if the increase political instability in Lebanon and the weakness of the Siniora government isn't another proof of the weakening of the America's influence in the region. In spite of the fact, that Blair asked Syria and Iran to help in Iraq, it seems as though those two countries have decided that they are in position of strength and that they will not help the stability in the region until the Bush administration makes some concession, but the key question is whether it will or not? The recent talks about bombing Iran will cause more harm than good in my opinion because it will show that the Bush administration has changed or rather that its difficulties in Iraq haven't made its views of the region evolve.
Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, admitted yesterday that he regretted kidnapping the two Israelis soldiers and starting a war, which only destructive both the Israelis and Lebanese people. For Nasrallah’s regrets to become meaningful, he must learn from his “mistake” and change the nihilist’s view of Hezbollah, which makes its militants believe that having the destruction of Lebanon is worth a draw or a not only fruitless, but bitter victory against Israel. The problem is that politics isn’t always about facts and reality, but about passion and idealism even when they are destructive.
Michael Totten tells us that Israel has finally realized that it can't disarm Hezbollah with force. Is this realization going to lead it to implement a new strategy, which may be political unpopular in the short-term, but more effective in the long term or rather to continue the same old strategy in the hope that its ineffectiveness leads to a more spectacular failure? John Robb from Global Guerillas gives us some idea of what future wars will look like and by reading his post, it is easy to understand why winning a war against organizations like Hezbollah will get more complicated and why new and more innovative strategies are necessary.
The New York Times titled one of its editorials a few days ago “Waiting for Jacques” and today, Jacques Chirac not only came but he did the right thing. He increased the French presence in UNIFIL from a ridiculous 400 to 2000. So I am waiting for those who bashed France by talking of surrender and of cowardice to recognize the fact that Chirac has done something that needs to be praised and that France's decision to become a significant part of UNIFIL no matter how it came about was moral and responsible. So to all the French bashers, do you have the guts to admit that France is a great country or does your courage limits itself to mock the importance that France place on finesse and complexity? I am waiting for Kevin Drum and Captain Ed to have some good things to say about France now.
“I am about to let you in on a few secrets, but I'm far from sure that this is the smartest thing I can do. In fact, it may be one of the dumbest. Because I can tell another story when the war is still in the background and so wrap up another week, then wait for things to return to normal and go back to dealing with marginal matters like racism, discrimination, xenophobia and the difficulty of coping as an Arab in the Jewish state. [...] it's like this: I was against the war, but after it started I wanted the army to lose, or at least not to feel victorious. My hands tremble as I write, but in this war I was against Israel - make no mistake - my country. This has nothing to do with the other side, it has nothing to do with what I think about the side that fought in this round against the IDF. It's true that I would prefer that the IDF, that the State of Israel lose without the consequence being that soldiers die. I would like to see it lose in arm-wrestling. Rows of tables in which soldiers from both sides sit and arm-wrestle. I would prefer a loss by penalty kicks.” Sayed Kashua.
“Uri, my love. All your short life, we have all learned from you, from the strength and determination to go your own way.[...]You were the leftie of your battalion and you were respected for it, because you stood your ground, without giving up even one of your military assignments ... won't say anything now about the war you were killed in. We, our family, have already lost in this war. The state of Israel will have its own reckoning ...
Uri was such an Israeli child; even his name was very Israeli and Hebrew. He was the essence of Israeli-ness as I would want it to be. An Israeli-ness that has almost been forgotten, that is something of a curiosity. And he was a person so full of values. That word has been so eroded and has become ridiculed in recent years. In our crazy, cruel and cynical world, it's not 'cool' to have values, or to be a humanist, or to be truly sensitive to the suffering of the other, even if that other is your enemy on the battlefield.
However, I learned from Uri that it is both possible and necessary to be all that. We have to guard ourselves, by defending ourselves both physically and morally. We have to guard ourselves from might and simplistic thinking, from the corruption that is in cynicism, from the pollution of the heart and the ill-treatment of humans, which are the biggest curse of those living in a disastrous region like ours. ” David Grossman writing about the Death of his son Uri in the Israeli-Lebanon Conflict in The Observer.
France has declined to contribute a high number of troops to the UNIFIL, the UN force, which is going to make sure that the cease-fire holds as required by resolution 1701. The problem with the French refusal is that they were one of the sponsors of this resolution and that they signaled they would be willing to play a major role in the policing of the cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel. Captain ED argued that this is just another French surrender, and writes that, "Since World War I, the French have shown a great capacity to demand action and little stomach for providing it. In this manner, they mirror almost perfectly the UN itself." He is of course wrong for I believe that the French ambiguity has more to do with politics than with perfidy or cowardice. Chirac is very weak politically. Next year, the French will choose a new president (it is almost a certainty that Chirac won’t run and even if he did, he would lose). Chirac used all of France's diplomatic might because he could do it since he had public support. The problem with contributing a large number of troops is that many soldiers may die and that Chirac, the comatose Villepin government, and the French right would pay a heavy political price, which could cost them both the presidential and the legislative elections. What Chirac is trying to do by arguing that there isn't a clear mandate that would make the UNIFIL effective is to get some cover by forcing the UN either to give it more power or to accept France's refusal. Things may change if this decision becomes unpopular in France and if a consensus is then developed in the French political class, which makes it clear that it is in the national interest of France to send more troops to Lebanon. Such a consensus would depoliticize the issue and make sure that if a tragedy were to happen, it would used to make the political point that the Right's foreign policy is unrealistic and ineffective. The ironic is that Chirac is in the same position as President Bush in his own country, he has moral clarity, but no moral authority as Tom Friedman would say.
“What Israelis feel today most of all is a sense of shame. Not shame for waging a supposedly immoral war, as our critics abroad would put it, but shame for not waging a moral war with greater vigor. And shame, especially, over the quality of those we’ve allowed to lead us to this disastrous moment.” Yossi Klein Halevi.
David Ignatius writes his column today that politics should follow the Lebanon war. He makes the following point, "The way out of the Middle East mess is through political agreements, not unilateral moves or quixotic military campaigns. Iran and its proxies have been marking one bloody path to the future; America and its allies must work urgently to construct an alternative." I don't think that many believe that politics is better than war and that force isn't the right way to deal with groups, which use terrorism. Can politics work unless both parties believe that there can only be a political solution to a conflict? I wonder if the lesson of the last 10 years in the Middle East isn't that although force does not provide solution, it is a more popular course of action than diplomacy because with the latter one takes time and as experience shows, time is not the ally of those who make the tough decision to talk and to bargain with the devil. Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barack were the victims of that unfortunate principle.
John Robb from Global Guerrillas has a great post on Hezbollah and the "legitimacy" question. He argues that there is an inversion of legitimacy taking place with Hezbollah, which gains legitimacy at the expense of the state “by providing sys-admin like functionality.” I agree with him and I believe that the frightening thing is that much of the world, especially the United States haven't learn to deal with non-state actors even though they are soon becoming the biggest threat to the stability of our world.
"What should really worry the country is not whether the Democrats are being dragged to the left by antiwar activists who haven’t thought a whit about the larger struggle we’re in. What should worry the country is that the Bush team and the Republican Party, which control all the levers of power and claim to have thought only about this larger struggle, are in total denial about where their strategy has led. [...] we are on a losing trajectory in Iraq, and, as the latest London plot underscores, the wider war with radical Islam is only getting wider. We need to reassess everything we are doing in this “war on terrorism” and figure out what is worth continuing, what needs changing and what sacrifice we need to demand from every American to match our means with our ends. Yes, the Democrats could help by presenting a serious alternative. But unless the party in power for the next two and half years shakes free of its denial, we are in really, really big trouble." Tom Friedman
"Already, we hear Hezbollah trying to claim victory. But others, in Lebanon and across the region, are asking themselves what Hezbollah's extremism has really achieved: hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes. [...] Innocent people in Lebanon, in Israel and across the Middle East have suffered long enough at the hands of extremists. It is time to overcome old patterns of violence and secure a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. This is our goal, and now we have laid out the steps to achieve it. Our policy is ambitious, yes, and difficult to achieve. But it is right. It is realistic. And ultimately, it is the only effective path to a more hopeful future."Condoleezza Rice
The UN passed resolution 1701 last night, which was voted unanimously by its Security Council. Although the war is continuing, the hope is that the violence will shortly stop. I wonder what will be political consequences of this resolution and of a cease-fire not only for Israel , Lebanon, and the Middle East but also for Ehud Olmert and on Fouad Siniora. My hope is that there won't be not only a return to the status quo ante to use the favorite term of Condi Rice, but that also that the people of Lebanon and of Israel won't have to leave another long and horrific month as the one they just live. Well, I have the right to dream!
Tom Friedman, in his column, talks about the difference that exists between extremists and the rest of the populations, between the creators and the destroyers and it is that extremists love death more than life. He talks about the fact that Israel was doing everything that it could to be an attractive place for Warren Buffett while Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader was preparing for war and to cause chaos. Friedman likes to say that there will be peace in the Middle East when people will start to love life more than they love death. He is right. The truth is that people who can't dreams or hope start to idolize death and what supposedly comes with it. I wonder if Nasrallah would be the head of the Hezbollah if he believe that he could still be a hero to many Arabs by being an entrepreneur and inspire them to have bigger and more hopeful dreams. It may be an illusion to believe this, but it is an hopeful illusion because it makes me believe that extremism and violence can't win over all of humanity. Harold Evans, in his article in the Guardian yesterday, showed us why "we" can't allow ourselves to become admirers or lovers of death and of destruction.
Posted by Christelle Nadia Fotso at 04:09 PM in contradictions and betrayals, Current Affairs, different perspective , disintegration, fundamentalism, future, international politics, Israel, justice, Lebanon, Middle East, news, politics, power, terrorism, violence, War, west | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
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Adnan Hajj is very quickly becoming more famous than his doctored photos of Qana. Even though Reuters stopped publishing his work and fired him, I think that the harm is done for what matters with image is unfortunately too often the first impression that they leave on our minds. This bizarre affair leads to some interesting questions about the way the media covers conflict such as the current one in the Mideast. Is it better to get it fast than to get it right? Is every photo publishable? I don't this scandal is about manipulation, but rather about the fact that the media still has to learn how to deal fairly with conflicts such as this one and that so much of what it is doing is improvised and depends on good faith. If the case of Adnan Hajj proves something is that assumption is the mother of all disasters and when editors can no longer presume that their journalists and photographers are getting the story right, they have to check their work.
After the tragedy of Qana, I found myself wondering if Israel can achieve its objectives by continuing this war. Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Tom Friedman has interesting comments on the situation. He said that the war wasn't working for Israel and that it should stop know because it is clear that the only thing that will be achieved by continuing the war is more deaths. Israel didn't choose this war and as Bernard Henry Levy wrote last week in Le Monde, the war chose Israel as fate, sometimes, chooses us to accomplish difficult tasks. Paul Krugman makes the most interesting point about the crisis in his column this morning:
For Americans who care deeply about Israel, one of the truly nightmarish things about the war in Lebanon has been watching Israel repeat the same mistakes the United States made in Iraq. It’s as if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been possessed by the deranged spirit of Donald Rumsfeld. [...] What Israel needs now is a way out of the quagmire. And since Israel doesn’t appear ready to reoccupy southern Lebanon, that means doing what it should have done from the beginning: try restraint and diplomacy. And Israel will negotiate from a far weaker position than seemed possible just three weeks ago. [...] Again, Israel has the right to protect itself. If all-out war with Hezbollah becomes impossible to avoid, so be it. But bombing Lebanon isn’t making Israel more secure. [...] The hard truth is that Israel needs, for its own sake, to stop a bombing campaign that is making its enemies stronger, not weaker.
Harper's magazine had a provocative cartoon last Thursday of Rice's surprise visit to Lebanon. It made the same point, which Mourhaf Jouejati, director of Middle Eastern Studies at George Washington University makes in Roger Cohen's column in the New York Times and that is that, "The United States has been more a party to this conflict than an arbiter. [...] Lebanese democracy, a supposedly cherished American aim, has been sacrificed for the Israeli ally." I don't quite agree with this point, but unfortunately, what I think doesn't matter. What is important is how the world perceives the United States and its role in this crisis. As William Arkin points out in the Washington Post, perception is reality and facts matter less than the image created by the way people interprets them.
Everybody seems to want a piece of Condoleezza Rice and to want to blame her for the failures of the Bush Foreign policy. Eugene Robinson writes in his column in the Washington Post that the current conflict is Condi's war:
It was Rice who waited more than a week, giving Israel time to pound the daylights out of Lebanon, before finding time to visit Beirut and Tel Aviv and attend a crisis summit in Rome. It was Rice who spent her trip categorically ruling out a quick cease-fire, which made one wonder if she really needed to travel at all, since she could have just thumbed out a text message: "2 soon 2 stop boom boom."
The most significant development from Rice's swing through the region was that she took personal ownership of the bloody, escalating war between Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas with a single breathtaking pronouncement:
"It is time for a new Middle East. It is time to say to those who do not want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail, they will not."
Take a moment to absorb those two sentences. The bit about how "we will prevail" is just standard chest-thumping from the Bush administration, the equivalent of George W. Bush's "bring it on" challenge to the Iraqi insurgents. It's the "new Middle East" part, which she repeated at every opportunity, that makes this Condi's war and that should send shivers down the spine of anyone who has more than a passing knowledge of the region.
Tom Friedman joins the choir of critics by writing, “Condoleezza Rice must have been severely jet-lagged when she said that what’s going on in Lebanon and Iraq today were the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” Oh, I wish it were so. What we are actually seeing are the rebirth pangs of the old Middle East, only fueled now by oil and more destructive weaponry.” I think that all of these people have forgotten that Condi Rice isn't the president and that she might be the chief of American Diplomacy, but that she follows the orders or rather the ideology of her boss, President Bush. I believe that the Bush administration just doesn't believe in diplomacy and that it is adverse to compromise, to negotiations, to be involved in forum where it will not have all the control and where it will have to talk to countries, which it doesn't want to talk.
It must be very frustrating for Rice to be Secretary of State and to be limited to using glamour and big dreams for the future for the Middle East to try to stop a conflict, which she is too intelligent and too smart not to know demands more. I do not agree with Condi Rice on everything, but I believe that she knows what she believes and what approach she wants to use in most conflicts. The one thing that we can say about the approach, which the US took to the conflict so far, is that it was confusing and that it reflected ambivalence about what to do. The culprit for this ambivalence is the President who didn't know what he wanted to do and not Condi Rice who probably he had to wait for her boss to make up his mind. Condi Rice is trying to do her best to make an incoherent and shallow foreign policy look coherent and substantive. Condi Rice is a public servant, her role is to serve the international interests of the United States as defined by President Bush, and that is what she is doing. The unfortunate thing is that she is a competent woman who always does her job superbly and in this case, her talents are at the service of a policy that will NOT serve the interests of the United States.
It has become difficult for me to imagine how the crisis in the Middle East will end. It is alarming to see how easily this conflict has become a part of normalcy and how wide the gap is between the world's powers which have the power to find a creative solution that would make it possible for both Israel and Lebanon to win instead of losing to Hezbollah. I think that when we are no longer able to imagine how peace will look like, it is a sign of defeat for those who believe like I do that every conflict is solvable. It is for that reason that when it becomes difficult for me to answer the question of what peace would look like, I think about of the chaos and of the deaths that will ensue if no solution is found to this crisis.
In his column, Tom Friedman makes an important point, “One wonders what planet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice landed from, thinking she can build an international force to take charge in south Lebanon without going to Damascus and trying to bring the Syrians on board.” The United States believes pigheadedly that it can find a solution to the present Middle East Crisis without talking to the country, Syria, which President Bush argued, last week, could restrain the Hezbollah. Jonathan Freeland makes the same point in article in the Guardian, “Far from keeping lines of communication open with Hizbullah's two key patrons - Syria and Iran - they have been cast into outer darkness, branded as spokes, or satellites, of the axis of evil. As a result there has been no mechanism to restrain Hizbullah. Now, when the US needs Syria's help, it may be too late. Damascus will extract a high price, no doubt demanding the right to re-enter, in some form, Lebanon. The White House can't grant that - not when it considers Syria's ejection from Lebanon in 2005 one of its few foreign-policy successes.” Whether the Bush administration wants to acknowledge it or not, Syria is an important country and it is impossible to solve the current crisis without talking with the Syria and bargaining with them. Tom Friedman argues that talking to Syria is also important in order to break the dangerous alliance that it has with Iran, which is destabilizing the Middle East. The price to talk with Syria may be high and bargaining with the Syrians may not work, but it is necessary that the United States try because peace and the stability of the Middle East hang in the balance. As David Ignatius argues, “Bargaining with the devil (or at least the devil's intermediary) is part of the job description for an American secretary of state.” Syria isn't a state with which the Bush administration wants to deal it, but it is one with which it has to deal. The time for fantasy is over; it is time to deal with the harsh realities of the Middle East.
"Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other." Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner (1986.)
Pete Tobias, the Rabbi of the Liberal Jewish synagogue in Elstree, Herts has an interesting article on the place that Religion plays in Middle East conflict on the Comment is Free blog of the Guardian. He makes the argument that peace is only going to be possible if people acknowledge that religious texts weren't meant to be taken so literally:
It is time to acknowledge that the ancient books that various religions regard as their source texts are the product of human societies seeking to define and establish themselves in a barbaric and troubled world. As such, they often contain violent, xenophobic statements - often presented as being the divine will. The source of statements such as "I will do to you what I plan to do to them" and demands to drive out or destroy other people is clearly human, not divine. And, like so much of the posturing couched in the repetition of such statements by so-called religious leaders, such messages are neither accurate nor religious.
The task of religion in our modern, troubled age is to seek to uncover the common religious vision which lies at the heart of all such ancient ventures. This will only be achieved once all who look to ancient texts for their inspiration and guidance are honest enough to recognise - and reject - those sections which are little more than ancient expressions of xenophobia and seek out the common elements which represent the true vision of the Divine.
If only more people would hear his message.
Paul Krugman has a provocative column in the NewYork times in which he makes the case that the Bush foreign policy was build on fantasy. He writes:
As I wrote back in January 2003, this meant that the “Bush doctrine” of preventive war was, in practice, a plan to “talk trash and carry a small stick.” It was obvious even then that the administration was preparing to invade Iraq not because it posed a real threat, but because it looked like a soft target.[...] For years the self-proclaimed “war president” basked in the adulation of the crazies. Now they’re accusing him of being a wimp. “We have been too weak,” writes Mr. Kristol, “and have allowed ourselves to be perceived as weak.” Does Mr. Bush have the maturity to stand up to this kind of pressure? I report, you decide."
The fact that we are in an election year means that it is going to be difficult for President Bush to do anything that would upset his more than it already is. The reason that Condi Rice hasn't gone so far to the region as expected shows in my opinion the Bush administration's indecisiveness and its fear that involving itself will lead to failures that would be ridiculed not only by the left, but by the right. The administration seems to have decided that the wait and see approach would do less damage politically. They may be right, but it is also one, which does the most damage to the ability of the United States to use soft-power to achieve its objectives.
New Gingrich, the ex speaker of the House of Representative has an article on the Guardian Web site where he argues that the third world war has begun. He makes the following argument, "The nature of the threat - with Iran at the epicenter - is at its core ideological. The ideological wing of Islam that is irreconcilable to modern civilization. And while not operationally connected, the events of just the last seven weeks throughout the world share the common strategic goal of defeating the West and its values. It could be accurately described as a third world war."
I have been following the current crisis in the Middle East, particularly what is happening in Israel and Lebanon by watching Television, reading newspapers, watching video posted by people from the region and of course reading blogs. The one I have noticed is that balance and objectivity are hard to find and I am not surprise because I think it is very difficult to be balance and objective in a situation as explosive such as this one. What I do is that I tried to find diverse sources of information and to avoid information given by people who discredit its value with vitriol by making antisemitic or anti-Arab and ant-Islam remark. A blogger Ouriel stopped watching French television. He is only watching CNN because he believed that French television was one-sided and that reporters were forgetting the central point that Hezbollah started the conflict. Eric Boehlert wrote in The Huffington post that CNN had a Lebanon problem because not mentioning enough civilian casualties. I watch both CNN and French television through TV5 and the BBC. I read the New York, le Monde, le Figaro, and the Financial Times. I have learned what are the biases of each organization and because I believe that it is important to know how others view the situation even though I do not agree or I am infuriated by their coverage of the conflict. I think what is dangerous about the instinct that one has to tune out certain media is that it forces us to live in parallel worlds where we stopped learning about how other people think and stopped tolerating it. Racism and hatred are always intolerable and it is for that reason that I refuse to listen to those who want to make this conflict one about ethnicity. I watched Charlie Rose last night and I enjoyed the program because it wasn't loud and because he tried (and succeeded in my opinion) to inform the viewer by getting out of the picture and presenting both sides of the argument. One of his guests was the Syrian Expatriates Minister, Buthaina Shaaban and she kept arguing that the conflict was one of the Arabs against Israel. Charlie Rose let her speak and I think by doing so, he made it possible for the viewer to understand the intentions of Syrian Minister and to take what she was saying at face value. I think that he had confronted instead of simply having a conversation with her that he would have made her more credible. It is important during these harsh times to have conversations with one other not so much to argue about which side is the aggressor or the victim, but to learn more about one other and to share our hopes and our dreams.