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Jewish World Review
August 22, 2006
/ 28 Menachem-Av, 5766
A War of Images
Will the same weapon that defeated the Serbs also defeat Israel?
They say that truth is always the first victim in war. Such is the case in
the Israeli/Hezbollah war.
It appears that Hezbollah has taken a page out of the Bosnian Muslim
playbook: Win the PR battle, and you win the war. What better example of
media disinformation than the Bosnian War, where images of civilians
"slaughtered" at Sarajevo's Markale market place, allegedly by Serb forces,
were so instrumental? If it worked for the Bosnian Muslims, why not for
Hezbollah? Will Qana, Lebanon, become Israel's Markale market place?
Yossef Bodansky, author of Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America,
wrote the following in his 1995 book Offensive in the Balkans:
"Phase Three started with the self-inflicted major terrorist provocation.
On Friday 5, 1994, a major explosion rocked the Markale -- Sarajevo's main
market place -- causing heavy casualties. What was immediately described as
the ubiquitous 'Serb mortar shell' was actually a special charge designed
and built with help from HizbAllah experts and then most likely dropped from
a nearby rooftop onto the crowd of shoppers. Video cameras at the ready
recorded this expertly-staged spectacle of gore, while dozens of corpses of
Bosnian Muslim troops killed in action (exchanged the day before in a 'body
swap' with the Serbs) were paraded in front of cameras to raise the casualty
"This callous self-killing was designed to shock the West especially
sentimental and gullible Washington, in order to raise the level of Western
sympathy to the Bosnian Muslims and further demonize the Serbs so that
Western governments would be more supportive of Sarajevo's forthcoming
aggressive moves, and perhaps even finally intervene militarily." (Emphasis
Some headlines that Americans never saw were "Muslims 'slaughter their own
people'," The [London] Independent, 22 Aug. 1992, and "Serbs 'not guilty' of
massacre," The Sunday [London] Times, 1 Oct. 1995.
In 1992, Peter Maher, Professor Emeritus of Linquistics, visited Dubrovnik,
Croatia, to see for himself the truth about the war. He wrote, "A few
months earlier, the press was filled with stories that the Pearl of the
Adriatic had been reduced to rubble. The stories were fakes." Professor
Maher goes on to explain just how it happened: "The dramatic 'Dubrovnik
burning' pictures were shot with long lenses. . . .But the smoke was from
the fuel tanks of two pleasure boats burning in the Old Harbor ...
Dubrovnik's Old City never burned and was never even targteted by the
federal forces.....The only building in the Old City of Ragusa to be gutted
by explosives and fire was the library and treasure of the Serbian Orthodox
church, which housed a priceless collection of medieval manuscripts and
icons. It was not navy guns that did the damage, but plastic and incendiary
devices planted on the spot by Croatian forces."
Who can forget the horrific pictures that were repeatedly shown on CNN of
the two dead Muslim babies on a bus in Bosnia, allegedly killed by a Serb
sniper? I would never have known the truth if I had not been watching
France 2 TV, which showed the funeral of these innocent babies. Officiating
was a Serbian Orthodox priest. These were not Muslim babies; they were
Serbian babies, but for American consumption, the Serbian Orthodox priest
was cropped from the film so that the American people would continue to
believe that the babies were Muslim. This kind of reporting is not just
yellow journalism. It goes beyond the pale, the same kind of "journalism"
that Israel is experiencing today -- manipulation, distortion, staging,
forgery and the doctoring of photos by anti-Israeli media. Welcome to the
Hopefully, in the current Israeli/Hezbollah conflict, the media distortions
will not sell. At the beginning of the Balkan conflict we did not have the
Internet and bloggers to expose CNN and its ilk. Today is different. Almost
immediately after photos of damage from an Israeli air strike on Beirut were
posted, outrage from bloggers who recognized that the photos were doctored
forced Reuters to admit that two or more photos were altered. The company
stated, "A Reuters photograph of smoke rising from buildings in Beirut has
been withdrawn after coming under attack by American web blogs. The blogs
accused Reuters of distorting the photograph to include more smoke and
damage." Was this simply one person's mistake, or is a pattern being exposed
in the present Israeli/Hezbollah war of the biased or even co-belligerent
media that was at work in the war against the Serbs?
Israel is accused of indiscriminately killing civilians, as in the Qana
incident. It is difficult to find any suggestion in all of the articles on
the subject that Qana was staged. Questions should have been raised. For
instance, how is it that the IDF air attack was between midnight and 1:00
AM, but when the building blew up (or collapsed) at 8:00 AM there were
approximately 50 women and children (reported numbers vary) sleeping in the
building? Why is no one asking what was in that building that caused it to
blow up seven or eight hours after the air strike? Why is no one in the
mainstream media asking why those people were still in the building or why
there were only women and children?
While western democracies try to keep civilians, especially their own, safe
from ongoing hostilities, Islamic forces have a history of using their own
civilians as human shields. Israel claims that Hezbollah deliberately puts
its weapons and fighters in civilian neighborhoods, keeping residents
hostage and not caring if they are killed or not. One interesting fact can
be found in the book by Lord David Owen, titled Balkan Odyssey, in which
he writes, "In Sarajevo it became ever clearer that there were in fact two
sieges of the city: one by the Bosnian Serb army, with shells, sniper fire
and blockades, and the other by the Bosnian government army, with internal
blockades and red tape bureaucracy which kept their own people from leaving.
In a radio broadcast the army -- not the government -- said that able bodied
men aged 18-65 years and women aged 18-60 years were forbidden to leave
because they were needed for the city's defence; but their main reason was
different. In the propaganda war, the Serbian siege aroused the sympathy of
the world, and for this they needed the elderly and the children to stay. It
was their most emotive propaganda weapon for bringing the Americans in to
fight the war, and they never wanted it to be weakened."
For those who think accusing Muslims of deliberately killing their own
civilians or putting them where they are sure to be "collateral casualties"
is farfetched, I would ask, why is that any more unthinkable than
encouraging one's own child to be a suicide bomber?
One noticeable difference between the reporting in the Israeli/Hezbollah war
and the Balkan war is balance. Although the media coverage is primarily
one-sided in the Israeli/Hezbollah conflict, nearly four to one showing
civilian casualties in Lebanon vs. those in Israel, the Balkan war news of
Serbian casualties and suffering was almost non-existent.
In 1995, the journal World Affairs published the following quote from John
Ranz, U.S. chairman of Survivors of Buchenwald Concentration Camp: "The
gigantic campaign to brainwash America by our media against the Serbian
people is just incredible, with its daily dose of one-sided information and
outright lies....What is today's reality? The murderers of Jews, Serbs and
Gypsies are back [in Croatia] from the U.S., Canada, Argentina where they
fled after World War II. The Serbs fought the Nazis, they paid a terrible
price for standing at the side of the allies against Hitler. Humanity owes
them a debt of gratitude."
Yohanan Ramati, Director of the Jerusalem Institute for Western Defense,
seconded the notion: "This organized anti-Serb and pro-Muslim propaganda
should cause anyone believing in democracy and free speech serious concerns.
It recalls Hitler's propaganda against the allies in World War II. Facts are
twisted and, when convenient, disregarded."
Most disturbing is a 1992 observation by Gregory Copley, who wrote in his
Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy report, "Pictures of dead or
wounded (or raped) Serbs often fill the screens of the world's television
and print media, only to be re-labeled as dead or wounded or raped Croats or
Muslims. Many Serbian victims -- and the bulk of the victims of the
conflict, contrary to popular reports, have been Serbs either from Bosnia
and Herzegovina or from Croatia -- not only suffer the indignity of defeat
in death; they also are used in death as models in the macabre image
manipulation operation of the Croatians and the Muslim Bosnians. If the
Vietnam War was lost to the United States by the negative television images
of its own reporters, then the Balkan war against the Serbs are being won by
Ustashi Croatia and the Muslim Bosnians by an active, planned manipulation
of international television."
Like any sovereign nation, Israel has the right to defend itself against
Muslim terrorists.The Serbian people should have had the right to defend
their sovereignty against the same Muslim terrorists whom we are fighting
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As a career military officer's wife, Stella Jatras has traveled widely and
has lived in many foreign countries where she not only learned about other
cultures but also became very knowledgeable regarding world affairs and
world politics. With the advent of the war in Bosnia, Mrs. Jatras
immediately recognized the bias of the Western media and the Clinton
administration's flawed foreign policy in the Balkans and began her efforts
to present to the American people a more accurate view of that tragic
situation. Her letters and articles have been published in The Washington
Times, The Washington Post, The Arizona Republic, The Patriot- News
(Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Chronicles, The Stars and Stripes, and the Los
Angeles Times, as well as a number of magazines and periodicals. In addition
her writings have had worldwide distribution via the Internet such as
Citizen Soldier and Jihad Watch. Stella Jatras lived in Moscow for two
years (where her husband, George, was the Senior Air Attaché), and while
there, worked in the Political Section of the US Embassy. Stella has also
lived in Germany, Greece and Saudi Arabia. Her travels took her to over
© 2006, Stella Jatras