Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Radar slip

Having now safely returned home, my mind can't fail but turn back to Lebanon. I miss Beirut. Depressingly, the Israeli assault on Lebanon appears to be dropping off the news radar here in the UK. The Guardian is admirably keeping up its 3-4 daily coverage, but The Independent has only devoted one page on each of the last two days to the crisis - while soft news stories and fashion features remain a staple.

My impression is that the British media have had a high time indulging in the evacuation of UK nationals, and now the party is over, it's time to return to endless clucking over the personality of Tony Blair. While it could be argued that the mere presence of foreign nationals in Lebanon has brought the excesses of the Israeli military to attention in the first instance, that counts for nought if a sustained focus is not maintained once those foreigners have left Lebanon.

What is encouraging, however, is the willingness for ordinary people in the UK to make a difference. I spoke at a Stop the War coalition meeting yesterday, and the diversity of the audience suggested that while the mainstream media may let Lebanon slip away, there is a real hunger for information on Lebanon's current plight. Members of the audience were, crucially, keen to ask questions and get greater insight on the historical background, rather than automatically swallow the line that Hizbullah 'started' the current crisis.

On another note, there is a great article on the Middle East Research and Information Project. Written by Jim Quilty, a Beirut based journalist, it is a worthwhile reminder of who the Israelis are really targeting - Lebanon's Shi'ite population. You can read the article here.

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