Wednesday, July 26, 2006

AFP's fractured history lesson

AFP publishes a nice convenient chart for newspapers to reprint:

For some reason, AFP can't seem to mention that it was the Palestinian Arabs who created the civil war in Lebanon, or any of their rocket attacks against Israel, or anything else relevant. Let's fill in some of the missing pieces and try to see why AFP chose the events they did, and chose to ignore the events they did: (Most of these are from CNN.)

November 1969: Lebanese army commander in chief Emile Bustani and Arafat sign an agreement in Cairo that recognizes the "Palestinian revolution" and allows Palestinians in Lebanon "to join in the armed struggle without undermining Lebanon's sovereignty and welfare." This agreement will stay in effect for nearly 20 years, until Lebanon rescinds it in May 1987.

1970-1971: Faced with fighting in Jordan that left thousands dead, the PLO moves its base to Lebanon, where it carries out raids on Israel. A Palestinian terrorist group linked to the PLO is formed. Its name is "Black September" -- a reference to the Jordanian crackdown on Palestinians in September 1970.

1975: Civil war breaks out in Lebanon, pitting Palestinians and pro-Palestinian Lebanese militias against Lebanon's Christian militias. The war would last nearly 15 years, officially ending in 1990.

1976: Syria sends military peacekeepers during the early months of the civil war to help end it. The troops would remain there nearly 30 years, until April 2005.

March 1978: A PLO attack on a bus in northern Israel prompts Israeli military forces to move into Lebanon to push the PLO back from the border. Israel withdraws after the U.N. Security Council passes a resolution for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces. Under the leadership of Lebanese army Maj. Saad Haddad, an Israeli ally, a 12-mile wide "security zone" is established to protect Israeli territory from cross-border attacks.

1981: The PLO repeatedly violates a US-brokered cease fire by firing rockets into Israel.

May 17, 1983: Lebanon and Israel sign a U.S.-brokered peace agreement, spelling out terms of Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, conditional on the withdrawal of Syrian forces. Syria opposes the agreement.

October 23, 1983: A Hezbollah suicide bomber blows up the headquarters of U.S. Marine and French forces in Beirut, killing 298 people -- 241 of them U.S. Marines and other military personnel. U.S. troops are withdrawn from Lebanon a few months later.

January 18, 1984: American University of Beirut President Malcolm Kerr is assassinated.

March 1984: With pressure mounting from Syria, Lebanon cancels the May 17, 1983, peace agreement.

September 20, 1984: The U.S. Embassy annex in East Beirut is bombed, and 23 people are killed.

June 1985: Israel withdraws from most of Lebanon but keeps control of the 12-mile-wide security zone in the south. Israel remains there until May 2000.

July 2006: Hezbollah militants cross into Israel, kill three Israeli soldiers and kidnap two others in a bid to negotiate a prisoner exchange, a demand rebuffed by Israel. Another five Israeli soldiers are killed after the ambush.

So, can the astute reader find any pattern whatsoever in the AFP's choices for its timeline? Why the PLO is not mentioned, nor Hezbollah? Why the only times Palestinian Arabs are mentioned are for Sabra and Shatila (with the AFP inflating the likely figures)? Why the only protaganist mentioned is Israel?

Anyone notice any, shall we say, consistency in the AFP message?