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The racist subtext of the evacuation story
Jonathan Cook, Electronic Lebanon, 19 July 2006
Israel has opened "windows" for the foreign powers to evacuate their terrified nationals from Lebanon. Obligingly, the foreign media have turned these "windows" into an opportunity to avert their gaze further from the death and destruction in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.
On BBC World, for example, we have been following the progress of one 12-year-old British boy fleeing Beirut. When he observed that he was worried for the Lebanese family members he was leaving behind, reporter Clive Myrie noted his was a "very mature attitude".
If only the BBC was demonstrating such maturity.
I have to keep reminding myself that this is BBC World, not its domestic news service. You would hardly know it watching the coverage of the past couple of days.
On Tuesday, when at least 35 Lebanese were killed -- possibly many more as no one seems to know who is lying under the rubble or has been incinerated in their fleeing cars -- we had the BBC's Ben Brown in Beirut giving a blow-by-blow account of every facet of the evacuation of foreign nationals in general and British nationals in particular.
If anyone doubted the racism of our Western media, here it was proudly on display. The BBC apparently considers their Beirut reporter's first duty to find out what meals HMS Gloucester's chef will be preparing for the evacuees. Lebanese and Palestinian civilians die unnoticed by the Western media (though not by the Arab channels) while we learn of onboard sleeping arrangements on the ship bound for Cyprus.
In the early evening, we watched from our apartment balcony as a huge white cruise ship glided past west Beirut toward Cyprus. Aboard were several groups of evacuees, including a number of US students from American University of Beirut. A few minutes later, another colossal cruise ship came by in the opposite direction; we heard it was a French ship that would be taking out more evacuees tomorrow. It looked like time for a Caribbean festival. At our apartment were gathered a group of about 10 AUB faculty and staff, and one young Filipino woman. The phone rang: it was an AUB official who needed immediate answers. The time had arrived: each of us had to decide whether to stay or go. Some had made their decision already. For others, it came to them on the spot. And for a few, the matter of having to choose seemed the greatest violence of all. Beirut had gotten under everybody's skin. One man, who had just decided to take the boat, said he had decided that Beirut was the place he wanted to spend his life. Perhaps he will have that choice. On this, the 6th day of the Battle of Lebanon, very little seemed certain.