Looking for Bias

Since the outbreak of violence in Lebanon last month, the anti-UN crowd has worked overtime tarring the General Secretariat with accusations that it is pro-Hezbollah (and ergo, pro-terrorist). Writing in The Weekly Standard , Lori Lowenthal Marcus mines UNIFIL’s press-releases to prove this point.“[T]hroughout the recent war, [UNIFIL] posted on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and materiel… Meanwhile, UNIFIL posted not a single item of specific intelligence regarding Hezbollah forces. Statements on the order of Hezbollah ‘fired rockets in large numbers from various locations’ and Hezbollah’s rockets ‘were fired in significantly larger numbers from various locations’ are as precise as its coverage of the other side ever got.”

The statement is simply not true. When UNIFIL could, it reported on location of Hezbollah forces. Take this release from August third, when UNIFIL took fire from Hezbollah:

“One rocket from the Hezbollah side impacted directly on a UNIFIL position in the general area of Hula yesterday evening, causing extensive material damage, but no casualties. Half an hour later, another rocket from the Hezbollah side impacted directly on the same UNIFIL position, causing additional material damage, but no casualties. Hezbollah also fired rockets from the vicinity of four UN positions in the areas of Alma Ash Shab, Marwahin, Tibnin, and At Tiri.”

All in all, UNIFIL did report on IDF positions more routinely, and with more precision than they did on Hezbollah positions. But the IDF, unlike Hezbollah, is a conventional army that operates in plain sight. Its movements are much easier to track than those of the guerrilla fighters who operate among civilian populations and in a complex network of underground bunkers. In fact, the locations of Hezbollah combatants were so difficult to pin down that even one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world could not identify or immobilize Hezbollah positions with much success.

In the midst of the conflict, UNIFIL’s mission was to provide the international community with timely and accurate updates on the status of the fighting. As it happens, it is easier to spot a column of tanks than paramilitaries hiding in bunkers 40 meters below the ground. This is not anti-Israel bias, but the reflection on the nature of the conflict.