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FOX News Helps Israeli Consul General Avoid Tough Questions.

Reported by Ellen - July 31, 2006 -

UPDATED WITH VIDEO LINK. Predictably, last night’s (7/30/06) special edition of Hannity & Colmes was comprised of all pro-Israel guests and devoid of any Arab or Muslim viewpoints. The only debate seemed to be over Israel’s tactics in the war and even that dissent was tamped down by FOX News and Sean Hannity.

During a segment with the Israeli Consul General, Ambassador Arye Mekel, Alan Colmes asked a few questions about whether Israel was out of step with the other countries of the world, which have not taken its side, and how it calculated whether hitting Hezbollah targets embedded with civilians are worth the risks to civilians (Mekel answered that they always try to avoid hitting civilians). Then Colmes asked, “There was a story last week that Israel was asked numerous times not to bomb in the area of UN observers and then four UN observers were killed. Is that an accurate story? Are you dispute (sic) that Israel was asked, ‘Please don’t do this,’ and nevertheless they continued to throw the rockets and four innocent people, UN observers, were….” The rest of Colmes’ sentence was inaudible, as his mike appeared to have been cut off.

Mekel didn’t answer the question. “Obviously, we are not attacking UN positions. We attack Hezbollah positions. I saw some evidence from UN, the Canadian UN observer that said that Hezbollah was maybe 10 feet from them all the time on purpose because they, too, were trying to use the UN in order to be able to shoot from there and perhaps go unpunished. But you know, let’s see what this is. This is a war. It’s a war.”

In fact, it was reported by AP, the same wire service FOX News uses, that the UN told Israel directly that Hezbollah was there, trying to shield itself.

“We did repeatedly in recent days say (to Israel) that this was an exposed position, that Hezbollah militants were 500 meters (yards) away shielding themselves near U.N. workers and civilians," U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said. "That's why it is so inexplicable that what happened happened."

But Colmes never had a chance to ask a follow up question. As soon as Mekel finished speaking, the music started and Sean Hannity ended the discussion despite the fact that Colmes got nearly a minute less time than Hannity (2 minutes, 10 seconds for Colmes; 3 minutes, 7 seconds for Hannity).

Later, during what was actually a fairly interesting panel discussion on Israel’s tactics, Lt. Col. Tim Eads referred again to the bombing of the UN observers and expressed his opinion that it was almost impossible that Israel didn’t know what it was doing. Sean Hannity immediately interrupted with his bullyboy voice and complained that Eads had convicted Israel before trial. Hannity added derisively that Eads sounded like Kofi Annan. But hypocritical Hannity didn’t complain about a rush to judgment when Oliver North, earlier in the program, said, “The problem, of course, is that in all of these events – you notice we’re constantly seeing women and children as the victims of the Israelis. Women and children. Does anybody figure out where are the young men? Well, the young men are the ones who put those women and children there.” He added that James “Let’s go to war with Syria” Woolsey said that he has some doubts whether the women and children were actually killed by the Israelis.

Despite all the aggressive posturing and the airing of a few “exclusive” photos “proving” that Hezbollah was in Qana, it’s pretty clear that the FOX News neocons must be on the defensive. Last night’s catchphrase was “Hezbollah started this.” That’s a far cry from their original drumbeating for an escalation with Iran and Syria or their more recent buzzword, that the conflict was “an opportunity” to resolve issues in the Middle East – peace through war.

Not that I expect the barking heads to give up the call to arms – not so long as other people are doing the fighting.

UPDATE: Video of the Mekel interview is available on the Hannity & Colmes webpage.