Attacks On Lebanon Provide Pleasant Distraction From Iraq Death Toll
The Israeli attacks on Lebanon, which have killed upwards of 17 Lebanese civilians today and one Israeli civilian, have given war-weary news viewers a happy divagation from the increasingly bloody and horrific fighting in Iraq, with over 76% of respondents in a recent USA Today poll classifying their feelings towards the Israeli conflict as either "good" or "whuh".
While over 200 civilians have died in gristly attacks on markets and cafes in Baghdad since the weekend alone, the relatively low civilian death toll in Lebanon and Israel has been a sign of progress to analysts and source of comfort for many.
"It's nice to see that two opposing forces can oppose each other not with wholesale civilian casualties, but only erroneous and sporadic deaths," said Ustaff Fafsa, Professor of Middle Eastern studies at Syracuse University. "Personally, I needed a break from the unrelenting violence in Iraq, and I'm happy to see both sides finally focusing on eliminating civilian infrastructure, and not necessarily civilians."
When asked, many did say that they had heard of the rocket attacks on Israeli homes by "Lebanese gorillas", but that the continued low body count has kept them feeling optimistic.
"[In regards to Iraq], this new war makes me feel like I'm sticking my fingers in my ears, while I say, 'La-la-la-la, I'm not listening,'" said Dr. Jim Johnson, a colleague of Fafsa's. "Frankly, it's a nice feeling to have."
The attacks on Lebanon by Israel have sparked widespread panic within the country, and foreign nations are rushing to evacuate the citizens stranded amid the violence. Scenes of helicopters air-lifting civilians to safety and foreign refugees being loaded onto boats and planes have been a source of inspiration to many who have become depressed at the stagnant state of the bloodbath in Iraq.
"Hey, this is exciting stuff," said Mike Pedersen, foreman for the City of Dayton roadway construction department. "I don't mind violence, as long as there's a happy ending, and there isn't a happy ending in the making in Iraq. Hearing news out of [Iraq] is like watching a 24-hour marathon of 'Hotel Rwanda', except Don Cheadle's inspiring performance is missing."
Polling also indicates that the merely quasi-horrific images of bombed-out buildings and large missile explosions are more interesting from a "pure war" standpoint than the suicide bombings and insurgent skirmishes that have become so passe in Iraq. Many have honored the 300 Lebanese and Israeli civilians killed so far in the seven day-old war by blinking more often than usual and frowning before flipping to the "sports" section of their daily newspaper, but they say they are also glad to finally see a military campaign that's "worth reading about".
"What's America doing in Iraq?" asked Bud Miller, contractor. "Nothing! We're sitting around and letting Iraqis kill and get killed, but Israel -- now there's a country that knows how to kick some ass. We should take a few lessons from Israel and step up the attacks on whoever it is we're supposed to be attacking in Iraq, because if we did the war would be over in no time."
Some militants in Iraq have expressed resentment and jealousy over the press that the Israeli attacks have garnered from national and world media. In an interview with Al-jazeera TV, an unnamed Iraqi militant gave the following statement:
"A year ago, 53 Iraqis killed in a single day would have gotten the world's attention, and would almost certainly have been enough to get American troops to withdraw their forces," he said glumly. "Now, it seems that nothing short of capturing Katie Couric and beheading her live on 60 Minutes will ever get anyone to notice what glories we are performing for Allah."
But despite all the optimism, there are still many Americans and citizens the world over who have opted to wait this one out, reserving an "opinion" until they figure out what is going on and "what the hell the whole Hezbollah thing" is all about.
"I don't know how I stand on this whole thing, because in Iraq it's easy to see from my professors and friends that Americans are in the wrong and Iraqis are in the right," said Sarah Duncan, senior at Duke University. "But in Lebanon, I think that Israel is on the offensive and are killing people, but I can't say for sure, because the headlines haven't explained that to me properly. I'll keep myself neutral until one side gets the other into a quagmire, and I get to use the word quagmire."
"Then I'll really show 'em what I think by protesting somewhere on campus," she added.