THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED:
Conspiracy theories don't get generated only by lefties. The rightwingnutosphere continues to push its theory that the tragedy at Qana was not caused by Israel's bombardment but by Hezbollah, or dumb civilians not moving fast enough, or by ... uh ... bad voodoo?
For background, see this post and the comments.
Anyway, it's at the point where the Jerusalem Post can't ignore it -- probably due to reader pressure -- despite any hints, suggestions or evidence from the apologetic Israeli government that it isn't true.
At a press conference on Sunday night, Air Force Chief of Staff Brig.-Gen. Amir Eshel said the building was struck by IAF missiles a little after midnight, but only collapsed seven hours later, at about 7 a.m.
Eshel said he could not explain what caused the structure to collapse so many hours after it was hit, and speculated, while stressing that he had no conclusive evidence, about whether Hizbullah had played a role in what had transpired, perhaps by firing on the building itself.
Another possibility that has been raised is that the building sustained damage from the original strike, but collapsed only later from structural damage or the impact of further IAF strikes nearby. Alternatively, the building may have contained Hizbullah weaponry that detonated after the strike.
The reason this smells of conspiracy is because the bloggers, who did not actually visit the bombed building and were not present when the rescue took place, are speculating on a few snippets from Eshel and a sequence of news photos.
Do they honestly believe that every single MSM journo at the scene is in on this conspiracy, or has been duped?
Woooooooo. Earth to pajamahadeen.
The Washington Post's Jefferson Morley asks some really good questions here. (Emphasis and links are mine.)
The follow-up questions for the bloggers touting the alternative theory are obvious:
Who killed the Hashems and Shalhoubs, if it wasn't an Israel bomb? Korvet and the other bloggers don't offer any theories.
How did Hezbollah truck in bodies to the Qana site without the pervasive Israeli aerial surveillance catching it on film? Israel has released footage of what it says are Hezbollah fighters firing rockets from the area. Presumably, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is not covering up the story.
As for EU Referendum's claim that a Lebanese rescue worker seen in many photos from Qana was a "Hezbollah official," I e-mailed co-author of the site, Richard North, to ask for his evidence.
"All I have to go on is gut instinct," North replied.*
I appreciate his candor. It confirms that he has no evidence to support the central claim of his blog posts.
North says he is just trying to "raise questions," which is certainly a legitimate goal. My question is: What is it about the photos from Qana that made Israel's supporters prefer fantasy to fact?
One more thing: One of the key pieces of ''evidence'' the Keyboard Kommandos are presenting is the time-coding of news photos. Shows how much they know about the business. Here that gets all straightened out.
Photographers from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse all covered rescue operations Sunday in Qana, where 56 Lebanese were killed. Many of their photos depicted rescue workers carrying dead children.
A British Web site, the EU Referendum blog, built an argument that chicanery may have been involved by citing time stamps that went with captions of the photographs.
For example, the Web site draws attention to a photo by AP's Lefteris Pitarakis time stamped 7:21 a.m., showing a dead girl in an ambulance. Another picture, stamped 10:25 a.m. and taken by AP's Mohammed Zaatari, shows the same girl being loaded onto the ambulance. In a third, by AP photographer Nasser Nasser and stamped 10:44 a.m., a rescue worker carries the girl with no ambulance nearby.
The site suggests these events were staged for effect, a criticism echoed by talk show host Rush Limbaugh when he directed listeners to the blog on Monday.
"These photographers are obviously willing to participate in propaganda," Limbaugh said. "They know exactly what's being done, all these photos, bringing the bodies out of the rubble, posing them for the cameras, it's all staged. Every bit of it is staged and the still photographers know it."
The AP said information from its photo editors showed the events were not staged, and that the time stamps could be misleading for several reasons, including that web sites can use such stamps to show when pictures are posted, not taken. An AFP executive said he was stunned to be questioned about it. Reuters, in a statement, said it categorically rejects any such suggestion.
"It's hard to imagine how someone sitting in an air-conditioned office or broadcast studio many thousands of miles from the scene can decide what occurred on the ground with any degree of accuracy," said Kathleen Carroll, AP's senior vice president and executive editor.
Carroll said in addition to personally speaking with photo editors, "I also know from 30 years of experience in this business that you can't get competitive journalists to participate in the kind of (staging) experience that is being described."
Nice try guys. Maybe next time.
I love saying that.
*UPPITY DATE: North clearly can't get over himself.
DUDE! You've been busted! Shut up already.
HEH-HEH: The Guardian's Roy Greenslade has more.
North refuses to accept the explanation, returning to the matter today with a stinging attack on AP. "The news agencies that stitched up the photos at the Qana site have all huddled together and got AP staff writer David Bauder to issue a story rebutting lil ol' EU Referendum." He offers no new insights, merely relying on a mixture of innuendo and sarcasm to heap scorn on the agencies, and also impugns Bauder's professional ethics.
I wouldn't have devoted all this space and attention to an unreasoned and disgraceful attack on photographers operating at risk to their lives in a war zone but for the fact that the "lil 'ol" website is gaining the attention of right-wing conspiracy theorists in the States (and possibly elsewhere). Any professional journalist knows that the pictures were not staged. The explanation about the time-stamping by AP is quite obviously true. North is wrong but his message is dangerous because it puts those photographers' lives in even greater danger. My advice to him is to stick to what he knows best by churning out anti-EU rants.
It's not just North refusing to accept the explanations. It's all the members of the Flogosphere who are grasping at straws, in deep denial over this atrocity.
They should be so brave to be out there risking their lives as bombs drop all around them.
THIS SAYS IT ALL: It's from Daily Kos.
You'll look in vain for any admission at these sites that many innocents died a horrible death as a result of the bombings, the photographic evidence of which the wingers are pawing over, looking for any weakness. In this world view, death is an act of terrorism; it must be defeated, at any cost.
COMMENTS ON THIS THREAD HAVE BEEN CLOSED AS ISRAEL HAS APOLOGIZED AND ADMITTED RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS ATROCITY. SO MUCH FOR THE FLOGOSPHERE'S ATTEMPT TO MAKE THIS SEEM LIKE ANOTHER MEDIA CONSPIRACY.