News Release

Paris, Beirut and the “Weaponization of Grief”

RANIA MASRI, rania.z.masri at gmail.com, @rania_masri
Masri is an activist in Beirut. She was featured on an accuracy.org news release about the attacks in Lebanon just before the attacks in Paris titled, “From Beirut After Bombing: ‘We are Not Numbers’.” She stresses the need for authentic solidarity, transcending sectarian and national boundaries.

Masri has long warned about U.S. wars feeding sectarianism and Gulf backing of groups like ISIS in Syria. She noted the piece in the Guardian: “Now the truth emerges: how the U.S. fuelled the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.” Masri also highlighted the recent speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who has been battling ISIS. As’ad AbuKhalil writes that Nasrallah in the speech is virtually alone among major figures in Lebanon: “He spoke against bigotry against Syrian refugee population and stressed that no matter how much ISIS strikes in Lebanon, the refugees should not be blamed or harmed in any way.”

JIM NAURECKAS, jnaureckas at fair.org, @JNaureckas
Naureckas is editor of FAIR’s magazine Extra! and just wrote the piece It’s True, Media Did Cover Beirut Bombings–About 1/40th as Much as They Covered Paris Attacks

He also wrote recently wrote: “Context-Free Coverage of Terror Helps Perpetuate Its Causes,” which states: “It feels callous to question the allocation of outrage; empathy is in such short supply in this world that one hesitates to question it when it emerges. But as a long-time citizen of New York City, I’m all too aware of the weaponization of grief. The outpouring of no-context, ahistorical sympathy after 9/11 helped pave the way for a violent reaction that killed in Iraq alone roughly 150 times as many people as died in Lower Manhattan that day — an opportunistic catastrophe that did more to mock than avenge those deaths.

“Just as the question of Al-Qaeda’s motives in 2001 provoked more self-congratulation than serious inquiry (Extra! Update, 10/01), coverage of Paris in 2015 tends to skirt over political realities. Thus the New York Times (11/13/15) could report: ‘A stunned and confused French capital was again left to wonder: Why us? Once again?’ The obvious answer was alluded to obliquely by a soccer stadium spectator: ‘With all the strikes in Syria, we’re not safe anymore.’

“Readers were presumed to know this referred to the French bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria, which began in September, following aerial attacks against ISIS’s positions in Iraq that started last year (CNN, 9/27/15). Just last week, France joined in intensified strikes against ISIS-controlled oil fields in Syria (New York Times, 11/12/15). By last summer, Western airstrikes against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria had reportedly killed at least 459 civilians, including more than 100 children (Guardian, 8/3/15).”