BOB GARFIELD: Last week, Susan Caskie gave us a quick tour of what was being said in editorials out of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Israel, but considering that the Shiite militant group Hezbollah is framing the Lebanon attack as a showdown between Israel and the entire Muslim world, we wondered how Muslims outside the immediate region are reacting to the hostilities.
So, Susan is back with papers from Pakistan, Indonesia, Algeria and Malaysia, and the bottom line, she says, is that editorialists are hopping mad. From The Week magazine, Susan Caskie. Welcome back to OTM.
SUSAN CASKIE: Thanks for having me.
BOB GARFIELD: Hopping mad. Start, please, in Pakistan.
SUSAN CASKIE: In Pakistan, which you would expect would be covering the fallout from the Bombay bombings of two weeks ago, which India blamed Pakistan for, instead of that, Pakistani editorials are filled with denunciations of Israel and of the United States.
There are lots of calls for Muslims to rise up and support Hezbollah and support the Lebanese. There is plenty of criticism of the Arab League for having done very little. The Arab League met and did their usual, well, we condemn this and we refer it to the U.N. Security Council.
One editorial in a Pakistani paper, called Islam, says that if the Muslim leaders fail to realize their responsibilities and do something, they will not only create severe difficulties for the Islamic world but will also endanger the existence of their governments.
BOB GARFIELD: So that's a shot across the bow at Musharraf, but, I guess, also more directly at Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
SUSAN CASKIE: Saudi Arabia has come in for lots of criticism for its condemnation of Hezbollah. Essentially, it's seen as having blamed Hezbollah for starting the conflict, whereas most of the commentaries and editorials in the rest of the Muslim world see Israel as the prime mover in the conflict.
BOB GARFIELD: Now, you mentioned problems in Pakistan and Indonesia, where they're living with another tsunami and hundreds of victims. You say they're also devoting a lot of attention to Lebanon.
SUSAN CASKIE: Yes, they are. In fact, Indonesia has a fair number of editorials and commentaries condemning the United States, specifically, even more than Israel, for the U.S. perceived role in the crisis. Actually, the way that the Indonesian papers are presenting it, the U.S. could call an end to the Israeli attacks at any time but has chosen not to. That's a theme that we saw in a paper out of Jakarta, which is called "Compass."
We also saw it in another Indonesian paper called "Republica," where they're saying the Israeli Zionists, backed by the U.S. government, are - and they go on to list a number of alleged crimes. They're saying that Israel is using chemical weapons and that it's raining hell down on Lebanon, and that kind of thing.
Also in that region of Asia, Malaysia, which is another mostly Muslim country, is full of editorials condemning the United States for its failure to intervene. They speak Malay and Chinese in Malaysia. And one of the Chinese-language papers, the Guangming Daily, out of Petalanjaya, says the U.S. strong support for Israel is the chief culprit, indirectly causing the deterioration of the conflict. It controls Israel. Why can't it make Israel stop? That's a theme that we've seen sort of all across the Muslim world.
And the funny thing is that this is actually sort of a reverse of a theme that we've noticed in other editorials that say that Israel controls U.S. foreign policy. In this case, it's that the U.S. can control Israeli foreign policy, so why isn't it doing so?
BOB GARFIELD: Let's come back to Israel, which, you know, as of last week, you told us was still kind of anguished in its take on this invasion. Tell me what is being said in the papers there now.
SUSAN CASKIE: It has changed in a week. Last week, many of the papers, left, right and center in Israel, were busy giving pros and cons. What could go wrong here? Should we have done this? Should we continue doing it? - that kind of thing.
This week, we were seeing much more sort of a grim, practical, get-through-it kind of mentality. The centrist paper, Yedioth Arhonoth, started off just saying, we have to destroy Hezbollah's missile capabilities. That is the purpose of this war. And if we fail, then the West will return to the policy - this is a quote now - "the policy of buying calm with money and rewarding terrorists with silence."
Then Ha'aretz, which is a leftist Israeli paper, also uses very similar language. They say, if, at war's end, the impression is that Hezbollah was damaged but that it also managed to strike a heavy blow to Israel, the implication will be that the Israeli defense force has failed to restore its ability to deter. And that word, "deter," is being used all over the Israeli press right now. The emphasis is really on restoring the fear in the Islamic world of the Israeli military.
A center right paper, Ma'Ariv, said the same thing, the exact same words — if we fail to achieve the objectives of this war, it will be another victory, the biggest, for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
And there's definitely the theme that all Israeli papers are saying now - we're in it, we're in the conflict, and all we can do is pursue it until it's finished and not worry about right or wrong right now.
BOB GARFIELD: Okay, Susan. Well, once again, thank you very much.
SUSAN CASKIE: Thank you.
BOB GARFIELD: Susan Caskie is the international editor of The Week magazine