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The 5 Ws of news
By M. Zeyaul Haque

M. Zeyaul HaqueNearly a quarter century ago, as a journalism trainee I was told to remember that news consisted of five Ws. It was one of my first lessons in the profession I had chosen for myself. The five Ws were (I don’t remember the order): What, When, Where, Who, Why. Years later, when one of my sons chose the same career, he also got the same lesson as a journalism trainee, of course from a different generation of teachers. Down the decades journalism trainees have been told that their profession hinged on a good grasp of the five Ws.

After all these years of taking it for granted that journalists would always remember their primary lesson, suddenly we discover that most journalists have said goodbye to one of the crucial Ws –– ‘Why’. Report after report and analysis after analysis of the September 11 incidents in New York, Washington and Pittsburg talks endlessly about ‘terrorism’ just stopping short of asking the vital question, "why did it happen?" Or, "why did it happen to America only?". One of the Ws is thus increasingly being overlooked as it seems to be requiring too much of moral courage to ask the question ‘why’?

Now that the U.S. and its allies seem to have made up their mind that Osama bin Laden is the mastermind (without being able to convince the rest of the world), it seems easier to answer the ‘why’ of September 11. Because Osama is an Arab and a Muslim and many of his men are Arabs and all of them Muslims, it is easier to guess that America has deeply hurt Arabs and many Muslims with its policies to the extent that many of them would not mind dying or killing others (mostly innocent folk) in a desperate attempt to attract attention to America’s unjust policies regarding Muslims.

Asking ‘why’ would help us grasp the problem and try to seek an enduring solution. If it is Osama and his men, we already know what riles him –– American troops on Saudi holy land and America’s unstinted support to Israel to confiscate Palestinian lands and build illegal settlements on those lands with American money and killing of Palestinians with U.S. supplied weapons. As simple as that. The solution too would not be to difficult to find if America is half as serious about the causes underlying what it calls terrorism as it is to crush ‘terrorism’.

Asking ‘why’ is not the same as supporting Sep. 11 events: to diagnose a disease does not imply that we wish the disease well. Nobody can defend the indefensible –– we only want that Sep. 11 should never recur so that America is never again forced to go to war to eliminate its enemies (and thousands of others as innocent as World Trade Centre victims).

As a working journalist (as one whose livelihood depends on regular work as a journalist) I am amazed at the hype and hooplah around terrorism accompanied by a deafening silence about its causes. Between CNN and BBC, the former has been more afraid of asking the uncomfortable question than the latter. This has added to the credibility of BBC, although it had to apologise for asking the question. The BBC buckled under pressure, only to regain its independent posture soon afterwards. On the contrary, CNN could never muster the courage. The reason is not far to seek: the Zionist lobby is far more powerful in America than in Britain, which means it is virtually impossible to talk about Israeli excesses in the U.S. media.

A recent article by Saeed Naqvi in the Indian Express makes interesting reading. He does ask some questions about America’s unpopularity, but there is virtually nothing about the Arab feeling of denial of justice at the hands of the U.S. However, the last line makes up for the lack when he writes that when he saw the WTC towers burning and crumbling the face of the Palestinian child Muhammad al Durra dying helplessly in his father’s helpless arms flashed before his eyes. Muhammad was shot in cold blood by Israelis at the beginning of the current Intifadah. He was not even throwing stones.

The general feeling in the Arab world is that Zionists have enslaved them with the power of American money ($10 billion in annual loan guarantees) and are killing them with American weapons. How fair is it to continue doing it, Mr Bush? Five consecutive U.S. presidents in their time have opposed the continuing confiscation of Palestinian land and construction of ever newer Jewish settlements on them. Bush Sr. was almost forced out of the White House for declaring that the U.S. would withhold the $10 billion loan guarantees if Israel continued building new settlements on Arab land. Bush Sr. had finally to eat humble pie as Israel went on building settlements and getting American money. Bush Sr. had to accept defeat when thousands of Zionist lobbyists descended on Washington from all over America. Bush Sr. meekly declared: "What can a small man in the White House do when he is surrounded by so many people?" Or something to the effect. Nothing, of course. Nothing except surrender.

The Great George Herbert Walker Bush, Commander-in-Chief of U.S. forces, whose forces fought the Gulf War and won hands down, abjectly surrendered before Zionist lobbyists. The present George W. Bush would also fight a great war (incidentally against Muslims) but would not dare to lift a finger against Zionists whose depredations are the primary cause of every strife.

Now, coming back to the media, of late we have witnessed some curiosity for knowing the ‘why’ behind Sep. 11, and Saeed Naqvi’s is not the only article to try to do so. There have been quite a few, the most interesting being a nice one by celebrated writer Fredrick Forsyth in the Indian Express of Sep. 22 in which he raises the issue of American funding of British terrorist group Irish Republican Army (IRA). The IRA survives on American funding, which makes Tony Blair’s support to war on international terrorism look silly. It also makes President Bush’s resolve to go after terrorists and their supporters look absurd. Will America go to war against America for funding terrorism in Britain?

The answer is a plain no. But Iraq, Sudan and Algeria might be attacked in weeks ahead for ‘harbouring’ terrorists. Even the friendly Egypt could meet the same fate for the same reason. Pakistan would have met with worse fate if it did not join the campaign against Afghanistan.

The question is why it is that America wants to hit some terrorism sponsors and forgive others, including itself? Why selective justice? Because the Zionist lobby wants some to be punished and others to be ignored. And, what can a small man sitting in the White House do against thousands of lobbyists? Remember, if Mr Bush Sr. felt himself to be small before Zionists, Bush Jr. has got to feel smaller. We can’t expect anything better from him. He would never ask the right question, the ‘why’ of Arab anger.

As for CNN, it would be unwise to expect fairplay from this media giant. In what was the greatest media record of dishonesty, it showed video clips of Palestinians rejoicing over the attacks on WTC and Pentagon. The CNN deliberately did it to provoke American anger against Arabs. The tapes were not of Sep. 11, 2001, but of 1991 when Palestinians were celebrating the invasion of Kuwait.
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