A "Lull in Middle East Violence?"

It was another "relative calm" day in the Middle East today between the Israelis and Palestinians. I say "relative calm" because that’s the description that’s normally given by the news media when no Israelis are killed. It doesn’t matter how many Palestinians are killed; just as long as no Israelis are killed is all that matters when describing it as a "lull in violence."

Israel’s most crucial allies include the mass media of the United States. Together with top officials in Washington, news outlets keep reinforcing the assumption that the Israeli government can do little wrong.

Just one week ago, the news media described the latest suicide bombing in the Israeli city of Beersheba that killed 16 Israelis as "ending a six month lull in the violence in the Middle East." It may be true that there hasn’t been any violence committed by Palestinians but during this "six month lull" Israeli forces have killed 336 Palestinians including 4-year-old children, elderly farmers, and pregnant mothers. In addition to these killings, the Israelis have uprooted thousands of olive trees and have demolished more than 400 Palestinian homes leaving 1700 men, women, and especially children homeless.

When suicide bombers kill children and other civilians, outrage is a fitting response. Last week, condemnation was widespread after such an attack on Israeli buses but when Israeli machine gunners slaughter 4-year-old children or when one-ton bombs from Israeli jets are dropped in the middle of a Gaza apartment complex that kill sixteen Palestinians including 9 children, the response from the United States and the media coverage are quite different. These acts of terror never make "Headline News." These acts of terror receive little if any criticism from the White House or from any other leading politician. In the world according to U.S. media, and from our leaders in Washington, the high moral ground in the Middle East belongs to Israel’s government — even when it slaughters Palestinian children.

In the one week since the suicide attack on Israeli buses, the Israelis have killed 26 Palestinians and have seriously wounded dozens. Just today, there have been 7 Palestinians killled including a 9-year-old Palestinian boy. There were no voices of condemnation or harsh criticisms coming from President Bush or from his National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, or from the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. There were no "Headline News" on this latest violence. As a matter of fact, you’d be hard pressed to find the news on any outlet.

These despicable acts of killing 9-year-old and 4-year-old children and pregnant Palestinian mothers would be immediately identified as acts of terrorism in any other circumstance. The United States claims to be an "honest broker" between Israel and the Palestinians yet the U.S. continually ignores Israel’s repeated violations over decades of UN resolutions. While the U.S. accuses Palestinians of "terrorism" for fighting with small weapons, Israel receives billions of dollars in U.S. aid and arms each year, further building up its monstrous arsenal of F-16s, attack helicopters, tanks, and nuclear weapons. In addition, there are two important conditions for receiving U.S. military aid that Israel has violated repeatedly. Under the Arms Export Control Act, military hardware provided by FNS funds can be used only for defensive purposes or to maintain internal security. When the Israelis dropped a one ton bomb from a U.S. supplied F16 fighter jet in a central appartment complex in Gaza City last year that killed 16 innocent Palestinians including 9 children, both conditions of the Arms Export Control Act were in violation. No amount of spin could justify this crime as defensive or an act to maintain internal security. Yet, the Israelis were never censored or sanctioned. These are the kind of acts that build terror structures, and when Washington fails to respond the structures get that much stronger.

Our government must unequivocally condemn these murderous attacks on Palestinian civilians, just as it has rightly condemned suicide bomb attacks that have taken the lives of Israeli civilians and children. If you analyze history you can see what has always happened to leaders, countries, or political organizations that become so powerful they cannot be publicly criticized. Of course they have always become corrupt, arrogant, and out of control. Haven’t we put Israel on such a pedestal in America that that is exactly what has happened here? We talk about a balanced Middle East Policy and we talk about fair and unbiased news reporting. We have one standard for the Israelis that is so high they cannot be criticized no matter what grisly crimes they commit. Then we have a second standard for the treatment of Palestinians that is so low we publicly finance their ethnic cleansing and torture.

The greatest obstacle to peace in the Middle East is not the terror infrastructure. The terror infrastructure is a by-product of a corrupt, hypocritical, and unbalanced U.S. Middle East Policy. Most Americans are kept secret of these issues due to the sensitivity of our news media to insure that our "ally" is never offended. Until we get strong leadership in Washington who refuses to bend to the Israeli lobby in order to advance his or her political career then, and only then, will we see peace in the Middle East.