Mainstream media in the West (this term is used as a symbol. West, primarily refers to the United States of America) has continuously been presenting events in the Middle East in a light that provide blank check to Israel in all its words and deeds. What is considered morally and socially acceptable for Israel, is completely twisted the other way when applied to Palestinians and Arabs. Some of the blatant double-standards practised in the American media are described in following passages.
Media often refers to the Middle East conflict as Israel’s “war” against Palestinian terrorism. How can one rationalize the use of term “war” when Israel is equipped with the most sophisticated military machine and keep world’s fourth largest rigorously trained army. Palestinians’ resistance, on the other hand, largely constitutes of teenaged stone throwers and more recently suicides with home made bombs. A few Palestinians adults have klashnikov rifles, but they remotely match Israel’s deadly arsenal.
The other term commonly used is Israelis “incursion” or “retaliation” (instead of invasion) against Palestinians’ “attack” (as it is a war). Jenin refugee camp is a recent example, where Israeli army flattened houses and caused wanton destruction of life and property as one could experience only in an earthquake of extreme scale. But this catastrophe brought by the army is still referred by the American media as Israelis’ “retaliation” to Palestinians’ suicide bombers.
Israelis are often portrayed as “innocent” while Palestinians “terrorist.” This is the height of injustice as a misuse of the vocabulary. How Israelis, who are subjugating, humiliating and brutalizing the general population of West Bank and Gaza with the most sophisticated war machine of the state can be innocent. While Palestinians with no proper authority, when defend their honour and piece of land (what ever is left) with stones on bare hand and some disillusioned young with their body strapped with bombs, are considered terrorists. In a world of complete inequality, a history of 35 years of waiting for justice and no means to implement their legitimate will by non-violent process, what other options oppressed Palestinians have left than to inflict severe blow to Israelis by the desperate measure of suicide? To a fair mind, the rational of a suicide bomber is simple: if you do not allow “us” to live in peace and dignity, why will we allow “you” to live in the same way? (This issue is covered by me in greater detail in another article, published by the Media Monitor Network website: http://184.108.40.206/falsafayghaalib1.html)
In the Western media Israel is often praised as an island of democracy in an ocean of kingship and dictatorship. In a democracy, it is the majority that decides the type of administration, political and economic structure and foreign policy. Israelis decide whether they want to live in peace with Palestinians or to continue the spiral of brutality and subjugation. On the economic side, again it is the majority Israelis’ who decide whether their tax revenue will go to improve the living standard or to buy expensive sophisticated arms to suppress Palestinians’ legitimate aspiration. By logic, every vote casting adult and tax payer in Israel is as responsible (or innocent) as a soldier fighting face to face an enemy. Israelis have complete freedom to choose political party that would bring peace and allocate the tax revenue in improving the economy, but knowingly and by own preference, they have chosen otherwise (Ariel Sharon’s government of extreme right is a case in point). Those who are in minority in Israel, they also have complete freedom to voice their disapproval of the present government policy by various other means, not available to people under authoritarian regime.
Ehud Barak’s offer of land for peace to Yasser Arafat in the Camp David is often repeated in the media as the most “generous” that Palestinians rejected: 97% of the land (actually, the number ranges from 91% to 99%). First, no one has produced any document to back the offer. why was that offer not published and made available to general public for review and critique? Second, if the offer was so crystal clear and concrete, why even on a fundamental point of land swap, the percentage ranges from 91% to 99%. Third, even if we accept the most quoted percentage, the question remains 97% of what land? Is 97% of pre-1967 land or only West Bank and Gaza? For that you have to see the original Oslo Accord of 1993. It granted the Palestinians only 22% of their historic homeland. In other words, Palestinians agreed to surrender the remaining 78% to Israel as part of the “Land-for-Peace.” Camp David offered the Palestinians 97% (widely quoted percentage) of this 22%, which implies that in reality, Palestinians got not more than 21% of their actual home land. Fourth, the 3% of land (still remaining with Israel) may be the most strategic piece that would never enable Palestinians to become a viable state. It is like expecting a body to survive without a heart. Finally, (gathering from scant information) the Barak’s offer appears to provide no control of borders by Palestinians, no contiguity between parts of the West Bank, no Palestinian sovereignty, or even contiguity of neighborhoods, in Jerusalem. It did not resolve the issue of sharing of Jerusalem between two people, return of Palestinian refugees and of illegal Israeli settlements. Of the total area of 2185.3 square miles in the Palestinian West Bank, there are 400,000 Israelis living in 200 communities or “settlements.” That’s approximately one settlement in every eleven miles. Acceptance of Barak’s “generous” offer by Arafat, no wonder, was tantamount to committing wholesome suicide by Palestinians.
Israel’s occupation of Palestinians’ land is often referred to the “natural” right of Jews, promised by the God in the Old Testament. What about those who do not believe in the Old Testament (which could be more than 70% of the world population). Again, what version of Testament to believe in. If we start resolving today’s world problem, which is full of diversity and complexity, purely on Biblical (or any other religious) interpretation and doctrine, world order and political stability of nations will be greatly harmed.
It is true that the United Nations in 1948 (primarily with the economic and political mussels of Europe and the United States) created the state of Israel in Palestine. But the fact is that land was not lying vacant as a desert and waiting for Jews to migrate from Europe and other parts of the world to establish their permanent settlements. Palestinians were living there. In reality, this land was stolen from them.
Palestinians’ resentment to the creation of Israel by taking away their land was natural. If someone grabs only one room from the possession of an American homeowner, how will you react. You will fight and try to get it back. In the process, you may lose other property of your house. But it does not mean that your struggle to get back your original possession was wrong. That is what has happened to Palestinians.
When the same UN, through unlimited number of resolutions, orders Israel to leave the occupied land and to stop extending illegal settlements, Israel (with blind support of the United States) just thumbs the nose of the world body. What principle justifies Israel to be selective in its acceptance of the UN resolution? How can Israel rationalize accepting its creation by the UN as legitimate, but resolutions passed against its occupation of Palestine as piece of papers not worth more than spitting on them.
When Iraq resists to allow UN to continue inspecting its weapons of mass destruction (no one found any thing worthwhile during the past seven years of UN inspections), the United States threatens to attack Iraq and to remove Saddam Husain on the point of a gun or even to kill him. In contrast, US uses its veto in UN (or play dirty background politics) to suppress any resolution passed by the world community against Israel. The recent disbandment of the UN fact finding mission of war crimes committed by the Israeli army in Jenin’s refugee camp is a classic case of double standard.
Media always complain that why did Palestinians and Arabs not allow Israel to exist as sanctioned by the UN. Why did they wage war against Israel? As stated earlier, it was a natural reaction to resist and fight, although in the process Arabs lost more and more land to Israel. However, one may also ask why does United States not allocate a fraction of her land to Jews to settle? After all, US is the largest country in the world with usable land and a population of only 250 million. US is the closest friends and allies of Jews and Israel. In most instances, it is indistinguishable who is controlling and running the US political administration and its economic infrastructure: common American citizens or Jews living in the United States and Israel.
The fact is that the creation of the state of Israel was a “moral compensation” of Europe (along with the US) to Jews for their crime in the Holocaust. However, the critical question is why should Palestinians pay for the crime committed by the Europeans. What logic justifies settling one’s debit account by stealing someone else wallet.
To President George W. Bush, Ariel Sharon is a “man of peace” and Yasser Arafat a terrorist. Mr. Sharon’s role in the massacre of innocent Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatilla camps in Beirut during 1982 is well documented. Mr. Arafat, on the other hand, shares Noble Peace Prize with Israel’s present Foreign Minister. At one time, Mr. Mandela was also labelled a “terrorist” during his long struggle for the independence of South Africa. He latter received Noble Peace Prize and world invites him to lecture on human dignity, peace and merit of resisting illegitimate subjugation.
Today Israel presents itself as innocent and Palestinians as terrorists. The fact is that Israel’s foundation is laid on terrorism. For example, on July 22, 1946, Israel’s former Prime Minister, Menachem Begin killed 90 British, Arab and Jewish innocent civilians by detonating 350 kg of explosives in the basement of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. One another Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir was sought by the British government as “Wanted Terrorist” in a mug-shot poster for assassinating the Swedish UN peacekeeper, Count Bernadotte on September 17, 1948.
What would be the best way of accepting Ariel Sharon as a “man of peace” than to read his exact quotes from the interview that Sharon gave to Amoz Oz (a great Israeli intellectual and writer) in 1982:
“Tell me, do the baddies of this world have a bad time? If anyone tries to touch them, the evil men cut his hands and legs off. They hunt and catch whatever they feel like eating. They don’t suffer from indigestion and are not punished by Heaven. I want Israel to join that club. Maybe the world will then at last begin to fear me instead of feeling sorry for me. Maybe they will start to tremble, to fear my madness instead of admiring my nobility. Maybe they will start to tremble, to fear my madness instead of admiring my nobility. Thank god for that. Let them tremble, let them call us a mad state. Let them understand that we are a wild country, dangerous to our surroundings, not normal, that we might go crazy if one of our children is murdered – just one! That we might go wild and burn all the oil fields in the Middle East!
“Even today I am willing to volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us, to pull the rug from underneath the feet of the Diaspora Jews, so that they will be forced to run to us crying. Even if it means blowing up one or two synagogues here and there, I don’t care. And I don’t mind if after the job is done you put me in front of a Nuremberg Trial and then jail me for life. Hang me if you want, as a war criminal. Then you can spruce up your Jewish conscience and enter the respectable club of civilised nations, nations that are large and healthy.
“What your lot don’t understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it. True, it could have been finished in 1948, but you interfered, you stopped it. And you can write that I am disgrace to humanity, I don’t mind, on the contrary. Let’s make a deal: I will do all I can to expel the Arabs from here, I will do all I can to increase anti-Semitism, and you will write poems and essays about the misery of the Arabs.”
(Cited in the Friday Times Weekly, May 3-9, 2002, Vol. XIV, No. 10)
If Ariel Sharon with these open views is the “Man of Peace”, then who is out there to be called a “terrorist?” What a hypocrisy in the American media!
The Author has a Ph.D. in Economics and 15 years of research and teaching experience.