You can’t make this stuff up. A study by the Media Group at Scotland’s Glasgow University recently reported that “many people in Britain think the Palestinians are occupying Israeli territory and not the other way round and some think Palestinians are refugees from Afghanistan.” Well, that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the truth and consequences of mass media journalism.
James Read of the BBC wrote a commentary to explain the findings of the Glasgow study. He concluded that they resulted from a preponderance of official Israeli perspectives, a neglect to inform the public of the origins of the conflict and an emphasis on Israeli casualties. Like most of his colleagues, he also gave the standard mass media excuse for misleading the public: “Israeli actions were contextualised but not Palestinian actions.”
I don’t mean to strain the imagination of the folks at the BBC, but why does one need ‘context’ to understand that Ariel Sharon is a career war criminal? Do the wizards at the BBC know how to google? Can they spare a BBC trainee for a few hours to research Qibya or Sabra and Shatila or Jenin or Rafah? Have they ever heard of Unit 101, a terrorist brigade led by Sharon and tasked with committing atrocities against the Palestinians in the 1950s?
Why hasn’t The New York Times challenged the BBC’s cover-up of Sharon’s war crimes or vice versa? Why is CNN propagating the same canards as The Washington Post? Why is Rupert Murdoch allowed to slander the Palestinians on a daily basis without any concern that the ‘adults’ in the mass media business will make fools of the degenerates who toil in FOX’s fib factories? How did it come to pass that so many English language journalists have been so wrong for so long?
The repression of the Palestinians would not be possible without willing enablers like the BBC and the FOX pundits who pollute the airwaves with their peculiar brand of Murdochracy. It takes an extraordinary amount of talent to twist the basic outlines of the Israeli/Palestinian narrative. It takes a mountain of spin to cover up the heaps of lies required to obscure a story that can be honestly explained to a child of ten in a matter of hours. It takes long torturous sessions with an unabridged Oxford dictionary to come up with enough weasel words to distort the true nature of the Palestinian struggle for liberty.
This phenomenon can not be written off as a series of typing errors. History will show that mass media journalists in Britain and the United States deliberately conspired in a concerted effort to mislead the public. They collaborated in this venture with the full knowledge that their cowardly conduct might result in another Israeli bullet lodged in the skull of a Palestinian child.
A little context for the BBC
The Palestinian narrative is pretty straightforward. A small indigenous Eastern Mediterranean people of well established ancient pedigree were systematically uprooted from their native land to make room for Eastern European immigrants escaping religious and ethnic persecution in the ‘civilized world’. The Palestinian peasants, shepherds and villagers who were targeted for ethnic cleansing were the descendents of the ancient wise men who gave the world the monotheistic theology that came to be known as the Abrahamic traditions. From their ranks came people like Jesus and his disciples. The inspirational wisdom of ancient Palestinian sages found resonance all over the planet and their native lands came to be known as the ‘Holy Land’.
Because their patrimony was coveted by so many over the ages, Palestine was frequently invaded. Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks and Napoleon’s armies all took turns lording over the natives of the Holy Land. Each of these imperial powers left their mark on the Palestinians. But none left a wound quite as deep as the one inflicted by the spear of the English. For the British did not come to occupy and tax the Palestinians. They came with a blue print to cleanse the Holy Land of its native population. His majesty’s imperial armies marched into Palestine with the explicit intent of coercing the indigenous inhabitants to vanish into the night.
Roll back the calendar to the end of World War I as General Allenby led his English soldiers into Jerusalem in December of 1917. Just before his arrival, you will find the Palestinians tilling their fields under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. About eighty percent were Muslims and 15% were Christians. The other 5% were indigenous Jews, Samaritans and Druze. Like most of the ancient people of the Middle East, including the Egyptians and the Levantines, the Palestinians had adopted Arabic as a mother tongue. In British eyes, this made the natives just a bunch of ‘generic’ Arabs who could easily be displaced to live among other ‘generic’ Arabs. Today, the same logic can be used to justify ethnically cleansing Costa Ricans and dispatching them to live among the ‘generic’ Latinos of Argentina.
As part of the war booty divvied out in Versailles, the British became the colonial masters of Palestine. Under the League of Nations, England was given a mandate to prepare the indigenous population for self-governance. But the British had a more sinister agenda. They immediately embarked on a project to convert Palestine into a Jewish country. To that end, the doors of Palestine were thrown wide open to European Jewish immigrants.
As a result of the Holocaust, the pace of Jewish immigration accelerated in the late 1930s. By 1947, these newcomers made up a third of the population. They came well armed and many had battle experience from fighting in the ranks of the British and other allied armies. With the backing of the United States and Britain and financial and political support from wealthy American Jews, the Zionist convinced the United Nations to approve a partition plan that carved out a ‘Jewish State’ compromising 56% of Palestine. Using their well-trained militias, the European arrivals managed to further expand ‘their share’ of Palestine in a campaign of systematic ethnic cleansing. By the time it was over, most of the Palestinians had become refugees and 78% of Palestine was in the hands of immigrant Eastern European Jews who we know today as Israelis. They changed the name of the country to ‘Israel’ in a successful effort to confuse the BBC.
Within the span of a single generation, the Palestinians had lost three quarters of their ancestral lands to European invaders of the Jewish faith. The British role in bringing about this tragedy continues to be a taboo subject on the BBC.
In 1967, the Israelis conquered the rest of Palestine. So, today, Israel rules over all the land of Palestine. The parts of Palestine conquered in 1967 are known as the occupied territories and make up Gaza, The West Bank and East Jerusalem. A mythical ‘Green Line’ divides the country and marks Israel’s 1967 borders.
Since 1967, the Israelis have promoted an ambitious Jewish settlement project to alter the demographics of the occupied territories. Half of the West Bank has been confiscated to accommodate 200,000 Jewish settlers, many hailing from the Holy Land of Brooklyn. Even in tiny Gaza, which has one of the world’s highest population densities, the Israeli government has taken over a third of the land to accommodate 7000 settlers.
All these settlements are exclusively for Jews. To qualify for residence, all that is required is a test of faith. You can be from Romania or Mongolia or Peru. It doesn’t matter. Just pass the faith test and you get the keys to some very fine living accommodations. However, If you happen to fail the test because you are a Muslim or a Christian, your family’s land can be confiscated to make room for even more Jewish settlers. If a Palestinian converts to Judaism he becomes instantly qualified to join the land grabbing class. An agnostic Israeli whose mama used to practice the Jewish faith is also immediately granted access to Israeli real estate privileges. Some eccentric Zionists actually search out ‘lost Jewish tribes’ in Peru and Tibet and encourage them to ‘return’ to Israel and settle on stolen West Bank land.
So, one religion qualifies you for a luxurious Israeli government subsidized roof over your head, while professing other religious beliefs is reason enough to summon an Israeli Army Caterpillar bulldozer in the wee hours of a Gaza morning to tear down your ancestral home. In that regard, Israel is one of the most unique ‘secular’ states. Mind you, the Israelis democratically elect thugs like Sharon to implement these ‘housing’ policies. It’s not as if the Jewish citizens allow such atrocious behavior by their government without first taking a vote. So, we are all obliged to give them brownie points for their democratic ‘values’.
Over the last three years, since the collapse of the sham Oslo ‘peace process’, 3000 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been wounded by the Israeli occupation army. Thousands of homes have been demolished and the Israeli Army has systematically vandalized the infrastructure of Palestinian cities and towns.
From the day he was elected, Sharon has spoken very plainly about his intentions. He has publicly stated that he intends to confiscate half of the West Bank. He has even drawn detailed maps outlining his plan and he has built an Apartheid wall to surround the areas he intends to annex. All this has been done in broad daylight and with American funding. It is no secret that Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza is meant to ward off the demographic bomb that could restore Palestine to a real secular state. By evacuating Gaza and only Gaza, Sharon is hoping to set back the timer on the demographic bomb that threatens Israel’s insistence on a permanent Jewish majority. The Israelis might even have plans to use Gaza as a dumping ground for ‘undesirable’ Palestinians from the West Bank or a convenient place to exile Israeli Arabs. Recent studies show that half the Israeli public would support the expulsion of Israeli citizens of Arab descent.
Sharon’s violent repression of the Palestinians is clearly intended to force them to acquiesce to a life surrounded by Apartheid walls. His vision of a Palestinian state is a series of isolated landlocked mini Bantustans that will constitute a little over 10% of the original size of Palestine.
What can Liz and Tony do with all this context?
Given this context, how exactly did the BBC react when the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain gave a series of green lights to Sharon’s ethnic cleansing project? Did they challenge Blair when he meekly went along with Bush? Did the BBC report the recent carnage in Rafah as a war crime? Does the BBC have a plan to teach the British public that Palestinians come from Palestine, not Afghanistan? More to the point, when does the BBC intend to press the British Government to come clean and confess their criminal role in the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people? Isn’t eighty-eight years of accumulated wrongs enough to burden the conscience of an English man?
Isn’t it way past time for the BBC to explore the origins of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the role of England in creating this unholy mess in the Holy Land? Perhaps the BBC can prevail upon the Queen of England or Tony Blair to have the decency to publicly acknowledge the litany of British sins against the Palestinian people. That alone would cause a sea change in attitudes among both Israelis and Palestinians. It would cleanse the soul of many a decent English man and might even provoke a healthy and constructive debate on the American side of the pond.
Tea for two in Gaza and Jenin
Do the right thing, Liz. Be a gracious queen. Come to Gaza and Jenin for a cup of tea and bring Tony with you. Tea for two in Gaza and Jenin would do the whole world a lot of good. It will make so much difference to so many Palestinian children. British kids would also be inspired and the world will honor you forever. Even if it does make your daddy look bad, you will leave a hell of a legacy for your grand kids.
Alas, no one seems to be in any hurry to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians, least of all the British. Perhaps the cruelest part of being a Palestinian is to know that the whole world is watching and yawning while your people are being pulverized by those who covet what little remains of their ancestral lands.