Ray Hanania’s Column
I expected to wake up to read the headline, “Jewish terrorists murder Arabs.”
But, of course, that was not to be.
Members of Israel’s fanatic settler movement killed three Palestinian civilians July 19th, including a 3 and 1/2 month old baby, Diya.
Suddenly, the news media finds a conscience.
They start using terms like “Israeli underground” or “Settler vigilantes,” instead of the much harsher terms used to describe similar acts by Palestinians which include “barbaric terrorists,” and “blood thirsty Arab killers.” One declared cleverly that a “blast” caused the killings.
The conflict between Palestine and Israel has a lot to do with the way the American news media covers the events.
Certain headlines and adjectives describing the attackers play a significant role in how the public responds, and how the political theater acts itself out.
And those perceptions result in assessing blame.
Most people “blame” the Palestinians for the violence, accepting the Israeli contention that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak they gave the Palestinians everything “including Jerusalem” and they opted instead toward violence “to get even more from Israel.”
What is not told until nearly a year later is that Palestinian President Yasir Arafat demanded that the Israeli proposal also include compassion for the millions of Palestinian civilians who were forced out of their homes and lands in 1948 and again in 1967. Arafat demanded that these refugees have a “Right of Return” that include a variety of options, with only a few allowing some to actually return to their original homes and land.
Today, my family’s homes and lands are occupied by Jewish immigrants who took the homes and the land during the 1948 war. Part of this land is today the settlement of Gilo near Jerusalem.
This disparity in truth sets up Israel in the enviable position of not only having done its part, but suddenly, it is the victim of irrational behavior. Therefore, the Israelis can do no wrong.
The Israelis can kill nearly 600 Palestinian civilians and the news media and the world shrugs it off as a consequence of the Palestinians having refused Barak’s peace offer. In contrast, about 100 Israelis are killed, most professional soldiers trained to face war. Every attack is treated like it is the 1972 massacre at the Olympics.
The truth is that Israel is provoking the violence, but most American
journalists are afraid to report that simple truth. Journalists, especially in the West, function under the pressure of peer censorship and pressures, while many in the Arab World function under an environment of government censorship and limitations.
I am not sure which is worse, but I do know that both are wrong. American journalists are always quick to point out the limitations on Arab journalists by their governments as a way of responding to charges that the Western Media is biased against the Arabs.
But the truth is that American journalists in particular operate under a cloud of pressure that prohibits them from reporting the truth about Israel.
This bias is inherent in the professional news media structure and is absorbed by the reporters who don’t want to be criticized by the pro-Israeli editors and publishers who manage these media operations.
The news media also goes to great lengths to dissect Israeli actions to the point of anti-Arab precision. There are two kinds of Israeli attacks, one involving Israeli soldiers who are sent in to oppress the Palestinian civilians. All are considered “defensive” and therefore “justified.”
The presence of Israeli soldiers in Arab areas is the primary cause of the current violence and the provocation that pushes many frustrated and desperate Palestinian civilians to acts of violence of their own.
The second is the kind involving the fanatic settler movement. Israeli settlers are among the worst fanatics in the world, even though the media seems consumed only with the so-called “Islamic fanatic.” These Israeli settlers have been engaged in a hate war against the Palestinians with the goal of killing Arabs and stealing their lands.
They have been doing it since the founding of the State of Israel and they have culled this campaign of hate to a fine art.
Arab acts of rebellion against the occupation fall under the term “Intifadah,” and involve everything. Every act of Arab resistance that results in an Israeli death, injury or simple assault is described as an act of “terrorism.”
We all want the conflict to come to a peaceful resolution.
But we will not get there if we allow the news media to distort the truth, downplay the crimes of Israel, and deny the Palestinians the compassion and understanding they deserve.
(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American writer based in Chicago and a regular contributor to MMN. His columns are archived on the web at www.hanania.com)