Mohamed Khodr’s Column
Given the enormous media coverage from television networks and cable news to the plethora of editorials, columnists, and news stories about the death of President Clinton’s “Buddy” I was sure that Clinton had either lost Hilary, Chelsea, Yeltsin, Monica Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan, Kenneth Starr, Barbara Streisand, or an unknown illegitimate child. To my astonishment, perhaps its a cultural thing, I discovered that the demise of “Buddy” referred to Clinton’s chocolate labrador dog “Buddy” and not to a homo sapien friend. Although I was saddened at the death of Clinton’s dog, perhaps his only true loyal confidant, I was shocked to learn that the death of the first dog was generated so much national and international reporting throughout the world, while the death of humanity’s innocent civilians around the world from “smart” bombs, hunger, disease, and pollution go unreported. Also unreported and not news worthy are the thousands of dead Afghan civilians dismissed by Donald Rumsfeld as Bin Laden’s “collateral damage”; while the decades long and daily murder of civilians by the Russians, Indians, Chinese, and Israelis and many other governments (many in Muslim nations) are also ignored and unreported.
The New World Marching “Order” as defined by the sole remaining superpower is “My Way, or the Highway”. America has opened the new and improved “Pandora’s Box” of world disorder. In such dis-“order” the “Gateway” to murder and the elimination of one’s enemies by government’s or individuals is simply, justifiably, and quietly done without any media attention under the New World Dis-Order’s “Union Label” of “Islamic Fundamentalism/Terrorism”. Anyone can join this union and pursue pogroms, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and initiate a new “intellectual holocaust” against an entire faith, Islam, or an entire population such as Palestinians by simply filling an application that renders “Islamic Fundamentalism” as one’s antagonist and by paying Israel a down payment of eternal support and abstention from criticism. After all, if the leader of the “Free” world and the beacon of democracy, justice, and peace can “just do it” than anyone can follow suit with impunity. The “Bush Doctrine” of with us or against us, good vs. evil, dead or alive, civilized vs. uncivilized, peace vs. terrorism, God vs. Satan, has officially opened a “Pandora’s Box” of inestimable consequences. I now can kill my neighbor without fear of the law, due process, or John Ashcroft’s agencies, simply because he’s a Middle Eastern “looking” man who prays five times a day to Allah and claims to be carrying a briefcase to work. In fact, I may even be identified a hero and become an instant “celebrity” and be invited by Bill O’Reilly, the Darth Vader of television. When the butchers of Belgrade and Baghdad, Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, used this same argument to massacre their own people they were called “terrorists, murderers, Hitler-like” and the “free” world led by the bastion of democracy, the United States, bombed them and demanded their murder or trial. Tragically, consistency of ideals and human values have never been a strong suit in American politics, domestic or foreign. Such is the cost of a corrupt, money laden, beholden political campaign system in a nation where capitalism means allegiance to the “capital” not to the “capitol”.
If only the Palestinians were “Buddies” to the U.S. President or anyone else in Washington D.C. akin to the Israelis who are the pathognomonic “bosom buddies” of U.S. politic and intellegencia. Peace has escaped the Holy Land because the “Buddy” system has only been a one-street kosher affair between Tel Aviv and Washington D.C. Palestinians have been persons non grata in our nation because they have no “Socks” or “Buddy’s” to mourn and showcase to an animal friendly western world. They have no unique history of a “holocaust”, they have no powerful, rich, and vociferous lobby in Washington, they have no religious/romantic narrative to tell tied to Christian guilt, they are not valuable contributors to political campaigns, and they have no access to an ethnically dominated movie studio and media public relations system.
According to our media there is only one worthwhile story arising from the Holy Land: the “Jewish” story. A story sanitized from Israel’s injustice and oppression of an entire population. A story that delicately bypasses one of history’s greatest untold story, a story of a Jewish people persecuted, oppressed, and murdered throughout history who now are committing those same atrocities upon another people with no historical conscience or compassion to the suffering of their own victims. Israel answers the Genesis question of “Am I My Brother’s Keeper” with a resounding NO. Israel would have preferred rephrasing that divinely inspired question to “Am I My Jewish Brother’s Keeper”. To that, Israel in its “exclusive” and “apartheid-like” conscience would have said Yes, damn the world.
It is instructive to look at just one example of what the premiere newspaper in the nation, the New York Times, the newspaper of record, considers to be newsworthy stories important in content and impact on history and humanity. On January 4, 2002 the New York Times ran an entire article (643 words) on the tragic demise of “Buddy”, Clinton’s dog, written by Randal C. Archibo and titled “Buddy, Socks’s Nemesis, Is Dead”. The Boston Globe (owned by the New York Times) also ran an editorial on Buddy’s demise entitled “So long, Buddy” (Jan. 5) which states that: “The dog grew on us, even though he displaced Socks the cat, who went to live with Clinton’s secretary Betty Currie. Both cat and dog seemed content with the peace accord.” The Palestinians and Israeli’s should be so lucky with their peace accord.
Naturally one would make the assumption that the cold blooded murder of three teenagers by a powerful occupying army would deserve an equal mention, at least. However, given that these teenagers were merely Palestinians and not Americans, Europeans, Israelis, Christians or Jews, they simply got a brief mention in an article dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the same day, written by Douglas Frantz entitled “Israel Eases West Bank Blockade as U.S. Envoy Returns”. Mr. Frantz writes on the subject of this killing: “The Israeli military initially said the three had been killed by tank fire after they fired at a military vehicle in a security zone near a Jewish settlement in Gaza. It later said they had been shot because they carried a bag thought to contain explosives. No bag was discovered, and the only weapons found on the bodies were two knives, the military said. Relatives said the boys had been going to visit a friend in a Palestinian-ruled town that is partly controlled by the Israelis.” The murder of three Palestinian teenagers in this article only warranted 86 words out of a total of 1008 words.
Thus according to the New York Times’ estimated value of life, an American dog is worth TWENTY FOUR times the life of a single Palestinian teenager murdered in cold blood in his own land by an occupying army using American bullets. The deaths of these teenagers added to the death toll of over 900 Palestinians since the beginning of this Intifadah. Palestinian deaths are simply of numerical significance to our media, if mentioned at all, while a single Israeli death is a subject of humane interest, past glories, and grief that fill our screens and pages. The media’s double standard toward the value of a Palestinian and Israeli life mirrors our government’s double standards in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict whereby Israel can do no wrong and the Palestinians can do no right. Nevertheless and with strategic brilliance, the Pro-Israeli Americanites further ensure media compliance to Israel’s advantage by intimidating the media through the scurrilous charge that the media is in fact Anti-Israel and any criticism of Israel is Anti-Semitic.
It is difficult to ascertain how and why the media chooses certain stories for airing or publishing. It is even more difficult to discern any humanity or logic in our foreign policy. But one thing is sure. Only when America begins to shed its ignorance and underlying prejudicial outlook toward the third world and only when America begins to value all life as sacred and worthy as its own can peace and justice ever reign in this world.
The western love affair with animals and pets is simply a psychological substitute for avoiding complex human conflicts and confrontations whether toward a neighbor or toward a nation.
As August Strindberg once said: “I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven’t got the guts to bite people themselves.”