(Following article is in response to a letter to the editor by MORTON A. KLEIN, National President, Zionist Organization of America, published Tuesday, December 19, 2000, in the Miami Herald)
Anyone who has read a major U.S. newspaper recently knows that a well-orchestrated campaign by right-wing supporters of Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territory is best represented by the writings of Morton A. Klein. The National President of the Zionist Organization of America complained in a December 19 letter to the Miami Herald that U.S. media are engaged in an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian propaganda campaign, fraught with distortions, false accusations, and manipulation of public sentiments. Mr. Klein cited two examples out of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of reports about the current Palestinian uprising as emblematic of a systematic campaign of an anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic media bias. He even suggested that daily media reporting of the obscene casualty figures among Palestinians is driven by ulterior motives.
Consider the implications of his bizarre charges when juxtaposed with the “real world”:
Arabs are the last remaining group in America for which bigoted stereotypes largely go unchallenged. This partially stems from misplaced anger over rising fuel prices, but mostly derives from the historical enmity between the “Christian West” and “Muslim East.” Arabs are the “Occident,” the “Orient,” the “Other.” Where does one find evidence for anything other than a pro-Israel bias in U.S. foreign policy, mainstream culture, both major political parties, and yes, even the mainstream media?
Systematic analyses of the U.S. media have revealed a dearth of minority reporters, mostly of women, blacks, Asians, and Latinos. The number of Arab-American reporters is infinitesimal. Imagine what Mr. Klein would say if the Arab-American presence in the U.S. media were significantly larger.
The U.S. media essentially reiterate the official U.S. and Israeli line about the “peace process” while ignoring the very “facts on the ground” that make it obvious that the “peace” being offered Palestinians is a twofold canard: It is not peace as generally understood, but rather the “peace of submission” and the “piece-by-piece” theft of Palestinian lands by Israel’s relentless settlement polices. Israel has more than tripled her settlements since the 1993 Oslo Accords é the settlers have gone from 115,000 in 1993 to 200,000 today, an increase of 72 percent. And that does not include an additional 200,000 Jewish settlers in Jerusalem’s ever expanding neighborhoods.
Mr. Klein knows full well that if the Palestinians were categorized as “blacks,” Israel would be in violation of practically every U.S. law prohibiting racial discrimination. The U.S. media seldom if ever mention that the settlements have Jewish-only housing and are supported by a number of Jewish-only bypass roads that slice through Palestinian territory, effectively rendering any future Palestinian State a noncontiguous land dotted by Jewish-only enclaves and military encampments. Substitute “Whites” for “Jewish,” and apologists for Israel have a massive public-relations crisis on their hands.
Finally, the number of Palestinian dead and wounded is not irrelevant. The dead and wounded reveal Israel’s promiscuous use of lethal force. There are now over 370 dead and 11,700 wounded Palestinians in just four-and-a-half months of violence é this is 80 percent of the total fatalities from the six-year intifada (1987-1992). Palestinian emergency room personnel report that over seventy-percent of the injured consist of head- and-torso gunshot victims. An astonishing number of these gunshot victims are children. Stone-throwing children do not pose a life-threatening situation to heavily armed soldiers clad in full body armor.
Mr. Klein and his fellow right-wing supporters ignore that Palestinian “violence” occurs primarily in occupied Arab land and constitutes a resistance to the brutal and degrading daily reality of life under military occupation.
Mr. Michael Lopez-Calderon taught High School Social Studies in Miami, Florida for seven years until March 2, 2001, when he was asked to leave the Jewish Day school where he had taught for the past five years. Michael was asked to leave for having posted pro-Palestinian comments on Palestine Media Watch’s subscriber-only e-mail. He remains an activist in the Miami area.