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July 3, 2006

The World Looks Away, Israel Continues to Attempt to Obliterate its Neighbor

It is vitally important to take media bias into account when trying to learn about the situation in Palestine / Israel. Whether you're listening to mainstream media (aka Israeli apologists) or Alternative Bulwarks (aka pro-Palestinian hardliners), you can't get away from bias in your coverage of Israel / Palestine, so you must learn to either add your own bias to the mix, or wade through the crap.

As a Jewish American woman who went through years of Hebrew School taught by Israeli women who constantly showed an undivided map of "Israel" as "our homeland," it has been a difficult, painful road to my current political beliefs. It is particularly difficult to try to explain my positions to sister Jews; so many of my people seem to have blinders on and refuse to accept that All People Are Human. Their blatant racism is appalling; but really nothing new in the Western world. After all this so-called "war on terror" is really about imposing Western "free" trade capitalism / Christianity on the world.

At the same time, I refuse to accept the racism of Palestinian solidarity activists. I do not believe all Israelis or all Jews want to see Palestine / Palestinians destroyed. I simply cannot believe that every member of my religious / ethnic identity has lost the path of justice articulated by our richest traditions. After all, Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace bloc proves that it is a lie to call all Israelis "supporters of genocide."

What we need is to step back from rhetorical brinkmanship and unite around our desire to keep militants on all sides in check: Israel's use of collective punishment is a war crime, as is the abduction / threats to kill a soldier.

Going back to my original media bias point. Here are some recent examples.

Today, PRI's The World interviewed two people on the ethical implications of Israel's destruction of civilian infrastructure, killing of civilians, and abduction of democratically-elected Palestinian politicians. While the interview attempted to actually ask questions (a novel concept for some), she chose to only question a former Israeli army officer and a Western "ethics" expert. Of course, the militant Israeli denounced all Palestinians and held them responsible for the "actions" of their "elected leadership." No one questioned whether it was valid to hold the PA responsible for the actions of militants who work outside the framework of the political process. And the "ethicist" actually said that since we're "fighting terrorists" that it is natural and ethical for us to throw out all rules of war, including the Geneva Conventions, because the West is fighting terrorists who refuse to acknowledge / abide by those rules.

Gee, with ethicists like this, who needs demagogues?

And why didn't we just throw out the rule of law when The State started to fight gangs in this country? After all, those gangs refuse to accept the rule of law, so why should we? Give me a freakin break!!! And please explain how two anti-Arab interviewees equals a well-balanced report?!?!

On the flip side, consider the Alternative Bulwark, Democracy Now!. Last Wednesday, a "debate" was hosted between a founder of Electronic Intifada, a former Israeli Foreign Minister, and a physician/community activist in Gaza. Instead of focusing her guests on the current crisis, Amy Goodman instead chose to allow Ali Abunimah (of Eletronic Intifada) to ramble on about Israel being an apartheid state and only asked Shlomo Ben-Ami (the former Israeli foreign minister) to respond to that assertion. This is typical of Goodman's "interview" style. Instead of asking questions, she says "talk to us about the situation." Talk to us? How lazy a "question" can you get?!?! Or my favorite rejoinder "Respond to what X just said." And this was followed up with the obvious description of the humanitarian crisis being faced by Mona El-Farra, the physician in Gaza.

If all Goodman wanted to do was Demonize Israeli Society and rally her listeners around the Palestinian solidarity movement, her "interview" style would be acceptable. But by pretending to be impartial, and by having thousands (millions?) of followers who hail her as the Best Thing to Happen to Media Since Sliced Bread, her partisan choices are extremely dangerous. After all, it's difficult enough for progressives to find the words that can be heard / understood by their stuck in the mud (aka "mainstream") neighbors. By not pursuing reasonable debate on her program, Goodman seems to be saying "agree with me; we're the righteous; let us mock anyone who dares to debate us."

This was the exact same tone she took last Thursday during a "debate" titled: "AIPAC v. Norman Finkelstein."

Regardless of the media bias, certain facts remain:
1. Palestinian militants whose activities are entirely separate from the democratically-elected Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, kidnapped an Israeli soldier and murdered two others last week.
2. Israel's response has been a disproportionate use of collective punishment that must be unequivocally condemned by the international community, including the United States.
3. Humanitarian aid was desperately needed before the current, ongoing incursion by Israel into Palestinian territory. It is imperative that food and medical supplies be immediately sent to the OPT. (Occupied Palestinian Territories)

Posted by cj at July 3, 2006 2:45 PM


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