Media Critique #35: Spouting Off.
Some small papers join in the slander against Israel -- including an accusation of discrimination against Christians.
These days, it seems like everyone is getting into the act. Several small papers around the world have joined in to slander the State of Israel, laying the groundwork for greater international pressure. We present three such examples.
(1) AUSTIN, TEXAS
A nasty series of articles appeared in the Austin (Texas) Chronicle, where Arab-American Muna Hamzeh describes her experience living in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. Hamzeh says she felt like a "caged like an animal in a zoo," and describes a 3-year-old Palestinian neighbor who "has never seen a green patch of grass in her life and has never seen a squirrel. She lives confined to Bethlehem, condemned to remain a prisoner behind the checkpoints and the military barricades."
Hamzeh also describes her feelings after September 11 -- which she calls "black September": "Suddenly I feel defensive about being an Arab American... The possibility that our civil liberties can be jeopardized because of our religious beliefs or ethnic background is so distressing... For days now, I have been feeling as if I were back in the Palestinian Territories."
In another essay, "This Is Palestine Calling," Hamzeh paints a portrait of mass genocide in the territories: "This is just the beginning. They have not killed enough of us already. The blood of the dead and the wounded doesn't even fill someone's swimming pool yet. Not yet!"
Hamzeh hijacked the term "Black September" which was the name of the Arafat-led terrorist organization that committed some of the most heinous terrorist crimes of the 1970s, such as the Munich Olympic massacre. Hamzeh also hijacked the truth when she blames Israel for the condition of Palestinian refugee camps -- which are all under full PA control. Nowhere does Hamzeh admit to the terrorism, bombings, and shootings perpetrated by her fellow Palestinians against Israelis.
Moreover, until Yasser Arafat rejected Prime Minister Ehud Barak's peace offers at Camp David, Palestinians were the beneficiaries of Israeli "safe passage" agreements, allowing Palestinians to freely travel throughout the West Bank and Gaza. But Palestinian violence forced Israel to limit Palestinian movement.
Why should Israel be blamed? It is the Palestinians who are perpetrating suffering on both sides of the fence.
To comment, write to editor Louis Black at:
(2) SUNNY JAMAICA
The Jamaica Gleaner on the Caribbean island of Jamaica (of all places) published a grossly irresponsible piece entitled, "Palestine's disappearing Christian community." Columnist John Rapley makes outrageous claims intended to inflame the worldwide Christian community against Israel. He writes:
"Islamic militants have used Christian communities as staging points for their attacks. For their part, the Israelis appear to have responded with particular vigour to attacks coming from Christian areas... As for the Israelis, some seasoned observers have begun to wonder if they too have a hidden agenda. It is said by some analysts that the current government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would actually like to intimidate Palestinian Christians into emigrating."
Rapley's conspiracy theory runs counter to the facts. Yes, Palestinian gunmen shoot from Christian sites, but Israeli troops are under strict orders to avoid shooting back at gunmen using Christian sites as shields. Ancient churches in Bethlehem and Beit Jala stand intact today precisely due to restraint of the Israeli army.
On the other hand, Palestinians have shown no such respect for others' holy sites. Jewish sites such as Joseph's Tomb and the ancient synagogue in Jericho were destroyed during the last year by Palestinians. And a Christian cemetery in Beit Jala was desecrated, apparently by Tanzim gunmen who fired on the Israeli neighborhood of Gilo.
Following a visit in the Middle East in 1999, U.S. Senator Connie Mack decried the general harassment and discrimination of Christians living under the Palestinian Authority. Mack declared from the Senate Floor: "How can the people of Israel find peace with the Palestinian Authority while the Palestinian Authority engages in coercion and torture based upon religious beliefs?"
Rapley should read his own newspaper to learn about freedom of religion in Israel. On June 30, 2001, the Jamaica Gleaner published glowing accounts of Jamaicans of the Ba'hai faith who returned from a visit to Israel.
See Rapley's article online at:
(3) SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
The Santa Barbara (California) News-Press published a series of articles about Moslems from around the world, including "Palestinian in Search of a Homeland," a heavily slanted profile of a young Palestinian man now living in Santa Barbara. The News-Press declares:
"Israel does not allow the 'right of return' to people such as Mr. O'baid's parents, or their descendants. Yet Mr. O'baid has papers from the United Nations to prove that his grandfather owned farmland southwest of Jerusalem, in a village that was demolished by Zionist forces... 'Palestinians are the ones enduring persecution, guns and tanks and F-16 bombings,' Mr. O'baid said. 'It's a lot of life wasted.'"
The News-Press article relates that O'baid was born in Saudi Arabia and grew up in Egypt. His peripatetic life actually reflects the humiliating attitudes of Arab governments that never allowed the Palestinians to become citizens.
A May 2001 poll showed that, if given the option, only 30 percent of Israeli Arabs would rather live in a Palestinian state than the Jewish State. Why are O'baid and so many other Palestinians so desperate to live in Israel? Is the Palestinian leadership so abhorrent to Palestinians? Or is it a political desire to destroy the Jewish state demographically?
At Camp David, Yasser Arafat was offered a Palestinian state that could have been a haven for Palestinian refugees. But he rejected the offer, citing the Palestinian "right of return" as a deal-breaker. Why is Arafat pushing for a Palestinian state if he prefers to send millions of Palestinians to live in Israel?
Whatever the reason, it is clearly disingenuous to blame Israel for the Palestinian plight.
See the article online at: