For the past several weeks I've been appalled by both the brutal treatment of the Palestinians and the media's biased reporting in favor of Israel. Because the news media is so much in support of Israel, few people in this country are fully aware of the extent of Palestinian oppression and humiliation by the Israelis. For many, the issues surrounding the conflict are so confusing it is easier to accept that Israel belongs to the Jews by biblical right and that the Palestinians are troublemakers who do not honor the peaceful intentions of Israeli leadership or the repeated efforts of U.S. negotiators. Again and again we hear about the suicide bombings, Arafat's misdeeds and view the Palestinian hatred of Israel and the U.S. But we hear little, if any, of the underlying causes of this dispute.
The facts are that the Israelis have stolen land from the Palestinians, but refer to the thieves as "settlers" rather than squatters. The facts are that the Israelis consistently humiliate Palestinians and force them to live in a ghetto-like existence reminiscent of pre-World War II Eastern Europe. Conveniently not mentioned (or at least not often) in the reporting of the Middle East crisis is the history of Prime Minister Sharon's brutal and bloody slaughter of Palestinian women and children by his military forces during the past 30 years. This is a man who publicly says he wants the Palestinians to submit and is willing to do whatever cruel act necessary to make them do so. No wonder he is evicting the Western reporters from seeing his destruction of Palestinian homes. He doesn't want videos of his atrocities appearing on our evening news shows.
You don't think the media is biased? Look closely at the reporting. How much do you read in the newspapers or see on television about the sufferings of the Palestinians in comparison to those of the Israelis? Remember the political cartoon in the Empire last week, the one with the Israeli tombstones? Why weren't the tombstones of the Palestinians beside them? Perhaps it was because there are too many, or because they are buried in mass graves in hospital parking lots. At least three Palestinians die for each Israeli, almost all of them civilians. You didn't know that? When you see televised programs about the conflict and the history of Israel and Palestine, start taking count of how many are pro-Israeli, versus those that are unbiased or pro-Palestinian. The propaganda is subtle and insidious. Until recently, I didn't even notice.
Most of us don't realize that Israel, a country almost as wealthy as Italy, receives a quarter of U.S. foreign aid. It is your money that pays for the guns and tanks ripping apart the Palestinian refugee camps and killing civilians, not terrorists. Israel has the fourth best equipped military in the world because of the billions of dollars we have given that country over the past several decades
Americans need to look deeper to find the truth, which means learning about other points of view. Up-to-date reporting and unbiased analysis are available on many news sites on the Internet. Some of these are: The Palestine Chronicle, Britain's Guardian and the BBC. Several sites provide detailed history of the conflict and include maps.
Let's support fairness in the Middle East, including the right of the Palestinians to a decent existence; not one of apartheid, humiliation and despair.
The situation is out of control. Our leaders, powerfully influenced by the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), have failed to stop or even slow down the violence. Biased news reporting has kept most of us in ignorance and therefore from speaking out against Ariel Sharon and for the plight of the Palestinians. It is time for all of us to become better informed and to ask the president to demand, not request, Ariel Sharon to end the violence. After all, your tax dollars are paying for it.
Patricia Judson is a retired state employee who has lived in Juneau since 1955.
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