Media bias endangers peace in Gaza

by Terry Ahwal, Detroit Free Press

In the media coverage of the violence in Gaza, the voices of Palestinians are, as usual, absent.

The voices of the Israelis have proclaimed defense. Ehud Barak, Israel defense Minister was quoted as saying“There is time for calm and time to fight.” Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated on NBC news that Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas and has the right as a sovereign country to defend itself. Outgoing U.S.resident George Bush told the Israeli government that the U.S. will stand by Israel. Our incoming President Barak Obama is refraining from taking a stand at this time, but when the commentator on this subject pressed his aid David Axelrod, he responded that Israel has the right to defend itself.

Am I surprised?

Not one bit. Israel can kill every Palestinian in Gaza and the West Bank and will not lose the support of the U.S. Government. I totally admire Israel’s spin machine and sometimes wish that Palestinians would learn a lesson on this subject. But spinning is not what is at stake at this moment. Neither is the question of alliances. The question we must tackle today is how can we salvage humanity in Israel and Palestine .

The tragedy happening in Gaza should be examined with full objectivity, not the uneven sort being done by the U.S media. “What is happening in Gaza is a hallmark for war crime,” Noble Peace Prize winner Rev. Desmond Tutu told the Israeli Haaretz Newspaper. His statement was based on his experience with apartheid in South Africa and his eyewitness account to the situation in Gaza and the West Bank .

Let’s for a moment forget that the situation is between Israelis and the Palestinians. Imagine that you are in a city with a population of 1.5 million people, and are surrounded by forty-foot walls with only two exits. Your enemy who continuously chooses to keep you imprisoned without providing with you basic needs such as, food, medicine and other essential items for survival controls the two exits.

What would you do?

For the last five years, Israel has rearranged its occupation of Gaza and cut the people of Gaza from the rest of the world. When challenged, Israel claims that they are fighting Hamas, a terrorist organization, and therefore it is in Israel ’s right to collectively punish an imprisoned population. What is happening today is essentially Israel hunting people in a cage 5 by 20 miles. Even the most ardent hunter tells you that hunting animals in a cage is a crime. Why then do we permit a country to use its most powerful weapons on people who cannot escape their cage in Gaza?.

Is the aim to get rid of Hamas? If so: A) Israel should have thought of that when they created Hamas in the 1980’s to counter the Palestinian Leadership; B) With the recent actions, Israel just recruited thousands of misguided angry and frightened people who will only make Israel more unsafe. Israel claims that it want to teach Hamas a lesson. What kind of a lesson is Israel teaching Hamas, that killing is right if your captives are helpless.

The Palestinians have paid for the sins of the European holocaust when they lost their country to the refugees to European Jews who fled Hitler’s ovens. They paid for the sins of disastrous Arab regimes. They paid for the sins of Ousama Bin Laden and his thugs and now they are paying the price for living in a prison as the U.S. stands idle, hoping peace will simply blossom the region.

The Palestinian people, especially the people of Gaza , have been held hostages by people who believe the only way to gain power are to suppress the helpless. Israel has convinced the world especially Washington and the media, that it is vulnerable and therefore it hasve no choice but to fight. If that is the case, why is it that the causalities in this conflict are mostly civilian Palestinians?

The Geneva Convention states that the rules of war obligate all parties to a conflict to do their utmost to defend the civilian population. Deliberate targeting of civilians is expressly prohibited. Israel must abide by the rule of human rights to survive.

article originally published at http://www.freep.com/article/20081231/OPINION05/81231041.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey