Answering Missionaries

July 21, 2006

Israeli terrorism and media double standards

Filed under: Politics — answeringmissionaries @ 8:14 pm

Recently I received an e-mail containing pictures of Israeli children writing messages on bombs and missiles which are being used by the Israeli army to attack the Lebanese civilian population and the civilian infrastructure. Consider these pictures:

You can see a number of Israeli kids busy writing up their messages on the shells which will be used to kill civilians and in the background you can also see cheerful individuals. Well, someone definitely had a very twisted concept of a picnic. You can check the album here. See also this.

According to one blog, these children are writing messages on shells “…at a heavy artillery position near Kiryat Shmona, in northern Israel, next to the Lebanese border, Monday, July 17, 2006.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner).”

There is a lot of noise and howl in the Western press on numerous occasions when pictures/video clips surface showing some Palestinians, as well as other Arabs, taking pictures of children dressed in army uniform standing by rifles or dressed as would be suicide bombers. I am sure you can easily locate such reports by doing a search on google. Usually, the aim of such reports it to malign the entire Arab population, culture, and is used as a weapon to make paranoid generalizations of a community as a whole. It is argued, quite unfairly, that the Palestinians and Arabs in general are raising their children with hate etc. Naturally, such types of nasty accusations aim to dehumanize a people and portray them in the worst possible manner to generate hate and contempt towards them. However, the above pictures, where we clearly see Israeli children writing comments on weapons used to attack civilians, have not once been broadcasted on any Western news channel as far as I know. Certainly, I have not seen them appear on any program on CNN, the BBC, Sky News, and the right-wing American propaganda channel Fox News. Why? As is obvious, these Israeli children have certainly not been raised by their parents with a sense of love and compassion for another people. Of course, that is not to say that all of the Israeli parents are like this. I am sure that there are many, many good and decent Israeli parents who raise their children in a proper way, instilling within them compassion for another people etc. However, what I wish to point out here is a very deep seated and long standing double standard of the Western media, particularly the American media. While nasty generalizations are immediately made against the Palestinians – a people who were ethnically cleansed from their homelands, who were massacred on numerous occasions, thousands of whom lie in Israeli prisons, often facing torture, and who have been living under a very brutal, barbaric and harsh occupation for decades, which makes their anger towards the occupation forces quite understandable and legitimate – similar types of generalizations and analysis are hardly ever launched towards the Israeli people – who have been, by large, living in relative safety and leading very normal lives, far removed from the hardships faced by those under Israeli occupation. I am certain that were these Palestinian children, virtually all news channels would be proudly showing these pictures to malign the Palestinians on a constant basis.

The practise of double standards and hypocrisy of the Western media is certainly not limited to the above example and is nothing new. Consider the most recent crises. Once we have a look at the crises in context, we can clearly see the twisted way the entire conflict is being presented by the Western media. In response to the capture of TWO Israeli soldiers by the Hezbollah, the Israelis decided to attack an entire country, bombed the civilian infrastructure of a weak nation and managed to kill well over 300 CIVILLIANS in a matter of a week as a result of their so-called “pin-point” and “carefully chosen” attacks on “militant” locations, not to mention the displacement of around 500,000 civilians. Was such a “reaction” really proportionate and balanced? Certainly not; and most people, whatever their religion and nationality, I am sure, would readily agree with this. We read (emphasis added on all quotes):

The new escalation in south Lebanon followed clashes at the Israel-Lebanon border that led to the capture of two Israeli soldiers inside Israeli territory. In crossing Israel’s border, Hezbollah was in violation of international law. But border clashes occur around the world on a daily basis, and capturing two soldiers is not a declaration of war. As French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy described it, Hezbollah’s seizure of the soldiers and firing rockets into northern Israel were “irresponsible acts;” Israel’s bombing of the Beirut international airport was “a disproportionate act of war.

The nature of the Israeli “reaction” is such that it becomes rather obvious that they were planning something big for quite some time and that the Hezbollah action merely gave them all the excuse they required to implement their plans. Although the U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan wronglyasserted that the Hezbollah attack on the 12th of July triggered the crises, he also said that:

Israel had confirmed that its operation in Lebanon had wider and more far-reaching goals than the return of its captured soldiers, and that its aim was to end the threat posed by Hizbollah.

If we follow news channels such as the appallingly biased propaganda channel Fox News, as well as other American news channels, we get the impression that Israel is merely “defending” herself and efforts are made to somehow justify the entirely disproportionate Israeli aggression. Consider this, it is said that the Hezbollah (and a little earlier the Palestinians in Gaza) “kidnapped” two Israeli soldiers. But what about the Israeli kidnapping of hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians? There are literally thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese suffering in Israeli prisons for years. Certainly, the vast majority are not “terrorists.” Can we really compare the Hezbollah action with the earlier Israeli abduction and kidnapping of thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese, many being women, children and the elderly? Why did Israel kidnap them? Merely to use as bargaining chips. We are told that:

According to the Ramallah-based Mandela Institute for Human Rights, there are 9,600 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centers, among them 130 Palestinian women. Defense for Children International puts the number of Palestinian children in Israeli custody at 388.

Also:

Furthermore, Palestinian prisoners are routinely tortured by Israel and held in detention centers and prisons that do not meet the minimum international standards and are routinely denied visitation rights by their legal representation and family members. The vast majority of Palestinian prisoners are held without trial. According to Amnesty International, the trials that do take place often fall short of international fair trial standards.

The two are not at all comparable. Yet there is not a word about these Israeli actions, which explain the reason why the Hezbollah captured the two Israeli soldiers (to exchange them with the civilians in Israeli jails). Where was the outcry in the Western press and the “fair and balanced” American media over the Israeli kidnapping of civilians? Nor are we ever likely to hear any harsh words towards Israel within the Western media and by Western leaders. Nonetheless, the prevalent myth in the Western world, particularly in America, is that they started it. The immediate background to the crises is, therefore, conveniently ignored and we are bombarded with the following myth: that the Hezbollah captured the Israeli soldiers for no reason whatsoever out of the blue, thereby “provoking” Israel.

As Gideon Levy wrote in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz, “the Palestinians started it” remains the assumption for Israelis, and for most Americans. “‘They started’ will be the routine response to anyone who tries to argue, for example, that a few hours before the first Qassam fell on the school in Ashkelon, causing no damage, Israel sowed destruction at the Islamic University in Gaza. Israel is causing electricity blackouts, laying sieges, bombing and shelling, assassinating and imprisoning, killing and wounding civilians, including children and babies, in horrifying numbers, but ‘they started’.”

If we follow the timeline of the events leading up to the Israeli aggression upon Lebanon, we can see that Israel is the one who has been constantly provoking. Dan Freeman-Maloy explains:

The Palestinian operation, according to most Canadian media, was unprovoked – it could not have been provoked by the Israeli attacks leading up to the operation, though in June alone these had already killed 49 Palestinians. Nor could it have been provoked by the imprisonment of 359 Palestinian children, 105 Palestinian female adults and another 9000+ Arab males (mostly Palestinians) in Israeli jails, or by the mass starvation of Gaza. As a June 30 editorial in the Globe and Mail put it, “the onus for resolving the confrontation lies with Hamas,” and while Palestinians must quietly endure tank shelling, air strikes and starvation, “Israel is within its right to respond to terrorism and violence.”

Without pause, Israel has since gone on to invade Lebanon, killing hundreds of Lebanese, while Gaza continues to starve. In the Canadian media, Israel was provoked to do so, in this case by the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah.

Hizbollah has not been provoked in the same way the Palestinians have been. So what prompted their action? An obvious possibility is that they were moved to action by the Israeli assault on Gaza. By the time Hizbollah carried out its July 12 attack, the Israeli escalation following June 25 had already claimed another 67 Palestinian lives. More direct grievances with Israel include the continued Israeli imprisonment of many Lebanese, particularly Hizbollah supporters, and the Israeli live ammunition training on the Lebanese border which recently killed several Lebanese villagers. But one could barely begin to consider this on the basis of information provided by Canadian media. No attacks on Israel can have been provoked. All of Israel’s attacks must be provoked and defensive.

Thus, the provoker has been none other than Israel.

Do note that prior to the Hezbollah “kidnapping” of two Israeli soldiers, the Israelis had kidnapped elected Palestinian ministers, legislators and Cabinet members. As usual, there were no voices of condemnation of these Israeli acts from the Western leaders and media. In fact, the kidnapping of the elected Palestinian officials was barely reported.

Moreover, the involved parties have been exchanging prisoners for years. So, why can’t this be done now? The difference between the two sides is as follows: Israel has actually KIDNAPPED many civilians in the past and even recently, in contrast to the Hezbollah and the Palestinians who took, altogether, three Israeli soldiers as war prisoners. Thus, one side is kidnapping civilians whereas the other is taking soldiers as war prisoners. Nothing about this reality is once mentioned in the Western media. On top of this, it should be remembered that the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier as a war prisoner only after the Israelis had already killed dozens of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and committed numerous atrocities therein. Of course, all of these details are conveniently ignored by the Western media and nothing at all is mentioned about the initial ghastly Israeli acts of terrorism which provoked the Palestinians to finally confront the Israeli soldiers and take one as a war prisoner. As Jonathan Cook puts it:

We can ignore the weeks of shelling by the Israeli army of Gaza, the firing of hundreds of missiles into the crowded Strip that have destroyed Palestinian lives and property, while spreading terror among the civilian population and deepening the psychological trauma suffered by a generation of children.

We can ignore the deaths of more than 30 civilians, and dozens of horrific injuries, in the past few weeks at the hands of the Israeli military, including three children hit in a botched air strike last week, and a heavily pregnant woman and her doctor brother killed a day later as a missile slammed into the room where they were eating dinner.

We can ignore the blockade of Gaza’s “borders” by the Israeli army for months on end, which has prevented Palestinians in the Strip from trading goods at crossing points with Israel and from receiving vital supplies of food and medicines. As a captive population besieged by Israeli soldiers, Gazans are facing a humanitarian catastrophe sanctioned by Israeli government policy and implemented by the Israeli army.

We can ignore Israel’s bullying of the international community to connive in the starving of the Hamas-led government of funds and diplomatic room for manoeuvre, thereby preventing the elected Palestinian leadership from running Gaza. So desperate is the situation there that Hamas officials are being forced to smuggle in millions of dollars of cash stuffed in suitcases to pay salaries.

And finally we can ignore the violation of Palestinian territory by Israeli commandos who infiltrated Gaza a day before the Palestinian attack to kidnap two Palestinians Israel claims are terrorists. They have been “disappeared”, doubtless to be be held in administrative detention, where they can denied access to lawyers, the courts and, of course, justice.

None of this provides the context for the Palestinian attack on the army post — any more than, in the BBC’s worldview, do the previous four decades of occupation. None is apparently relevant to understanding the Palestinian attack, or for judging the legitimacy of Israel’s imminent military “reprisals”.

In short, according to the BBC, we can ignore Israel’s long-standing policy of unilateralism — a refusal to negotiate meaningfully with the Palestinians, either the old guard of Fatah or the new one of Hamas — with its resort to a strategy of collective punishment of Gaza’s population to make it submit to the continuing occupation.

In the skewed moral and news priorities of the BBC, the killing of two Israeli soldiers by Palestinian militants — the “escalation” — provides a justification for “fierce retaliation” against Gaza, with the inevitable toll on Palestinian civilians and militants alike. The earlier killing of tens of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military, however, is not presented as justification for yesterday’s Palestinian retaliation against the army.

In other words, on the scale of moral outrage the BBC ranks the deaths of Israeli soldiers enforcing an illegal occupation far above those of Palestinian civilians enduring the illegal occupation.

All of the above took place before the capture of the Israeli soldier by the Palestinians. Thus, we are faced with the following scenario:

In Gaza, a soldier is abducted from the army of a state that frequently abducts civilians from their homes and locks them up for years with or without a trial – but only we’re allowed to do that. And only we’re allowed to bomb civilian population centers. The painful steps taken in Gaza, which included dropping a one-ton bomb on a residential building, or killing an entire family of seven children under cover of darkness in Lebanon, killing dozens of residents, bombing an airport, cutting off electricity and water to hundreds of thousands of people for months were a response lacking any justification, legitimacy or proportion. What goal did it serve? Was the soldier released? Did the Qassams stop? Was deterrence restored? None of that happened. Only lost honor was supposedly restored, and immediately the next evil wind showed up, this time from the north.

Of course, these details will probably never be revealed in the so-called “free” media in the Western part of the world.

Moving on, it should also be noted that while the damage to Israeli towns, such as Haifa, as a result of Hezbollah missile/rocket attacks are quite miniscule compared to the huge damage inflicted by the Israelis upon the Lebanese civilian infrastructure, the media continues to give far more coverage to the Israeli side, almost desperately trying to show as if the damage and devastation between the two sides is equal, when in fact it is not even comparable. Similarly, we constantly bombarded with the views, analysis and opinions of Israeli apologists, commentators and analysts on the news channels, representing the Israeli side, justifying Israeli brutalities, while only a few individuals are ever interviewed representing the other side of the story and even then most who simply do not speak proper English and are, therefore, unable to properly explain the Lebanese/Palestinian side. Why don’t we see eloquent English speakers on these news channels to represent the Palestinian and Lebanese perspective, analysts such as Chomsky, Hanan Ashrawi, Finkelstein and others?

Moreover, as noted above by Jonathan Cook, such type of an outrageously disproportionate Israeli reaction also indicates that the Israelis – and their American supporters – consider Arab life to be worthless. For 2 Israeli soldiers an entire civilian population has been terrorised and over 300 killed. In Palestine, 1 Israeli soldier is used as an excuse to kill dozens Palestinian civilians and to terrorise whole civilian populations. Thus, it is suggested that the Palestinian and Lebanese lives are not equal to Israeli lives and so hundreds can be killed by the Israelis without impunity over the minute of reasons. As usual, a blood thirsty and warmongering aggressor, Israel, is being portrayed as the pacifist “victim” whereas the actual victims, the Palestinians and the Lebanese, are being misleadingly portrayed as the aggressors by the Western media.

According to Annan:

    “[the Palestinians] are suffering deeply, with well over 100, many of them civilians, killed in the last month alone.”

The coverage of the plight and suffering of these innocent Palestinian civilians has been almost non-existent in the Western media. It is as if nothing at all what going on before the capture of the Israeli soldiers.

James Rubin, the former Clinton administration State Department spokesman, and now an anchor at Sky News, recently tried to offer a series of convoluted explanations to justify the Israeli killings of civilians in his program, as have other news reporters. It is argued that Israel is not targeting civilians deliberately whereas the Hezbollah is deliberately seeking to kill civilians. But, I wonder, how is it that Israel, who is allegedly taking so much care to “avoid” civilian casualties, somehow still manages to kill well over 300 civilians in a matter of a week, despite having all the latest highly sophisticated and technologically advanced weaponry in the world, whereas the Hezbollah, which is supposedly deliberately targeting civilians, somehow manages to kill barely 28 Israelis, almost half of them soldiers? Perhaps the Hezbollah needs to take lessons of “avoiding” civilian casualties from the Israelis in order to match their hit rate with that of the Israelis? Instead, I think that perhaps Israel has a lot to learn from Hezbollah when it comes to minimizing civilian casualties. The fact is that Israel has bombed civilian apartment complexes and the civilian infrastructure. How Rubin can justify these crimes and act as an apologist for Israel is just incredible. Assuming the Israelis are not idiots, they knew very well that civilians would naturally die as a result of such indiscriminate attacks upon civilian localities. Note again the gross double standards of the Western media.

Of course, this is not the first time that the Israelis have deliberately targeted civilians. If we look at the gory track record of Israel, we note that she has a rich history of committing numerous atrocities and inflicting terrorism upon civilian populations. The founding fathers of Israel were terrorists, who deliberately terrorised civilians in order to occupy someone else’s lands. The indigenous people of Palestine (not the Israelis!) were ethnically cleansed from their lands and never permitted to return back to their homeland, many were massacred, and even the little bits of land which were supposed to be given to the Palestinians were occupied by the Israelis. There is a very interesting discussion which took place a while ago between Norman Finkelstein and the former Israeli Foreign Minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami. According to this discussion, there is really no serious dispute among scholars and historians surrounding the events of the creation of Israel – namely, the Israeli atrocities, killings, and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian populations.

A brief listing of Israeli terrorist atrocities are to be found here. It should be noted that all of the Palestinian attacks upon the Israelis combined, which occurred long after decades of intense Israeli terrorism upon the Palestinians civilians, comes not even close to the level of atrocities, terrorism, destruction and killing inflicted upon the Palestinian civilians by the Israelis. Ariel Sharon alone, who allowed the Shatila and Sabra massacres, has more blood in his hands of innocent civilians than all Palestinian militants combined.

Consider the latest Israeli terrorism in Gaza:

Israel’s attacks represent a massive collective punishment against the 1.3 million people of Gaza, and thus under international law constitute a war crime, violating Israel’s obligations as Occupying Power under the Geneva Conventions. The 12 July air assault on a Gaza house, ostensibly a “targeted assassination” of a Hamas leader, did not kill the official target but did kill two other adults and seven children. The deliberate targeting and destruction of the main electrical generating plant, especially at the height of summer and at a moment in which the absolute siege of Gaza means there are virtually no fuel stocks available for local generators, guarantees humanitarian disaster. The deliberate destruction of the already-eroded water system means that already borderline-saline water is scarcer than ever. Tens of thousands of Gaza City residents live in high-rise apartments of ten floors or higher; without electricity, not only the elevators but even water pumps cannot function. The humanitarian situation is catastrophic.

The UN’s humanitarian organizations working on the ground in Gaza have issued statements expressing deep alarm. The agencies “are alarmed by developments on the ground, which have seen innocent civilians, including children, killed, brought increased misery to hundreds of thousands of people, and which will wreak far-reaching harm on Palestinian society. An already alarming situation in Gaza, with poverty rates at nearly eighty per cent and unemployment at nearly forty per cent, is likely to deteriorate rapidly, unless immediate and urgent action is taken.”

According to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “the use of force by Israel during its military operations into the Gaza Strip has resulted in an increasing number of deaths and other casualties amongst the Palestinian civilian population, and significant damage to civilian property and infrastructure.” UNRWA, which cares for 980,000 Palestinian refugees, “believes that Gaza is on the brink of a public health disaster.” The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “the public health system is facing an unprecedented crisis. WHO estimates that though hospitals and 50 per cent of Primary Health Care Centers have generators, the current stock of fuel will last for a maximum of two weeks. …According to WHO in the last week, there has been a 160 per cent increase in cases of diarrhea compared with the same period last year. Compounding these problems, WHO estimates that 23 per cent of the essential drug list will be out of stock within one month.” The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that “in June 70 % of the Gaza population were already unable to cover their daily food needs without assistance. The escalation of hostilities has made food an increasingly critical issue. Wheat flour mills, food factories and bakeries, reliant on electricity, are being forced to reduce their production due to power shortages; furthermore the loss of capacity to preserve perishable food in the Gaza heat is resulting in high food losses in the home.” And UNICEF states “children in Gaza are living in an environment of extraordinary violence, insecurity and fear. … The ongoing fighting is hurting children psychologically. Caregivers say children are showing signs of distress and exhaustion, including a 15%-20% increase in bedwetting, due to shelling and sonic booms. … UNICEF stressed that children are always most vulnerable to outbreaks of communicable disease brought on by lack of water and sanitation.”

How much of the above has been reported in the Western media? Well, not much. The only detail the media constantly presents is the “kidnapping” of three Israeli soldiers. Everything that took place immediately prior to these “kidnappings” is conveniently omitted and much of what is currently taking place in the region is likewise omitted and distorted. The reason for these blatant distortions is obvious – to justify Israeli aggression against civilians.

Thus, we encounter extraordinary levels of hypocrisy and double standards in the Western media, not to mention from the political leaders, where Israel is constantly defended and her terrorist acts are justified/ignored, while the Palestinian/Lebanese side is virtually ignored and distorted. As a result of such a policy, many people in the region tend to get frustrated and upset and a very few decide to then, unfortunately, take matters into their own hands. What if this type of blatant and constant double standard, hypocrisy, and the blind defence of the aggressor by the Western media and, in particular, Western leaders such as the not so bright Bush, drive an individual in the distant future to take “revenge” through an act of violence? Well, President Bush will likely explain this away with the following type of a moronic statement: “they hate us because we have freedom!” No, no one “hates” you because you have “freedom.” Bush, they rightfully despise you for denying freedom to another people, for telling lies, applying double standards, hypocrisy, and for supporting an aggressor, both financially and militarily, to attack unarmed and innocent civilians and their infrastructure. The Americans have been following this twisted terroristic policy for years. This is the root cause of the problem.

Once again, the true colours of the American administration have come to light and Muslims, as well as all those who seek freedom and dignity, should understand that this is a power of immense evil and deception which is willing to go to any extreme to impose her evil will upon others.

Many disturbing pictures of Israeli terrorism and atrocities, which you will hardly ever see on the BBC and Sky News, and probably never on any American news channels, can be viewed here, together with the tragic stories of the Lebanese civilians who are still under bombardment from the ruthless Israelis.

See also the Palestinian Media Watch website which documents the deliberate distortion of facts and double standards in the leading Western media sources, particularly the American media.

I end this paper with the following dose of reality for the brainwashed:

    “In my judgment, the best way to stop the violence is to understand why the violence occurred in the first place,” Bush sensibly observed. But then he continued, “And that’s because Hezbollah has been launching rocket attacks out of Lebanon into Israel, and because Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. That’s why we have violence.”

Wrong.

“Israel’s actions in no way can be seen as a legitimate response to the small-scale attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah,” Robert Dreyfuss wrote Monday on TomPaine. “Instead, what Israel has done has used the pretext of those pin-prick attacks – a couple of border raids and a handful of errant rockets – to launch a strategic attack whose goals are to crush Hamas and the remaining institutions of Palestinian self-rule and decapitate and destroy Hezbollah politically and militarily in Lebanon.”

When Hamas and Hezbollah captured the Israeli soldiers, they intended to use them to negotiate the release of hundreds of prisoners, including women and children, who have languished in Israeli jails for years in barbaric conditions with no charges against them.

But Israel, with the blessing of the US government, reacted with overwhelming military force, killing hundreds of people and crippling the infrastructure in Gaza and Lebanon.

This is not self-defense. It is a war of aggression that violates the United Nations Charter. Israel is engaging in collective punishment in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

The United States was the only country to veto a Security Council resolution that would have accused Israel of a “disproportionate use of force” in Gaza. This sends a clear message that Israel can do whatever it wants and Washington will support it.

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