Sunday, October 10, 2010
Getting the Story Wrong
Western media paint distorted picture of Mideast realities irrelevant to real conflict
by Anav Silverman
It becomes more apparent that with each passing year, the Arab-Israeli conflict seems to get a new facelift in the media headlines. Many notable news sources seek to demonize Israel in the most "objective" manner possible, concentrating always on angles irrelevant to the real conflict.
Subsequently, when foreign journalists come to Israel with their notebooks, pens and preconceived notions, there is very little chance that their audience back home will have the opportunity to understand the conflict in an unbiased way. So much misinformation and shoddy reporting place Israel and her citizens in a very vulnerable position.
On the day that the settlement freeze expired, CNN featured the following headline in big bold lettering on its news site: “Palestinians: We fear Violent Israeli Settlers.” The article focused on one Palestinian family, using them as the only example to support the story’s sensational title. What the article did not point out was that that for many Palestinians, settlement construction is a major part of their livelihood and that many are currently out of work due to the freeze.
Even more sadly, stories highlighting friendly relations that do exist between Israeli settlers and Palestinians rarely appear in western media networks. The first West Bank team in Israel’s amateur American football league, which includes Israeli settlers and Palestinians, has largely been ignored by most mainstream news outlets including CNN.
This sort of misrepresentation of the conflict is further strengthened with such articles, as “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” published in Times on September 2. The author, Karl Vicks, writes that “The truth is that Israelis are no longer preoccupied (with peace,)” rather they are busy “making money and enjoying the rays of late summer,” Vicks asserts. Photos of Israelis smoking hookah on the Ashdod beach appear alongside the article.
Vicks bases his argument primarily on two Israeli real-estate agents, Eli and Heli from Ashdod, whose viewpoints he uses to represent the opinions of close to six million other Israeli Jews.
But media networks aren’t the only ones assigning wrongful and misdirected blame as to who is at fault for Mideast tensions; government officials are also echoing their sentiments. Former US President Bill Clinton recently seized the opportunity to also assign blame on Israelis, but to a more specific sector-- the Russian immigrant population in Israel. Clinton recently told US press that Israeli Russians “are the hardest-core people against the division of the land,” and “present a staggering problem” to peace.
In truth, the staggering problems facing the Middle East peace process have nothing to do with Israeli Russians, nor with the settler community.
Threats are very real
The obstacles have all to do with the rising nuclear power of Iran and the Republic’s fervent financial and military support for terrorist organizations in Gaza and Lebanon as well as in other areas across the world.
Without the financial support of Iran, Hamas’ network could not exist and keep Gaza under its hold. With a $540 million budget for 2010, of which Iran provides the largest share, Hamas’ connection with Ahmadinejad’s government is rooted not only in money but in guns as well.
On the military front, Iran provides Hamas fighters with top military training and instruction from the commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC.) The Islamic Republic also engages in delivering weapons in single components to the Sinai, paying the Sinai Bedouins for transferring the weapons through the Gaza tunnels.
The results of the Iran-Hamas connection were revealed this past summer when Egyptian police took control of nine weapons caches across hideouts in the Sinai Peninsula. The weapons caches, which were hidden in Rafah City and the port city of al-Arish, were about to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
Nearly 200 anti-aircraft missiles, 90 artillery shells, 200 bullets of varying sizes and anti-tank landmines, machine guns and ammunitions were among the weapons found according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency. Egyptian security forces also seized 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of TNT explosives. The large number of missiles indicates that Palestinian terror groups in Gaza may possess a higher number of projectiles than originally assumed.
Both Iran and Syria continue to be the chief sources for weapons bound for the Gaza Strip, as Hamas builds a stockpile of rockets targeting close to one million Israelis in range.
But readers of the Newsweek article (June 1), “Gaza is about Butter, Not Guns,” by Dan Ephron, would have gained a completely different understanding of this situation. Ephron highlights what he believes to be the economic benefits that Israel elicits from the blockade, while completely downplaying any security threats that Gaza terror groups pose to Israelis.
And the threats are very real. This past September alone, the number of Gaza rocket attacks on southern Israel sharply increased, with close to 20 Qassams and mortar shells fired at residential areas in the western Negev and Ashkelon. One rocket struck between two day-care centers on a southern Israeli kibbutz in the morning of September 12, right before children were scheduled to arrive. No one was injured although one nursery sustained damages.
As articles blaming Israel for failed Mideast peace continue to stream into the headlines, it is clear that Mideastern reality will continue to play out as usual - with Iran as an increasingly mobilizing force. With statements like that of Ahmed Jaabari, the leader of Hamas’ military wing, who threatened a wave of violence intended to derail the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks just two weeks ago, Israelis have no choice but to prepare themselves for war. For Israel, terror and war are always a few steps behind peace, whether mainstream media chooses to document this angle or not.
Anav Silverman, a native of Maine, writes from Jerusalem, Israel where she is an educator at Hebrew University's Secondary School of Education. She also works as an international correspondent at Sderot Media Center.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -