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Jon Stewart, an American late night show comedian of the Daily Show on Comedy Central, makes us all laugh every night or whenever we happen to watch the show; even the most hardcore cynic among us cannot but let escape a smile watching him. Just recently however, his funny skit was no laughing matter. He pointed out a glaring truth – the mention of the Palestinians’ casualties under heavy Israeli bombardments makes him Pro-Hamas – which earned him scolding instead of praise. In his satire, Jon helped bring out a much bigger issue than sympathy for the Palestinians; the US media has been cheerleading for Israel and turns a propaganda machine for the US government. For religious reason, most Americans side with Israel – Americans believe that the Bible (the sacred book about God and the life beyond) reveals a sacred truth that Jesus, the savior of the world, was born in Israel -; for geopolitical reason, the US government condones Israeli wrongdoings. Most troubling however, the US media upon which most Americans rely to decipher complex events – such as the Israel-Palestine conflict – has been at best “reporting, at times verbatim” what’s dictated instead of investigating and researching. It is a big disservice to the country and perhaps to the world when the very apparatus which primary objectives should be to educate people and hold government officials accountable “is in bed with the officials”.
Don’t take my word for it. Suffice to revisit the Iraq War – which costs the country dearly – to realize that the US media has almost always operated as a propaganda machine for the US government in regards to International Affairs. It is even most troubling that no lesson seems to have been learned after the glaring fiasco in Iraq. The US media is still operating as the mouthpiece of the West with seemingly no regard for the truth; the truth, according to the American media it seems, is what the American government says it is when it comes to international affairs.
One of the most basic tasks of a journalist is to present both sides of a story; this is not so when it comes to Israel. One would be hard pressed during Israeli-Palestino conflicts to find Palestinian officials interviewed in most US Networks (except AlJazeera America), and even on the few occasions Palestinian leaders are invited, the hosts would clearly show bias and sometimes hostility towards the Palestinian guests; however, Israeli officials are paraded like rock stars in most US television networks whenever events in the Middle East such as the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine flare up. Jon Stewart is not the only one who seems sympathetic to the Palestinians’ plight; Jebreal, an MSNBC contributor pointed out that it is biased to address global issues (such as the Israel-Palestine conflict) the way it’s done at MSNBC (and other US Networks), mainly sending invites to Israeli officials only, leaving out any opportunity for Palestinians’ to tell their side of the story. Unfortunately, one should not expect change anytime soon. The shooting down of the Malaysian plane, flight 17 exposed once again the entrenched bias in the US media which was quick to embrace the US government account of the tragedy. It is a disservice to the country, to the world community.
In light of the conflict that has already cost hundreds of Palestinian lives – most of which are civilians, one third of which are children – , it is perhaps appropriate to revisit the Middle East to obtain a better perspective on events that have engulfed the region in a perpetual state of war.
Conflicts in the Middle East are not new; it’s as if they’ve always been there since the beginning of time. Conflicts between Israel and the Palestine began well before their independence (if we can refer as such for The Palestine), even prior to the British Occupation of the region. In 1948, the recognition and the declaration of independence of Israel from Mandatory Palestine brought with it a wave of conflicts between the two States. In fact, on May 15 1948, the very next day following the declaration of its independence, Israel was attacked by the neighboring Arab armies; those fights have not stopped ever since. The situation is not however black and white as the US media would want one to believe.
In order to understand the context within which Palestine has been at war with Israel, one should take a look into the region before the creation of the State of Israel. Jews were a minority. There was just 1 Jew for every 13-Palestinian or Arab. Mandatory Palestine -so called because of a British Mandate for Palestine, a legal commission for the administration of the territory that had formerly constituted the Ottoman Empire Sanjaks, the Southern portion of Beirut Vilayet & the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem – or simply Palestine was an area – associated with some sort of political structure – that was under the British Administration after World War I. The area comprised the region east of the Mediterranean Sea, west of the Euphrates River, north of the Arabian Desert and south of the Taurus Mountains, otherwise referred to as the Ottoman Empire.
Despite its weapons superiority at the time, the British Army could not prevail against the Ottomans who were very skilled warriors with excellent knowledge of the terrain; back against the wall, UK had to forge alliance and draft an agreement with the Arabs to drive the Ottomans out. After the war was over however, UK did not honor the agreement; instead, Palestine was divided, a portion went to UK and the other to France. There is now no need to wonder why the Arabs have entrenched grudges against the West; why they’re very suspicious of the West activity in the region. The West cannot be trusted, even with signed and sealed agreements.
The area that’s west of Jordan (Palestine) went to UK. Frequent skirmishes among the various groups (Arabs, Jews, Brits) finally erupted into an all-out revolution (the Arab Revolt – 1936-1939) against the British Occupation; the Arabs sought independence from the Colonial ruler. Shortly thereafter (1939-1947), the Jewish Insurgency attempted to achieve similar outcome although for a different reason; UK set a drastic reduction of Jewish immigration into the region, a deal brokered to appease the Arabs, albeit temporarily. – Yep, the West had played the Arabs a lot, double-crossed them frequently (still does) but our governments want us to believe that the Arabs are not to be trusted –
The Colonial ruler (UK)’s attempt to exploit (read: pit one against the other) the deep-seated internal conflicts between the Arabs and the Jews failed and a bloody Civil War (1947-1948) erupted. In an attempt to break the impasse, the UN voted in November 1947 for an end to the British Mandate and a Partition of Palestine. The UN Resolution 181(II) called for the creation of Independent Arab and Jewish States; the City of Jerusalem however would fall under a Special International Regime, meaning it would belong to neither the Arabs nor the Jews.
For the most part, the Jewish Camp would go along with the Resolution but the Arab’s was completely against it; the Arabs believed that it violated the principles of national self-determination in the UN charter that granted people the right to decide their destiny. From that point onward, the short-lived celebration that Jews would have their own independent State would be overshadowed by attacks, shooting, murder, assassination and bombing of Jews in public places and public transportation. In areas where both communities co-existed, mainly Jerusalem and Haifa, violent attacks, riots, reprisals and counter-reprisals were on the menu every day.
In retaliation, clandestine militant Zionist groups (the two notorious were Lehi & Irgun), using the Arabs’ own strategies, placed bombs at bus stops and crowded markets in the Arab sections. As the violence escalated and casualties were piling up on both sides, the situation proved impractical. As a strategy to win the fight, the Arab Leaders organized a blockade that would isolate the city of Jerusalem, home to more than 100,000 Jews. Several attempts by the Israeli authorities to go through the blockade – in an effort to bring basic necessities to the Jews – proved unsuccessful. The situation was even most dire for the Jews who lived in the highly isolated city of Negev and North Galilee.
News of the deteriorating situation in Palestine prompted Washington to withdraw its original support for the Partition Plan proposed in UN Resolution 181 (II). The Jewish people suffering intensified until, as if by divine intervention, Joseph Stalin (then leader of the Soviet Union) made the decision to support their cause; through money raised abroad, the Jews were able to acquire heavy war artilleries to help in the fight against the Arabs. However, Stalin’s support for the Jews sparked Arabs’ nationalism; the Arab Liberation Army welcomed fighters from Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and North Africa into Palestine to join the fight against the Jews. Even the Brits’ army that was still in Palestine could not stop, push away or slow down the flood of fighters into the region. The fights intensified, the casualties piled up and the Jews were defeated. Immediately thereafter, the Arab Higher Committee sent a letter to UN Secretary General announcing that “The Palestinian Arabs consider any attempt by the Jewish people or by whatever power or group of power to establish a Jewish state in an Arab territory to be an act of aggression that will be resisted by force…
The prestige of the United Nations would be better served by abandoning this plan and by not imposing such an injustice…
The Palestinian Arabs make a grave declaration before the UN, before God and before history that they will never submit to any power that comes to Palestine to impose a partition. The only way to establish a partition is to get rid of them all: men, women, and children”
Such declaration left no doubt that the Arabs were prepared to fight to the death instead of abiding by UN Resolution 181(II). However, in spite of the crushing and decisive victory of the Arab Army League over the Jews, events, some of which couldn’t be explained, would soon change the tide in favor of the Israelis:
- There was an exodus of the Arab middle class; from December 1947 to January 1948, more than 70,000 Arabs had fled the region and by the end of March, that number had reached 100,000. That was only the beginning of a much deeper panic among the Arab middle class. A second wave of well over 300,000 Arabs would later follow suit. Displacement of such a huge population quickly captured the attention of the International Community
- Washington which opposed earlier UN Resolution 181(II) had now proposed for Palestine to be under UN Supervision. Washington shift in position created confusion amidst the Israeli authorities. Unaware of Washington’ endgame and game plan, the Israelis secretly attempted to negotiate a truce with the Arabs
- Joseph Stalin who earlier declared his support for the Jewish cause and, contrary to Washington, favored the UN Resolution now saw an opportunity to kill two birds with a stone a) to arm the Jewish fighters against the Arabs b) to make a truckload of money. Stalin’ support required payment for the supplies of weapons
- Deep transformation was already in progress in the Israeli camp. According to a November 1947 edict, all young men and women 17-25 were required to enroll in the armed services; on March of the following year, another edict required all young men and women 26-35 who were single to join the armed forces; just five days later, all men 40 and under were required to join the armed forces. Now well armed and better trained, the Zionists were 30,000 men strong ready to confront the Arab fighters who were a mere 10,000 men, half of which were volunteer fighters. The Israelis were now on the offensive and handily defeated the Arabs.
On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, founder and first Prime Minister of Israel, declared the establishment of a Jewish state, the State of Israel. The celebration was however short-lived. The very next day, on May 15, 1948 conflict between Israel and the Arab States intensified; the Arab-Israeli war had begun and would last approximately ten months (9 months 3 weeks). After several truce periods that were meant for both sides to re-evaluate their position and consider the available choices, an armistice agreement was signed by both parties in March 1949, putting an end to the official hostilities of the war. However, the signed armistice was hasty, premature and failed to account for all parties. Israel walked away with what was promised in UN Resolution 181(II); in addition, the Zionists seized control of almost 60% of the area allocated for the proposed Arab state – including the Jaffa, Lydda and Ramle area, Galilee, some parts of the Negev, a wide strip along the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road, West Jerusalem, and some territories in the West Bank – No Arab Palestinian State was created; to make matters worse, Israel expelled more than 700,000 Palestinians from the very areas that were proposed theirs in the Resolution; not the US, not UK, not even the UN protested to “right the wrong” done by the newly created State; that was Israel’s first act in the International stage, an act that violated the very resolution of the world body (the UN) that came to its rescue; the West proved that by doing nothing it was fine with what Israel did. No one should wonder or question why the Palestinians feel the way they do towards Israel. As of this writing, Israel has still not returned an inch of the area it took from The Palestine. It has instead gobbled more of Palestinian territory. The Map above provides an accurate timeline of Palestine territory loss to Israel over the years.
The liberal use of terrorist label attached to the Hamas Group (in Palestine) by the West, aided mostly by a media that seems to have no qualms serving as the government’s mouthpiece and propaganda machine, cheerleading every word the government uttered, having no real purpose to inform and educate the public on matters that affect it or holding the government accountable for its actions or inactions, the US media has always been a major hindrance to a solution between Israel and the Palestine. If one puts the cheerleading hat aside for a moment and looks at events through the eyes of impartial observers, it should be glaring that UN Role has been at best to protect the interests of the West and its sympathizers and would be under the best of circumstance most unfair to Arab countries in general, the Palestine in particular. As such, suspicion in the Middle East of established world body’s agenda such as the United Nations is justified. By any historical analysis, the Palestinians have the right to fight for what’s legitimately theirs, territory stolen by a newly created State that did not even have a home but was not content with what was allocated.
To put it in perspective for the US audience, imagine that from the onset Mexico had large and powerful an army to fight the United States (in the Mexican-American War) against seizing control of Texas, New Mexico, California; Northern, Central, and Eastern Mexico and Mexico City; just like the Palestinians, US would still be at war with Mexico. Both sides would use whichever war strategy to achieve their respective objectives, Mexico to take back what was stolen, US to keep the stolen areas. It’s not difficult to imagine that rockets (or whatever means of inflicting the greatest damage) would be thrown across the borders frequently, regularly; civilian casualties would pile up on both sides. Any ceasefire would probably be temporary. Sound familiar? Which of the two sides would be the terrorist State in this scenario?
Imagine another scenario where Canada (assume a Canada with superior weapon capability) acts toward the US (seize territory that belongs to US) like Israel did to the Palestine. Would US be considered a terrorist State trying to get back the seized area from Canada? What if civilian casualties on Canada side were to result from US actions, would US be then a terrorist State? If one is inclined to propose going to the UN for a resolution, consider this: as of this writing, it’s been well over half century (60 years+) since the Palestine has been asking UN to enforce Resolution 181(II), to no avail. How long would it be reasonable for US to wait for a UN resolution in the US-Canada scenario? Or should US wait for Canada to have a change of heart and return the stolen territory? What if someone creates a group which sole purpose is to drive Canada out? What if that group carries frequent and deadly raids to achieve that goal, should it be considered a terrorist group? As it is probably obvious by now, the terrorist label used by the West, cheerleaded by the media, is an attempt to de-legitimize the group’s objectives; unless forced into compliance (with UN Resolution 181(II)), Israel has no intention, no desire to return the territory that’s not his; in fact, for the past two decades, Israel has been aggressively building Jewish settlements in the occupied territory. If US were in the same predicament as The Palestine, it is difficult to imagine it would be okay by any measure; the Palestinians have no other alternatives but to treat Israel’s behavior as an act of war. The West, the UN would best serve the world by forcing Israel into compliance with UN Resolution 181 (II); then and only then would Hamas be held accountable for its actions against Israel.
Is Hamas a terrorist Organization?
Watch this column for our next segment on “Hamas in Black and White.”
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