Tag Archives: Palestinian cause

Media bias against Israel


It should go without saying that the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation is a complicated issue with many facets. Many of the elements in the conflict go back as far as the mid-1930s and are layered one on another with in between outbreaks of warfare and failed efforts to achieve a settlement if not peace. Neither the reader, nor alas! the reporter, usually has patience for the background.

It could be argued, and is in those leftwing circles in Europe and the U.S. increasingly allied with what the Palestinian cause, that the Israeli presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is in itself a form of violence. No one should ignore constant interplay between the superior Israeli military power which maintains its presence there and the Palestinian population. Nor should anyone minimize the well kept secret that some Palestinians are glad of the security these Israelis forces offer, looking at the descent into chaos in nearby Arab Moslem countries.

But the outbreak of stabbing attacks from the Jewish High Holidays last fall, often against civilians and including occasional Arabs who stumble into these episodes, are a terrorist act perpetrated by the Palestinians. The very fact that much too often the knife-wielders are adolescents, schooled from infancy in hatred against Jews in schools often under UN sponsorship, is as reprehensible as the acts themselves.

The Israelis often are accused by their critics, including sympathizers with the Palestinians cause, of using “excessive force”. The statistics, on the face of it, might be used to prove the accusation since Palestinian attackers killed far exceed the Israeli victims. But, as the Israelis are wont to point out to a largely deaf audience, self defense in such difficult situations cannot always result minimal hurt.

But presenting these episodes in the media by identifying the Palestinian dead as victims – as is done often in the international media – without reference or emphasis on the attacks is a distortion.

Britain’s leftwing The Guardian newspaper, which has taken off where the implosion of the Soviet Union left off, recently ran a not atypical headline “Palestinian shot dead at Damascus gate in Jerusalem after stabbing Israeli guard”. The severe wound that the assailant inflicted on an Israeli border policeman was only mentioned in a text, borrowed from the French News Agency [AFP]. A similar piece in The London Daily Mail, albeit at greater length, was headed: “Jerusalem’s streets run red with blood: Israeli police shoot dead man who stabbed border guard at Damascus Gate — the 99th Palestinian to die in latest wave of violence.” The Mail’s actual coverage, however, was borrowed from the AFP story, a source incidentally often noted for more subtlety than its Anglophone competitors.

It is probably too much to expect that these same newspapers would accompany their stories with more sophisticated reporting of the current situation between Israelis and their Arab citizens and neighbors. Pres. Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry are determinedly continuing the pretense that there is “a negotiating process” underway. There is not. The Palestinian side is rent with a bitter rivalry between the weakening secular Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO] and the Islamicist Hamas. That a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza leveraged the terrorist Hamas into power there, and which is now seeking to usurp the PLO on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem is rarely even hinted in the media.

So now our colleagues in the media are adding to the impasse with a twisted version of most recent events. “You’d be hard pressed to find an example of terror in the world – outside of Israel – where mainstream media outlets prioritize the fate of the perpetrators over that of their victims,” said watchdog UK Media Watch.

It’s time the media stopped adding to another already precarious Middle East imbroglio.

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Dealing with Islam


A decade after 9/11 the U.S. still puzzles over how to deal with an Islam of 1.3 billion people, most of whom either cannot or refuse to move into the modern era. This American [read broader Western] inability to find an ideological approach will enhance a threat to U.S. security long after troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The problem is profound, involving the history of Christendom’s relations with Islam for one and a half millennium. Recently new complications arise from declining Western populations seeking immigrant labor, welcoming large numbers of Muslims, again, often either unable or unwilling to integrate into a heterogeneous West. This aggravates external security, not least because many sophisticated Islamic leaders condone deception [taqiyya] about their aims. In a traditionally open, sometimes to the point of naiveté, American society, this adds additional burdens on law enforcement and the justice system.

Washington’s armed attempt to root out state-sponsored terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan not only has taken an enormous toll in lives and treasure, but produced war’s inevitable “collateral damage” used by the terrorists to misrepresent U.S. aims. In a world where simply the charge of “colonialism” precludes serious discussion between advanced and backward societies, Washington, even were it capable, cannot impose its values as it did after World War II on Nazi Germany and militaristic Japan.

Nor is there an economic determinist solution. Even where development has taken place – in Lebanon or Algeria or the Gulf sheikhdoms – cultural advancement is stymied, even retrogressing under tutelage of subsidized reactionary preachers. And although private capital [globalization] has brought industrialization quickly to many new corners of the world, cultural factors block what the economists used to call “take off” in the vast Arab belt and Persia despite incredible raw material resources [oil and gas].

A new test of Islamic renewal is underway in recently “liberated” eastern North Africa and, probably soon in Syria. Rebellion driven by the youthful demographic bulge has blown away the old despots. But the best organized to fill the leadership vacuum are political incarnations of Islamic totalitarianism led by Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood. That will further imperil Egypt’s 85 million, a third of the Arab world with a traditional claim to lead Muslims culturally, relying on foreign handouts after Pres. Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of protected crony capitalism.

Nowhere is Washington’s conundrum more apparent than in current deteriorating relations with Turkey, now falling away from its post-World War II alliance with Western Europe and America in search of a new role as Mideast regional leader. Although it never quite reached application elsewhere, the 20th century post-Ottoman Caliphate top-down, Leninist secular revolution, had been seen as a model for intellectuals as far removed as Iran and Pakistan. But Ankara’s contemporary Islamic politicians, building on an empowerment from a hinterland far from old cosmopolitan centers, have recast the Turkish model.

Their still unresolved relationship between Islam and modern government puts the whole question of where the Turkish experiment is going into question. The ruling AKP Justice and Development Party reached its current dominant position not least because of a thriving if always fragile fast-growing economy, benefiting long stagnant regions. But its political ambitions have conflicted with its economic model. Its militant advocacy of the Palestinian cause [including the radical terrorist Hamas in Gaza] has produced a nasty blowup with Israel. A UN inquiry, as always, has only aggravated the falling out from what had been an opportunistic if mutually advantageous strategic and commercial relationship with new markets for Israel and technological transfers for the Turks. Washington has been unable to defuse the escalating blowup between its two most important allies in the region.

Ankara’s strategies zigzag: for example, okaying NATOs’ antimissile deployment but denying Washington’s aim to protect Europe and the US from Iranian weapons of mass destruction, its vacillating role as conveyor of gas to Europe, its failure to win entry to the European Community, its refusal initially to join NATO’s war against Qadaffi. Ankara could even jeopardize NATO’s southeastern anchor with its flirtations with Beijing and Moscow, casting a new pall on the alliance’s always ambiguous future. Thus Turkey, once the poster child for Islamic accommodation, could become the most serious part of the West’s failed efforts to meet the longterm challenge which stretches out far beyond the immediate effects of 9/11.

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Nowhere is Washington’s conundrum more apparent than in current deteriorating relations with Turkey, now falling away from its post-World War II alliance with Western Europe and America in search of a new role as Mideast regional leader. Although it never quite reached application elsewhere, the 20th century post-Ottoman Caliphate top-down, Leninist secular revolution, had been seen as a model for intellectuals as far removed as Iran and Pakistan. But Ankara’s contemporary Islamic politicians, building on an empowerment from a hinterland far from old cosmopolitan centers, have recast the Turkish model.

Their still unresolved relationship between Islam and modern government puts the whole question of where the Turkish experiment is going into question. The ruling AKP Justice and Development Party reached its current dominant position not least because of a thriving if always fragile fast-growing economy, benefiting long stagnant regions. But its political ambitions have conflicted with its economic model. Its militant advocacy of the Palestinian cause [including the radical terrorist Hamas in Gaza] has produced a nasty blowup with Israel. A UN inquiry, as always, has only aggravated the falling out from what had been an opportunistic if mutually advantageous strategic and commercial relationship with new markets for Israel and technological transfers for the Turks. Washington has been unable to defuse the escalating blowup between its two most important allies in the region.

Ankara’s strategies zigzag: for example, okaying NATOs’ antimissile deployment but denying Washington’s aim to protect Europe and the US from Iranian weapons of mass destruction, its vacillating role as conveyor of gas to Europe, its failure to win entry to the European Community, its refusal initially to join NATO’s war against Qadaffi. Ankara could even jeopardize NATO’s southeastern anchor with its flirtations with Beijing and Moscow, casting a new pall on the alliance’s always ambiguous future. Thus Turkey, once the poster child for Islamic accommodation, could become the most serious part of the West’s failed efforts to meet the longterm challenge which stretches out far beyond the immediate effects of 9/11.

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