Holy Land Questions

I’ve been following the latest events in Jerusalem and I am dissapointed that the news media has not been covering this story very well. Israel is constantly in the news for one thing or another yet an inflammatory action such as this one in the Temple Mount/Haram el Sharif receives only a scintilla of coverage. It barely registered as the third story on Headline News.

This is the type of event that can spike violence even further and could lead to the type of Holy War that the world fears.

It seems that when the Palestinians are the aggressors (stone throwing, raucus protests) they are on the cover of the newspapers yet when Israelis are the aggressors we don’t hear about it until the Palestinians retaliate.

Now my questions: 1) Is the news coverage of the Mid-East unfairly biased towards one group or another? 2) What will happen with this new wave of tensions?

Actually, I notice that the media often portrays the Israelis as the aggressors, not the Palestinians.

For one thing, many news articles such as this one and this one take great care to specify the approximate or exact number of casualties and lean on the fact that the majority of them are Palestinian, as if that fact alone indicated the oppressive nature of the Israeli government (it actually is more indicative of the Palestinians’ combat tactics, which IMHO seem bent more on generating martyrs than winning battles.)

This seems strange when you take into account that the media doesn’t cover other conflicts this way (Macedonian conflict stories don’t seem to add the casualty numbers as a footnote, nor the Kashmir conflict, nor the Congo civil war, and so on and so on.)

Also, the media makes a great fuss of the Israelis entering Palestinian territory and bulldozing houses and ancient olive groves, adding almost as an afterthought that these were in retaliation for Palestinian mortar attacks on Israeli towns (this article is not the best example but it’s all I could find.)

And what about all the recent articles on Israeli attacks on Palestinian “activists” (read: guerrilla terrorists or freedom fighters, depending whose side you’re on.) Seems pretty clear who the media thinks is the aggressor there.

I’m glad to see a thread was started on this topic. I feel that there is scant news coverage on the Israeli assassinations of Palestine politicians. (2 children were killed too).

It was on Nightline last night, though the story was focused on Israeli/US relations.

The US is decidely “pro=Israeli”, but you have to wonder for how long if these unsupported assassinations continue by Israel.

I can see Israel’s point of view. They know where the bombers are, you know when they’ll bomb, and you know where the bombers live! So those assassinations are legit because they are preventative. But killing politicians? Murky water. And I don’t know how long Israel will be the US’ sweatheart in the conflict if it keeps up.

Not to mention the more Palestinians Israel kills, the more young Palestinians come forth wanting to be part of the violence. It’s madness.

This is just a messed up situation. I don’t know what will come of it, but it is more serious than the media would have you believe. I don’t know why.

I don’t think I’d be willing to fight WWIII in Jerusalem though. It’s too hot there in the summer. Let’s hope it doesn’t escalate too much.

My humble opinion on the subject is that Israel, having come within a hair of achieving a peacefull co-existance with the Palestinians and having been rebuffed by Arafat, is fed up with the lot of them.

To that end, the hardliners (who are now in power) are doing everything they can to destabilize the PLO by insighting the Hamas to rebel against the seemingly more moderate Arafat.

This will accomplish three things:

  1. Get rid of (once and for all) that slack lipped jackass Arafat who seems to have a penchant for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
  2. Create a situation where the Palestinian factions are busier fighting one another rather than Israel.
  3. Give Isreal a legitimate excuse not to negotiate with the Palestinians because they will become so fragmented and highly militant.

Also, I would not worry too much about the US severing ties with Israel. Few things maintain a friendship like a common enemy and the militant Arabs have no great love for America.

As QuickSilver said. The Israeli Left is basically shredded. Read this opinion column in the Jerusalem Post yesterday for an idea of how poorly the left is being perceived in Israel at present. There is little popular mandate for a peace settlement because all the Israeli public feels like it would acheive is at best the creation of a hostile enemy on their doorstep and at worst a death sentence for Israel (through the reabsorption of refugees, loss of Holy Sites, and rebellion of the Ultra Orthodox because of it).

Another opinion column from yesterday (this one, and yes I read sources other than JPost) also struck some points which I think are often overlooked in the West. Israel is a democratic state (yes we can argue this all day but it is the only state in the region that comes even close). As such, its actions are held to similar standards than those expected out of the EU and the USA. Targeted operations are not viewed highly among the West, but the West has resorted them in dire circumstances (can you say Noriega or Kaddafi?). I don’t care what you say – these politicians are as responsible for the violence as anyone. While they have committed no crime under international law perhaps, they have spewed hateful rhetoric which directly led to action against the Israelis. Targeting a whole populace, by “turning the West Bank into a prison” is also not viewed highly, except in dire circumstances (can you say taking out the Belgrade power grid?).

Two small boys were indeed killed, and Sharon apologized. This does not constitute “extreme force” on Israel’s part though. America uses this strategy every time it has a military operation, whether it is targeting Kaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, or Milosevic. Sometimes a bomb shelter or a Chinese embassy gets hit.

In order to enter negotiations, Israel needs to have a firm sense of security. Arafat is by no means encouraging this (the Palestinian “press release” today calling for a cease to violence was not broadcast or publicized within the West Bank or Gaza, it was merely IMHO a ploy for world opinion). The Palestinians on the other hand need to have a sense that their situation can improve – they do not perceive 8 years under Oslo as an improvement and now are seeking to better their lot by fighting for it.

There is no easy solution. Neither side is immaculate, but I will cling to the belief that Israel reached out as far as it could and only had its wrist slapped by the Palestians. Arafat was disgraced for this, and he chose to regain world opinion in the tried and true portray-Israel-as-the-big-bully fashion. It worked. For one year now, Arafat has made Israel seem like a rabid aggressor. I think what he is trying to do is force Israel situation where world opinion forces Israel into suicidal peace talks. He can then accomplish his dream of pushing the Jews into the sea.

The Palestinians deserve a homeland. They deserve the right of self governance and freedom. This should not come at the expense of the rights of self governance and security of the Israeli people.