Peace in the Middle East, the Original Oxymoron

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December 12, 2007

Oh to have been an NSA bug under the table at the recent Annapolis Summit.

The idea any conference could lay groundwork for peace between Israel and Palestine seems only less absurd than a peace deal brokered by the U.S.

So what did they accomplish? America says it will monitor the two while Israel doesn't stop building illegal settlements in the West Bank and while Palestine doesn't prevent its people from retaliating for Israel's occupation.

Years ago, when my old Irish, train engineer friend told me America plays both ends against the middle, I was shocked. After all, I'd always been told Israel was the hapless victim of Palestinian aggression, but nagged by the Irishman's words, I tried to fill the gaps left by my public education.

I learned the land now called Palestine was inhabited by the Jews thousands of years ago but were driven out over the ensuing centuries.

Then, following the holocaust of European Jews, they were allowed back en masse in 1947 when the U.N., desperately trying to find a home for god's remaining and displaced people, split Palestine in two.

The U.N.'s move may not have been the absolute beginning of problems in the Middle East, but it was a fair contribution.

Zionist leader and supporter of the Jewish state, David Ben-Gurion, put it best when he said, 'We have taken their (Palestinians') country. We come from Israel, but 2000 years ago, and what is that to them? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?'

Nowadays the U.S. feigns concern for both while passing military secrets, cash '(one-fifth of our annual foreign aid budget) and weapons to Israel, and there seems no end to this lopsided arrangement.

U.S. Senator James Inhofe explained why the U.S. should back Israel no matter what: 'One of the reasons I believe the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the (U.S. on 9/11) is that the policy of our Government has been to ask the Israelis'not to retaliate in a significant way against the terrorist strikes that have been launched against them.'

Aside from apparently blaming 9/11 on the fact that America hasn't destroyed Israel's enemies for it, Inhofe went on with a litany of trite, though clich', reasons of why Israel is superior: they have the only democracy in the region; they are a lone state surrounded by bloodthirsty Muslims hell-bent on the destruction of all that is good; and so on and so forth.

The 2006 report 'The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy' by John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University, dispels the myth of Israel as the hapless victim by stating the Israelis outgun, with WMD, anyone in the region since only they possess nukes; neither are they are a freedom-loving democracy since gentiles are due less rights than Jews and Palestinians are often treated as subhuman.

And, while Inhofe's comments may seem outrageous to those not swept up in anti-Muslim fervor so popular in the so-called post-9/11 world, his sentiments are customary political pablum of the mass media and a frighteningly large slice of Americans who, while they know little to nothing about the situation, are convinced there are not two sides to this story.

But, how can we blame the American citizenry when the keepers of information, newspapers, radio and TV, fail them?

Example: From a July, 2006 piece on, President George W. Bush, forgetting his microphone was on, 'said that a key to defusing the Middle East crisis was for 'Hezbollah to stop doing this shit.' Whether bias or laziness, the writer omitted the following Bush comments, 'But the real irony is that it is Israel that needs to be told to stop its war of aggression against the Palestinians and the Lebanese people.'

And consider the headlines like the October, 2005 piece by Scott Wilson, 'Israel Retaliates for Suicide Bombing''Use tanks, planes and machine guns to kill, and they call it 'retaliation,' but when a young man, such as the one in Charlevoix resident Rebecca Glotfelty's documentary 'Such a Normal Thing,' sees innocent friends shot dead in the street, and retaliates by strapping a bomb to his chest, they call it terrorism.

When Palestinians throw rocks, Israelis throw bullets. When Palestine kidnapped a soldier, Israel unleashed Operation Summer Rain which killed more than 150 Palestinians and nearly 50 of their children'The Israelis kill 3.4 Palestinians for every Jew lost'but you won't hear about that from your government or your major news outlets, and what do you expect from the same U.S. leaders who recently labeled the actions of a few Muslims as Islamo-Facism?

Americans hold no immunity to that awful disease nationalism and we show our symptoms when we choose fear and ignorance over fact and careful consideration.

In a 2001 piece by Joel Greenberg in the New York Times about a young Arab couple and their baby who were murdered, the perpetrators are called 'Jewish gunmen' and the writer seems to justify the shooting by writing, 'The attack was similar to drive-by shootings by Palestinian gunmen that have killed more than two-dozen Jewish settlers since the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising last September.'

How would you feel if the murder of your daughter was referred to as 'similar' to murders committed by women who resemble your kid?

Notice that, not only was the attack 'similar' to Palestinian trespasses, the incident was the result of a 'Palestinian uprising.'

Kuang-Kuo Chang and Geri Zeldes noticed in their 2006 study in the Newspaper Research Journal that three of four major media outlets, New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, are blatantly biased in favor of Israel in their coverage of the Middle East.

Government propaganda is a powerful tool, so for that I give my countrymen a partial pass, but there comes a time when we must release our childish desire to always be right and see in black and white.

Furthermore, until there is a sincere push for truth about Middle Eastern matters, the idea any Palestinian leader will step foot in America is as miraculous as it is pointless.

I would wish both sides of that tired conflict luck, but it is good sense and empathy success requires.

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Benjamin Gohs's picture
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Benjamin J. Gohs is a staff writer for the Charlevoix Courier newspaper and author of the award-winning column "The Crying Towel."