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US Media Helping to Continue
Israel's Occupation

Planet Earth is approaching the 35-year mark for Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights. This is the longest military occupation in modern history. The lost human potential arising from Israel’s policy for that region is incalculable.

Israel has taken advantage of the lurch to the hard right the US has taken since the 9/11/01 attacks to attack the Palestinians continually under the name of "fighting terrorism". In early March it went on a terror spree, terrorizing Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Now, terrorism against civilians can never be justified. However, the mainstream US media seems determined to extend the occupation by maximizing attention to the terror created by suicide bombers and looking away from the state- sponsored violence which is provoking it.

For example, in a recent issue (Washington Post, 3/10/02) there was a front-page photograph of a pretty Israeli woman in serious pain being helped away from the carnage resulting from a Palestinian suicide bomber, who killed 13 in a Jerusalem café. The article was entitled, "Israel suffers 2 more attacks". Only when you turned the page did the Post reveal that the suicide bombing came "hours after Israeli tanks and troops stormed into a Palestinian refugee camp near Bethlehem, pressing ahead with a fierce military offensive that has killed more than 100 Palestinians this month—including more than 40 on [3/8/02] alone…" In other words, while major Israeli aggression was followed by a suicide bomber, the photograph, headline and front-page commentary each emphasized the response.

A few days prior to this the Washington Post ran a front page story with the headline "A Magnet for Palestinian ‘Martyrs’/Al-Aqsa Brigades Lead New Wave of Attacks on Israeli Civilians." The photograph showed armed Palestinian gunmen wearing ski masks walking menacingly down the street in the Balata refugee camp. The article represented the al-Aqsa Brigades as extremely dangerous individuals, as no doubt they are. Very quietly the Post reported, "But at night, when Israel customarily invades Palestinian-run territories, [Abu Wadya’s] followers operate in the shadows." So, the Aqsa Brigades are trying to protect their fellow Palestinians from the frequent Israeli military incursions in their area. Yet, instead of a front-page article portraying the Israeli military as fierce and scary instead we have one that incites hatred for the guerilla fighters resisting the occupation.

On Sunday, March 17, 2002, the Washington Post and the New York Times each mysteriously ran articles depicting Israeli’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, as multi-faceted. The New York Times emphasized their article with eight headshots of Sharon with different expressions on his face. The Washington Post subtitled their article "The Three Faces of Sharon, a Man Alone." Both articles were highly complimentary. They each required that you turn the page before any mention was made of Sharon’s infamous complicity in the Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinian civilians, where thousands were killed. Both newspapers glossed over this internationally condemned atrocity, which rivaled the 9/11/01 attacks in bloodshed: The Post gave it one sentence, and the New York Times only two.

Sharon is multifaceted to the two principal organs of the US government, the Washington Post and New York Times. However, to the international media he is a leader who is unable to do anything but kill and provoke Palestinians. He’s a one-trick pony to the rest of the world outside of the US.

The 35-year occupation of the Palestinians is an enormous tragedy, and it is largely being financed by the US taxpayer. It is being perpetuated largely because the US mainstream media continues to maximize attention to Israel’s grievances while marginalizing the viewpoints of the Palestinians. For the occupation to end it will be necessary for the conquered and nearly vanquished to have the same spotlight for their grievances as their tormentors have had for decades.

Scott Loughrey

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