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.