Quite rightly there’s been a lot of media attention focused on the situation in the Middle East over the past couple of weeks, but so much of it is biased in favour of Israel. So much of it believes the PR put out by the Israeli regime unquestionably and it doesn’t help matters when politicians such as David Cameron announce that their support of Israel is ‘Unbreakable’. Unbreakable? Really? I don’t even think I need to explain the implications of making such mind-numbingly stupid statements.
The way the events have been presented as they unfold in front of our very eyes more often than not attempts to give the impression that Israel is a reasonable, peace-loving nation that shows restraint in the face of its angry, violent, terrorist neighbours in Gaza and the West Bank. The story we are shown is that Hamas launches thousands of rockets into Israeli neighbourhoods completely unprovoked, without reason and Israel is forced to respond with ‘Surgical Precision’.
Sadly enough, the understanding of most people is based purely upon the media representation of these events. A media that doesn’t really delve too deep in to the past or ever even ask questions of the official line given by Israel. There are rarely any critical words reserved for Israel in the mainstream press or, even more worryingly, from our elected representatives in the Houses of Parliament. So when Israel bombs a family home, killing 18 members of the same family – 7 children and 8 in their 20s – David Cameron, our Media and Politicians maintain their collective silence, nobody asks about Surgical Precision at this point.
Benjamin Netanyahu made a weak attempt at a heartfelt plea for understanding last week, claiming that ‘No nation can stand by as rockets rain down from terrorist organisations’. And this statement, as well as others like it from the US and UK mostly, lead ordinary people across the world ask stupid questions like “Why don’t Hamas just stop?” and “Why shouldn’t Israel defend itself?” etc etc.
Without looking too far in to the past here, the issue becomes less complicated. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are treated like animals by their Israeli occupiers. In the West Bank Israel continues to build more and more settlements on land that the UN recognises as belonging to Palestinians. It has built a 10 metre high wall along the border (which doesn’t match the internationally recognised border either) and severely restricts the movements of residents within the West Bank. Simply put, it’s Apartheid.
In Gaza the situation is similar, though no settlements exist any longer. The main difference between Gaza and the West Bank is that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank attempts to ‘negotiate’ peacefully with the oppressive Zionist regime – though that ultimately means much more giving than receiving- whereas Hamas in the Gaza strip have decided that it’s impossible to negotiate with a regime that wants everything its own way.
The rockets launched by Hamas are a desperate last resort, and are the equivalent of peashooters next to Israel’s advanced (and in some cases illegal) weaponry. Perhaps Hamas should be given unrestricted access to the world’s television cameras in the same way Israel has, maybe then they could make a heartfelt plea: “Which nation stands idly by as a terrorist organisation systematically breaches international law, steals your land, your culture, kills your people, enforces a system of apartheid, restricts access to basic building materials and clean drinking water?”
Another speciality of the media is to present this as a conflict emanating from religion, but the reality is religion plays very little part in this whatsoever. This is not a case of Jews and Muslims attacking each other because of faith, not in the slightest. It boils down to the fact that Zionists play on the religious opinion of some that the land is their god given right, and the Palestinian Muslims and Christians who just happened to be living on that land shouldn’t be there. The Palestinians see the land as their home where they were born and raised and where their ancestors were born and raised, that Israel has gradually stolen from them over the past 60 years or so, ironically using force and terrorism from the outset.
Another issue with presenting this as a religious conflict is it misleads individuals of each faith in to what can only be described as ill-informed attacks against the other. I’ve seen people disparagingly say of Coca Cola: “I won’t drink that Yahudi (Jewish) drink”. And while it’s certainly true that Coca Cola have shown plenty of support for Israel in the past, to say it’s a ‘Jewish’ drink is both erroneous and irrelevant! These kind of anti-Semitic or Islamophobic comments only serve to muddy the waters, and turn people away from taking a legitimate interest in the situation.
So what is the solution to this ongoing problem? There isn’t an easy one, and Palestinians are increasingly of the opinion that a ‘Two State’ solution is outdated and unworkable, the same solution that today’s politicians in the US and UK still advocate. The overriding opinion whilst I was there last year is that a ‘One State’ solution would work better. One nation, shared by Jews, Muslims and Christians. Each person given the exact same rights, regardless of faith with no more divisions. To many, it may sound like a pipe dream. But in reality, it’s the only way.
In the meantime, protests are planned outside the BBC for next week against their shocking reporting of the issues. We must continue to exert pressure on our politicians and media outlets to make them begin to ask the questions that any decent human being should already be asking: how can you justify unconditionally supporting an aggressive Apartheid regime that murders women and children in its ‘defence’?