The opening paragraph of “Palestinian sheds light on who’s right in Middle East” by Naomi Lakritz of The Calgary Herald is full of promises; promises daring to oppose those who speak against the brutal treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israel. Lakritz believes that by presenting this one Palestinian, Khalid Abu Toameh, an Israeli citizen, “reporter for the Jerusalem post” will forever open the eyes of the world to who’s really at fault in the Middle East. In her pathetic attempt to prove this “incendiary rhetoric about Israel” as a lie, she makes another stunning accusation: how this rhetoric is actually about hating the Jews rather than abuse of citizens, or on a humane level, of humans. Though her article does provide an insight on the other side of the story but is premature in even recognizing the ugly side of the story.
Lakritz employs an interesting technique: use of those who identify with the oppressed to prove the innocence of the oppressors. Lakritz finds much of the support for her statements in Toameh. The obvious declaration of Toameh as an Arab Muslim Palestinian, citizen of Israel, and a reporter for the Jerusalem Post is an indication of Israel’s all inclusive citizenship rules, although it is quite clear even by statements made by Toameh that Palestinian citizens of Israel are treated as third- class citizens, with no right to vote but an obligation to pay full taxes. Toameh states Palestinians are living a peaceful or lived a peaceful life under Israel’s rules and it’s only the international media, more specifically, Canadian media that is finding faults in a perfectly peaceful situation. According to Toameh those protesting against Israel’s actions are not “Arabs and not Palestinians” supporting the claim that Palestinians are perfectly satisfied with the Israeli treatment of Palestinians. From this perspective Toameh and Lakritz wish to defy thousands of those Palestinians who have been raped, murdered, forced out of their lands, have had their pristine lands occupied by Israeli settlers, have no access to education, to even the basic needs for survival. In this respect she either denies these treatments or finds them acceptable and humane. Under Israeli occupation and colonization Palestinians are denied even the basic right of food, education, and medicine, and are terrorized on a day- to-day basis through military occupation.
Lakrtiz also strongly believes that the “incendiary rhetoric” condemning Israel stems from the hatred towards Jews. It is the Jews who are the problem, Israel is just an excuse. In the “incendiary rhetoric” she points to, Jews are not stated as being the problem but Israel’s army and it’s government’ policies are stated as corrupted. The social taboo of blaming or hating Jews as a whole nation for any action is interesting. It is understandably unacceptable to blame the actions of Israel on Jews or Judaism, but it is entirely acceptable to blame the whole of the Muslim world and its religion for the actions of a handful of Muslim extremists. Attacks by Muslim extremists always create frenzy in Western Media but attacks by Jewish extremists or Christian extremists are ignored or vaguely mentioned. The generalization is so great that individual Muslims are easily prejudged as terrorists by the general public. I would like to make it clear that I do not blame Jews or their religion for the abuse of Palestinians, but what makes it acceptable to generalize one group of people but on the other hand generalizing the other population is considered social taboo?
Although I am against Israel’s policies and blame them, to a certain extent, for the situation of the Palestinian people. However, we as Muslims, especially those neighboring Israel and Palestine, fall no short of sharing this responsibility. In this respect I agree with Toameh and Lakritz. The Palestinian government has never been able to serve the interest of Palestine in full capacity and whatever destruction is upon Muslims is actually to a certain extent our own fault. Our inability to act against such abuse is witness to what we value. Muslim leaders speak out against these actions but have never actually taken a firm step, regarding political policies, against the Western powers in opposing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Our leaders seem to be sold to Western powers to keep their national interests as their top priority. One wonders if to them the life of luxury is more important rather than provision of basic rights for their citizens, or even other Muslims. It is about time Muslim leaders take strong political action, rather than resort to violence, against such atrocities.
Lakritz refuses to recognize the oppression of Palestinian people but she cannot deny it. According to Lakritz “a journalist has an innate obligation to tell that truth.” Maybe she should act on it herself by presenting both sides of the story.
Image by Flickr user Ahron de Leeuw, used under the Creative Commons License.