Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Palestinians

Golda Meir in a June 15th, 1969 Sunday Times interview foolishly said that "There was no such thing as Palestinians." Many Israelis and conservative Christians in the US also believe that the idea of Palestinian nationality was invented in the 20th century, and that those who claim to be Palestinians are actually Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, and/or Lebanese. This too is of course ridiculous. I believe that the world would be a much better place if people knew more about the Palestinians, and I recommend this Wikipedia article for starters.

What got me thinking about the Palestinians? Well, I just got back from Israel where I spent a few days in East Jerusalem at the Albright where I got to see many of my Palestinian friends and colleagues. These past five years have been brutal on them. I was in the Old City on September 28th 2000 when Sharon visited the Temple Mount, sparking what has come to be known as the Al Aqsa intifida. The infamous and illegal "Wall" is dividing families and reducing the chances of a viable Palestinian state. Plus, I just watched a fascinating documentary called Control Room. Basically it is about Al Jazeera’s coverage of the US invasion of Iraq, and the death of reporter Tareq Ayub by US missiles. It did a great job of discussing reporter bias, government control of the media, staged events for lazy journalists, and spin. But I found myself struck at how two societies view the same events in such completely different ways. For example, most people in the US believe that our military would never intentionally shoot at journalists. They also believe that the torture at Abu Ghreib was done by "a few bad apples." Most Arabs, of course, believe that Al Jazeera was being sent a message with those missiles, and that torture is a common part of US military prisons. Americans do not see any relationship between Israel's occupation of Palestine and the US occupation of Iraq. Yet, most Arabs see these as itinimately linked. I'm also reminded of the death of the child Muhammad al Dura during the first few days of the intifada. Most Palestinians say that he was killed on purpose by Israeli soldiers, most Israelis claim it was either an accident or that he was killed by Palestinian bullets.

Personally I believe in a two state solution with 1967 borders and a divided Jerusalem. Barak and Arafat with Clinton's help came awfully close. Sure this is a controversial issue, and tempers are raging in Israel with the Gaza pullout set for mid August [And by the way, settlers and settler supporters, quit ruining the color orange]. But for now, I recommend seeing Control Room.

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