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Media Analyses





EYE ON THE MEDIA: Scapegoating Israel


In the immediate after-shock of the devastating terror attacks on America, Israel-blamers paused only briefly before charging that Israel’s alleged actions against the Palestinians and consequent Arab anger caused the mass murder of Americans.

The Boston Globe’s Derrick Jackson asserted in a rageful September 21 column:

If Americans really want to understand why Americans might have been targeted for catastrophe in New York and Washington, we can no longer ignore the fact that we are helping the Israeli police and military to outkill Palestinians by more than a 3-to-1 ratio.

Jackson gave no hint that Palestinians initiate nearly 100% of the violence, going to Israeli installations and checkpoints to riot and shoot, gunning down Israeli men, women and children in their cars, and blowing themselves up among Israelis in cafes. Jackson gave no hint that Israel had offered vast concessions in land and sovereignty a year ago towards creation of a Palestinian state, only to be answered by Arafat with war. He gave no hint that official Palestinian media and textbooks have churned out torrents of anti-Jewish hatred, spurring an inflamed public to violence and suicidal terror.

Nor did he give any hint that his toll of Palestinian dead includes suicide bombers, Palestinians killed in “work accidents” while preparing bombs, and Palestinians killed by other Palestinians as so-called “collaborators”; all deaths which Jackson blames on Israel.

As a source for his “data” on supposed Israeli wrongdoing Jackson cited the notorious Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a virulent anti- Israel publication that carries ads for Holocaust-denial books and calls American supporters of Israel “viruses,” “bacteria,” and “cancer.”

Similar agitated scapegoating of Israel was to be found in a September 17 piece by Gary Kamiya, executive editor of the online magazine, Salon.com. Kamiya insistently demanded that Israel comply with Arab-Islamic demands. “As long as millions of Islamic and Arab people hate America because of its Mideast policies, we will be in danger,” he explained.

Spare America – take Israel is the thrust of Kamiya’s petition in a rambling, contradictory argument about settlements and Camp David. “There will be no peace for the U. S. until we convince Israel to make peace with the Palestinians,” he states, ignoring that at Camp David, despite Israeli concessions and the importuning of President Clinton, it was the Palestinians who refused to make peace.

The BBC’s Teheran correspondent Jim Muir outdid even these finger- pointers in a rabid September 19 report entitled “Explaining Arab Anger.” Muir declared that “many people in and from the region had a deep gut feeling that decades of accumulated poison somehow found expression on 11 September 2001.”

The “poison,” as he presents it, stems from Israel’s conduct toward the Palestinians since its “creation in 1948.” He states,

Although there are many other issues, Washington’s enabling alliance with Israel may be the biggest element in the Arab and Muslim anger, hatred and despair which are focused on America. For them, Israel is a terrorist, gangster state which has usurped Palestinian land and water, demolished Palestinians’ homes, and stopped at nothing in pursuit of its interests and enemies, including torture, murder...

Though a veteran in the region who might be expected to offset such hostile propaganda with the occasional fact, noting, for example, Arab rejectionism, aggression and intolerance not only of Jews but of virtually all minorities in their midst, Muir instead used the occasion for an extended tirade against American policy regarding not just Israel but Iraq and the Arab world more generally.

Jackson, Kamiya, Muir and others like them may find comfort in believing that selling out Israel will placate the wrathful enemy, but only if they ignore what Osama Bin Laden, the suspected master-mind of the atrocities, has given as his own aims and motivation. In a 1998 Fatwa, or religious ruling, he and other Islamic militants exhorted “every Muslim... to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it” because of the blasphemous presence of Americans stationed on Saudi Arabian soil.

Another columnist, one who in this context has avoided the deceptions of prejudice and bias, the Washington Post’s Jim Hoagland, described the primary causes of the “fury directed” at America. Writing in a September 21 column he cited scholar Bernard Lewis on Bin Laden’s Jihad declaration:

For Muslims the Holy Land par excellence is Arabia. Mohammed lived and died in Arabia. The center of the Islamic world and the scene of its major achievements was Iraq. For Muslims, no piece of land...compares in significance with Arabia and Iraq.

The antagonism of a Bin Laden and his myriad followers toward America, by the terrorist’s own testimony, would be little different if there were no Israel.

Does Israel’s existence lead some Arabs to sympathize that much more with the terrorists who attacked America? No doubt so. Obviously there are Arabs aggrieved at the existence of a non-Arab and democratic state in their midst; just as there are Arabs aggrieved by a black, largely Christian population in southern Sudan, and a large Coptic Christian population in Egypt. That columnists like Jackson, Kamiya, and Muir are willing to distort the facts of the Israeli-Arab conflict and rationalize Arab enmity toward Israel is reprehensible in itself; that at this painful moment they amplify their distortions to blame Israel for anti-American hostility in the Middle East is unprofessional and dangerous.

 

Originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post on October 5, 2001



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