Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dear American Media, the Israel-Palestine conflict is your doing

Dear American Media,

I’m just asking you to tell America what’s going on in Gaza. Reveal without decreasing Palestinians to dehumanised numbers and rough generalisations, as have oppressors all through history.

I am not requesting that you quit loving Israel but rather give Palestinian suffering the same weight as Israeli enduring, and report all the facts.

I understand.  This is hard for you.

You’ve been recounted to one tale about the Israeli-Palestinian clash your whole lives.  However, you’ve most likely started to notice that the latest advancements do not generally line up with that story. You realise that accusing Israeli government approaches can be harmful to American politics, and you are probably struggling with your own questions about Israel’s justification for its current bombing of Gaza.

The truth however is, the US has facilitated an environment in which the Israeli government does not see an incentive to find a just peace, but is content to keep building settlements, and brutally beating back Hamas, and Palestinian civilians who stand in the way.

The US and Israel are so deeply intertwined politically and economically at this point, that a climate has developed to stifle criticism of Israel within the US, even more than within Israel itself.  American politicians can’t hope to question the unconditional nature of US support to Israel without seriously risking their careers.

America has been an interventionist and has time and again chosen to be the superhero who tries to save countries and people who are victims to treacherous leaders, terrorist attacks and lack of humanitarian policies… so what about Palestine?  Is it easy to choose when it’s a good time to start a war and a bad time not to because it would impact political relations?

More than 370,000 children have been left shell-shocked by last year’s Israeli attack on Gaza and after their crying fits, nightmares and frequent violent outbursts, these children are officially suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Due to this, they can never go to school again or for the rest of their lives without frequently being visited by visions of the blast. There is no shortage in Gaza of stories of severely traumatised children, still gripped by the after-effects of the war.

The 50-day conflict left 539 Palestinian children dead and close to 3,000 injured, but according to United Nations, the mental scars were just as devastating, if harder to quantify. Children who saw their siblings or parents killed, often gruesomely, have been left stricken and around 35 to 40 per cent of Gaza’s million children are suffering from shell-shock.

You watched Palestinians being targeted, as you silently symphatised the aftermath that unfolded, in this game of blood between Israel and Gaza. You watched, but you chose to tell Americans that Hamas simply began firing rockets at Israel with no clear rationale, and that Israel had no choice but to defend itself.

You chose to paint Americans a picture which portrayed an oppressed community as an insane aggressor, and Israel, a nation with one of the world’s most advanced militaries, as a victim that must defend itself by bombing Gaza.

It is a blessing  that more media and more overtly partisan media outlets are present now. The internet has given rise to champions of the left. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have helped spread the word and have facilitated facts with gruesome videos drawing out the harsh reality and pointing out the real victim in the story.

This is when people realised that your narrative doesn’t fit the facts, and this time, they noticed. Cowering behind the curtains of American politics and watchdogs, the existence of media institution comes to question.

This is a plea to the American media that you still shape the mighty arena of public opinion. You do play a role in affecting the electoral fate of political candidates who stands unabashedly against the never ceasing US support of Israel’s military.

You hold huge power in your hands, and it’s your will how justly you exercise it.

Yours sincerely,

Mishaal Shirazi

from The Express Tribune Blog

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