Saturday, March 28, 2009

Deaf Ears

In North America (and to a lesser extent in Europe) freedom of the press seldom extends to Israel’s affairs; that is, genuine sympathy for Holocaust suffering leaves Zionism above reproach. Ironically, Holocaust deniers tend to attract more positive press than IDF (Israel Defense Forces) attract negative press. Furthermore, a misconceived correlation drawn between modern geo-politics and Biblical kingdoms enforces this taboo.

“Alternate” sources, such as, CounterPunch, Democracy Now!, and Electronic Intifada, have consistently presented another side for debate; consequently, diligent readers of these publications were heartened by the appearance of a number of articles in “main stream” publications. (Furthermore, The Guardian and The Independent increased their solid coverage on the “Palestinian problem,” as did 60 Minutes). This greater exposure, however, seems to have fallen on deaf ears, since little evidence of editorial commentary or debate exists.

Even popular movements such as Viva Palestina, and Galloway’s subsequent ban from Canada haven’t stirred real debate, in the press or parliament, despite the efforts of Sir Gerald Kaufman and Ron Paul:

Unlike these level-headed and outspoken individuals most politicians have stood by and tested the waters. As a result AIPAC pressure was tolerated once more, namely Charles Freeman’s withdrawal. Fringe groups, perhaps buoyed by AIPAC success, also have been exerting pressure. Mearsheimer and Dreyfuss, however, maintain (separately) that this may be the lobby’s last gasp. For more information read Freeman’s resignation email and comments by Pat Buchanan.

Meanwhile the situation in Gaza grows more desperate: every day potable water becomes scarcer, electricity less reliable, and treatment of female and male prisoners worsens. Amidst analysis of Operation Cast Lead, which becomes more difficult to justify with Hamas’s surge in support, demands for justice grow louder, including those made at Iran’s international summit: the operation has been labelled an illegal war and evidence of war crimes mounts as more stories come to light. Some countries, such as Britain, may even arrest Israeli officials due to these allegations.

In the West Bank, despite the evidence from ancient documents verifying Palestinian ownership, residents continue to be evicted in Jerusalem. In rural areas villagers continue to be forced out, as their homes get destroyed, perhaps to fulfill an Israeli goal of doubling the number of settlers. As if a stamp of authenticity to Palestinian misery, the Lancet published an article on Palestinian (lack of) access to health care.

Another casualty of the Gaza bombardment was Israel’s proposed withdrawal from the Golan Heights, which becomes more critical since Syria continues to acquire Russian rockets. Israel may also have ambitions to relocate Kurdish Jews to cities in Iraq. Furthermore, it appears America will continue its decade long deal of $30 billion in military aid to Israel.

Nevertheless, all is not bleak. You can make donations to offset the military aid to Israel ($2.775 billion this year). Other good causes are Lights for Gaza and Disasters Emergency Committee. Voting with your dollar also is excellent, both by purchasing fair trade items and boycotting Israeli products. Lastly, join Jewish Voice for Peace, as Sahar Vardi, a young conscientious objector, implores people to do or sign on-line petitions.

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