Lorelle, who lived in Israel for the last five years, writes in about the misrepresentation of the Middle East conflict involving Israel in the international media.
The BBC and others reporting on the recent “conflicts” with the Palestinians and Israelis over the breakdown of the cease fire are showing their prejudice and bias. Living overseas, I am constantly amazed at how biased the media is, in the Unitd States and elsewhere. But the Middle East conflict always makes me laugh. Here is an example:
HUH? For the past five months of the “ceasefire,” Hamas and other nasties in the Palestinian Authority have NOT stopped lobbing rockets into Israeli territory, settlements and across the border. Hundreds of suicide bombers have been captured and stopped before they could follow through, including one incident of a truck with a couple of tons of explosives — all caught. Just because Israel isn’t front page news with terrorist attacks doesn’t mean the terrorists aren’t attacking.
After five months of a lack of response from Israel to the continued rockets, attacks, and attempts, Israel responds, not with random violence or attacks against civilians but with direct targeted attacks against the bad guys. And once again, they are blamed for blowing the cease-fire.
My husband and I read through the news reports yesterday in hysterical laughter. The media’s twist, followed by the amazingly well done Palestinian propaganda, is an incredible machine to watch. We’ve lived with this for the past five years and since there is nothing we can do to change it– we can only laugh at how outrageous it all is.
In the early days of the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2001, we sat in our living room in Tel Aviv and watched an interview on CNN with Saib Erekat. Palestinian terrorists had just attacked a school bus full of children with roadside bombs set to go off as the guard chaperoned bus passed by, and then snipers machine gunned the bus after the explosion. I believe two teachers were killed, both mothers, one of four children and the other of six children. Many children were seriously wounded in the attack, and some died later of their wounds, rarely reported upon in the international media after the sensation has died down. Many of the rest of the children were permanently crippled, locked into wheelchairs the rest of their lives or armless or legless, not to mention the mental trauma.
When asked point blank why the terrorists targeted a school bus full of children, Erekat spoke hard and fast English, accented with some American and British tones, hurled out at the speed of an attorney pleading a death penalty case for the sake of the guilty. A freight train of jargon and verbosity raced out of the screen as he twisted the words around. Before we knew what happened, we heard him blaming Israel for the murder of innocent children on the school bus and our hearts went out to the suffering Palestinians, trapped behind a border with no chance or hope.
I was almost crying for the brutality of Israel when my husband and I looked at each other and then felt like we’d pinched ourselves out of a dream. What the hell?
Palestinian terrorists plotted this terrorist attack against the school children. Israel didn’t DO anything but provide armed protection for the school bus as the children were transported from their homes to their school early in the morning. The bombs went off, set by the terrorists, and the Israeli guards certainly didn’t stop and say “Hey, we must have set off our bombs. Let’s turn around and start putting thousands of rounds of machine gun fire into the school bus and our children.” Or did they?
The ease Erekat and others representing the Palestinian cause have of twisting and manipulating the language kept a joke in Israel alive for a very long time. Take an Israeli government representative and sit him down next to a Palestinian Authority representative before a reporter. The Palestinian will be dressed in a tailored suit from Italy or France, hair cut to perfection, manicured, and incredibly well-spoken, at home in English, French, German, Spanish, or whatever language is necessary. The Israeli will look like he slept in his suit, if he is wearing one, have at least breakfast and lunch on his shirt and tie, hair will be slept on, and he will mumble and stumble in English, repeating himself and saying things like “Well, that’s not true” and “I don’t believe you.” Worthless phrases that help no one. Now, who would you tend to believe?
Many of my British friends wanted to start a training school for Israeli government representatives to train them to sit up straight, dress properly, and learn to speak proper English. Come on, look at Israel’s Prime Minister! Sharon is a slob! So sayeth the Israelis, who luckily have the freedom in their country to poke fun at their government and themselves. Palestinians can’t do that. They say they can, but live in fear of reprisal, being easily blamed as spies for Israel and shot with hardly a trial. Over and over again, we saw Israeli representatives not representing Israel in the media. Israel continued to get bulldozed by the media.
And yet the terror continues. And now, almost five years into the Intifada, the news media is reporting that Israel’s two strikes in recent days against known terrorists, not a bus load of children, is breaking a cease fire that never started in the first place.
During the height of the current Intifada, Israel was stopping an average of 25 suicide or terrorist attacks EVERY DAY for months on end. That is an AVERAGE. Between the constant terrorist attacks and attempts for the past five years, imagine living day to day with such threats over your head? Imagine never knowing if the bus you were stepping onto, the café you were having a coffee at, or the mall you were walking through would blow up, taking you and all around you with it.
Wouldn’t you want your government to strike back and strike back HARD? Can you imagine just one rocket coming over the Rio Grande from Mexico to hit American soil? Can you imagine the response if a Canadian stood on one side of the border and shot at Americans walking by on the other side? I bet you any such government would strike some terror deep in the soul of every Canadian or Mexican! Just for one rocket or gun shot. Can you imagine the restraint of the Israeli people and government to hold off for five months of constant rocket and terror attacks and NOT respond?
I’m not saying either side is right. I’m talking about how the media and governments work to twist the truth to their side. Israel has done some seriously dumb things, but they have yet to resort to massive and random violent murderous attacks against civilians. I was there. I saw. I read. I know. But the propaganda machine continues on.
Living with terror, and “under siege,” it was amazing for me to visit the United States after 9/11, and now that I’m back, I ask people how their life has changed since 9/11. If the color changes for the homeland security (aka homelacka security) warnings — do they do anything differently. The answer is a deafening NO. Nothing is changed.
In Israel, the whole country responds when the terror threat level is raised. They KNOW the threat and they know the warning is serious. And they KNOW what to do.
So I kept asking people, “What are you doing different now that you didn’t do before 9/11? Are you more aware? Do you know what to look for? Have you taken classes, training, or even gotten a brochure on what to look for and what to do in case you are suspicious?”
The answer? Silence or “I don’t know.”
Well, not completely. One veteran in a wheelchair told me he is pissed that he now has to show his ID every time he goes to the hospital where they all know him and have known him for years, but that’s an annoyance not an action.
Now, wait a minute. Our government and media is warning us that we are under a state of alert. That we need to be aware and do “something” to fight against terror in our country. Is anyone listening?
Talk about your twisted words. The government is warning its citizens, but there is no meaning behind the words. Hey, folks, talk is cheap. Don’t these warnings mean anything? Aren’t you listening?
Israel has a civilian army, with everyone going through the military, male and female — EVERYONE. Every new immigrant under the age of 45 or so gets a year or so to learn the language and then they are automatically in the army. It is a walking, fully trained, and armed civilian army. They are all trained to spot a potential terrorist, package or suspicious activity. And they jump on their cell phones immediately and report it.
During our first year there, we took a lot of tourist tours, before the al-Aqsa Intifada started and the tourists left. Our guide was driving us towards the Soreq Caves when he spotted an old battered van by the side of the road with no one near it. He grabbed his cell phone and called someone, chattering away in high speed Hebrew. I asked him later and he explained that Israelis stay with their vehicles until the tow truck or police arrive and never leave them abandoned alongside the road. An abandoned vehicle could be a bomb or waiting for a terrorist pickup. It’s suspicious and it is better to report than to ignore it.
An American would ignore it. It’s someone else’s problem.
I talk about some of the things people can do regarding security and life in Israel under siege on my site and have some examples of tips for personal safety that I recommend to many Americans, not that they think they need it.
This gets me back to my long-winded point. Americans are also the victim of the great propaganda machine, partly due to the government’s ineptitude and partly because of the great American arrogance. The “pride before the fall” is clearly evident when I talk to people who say things like “that happens over there,” “it’s not my problem,” “if it was bad enough, the government would tell me.” Guess what, folks, they are and they aren’t telling you. The words are getting twisted around.
The problem is in Afghanistan. The attacks of 9/11 needed revenge and the criminal behind it was in Afghanistan. Instead of sending in a well-trained and prepared team to infiltrate Afghanistan and nail Osama bin Laden and his team, hell, advertise the whole thing on television to gain attention and a presidency and smash to hell an entire country. And when you don’t get the bad guy, be proud of the fact that your military freed a country from zealous and fanatical fundamentalists. Oh, well.
Ah, so instead of going after bin Laden, wherever he and his thugs may be, Bush kept insisting that Iraq had to be behind the whole thing. When no proof was found, he kept pushing the point. I listened to the same hearings you did over the 9/11 attacks. I heard Rice and others say, “Yes, the President kept insisting that Iraq had to be behind it, but we found no proof.” And yet, he ordered the attack, saying it would be a fast war. It wasn’t. It isn’t. But we believed. Again, the words got twisted around so we believed there was justification when there wasn’t.
We believed there were weapons of mass destruction, even though Israel kept telling the U.S. that there wasn’t, and who better to KNOW, since they had stopped such weapon building elsewhere in the Middle East.
But we believed our government, even though others around the world didn’t. Protests were held with millions upon millions of people crying out to stop the war, but Bush didn’t listen and the American people, for the most part, believed in the president. They believed there was proof.
And now, what do you believe? Are you still listening to a government and media tell you that the war in Iraq is justified? Now they are claiming that the whole purpose is to bring democracy to the whole Middle East. Excuse me? What happened to the weapons? The link with 9/11? Again, words are twisted to say what they want you to think, and not let you think about the truth and reality.
Iraq was a bunch of warring thugs for thousands of years before Saddam came rolling in with promises, like Hitler, of enlightenment and propaganda of good works and moving into the 21st century with technology, only to use American support and money to become a despot and dictator. His iron fist control and threats kept the feuding factions together. You think the wimpy hand of America is going to stop the feud? Not a chance in hell. And did you hear about how much money and support America gave to Iraq, helping Saddam stay in power? No, you heard about weapons of mass destruction and a link to 9/11 as justification.
But my government tells me that the war in Iraq is a good thing and that it will set an example for the whole Middle East. Huh?
Twists, tangles, tumbles of words that people believe because they are spoken in a way that commands attention and by people whose trust we should count on. The games people play with words.
And it is all Israel’s fault. Yep. Don’t forget that. The terror attacks on the World Trade Center before and on September 11 would never have happened if it weren’t for Israel. The U.S. would never have attacked Afghanistan if it weren’t for Israel. And don’t forget, if Saddam wasn’t so obsessed with Israel and paying every successful terrorist’s family USD $25,000 for blowing up Israelis, Bush would never have attacked.
After living in Israel for the past five years, listening to all the propaganda on both sides, there’s something you need to know. Israel can take it. They already know they are to blame for all the world’s ills, so don’t worry about them. They can bear the burden. After all, they’ve been persecuted for thousands of years and almost driven to extinction several times. They can take it.
But I worry about the rest of us who trust the media and our government. And my husband and I? Oh, we just laugh at it all. It’s all so bizarre, it’s funny.
P.S. I just spotted another funny that is appropriate to share with this topic. New York police are going to start boarding buses and subways to teach passengers how to spot a potential terrorist. Now, 9/11 happened in 2001. It’s now 2005 and due to another terrorist attack in London, the New York police are going to start training folks on anti-terrorism tactics and behaviors.
“New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it would be a ‘dereliction of duty’ if the U.S. Congress did not direct funds toward areas at highest risk of attack.”
Um, isn’t this a little past due? Shouldn’t this have started a long time ago? And when is it going to start in Chicago, Boston, Seattle, L.A., Miami, and other prime targets?
Too funny. It’s okay, you can laugh with us.