Palestine & Israel: The context the media misses on the history of a true struggle

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By Dartunorro Clark

The seeds of conflict between Israel and Palestine were planted decades ago, and now have grown into a continuing conflict over a territory between these two groups. This conflict has been warranted by competing ideologies and unjustified by bloodshed, rather than withering away through compromise.

To look past the recent week-long conflict, which has now had an agreed cease-fire agreement, it now requires looking back at the basics of the conflict between Israel and Palestine over the past several decades.

The History

The Council on Foreign Relations, an international affairs think tank organization, explained the crisis as beginning from the early to mid-1900s. In that period, there was simmering, and sometimes mediated, conflict between what are known now as Israelis and Palestinians due to the British occupation of and the upsurge in Jewish migration to Palestine (which both led to the theft of land and displacement of many Palestinians).

The conflict and the lingering debate over the conflict really began when the newly-formed United Nations insisted on the creation of a Jewish state to provide a homeland for Jews, who were at the time persecuted throughout Europe and the Soviet Union (particularly during WWII and the Holocaust).

The Zionist-led movement for a Jewish homeland in Palestine resulted in a United Nations partition plan which was proposed to divide the territory of Palestine in 1947. The plan envisioned an independent Palestinian and Jewish state side by side, along with a special international regime for Jerusalem.

Thus, Israel was established as a state in 1948, and Palestine, as an independent Arab state, had yet to be established. There was an expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians in order to create the state of Israel in 1947-1948 and the subsequent Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories began in 1967.

This prolonged and embroiled battle, which has been a long fought conflict over territory, has evolved into a fight for recognition, dignity, justice and freedom for Palestinians.

Nevertheless, over decades, it has been a popular decision to pick sides based on geopolitical forces, popular political sentiment, and the constant debate within the United Nations and the international community, all centered on ways to come up with an amicable solution.

In the midst of it all, Palestinians, however, have noticeably been forced to pay in maintaining their territory due to deep-rooted Jewish grievances and perhaps sympathy from the international community.

As the AMP (American Muslims for Palestine) noted in the analysis of the conflict, “the root of all issues relating to the Palestine is Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

As AMP acknowledged further, there are prominent historical facts that present important contextual portrayal of the conflict, which include that fact that: (1) Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, (2) Israel seized more land in Palestine since 1967, (3) Israel violated international law by forcible acquisition of Palestinian land, and (4) Israel is in violation of several U.N. resolutions over calming the conflict.

A lot of this can be understood as well with other historical context clues. For instance, the U.N, in the partition plan, decided to give 30 percent of the Jewish population (who owned 7 percent), 55 percent of the Palestinian land for a Jewish state.

This brings into context the fact that Israel has been increasingly oppressive in their military occupations of private land and seizing control over land, air, and water in the West Bank and in Gaza. As AMP noted, “this is the longest military occupation in modern history.”

This is yet contextual indication, and also what many international conventions and resolutions dutifully communicate, as a motive for all people the right to resist occupation. In contrary to what has been spun in the media and history, if we’re deciding who has the technical and legal right to defend themselves—it’s the Palestinian people.

The latest clash between Hamas in Gaza and Israel has brought the conflict back into the mainstream spotlight.

The battle in Gaza

Just imagine the U.S. engaging in a confrontation with a small village in an underdeveloped territory; it would be unfathomable. That type of scenario is analogous with the ongoing conflict that arose in recent weeks between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Contrary to the mainstream narrative, this conflict is an imbalanced fight and arguably a stringent tactic by the Israeli government and armed forces to escalate oppression against the Palestinian people.

The Institute for Middle East Understanding and Electronic Intifada reported detailed timelines, which included key events noted below:

  • October 29th: Gaza fired 26 rockets into Israel after Israel fired rockets into Gaza hours earlier
  • November 8: Israeli forces made an invasion into Gaza Strip, which resulted in fatally killing a child and the death of a 13-year-old civilian boy when fires between Palestinian forces and Israeli forces
  • November 10th: Over a 72-hour period, Israel began attacking civilian neighborhoods, which raised the death toll in Gaza to the fifties, including 12 children and 6 women. In response Gaza launched 8 rockets into Israel.
  • November 14th: An aimed and calculated Israel attacked killed the head of the Military in Gaza, Ahmed Jabari.

Israeli forces targeted key areas such as, news stations, government buildings and civilian facilities including hospitals, schools, and public spaces to allow this blitz attack to execute citizens, and some journalists, in the Palestinian territory.

It even resulted in the tragic story that caught the attention of the world in which the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) being the culprits of the killing of a BBC journalist’s 11-month-old son, along with his sister.

This fight escalated to devastating and deplorable conditions after Israel did not acknowledge a proposed cease fire truce through mediation by Egypt.

The Israeli assault on Gaza resulted in the clearly disproportionate deaths of nearly 200 Palestinians and 5 Israelis, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. This is blatant illustration of the playing field is skewed.

The real problems and the real solutions

One of the biggest issues regarding this recent conflict involves details that have not been brought to the surface by many mainstream media news outlets.

Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. The conditions for life have been devastated by the besieging of land, air and sea imposed by Israel. The siege was been partially eased in 2010 for a limited time, but it was again strictly imposed on the inhabitants of Gaza shortly thereafter. The siege on Gaza has left Palestinians with scarce resources of the territory and a diminished quality of life, which makes it nearly unlivable.

As a recent report by the UN noted, what is known as Gaza to the world, and home to 1.7 million Palestinians, will be unlivable by the year of 2020 if the Israeli siege and occupation of Palestinian territories continues.

The report acknowledged the increased levels of contaminated water, the possible increase in population growth from 1.6 million to 2.4, which would make the one of the most densely populated places in the world unable to maintain such growth.

The report also noted the already scarce resources, such as water and electricity, would become even scarcer.

This is yet another illustration of the conditions and image of a desolate territory in comparison to Israel. Israel has robust clout to diminish the capacity for life in Gaza and the West Bank, but continue to seize land, control resources and the economy, at the expense of the Palestinians.

Israel’s power can be understood because of the Jewish state’s staunch relationship with United States; with that support, this a fight that Israel knows it can win. With sophisticated weaponry, US-backed support and funding, which amounts to the Jewish state receiving more aid than any other country in the world—nearly $3.1 billion every year. In fact, Israel’s aid amounts to more than all of Africa and Latin America’s U.S. aid combined.

With this power position, it seems that Israel is trying to wipe Gaza off the face of the Earth.

What is even more daunting is the biased reporting that resulted in this conflict. Too often in mainstream news reports there is a consensus, just as well with major political players, that Israel is defending itself; implying that Palestinians are somehow deserving of this attack, or that Israel is winning as if it’s a level playing field.

A US-backed country is getting favorable treatment in the American media; groundbreaking, right?

Furthermore, it is almost hard to come up with a reasonable argument as to what the Israeli government is defending itself against.

The right for any nation to defend itself is evident and undisputed, but what is being argued here is the unequal and wrongful retaliation forcefully initiated by the powerful Israeli state.

This is not an attempt to demonize Israel for its actions but an attempt to be critical of the U.S. government and media for producing lackluster action and biased reporting while the international community sits back and watches two countries exacerbate the conflict that has seen the highest degree of turmoil, and will possibly continue to reach ungodly heights.

The mainstream media narrative vs. the facts on the ground

There have been considerable causalities on both sides, but Palestinians have seen overwhelmingly immense numbers. Past conflicts between Palestine and Israel have seen more fatalities for Palestinians, and more civilians feeling the brunt, as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA) reported in their 2000-2007 report.

The UN OCHA Special Focus’ updated online protection of civilians database has even higher numbers, from 2000-2011, now putting the figure at 6,803 Palestinians, 1,087 Israelis; including 1,370 Palestinian children and 126 Israeli children. This is yet another contextual clue of misrepresentations of the conflict.

Medhi Hasan, Huffington Post UK Editor, noted very important details about the misinformation about Gaza’s appalling social and economic conditions that shed light on the story not being told in the media. These included: the density of Palestine and its impact, the effect of the economic conditions on the youth, and the scarcity of resources.

There is enough room here to rebuke Israel for masking the decimation of Gaza and many Palestinian territories, plummeting it in to desolation, by calling it “retaliation.”

Gilad Sharon, former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon’s son, blatantly stated what the military and the leadership of the country seems to be thinking, “We need to flatten all of the neighborhoods in Gaza.” Sharon even suggested that Israel should approach this conflict just as the U.S did with Japan when the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

News outlets press the story as Israel combating “Gaza militants,” but this is vague and general language. The media seems to be a partisan player in perpetuating the sentiment that Israel has the right to defend itself. The people on the receiving end of this tragedy are the women, children, and men who are citizens of the country innocently, but uncaringly besieged by Israel, caught in the crossfire.

Where the Huffington Post reported, “In southern Gaza, Israeli aircraft went after the hundreds of underground tunnels militants used to smuggle in weapons and other contraband from Egypt.” However, in a paragraph before that noted, “Militants, undaunted by the heavy damage the air attacks have inflicted, have unleashed some 500 rockets against the Jewish state, including new, longer-range weapons turned for the first time this week against Jerusalem and Israel’s Tel Aviv heartland.”

This reporting, unbeknownst to the Internet news source, shows that the City of Gaza has not only been almost annihilated, but contradiction on the power of Gaza’s weaponry. Reporting that they have “new, longer-range weapons,” as if they construct these themselves in state-of-the-art factories, and then say, “Israeli aircraft went after the hundreds of underground tunnels militants used to smuggle in weapons and other contraband from Egypt” notes that the availability of effective weaponry is not in Gaza and very scarce to protect themselves and efficiently retaliate.

Reuters again used the same type of biased reporting that was validated this argument. They noted, “The Israeli military said 544 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel since Wednesday, killing three civilians and wounding dozens. Some 302 were intercepted and 99 failed to reach Israel and landed inside the Gaza Strip,” it added.

Well, it is clear that Gaza has weapons that cannot even defend themselves, and more over Israel not only has the power to defend itself, but to intercept Gaza’s weapons. They even note the casualties that are unequal on the sides in this particular conflict; three Israelis, where the toll almost reached two hundred in Gaza alone.

There also needs to be fault on the American and mainstream media on the reporting, which has again led to a cognitive favoring of Israel over Palestine.

With the casualties and the constant wars in this region of the world, it is obvious that there needs to be a resolution. Although a cease-fire has been delegated, it’s clear the battle can and will murk on.

The road from here

However, as much as it is popular or necessary to pick sides, there needs to be real solutions, real political non-military solutions to solve this raging conflict; especially once Israel can cease longstanding violations of human rights and international law against Palestinians.

Furthermore, the international community has to be forceful in finding an end to this conflict.

This may stymie some, but the real issue here is an issue of human rights and international law. The prison-like conditions that has been forcibly made by Israeli forces only allows it to be contextualized as a human rights issue.

If we look at history critically, and unearth the missing details the media fails to cover and the major international political players fail to recognize – there is clearly an imbalance in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, where Israel has a strength and Palestine as a weakness; this true in the recent week-long conflict, and the overall history of the conflict.

Peace and compromise can arise between the two, and with any luck since Israel has power and U.S. connections it can be the leader in finding an amicable end.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, once remarked in February 2007, “The Palestinian people still yearn for the freedom and dignity denied them for decades. The Israeli people yearn for long-term security. Neither can achieve their legitimate demands without a settlement of the conflict.  Today, we are at a critical juncture in efforts to move beyond crisis management and renew efforts toward genuine conflict resolution.”

The real issues need to be presented and viewed through a new, clear, and unbiased lens that is fact-based. Not only does there need to be reparations for the gloominess and indignity plagued on Palestinians, but a clear pathway paved to set foundation for a road to justice, freedom, stability, freedom and above all else compromise for all parties involved.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.

 

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