Taking sides in the Middle East is not kosher, especially if the goal is to have a civil conversation with Americans about Israel and Palestine.
What does that admonishment actually mean?
Maybe I should carefully dish out equal measure of criticism and praise on Netanyahu (Israel), Abbas (Palestinian Authority) and Haniyeh (Hamas). If I find fault with one, I should find fault with the others.
Maybe I should carefully present both sides of any debate. If I write about the 8 days of bombing last November in Gaza, I should share what it felt like sitting in the apartment late at night listening to the drones and bombs falling all around me; and then I should get into the heads of the IDF soldiers who were flying overhead dropping the bombs. What does it feel like to hit the button and target a house where children are sleeping?
What does it mean “not to take sides”? Really!
Americans have not been objecting to the pro-Israeli media stories they see and read. The mainstream media is heavily biased in favor of one side over the other but I don’t see anyone having much heartburn about it.
Americans don’t seem too perturbed by the standing ovation that Congress gave Netanyahu in May 2011 — in fact, multiple standing ovations. Congress never invited Abbas or Haniyeh to speak, just to be fair and not take sides.
Congress passes legislation written by AIPAC (Israel’s lobbying arm in DC) at the drop of a hat, but I have yet to learn about any lobbyists working for Palestine in our nation’s capitol. (Don’t forget to register early for the AIPAC policy conference in March 2014.)
President Obama was clearly taking sides when he announced last November that “Israel has a right to defend herself!” Don’t the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves?
Truth be told, the State of Israel needs friends – not sycophants – who will tell the truth about this occupation and save them from themselves.
The problem, I think, is that the Israeli side of the conflict is so ingrained in the American psyche that most of us don’t even perceive the grotesque imbalance in our media and in the halls of power.
I certainly didn’t understand it, until I looked more carefully.
The time for the kid gloves has long passed, I fear. There is a side of this story (the occupation) that must be told, and I’m the one to tell it. I lived in Gaza and Cairo for 9 months, under occupation, a deadly siege, and an 8-day war.
Americans who want to hear my story are going to learn about the side of this conflict that doesn’t penetrate most mainstream media.
Rather than being one-sided, my story is only rebalancing the scales of justice.