Taking Sides

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.

Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas)

Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas)

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel)

Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel)

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?

Operation Cast Lead (08-09)

Operation Cast Lead (08-09)

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.

UN predicts Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

UN predicts Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

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.

Scales of Justice

Scales of Justice

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8 Comments

Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Media, Occupation, People, Politics, US Policy

8 responses to “Taking Sides

  1. Steve

    When you say the palistinians have a right to defend them selves, are you applying that you agree with them when they fire rockets into Israel? Or throw rocks at Isrealis? Or blow them self up on a crowded bus?
    All of these cases innocent civilians can get killed, I don’t understand how you can agree with that.
    Unless you believe all Isrealis are not innocent.

    • Steve: I condemn violence on both sides. And I do not support the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, whether by Israeli soldiers or Palestinian soldiers.

      However, we should remember two things.

      (1) this is an occupation — Israel is the occupier, and the Palestinians are the occupied. The Palestinians are resisting the occupation. When the occupation ends, the Palestinians will not have a reason to resist.

      (2) there is a disproportionate balance of power and death…..Israel has weapons and resources unmatched by the Palestinians. This is not a conflict between equals. And the two sides do not suffer equally. In the 8 days of Israel’s bombing on Gaza last November, about 150 Palestinian men, women and children were killed in Gaza. I think 3 – 6 Israelis were killed during the same time. (I can get the exact #s if you wish.)

      So while I don’t condone the violence on either side, I see the impact of the violence is very different.

      Both sides have the right to defend themselves. If Israel is aiming high-tech lethal weapons at Gaza, I believe the Palestinians have the right to aim their rockets back at Israel.

      Now you will say —-“but the Palestinians started it!”. I will write more about that in another blog post.

      • Steve

        Firstly I don’t agree with you premise that there is an occupation and that Israel is the occupier. second of all you never answered the question do you support the firing of rockets into Israel?

      • Israel’s occupation of Palestine is not a premise, it is a fact recognized under international law. Even Netanyahu understands he is occupying Gaza. If you can’t accept that fact, then you probably aren’t ready for my answer to your question.

      • Steve

        I’m sorry by you stating its a fact doesn’t mean it’s a fact, It’s not a fact israel is not occupying gaza. By you stating even Netanyahu agees, makes me laugh no he’s not occuping gaza.
        Let me tell you a few facts, Isreal belongs to the Jewish nation, the gazans are deciding there own fate, they choose terror over peace. As the famous saying goes if Isreal dropped their Arms Israel would get wiped out, if the palistinians drop their arms there would be peace.
        Please answer the question if you agree with firing rockets.

      • Steve—if the United Nations and the vast majority of the nations on the planet say Israel is occupying Palestine (including Gaza) — and you disagree — then you are either living on another planet, or you are delusional, or you are sadly misinformed.
        To answer your question, yes, I believe Palestinians have a right to defend themselves by shooting rockets at Israel. I lived in Gaza last November during the 8 day war. I think the war would have been much longer if Hamas had not fired rockets into Israel hitting as far as Tel Aviv. It made Netanyahu stop and think.

      • Steve

        So let me make sure I understand this, you believe it’s right for the palistinians to aim and fire rockets at civilians who are inocent and that’s what you call self defense?
        Israel finished the 8 day war and since then the rockets have stopped almost 100%, just do the math. As I said before all the palistinians need to do is lay down their weapons and there will be peace.
        My personal opinion on this matter from seeing you post, if israel was in Alaska you would have an issue with it. Anything you can do to criticize Isreal your right there. There’s 100,000 of Arabs killing each other, but all you see is israel. It seems to me you have a hatred towards israel and nothing beside israel being in the sea will stop that.
        So what peace do you see?

  2. Linda Moscarella

    Anyone who says that taking sides is not kosher, has taken a side, and its not the Palestinian side.

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