Thursday, January 08, 2009

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict with Clarity

My friend Guy who's also living in Dublin wrote a brilliant piece on his facebook profile about the conflict and the things that are going on around the Middle East. I love his piece so much that I've decided to post it here. It might look a little long but will swamp you in...

It has taken me 10 days and 3 years to break a silence which I now must break. I do not know where to begin, so I guess the best place is in my heart.

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting at the reception desk at the hotel, checking various news websites. When I read about the Israeli missile attack on Gaza which killed 6 Palestinian children in a building, I started crying. Right there, at the desk. I am heartbroken, tormented and shattered over what's been going on in the Middle-East and how many people are dying each day. But that moment was truly heartbreaking.... How has it comes to this???? Following the tragic events of the past ten days, as well as recent remarks, posts, private messages and certain 'group invitations' have forced me to speak up about something I feel very strongly about: Peace.

True, I have posted a small number of articles myself, which I believe reflect a more balanced view of the reality on the ground. I did this against my better judgment, because as a person living outside Israel, I am many times forced to bite my tongue and be the bigger person - in the face of distorted facts and 'two cent' peace proposals, offered to me at smoking areas.

I am very political person. Any person from Israel is such, but I especially have an interest in global politics, issues and justice. I have studied, experienced and reported the middle-east conflict for many years, be it at school the army or college, and I have a few things I need to say.

For starters, everyone has the right to their own opinion. God knows I do! But it is important that if one is to bring up a topic, discuss it or offer advice, one should know the background, context and complexity of the matter. News reports from Ireland are sadly, extremely one sided. They did not mention the years of rocket attacks on Israel, and only broke out in widespread coverage once Israel could no longer suffer at the hands of terrorists. For this reason, I understand why many people do not understand both sides of the story. I blame the media, of which I am part of (in a way).

Secondly, I encourage each and every person who has an opinion, question or comment regarding the situation to first put themselves in the shoes of both sides. It's been a while since a bus exploded in downtown Dublin, and too many people have forgotten what its like to live with the constant threat of terror attacks. People's short memories piss me off. My family back home have to check the bus when they board it for 'anyone with a big coat', they must avoid big gatherings as they fear it would be 'an easy target', fear going to the mall and some must constantly run to shelter when an alarm goes off in the case of a missile attack.

Also, I ask that if people insist on debating this highly contentious issue, they do so with the knowledge and acceptance that they have a right to their opinion, but not to lecture anyone who has actually lived through it. If people insist on sending me articles, comments and stuff of that nature, I ask they first read up about the subject (try the Wikipedia clippings I posted) so they actually know who rules the Gaza strip, how Israel doesn't occupy it anymore, and how Israel did in fact offer the Palestinians a 2000 deal which could have ended this mess.

Having said that, I wish to stress one important opinion which I have: Israel is obviously pissed off, and is demonstrating its force. Too strongly. There are too many Palestinian casualties. 1 is too many in my book. Lives are lost, families torn apart. Its heartbreaking. But my heart also breaks for Israelis dying, and living in constant fear of missiles.

I also happen to know (Through my army experience) that many Hammas terrorists use kids playgrounds as missile launching sites, and hospitals to store weapon stockpiles. There is no need to contest this, as I have personally witnessed it. I also know that for years, Hammas has spent money not in rebuilding the Gaza infrastructure, but instead in carving out underground tunnels and traps, further deepening their terrorist operations. International aid rarely reaches the Palestinian people. This isnt because Israel doesnt allow it in. Yes, that is true at times because many 'aid' ships often harbor guns and ammo. It is because hammas steal if and then sell it to their own people for a jacked up price.

So if you wanna talk about the Middle-East, please do. But read up on it first, and then come back to me with an INFORMED OPINION. Get the facts. Anything else is, as my lecturer Barry Finnegan says: 'a rant'.

One more thing...

For the record: I have always voted left-wing and in support of a Palestinian state.

I'm from the Middle-East. Anyone who isn't from there, really has no business acting all superior claiming to know the solution to a century of war. No one knows better than the Palestinians or the Israelis, when it comes to the Middle-East conflict and the high cost of war.

So in the words of Steve Jobs:

"So now I've said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this."



For more information on how the international news coverage is framed and set to showcase a particular angle of a story, I encourage all to explore the topic of "Media Effects Research: The Event As Event And The Event As News" and have a read of:

Noelle-Neumann, Elisabeth & Rainer Mathes, 1987. "The 'Event As Event' and the 'Event As News': the Significance of 'Consonance' for Media Effects Research", in, European Journal of Communicaitons, Vol. 2, 391-414.