Why Do They Do It?

by Linda Belanger

Their religion teaches them to do it….

Their religion teaches them to do it they say of the Palestinian suicide bombers.

They teach them in school to hate Jews we are told.

But there are things that we are not told about.

The International Solidarity Movement website reports that "the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is employing intimidation and violence against international journalists in an effort to prevent them reporting on its occupation of Palestinian towns.

The Guardian of London reports an incident where Israeli troops threw stun grenades at a convoy of 25 foreign journalists who were on their way to cover a meeting between Yasser Arafat and a U.S. diplomat.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) has documented more than 30 cases of journalists who have been wounded in shootings by the Israeli army in the Occupied Territories in the last two years.. Most were photographers or cameramen, clearly identifiable as such and shot some distance away from clashes.

Palestinian journalists are especially targetted. Two of them, Maher Shalabi and Majid Sawalha, were arrested by soldiers in the centre of Ramallah on 16 April and taken into a building where they were blindfolded and handcuffed. They were insulted and hit in the stomach, legs and back before being released a few hours later without being charged with any offence.

Israeli Imperial News ( a website edited by Israeli dissidents, reports that in the early days of the April 2002 offensive, Israeli troops occupied and shut down Palestinian television and radio stations in Ramallah and other cities. Foreign TV reporters were denied freedom of movement except on selected occasion in locations permitted by the military authorities. Even the Israeli media has been denied free access into the occupied cities. Israel’s official and private media and in some instances had to rely on European and American TV reports for their coverage. .

In order to maintain their presence in the occupied territories, certain media organizations such as Reuters and AP are making concessions in their reports in order to obtain the media passes that are necessary to enter the Palestine and which are issued by Israel. To get the story, media organizations like Reuters and AP and CNN which are the source of a lot of what we see and read in the mainstream newspapers report only half truths. For example one of the suicide bombings that took place in late June 2002 was reported to have taken place in a "Gilo, a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem". What was not reported is that Gilo is actually situated in occupied East Jerusalem and build on land expropriated from Palestinians. The bombing of a city bus reported that there were children on the bus but failed to mention that the occupants were mostly Israeli military personnel.

It does little good to read a variety of newspapers, as often, the story is obtained from the same source, Reuters and AP. If you refer to several mainstream newspapers or their websites on a given day you will see the same article pretty much word for word from one source to another. The information from the common source (Reuters, AP) is just plugged directly into the newspaper without being edited, verified or supplemented with any background information.

Therefore, the day to day suffering and humiliation of the Palestinian people is simply not reported in the mainstream media. Unfortunately what little is getting out is often not being published or aired on television. In Canada 141 newspapers, 14 of them major dailies and one of the three television networks are owned by Israel Asper. It is well known that Mr. Asper has issued instruction to his newspapers that criticism of Israeli policies will not be tolerated. The situation is similar in the U.S. and what is published is greatly monitored and influenced by the Jewish lobby.

But what is it they do not want us to know about?

The Israeli government has expropriated Palestinians from their land and homes without compensation to build settlements for Israelis .

The homes of people resisting the occupation, even by peaceful means, have been demolished sometimes with only a few hours notice for the occupants to get out. In May 2002, an estimated 10,000 Palestinians were left homeless when their homes in Jenin were damaged or totally destroyed in the IDFs search for "terrorists". Over 60 people were killed in the operation of which only 30 were "terrorists". Israel refused to allow an international observers to investigate the scene.

The Israeli government has diverted water away from Palestinian farmland to serve the Jewish settlements that they have established within Palestine. In many areas, water is rationed for Palestinians but Israeli settlers have swimming pools. Averages: Palestinians use 37.5 cubic metres of water per person per year. Israelis use 235 cubic meters and Israeli settlers in the occupied territories use 600.

Schools and churches have been shelled by Israeli tanks and helicopter gunships.

House searches without warrants are a daily occurrence. Homes are ransacked, windows broken and furniture destroyed for no reason and sometimes the occupants are executed on the spot.. In the case of row housing, the IDF has a habit of blasting through interior walls to get through to the next unit.

Curfews are imposed for weeks on end. Websters dictionary defines curfew as a time generally in the evening set as a deadline beyond which children or inhabitants of an occupied territory may not appear on the street. In the context of Israel’s war on the civilian population of Palestine, curfews are 24 hours a day and lifted only for a few hours once or twice a week. There is no going to school or work or shopping. Children cannot play outside. People caught outside during curfews can be shot on sight.

Ambulances are prevented from getting to the sick and wounded. One hundred and twenty ambulance drivers and paramedics have been killed in the last 18 month. Hospitals are being damaged and destroyed.

Fifteen hundred Palestinian have been killed since January 2000. Eighty percent of the victims were civilians and 25% were children. New York Times reporter Chris Hedges writes in Harper’s magazine that he has watched Israeli soldiers day after day taunt Palestinian children and then "shoot them for sport".

Palestinians must carry color-coded ID cards and drive cars with color-coded plates.

The Israelis have built highways throughout Palestinian territories for the Jewish settlers that they have established there in contravention of international rules of occupation.(4th Geneva Convention 49th article) Only Israelis, who have special licence plates are allowed to use these roads. Students, truck drivers, civil servants all wait for hour after hour, as the Israeli army closes off the main road whenever a Jewish settler living in the nearby settlement, wants to pass. What used to be a 20 minute trip to work can now take several hours.

Palestinians cannot even move from one village to another as many of their roads have been bulldozed to prevent vehicular movement. The Gaza strip which is only 10 miles wide by 30 miles long has been divided into 4 separate areas. A recent article by a BBC correspondent reports that the line of cars waiting to cross from one area of Gaza to the other stretched as far as the eye and that some people had been waiting for 36 hours to cross.

The West Bank has been carved into 220 such areas. The direct transport of merchandise from town to town is forbiden. Trucks must meet at checkpoints and goods must be transferred from one truck to another. Transportation costs have soared while goods perish on trucks held up at checkpoints. Sixteen women have given birth at checkpoints due to delays. Three of the babies died.

Israel controls who enters and leaves Palestinian territory. Even foreign nationals married to Palestinians are at the mercy of the Israeli authorities. Last year Israel destroyed the radar at and dug up the runway at Gaza airport. In order to leave the West Bank or Gaza, permission must be obtained from Israel to cross into Israeli territory to fly out from an Israeli airport.

Now I have a question.

How do you obtain any decency and goodwill from people who have lived under these conditions or who have family living in Palestine or from other Arab countries? Yet, below are a few of many responses that I received to a recent article that I wrote on the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

***

From a Palestinian…..If left to human beings and their sense of compassion, none of the horrors that occur in Palestine, as well as the stereotypes that are easily given to the Arabs, would exist. This is the underlying message that I felt through your message. I have read many other articles, written by Jews, Israeli reporters, Christian reporters, in defense of the Palestinian people. This goes to prove that internationally, we are all there, Jews, Christians, and Muslims to join hands and fight an evil that may well engulf the entire world.

***

From a woman in Saudi Arabia . I’m a housewife from Saudi Arabia, and a mother of two children. All the women and men I know cry, just as I do, at the sight of the human degradation that we witness around us. God, Who sent all three religions to His creatures at different stages of the world’s development, did not want us to hate each other this way. No, on the contrary, His message is one of compassion, respect, and love among all human beings. …. when I witness the writings of well intentioned and sincere people such as you, I see a little light at the end of the tunnel. God bless you.

***

I am a displaced "1948" Palestinian Christian and like many of my displaced compatriots have resigned ourselves to the loss of our hometown (Haifa)..All we seek now is PEACE and reasonable living for our fellow Paletinians in a viable State of their own in the occupied territories to afford these maligned, humiliated, abused and terrorized people a chance at earning a decent living, raising their children without fear of zealots who want to steal all their land, destroy their homes, uproot their trees and throw them out into the desert….

***

I am a Canadian of Palestinian origin. My Grand parents and my parents were made refugees in 1948 when the state of Israel was created. My parents, brothers and sisters now live in Ramallah, in the occupied territories, and have been suffering for many years, but things even got worse in the past few years. The suffering goes beyond the economical and physical. The emotional suffering is driving many to irrational acts. The kids are having nightmares about the incursions and the home demolishing. My heart aches when I think of the children who are living under such horrible conditions. Many times I felt hopeless and helpless when I write to politicians and I do not get an answer or when I write to my local news paper but they do not print my letter.

***

I am a Palestinian-American …. There is a lasting and gut wrenching tragedy in the land of Palestine. The tragedy is for the Israelis and the Palestinians. I will be honest with you, I am very proud that the Jewish people have a homeland, but I am sad to see them not share it wholly with the original inhabitants of the land, the Palestinian people. Amidst all the massacres, bloodshed, and finger pointing, people must learn to get along and live with one another. No one side is right in this conflict, but the media never explains this. It is always the Palestinians who are the terrorists and it truly makes me sad. … I feel for all the Israelis and Palestinians who have lost their lives, but the bloodshed will forever continue if we allow ourselves to be stuck in this cycle. I apologize for the lengthiness of this email, but you have truly touched me with your article and I just wanted to say thank you.

ma’assalama

Linda Belanger can be reached at: Belalin54@hotmail.com

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