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Reverse the Picture

Anatomy of a Palestinian Outrage

by RAMZY BAROUD

One can only imagine the utter outrage that would engage world leaders and media if a series of Palestinian bombings rocked an Israeli town, spontaneously, and in less than four days killed 60 people and wounded hundreds, mostly innocent civilians.

Not even the most open-minded of media pundits could dare justify the crime; not even the most lucid of government officials could rationalize the orgy of flesh and blood made of mingled bodies, some so beyond repair, that you wish them death for their own sake.

How repulsive, albeit insensitive if Fox News decided to inundate its hapless viewers with self-congratulating ‘terrorism experts’ describing the ‘surgical procedure’ followed by the Palestinian bombers whose intent was merely to target a few unidentified Israeli army officers accused of threatening the life of Palestinian civilians.

Picture the horror on the dusty faces as firefighters amassing in a small Tel Aviv street to quell an inferno of homes, shops and roofless buses while medics, too busy to tend to the blown up bodies, are frantically hoping to revive the surviving few.

Who would dare step up in a moment like this and attempt on contextualize the massacre: "Palestinians were retaliating to Israel’s use of Israeli air strikes that killed two Hamas militants a day earlier."

And while Israelis are fighting their tears and mounting fury, fixing their eyes to a very bloody spectacle on their TV screens, they learn that the White House refused to condemn the atrocity. Equally outrageous, isn’t it? In turn, a State Department spokesperson agrees with the Hamas fighters’ basic premise, but urges them to "take every measure to ensure that only proportional force is used to counter the threat that it faces."

To offset the inhumanity and callousness of America’s officials, they switch to another channel where UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s statement on the massacre is read. Yet Annan merely asks the bombers, who remain incessant on blowing up more Israelis, to do all they can to avoid civilian causalities, reminding them of the risks their act may have on the ‘peace process’.

Even Israel’s traditional friends in the West, seem not to care. Instead, their media sounds overly sympathetic to Hamas, reasoning, lending air time to its officials as they spread propaganda and disseminate further warning messages to hapless Israelis: "If you don’t repent, there is more where this came from."

In fact, Hamas inconsiderately chooses to name its Tel Aviv massacre, "Days of Penitence." Western media parrots the codename of Hamas’s ‘operation’ with unmistakable approval.

And when two Israelis infiltrate the border into Gaza, in a shabby operation to distract Hamas’ attention from the unfolding massacre, it ends up being a golden opportunity for media allies in the United States to justify Hamas’ carnage in retrospect: "This is exactly the kind of Israeli threats that Hamas is trying to counter," some ‘state-terrorism expert’ boasts in a self-vindicating tone.

To ensure that an average American does not question its moral standing on why its blowing up Israelis, Palestinians stretch their apologists and lobbyists throughout Washington DC, heaping yet more pressure on US government officials who are eagerly complying. In fact, they compel the US president himself to acknowledge ‘Hamas’ right to defend itself.’ Rumors immediately circulate that the president defies his conscience often these days for the fear of losing ‘Hamas money’ in the coming election.

Instead of immediately seeking to halt the Hamas aggression, the Palestinian Authority in fact decides to take advantage of the mayhem, approving a plan during one of its cabinet meetings to push Gaza’s border 9 miles deep into Israel to create a buffer zone.

And what if the Hamas bombers and hundreds like them are never tried for war crimes and simply carry on with their lives and jobs without being held accountable, without being reprimanded, even if verbally? Hardly that, what if they are now more qualified than ever to receive medals of honor for their ‘heroic’ conduct in Tel Aviv?

None of this, of course, has occurred. However, its exact antithesis has. In a small refugee camp called Jabaliya, where 106,000 people live the most impoverished life in an utterly crowded slum, the mighty Israeli army unleashed one of its worst war crimes during the Palestinian uprising with the hope to expand its border a few miles to the south, pushing Gaza’s one million inhabitants into a virtual prison-ghetto, fenced and blocked from all fronts.

But just imagine if the picture was reversed. Would our humanity permit us to be equally outraged, to demand and expect justice? Yet, that is for you to worry about. As for me, I am a Palestinian; I grew up in the Gaza ghetto and need not reverse the picture to understand. Outrage is now part of my anatomy.

RAMZY BAROUD is a veteran Arab-American journalist. A regular columnist in many English and Arabic publications, he is editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com and head of Research & Studies Department at Aljazeera.net English. He may be reached at: editor@palestinechronicle.com