Blaming the Victims

With Israeli troops currently ravaging entire Palestinian cities, urinating in homes, beating civilians, strapping them to tanks as human shields, shooting them like dogs in the streets–in a word, defending civilization–American pundits have come up with a timely answer to the situation: blame the Palestinians.

Who is responsible for Sharon being put into power, but the wicked Palestinians who forced the poor Israelis to elect him; who is being called to “end terror” as Palestinian civilians starve and bleed to death in the streets, but a man literally hiding behind barb wires in a shelled-out compound, Yassir Arafat.

The gravest offense of the dark-hearted and dark-skinned Palestinians, however, is suicide bombing. Op-ed writers feign absolute horror, disbelief, and disgust at this most inhumane act, assuring us that no people on earth now or ever before were capable of such hatred, save the Palestinians. A week and a half into an Israeli invasion that has left 200 Palestinian slaughtered, media experts invite representatives of the Palestinian people on television, only to interrogate them like Al-Qaeda detainees about this heinous crime of suicide bombing. Every assessment of the conflict begins and ends with denunciations of the suicide bombings, with nothing in between but the occasional clearing of the throat to emphasize the moral authority of the assertion. But do these moralistic tirades contain a single ounce of consistency, sincerity, or truth in them? Let us see if such is the case.

Though I hesitate to slander the American establishment with the vile accusation of compassion, it is only reasonable to suppose that their talking heads oppose suicide bombings because it targets and kills civilians. But something is clearly amiss: where is the mere mention of Palestinian casualties in this conflict? Few, if any, of our self-appointed guardians of civilization and democracy mourn the massacre of hundreds, and the dispossession of hundreds of thousands, at the hands Jewish terrorist groups and militias expelled the Palestinian natives from their villages from 1947-1949. Even less is said about the thugs who dominate the illegal settlements stabbed into the bleeding heart of Palestinian territory by Israel today. There are no grandiloquent speeches about the further expropriations of Palestinian land and property that began in 1967, and continue to this day. Moshe Dayan, the prestigious IDF commander who gleefully gloated: “There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”, must be smiling in his grave at this double-standard.

Clearly, the house demolitions, settlement expansions, and ethnic cleansing campaigns target civilians. And even more clearly, the Israeli army, responsible for more than five-fold the civilian casualties than suicide bombers, has always targeted civilians, at least according to every human rights group that has monitored them. Their shooting of ambulances, international protesters, and reporters, prevention of the wounded from receiving treatment, and deliberate sniping of civilians outside of their homes during curfew is not exactly damning counter-evidence.

Based on the above, it is impossible for us to say that the op-ed writers and media analysts revile suicide bombing because it kill civilians, or else their sympathy would extend to the far more numerous Palestinian civilian victims. This represents a problem–or so it would seem. In reality there is a very simple answer: for many commentators, Palestinians simply aren’t human. This postulation solves much of the dilemma: after all, it is no great crime to mistreat, kick around, shoot and maim mere sub-human animals. Especially the smaller ones, as they make for much more difficult kills–and thus excellent target practice.

But what about the more ‘moderate’ section of the propagandizing class? Surely not all of them are so cruel. No, some other sentiment must be behind their deep, heartfelt moral qualms. Perhaps some experts abhor suicide bombings because the subject deliberately kills him or herself in the process, ending his or her life intentionally. But is this satisfactory? How is it possible for the same analyst to dismiss the deaths and dispossession of thousands of Palestinians, only to express great moral consternation at the lost life of one? I remember seeing one MSNBC “terrorism expert” recently screaming, “I have never seen an American or an Israeli strap bombs to his waist!”. What American or Israeli needs a bomb belt when ten times the damage can (and is) dished out by trained killers pressing a few buttons in armored tanks or bomber aircraft? If such sages are so disturbed by the suicide aspect, why don’t they bequeath the Palestinians with the tanks, guns, jets, and missiles necessary to wage a war of resistanc e? Will they commit to this noble course of action after they are done advocating these same weapons for the Israelis, who are waging a war of occupation? Or perhaps after they are done advocating the usual $5 billion dollar annual donation to the Israelis for making such good use of these precious instruments of civilization? Unlikely.

The supposed moral superiority claimed by the so-called defenders of civilization is nothing but sheer nonsense; their moral standards are nearly as appalling as their immoral double standards. Mainstream debate and discussion about the recent conflict has been confined to whether our interests would be best represented by barbecuing or boiling the Palestinians. I think it is sufficiently clear that the mainstream American media is complicit in the ongoing massacre campaign in the Occupied Territories.

Indeed, the most prized occupied territory in the hands of the Israeli government is the one-sided American media itself. It is for this reason that we, as Americans, must declare our own intifada against the suffocation of the truth–and for the liberation of millions of Palestinians struggling not only for their freedom, but for their very survival.

M. Junaid Alam is an undergraduate student of Political Science Northeastern University, a Boston Anti-war activist, and a member of the Committee for Peace and Justice [Boston] .He can be reached at: alam.m@neu.edu






More articles by:

M. JUNAID ALAM, 21, Boston, co-editor of radical youth journal Left Hook (http://www.lefthook.org), feedback: alam@lefthook.org , first published in Left Hook

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