It is well known that all media is biased. Depending on which news you read or watch and which country you are in, your opinions will become swayed based on where you get your news. In order to get a full spectrum of what is truly going on in the world, you must get news from both sides, as well as several neutrals.
It is clear that Joel Furman’s article “United States, Israel Must Now Watch Where They Step” (Daily Nexus, Feb. 22, 2006) was clearly written on the opinions of only one side of the whole Middle East problem. It is necessary to give the opposite side of the subjects that Furman wrote about in his opinion article.
One subject Furman wrote about was the democratically elected Hamas party in Palestine. He stated that their primary objective is to destroy Israel. However, this is not the political belief of Hamas. The head of the Hamas political bureau, Khalid Mish’al, wrote an article in the Guardian on Jan 31, 2006. He wrote that the Palestinians voted for Hamas because “of its pledge never to give up the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and its promise to embark on a programme of reform.” Mish’al continues by writing that Hamas does not fight Israelis based on their faith and culture; their conflict with Israel is not religious, but political. He finished by saying, “We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us – our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people.”
From this point of view, Hamas is not seen as a terrorist organization, but as an organization that is fighting for the rights of the Palestinians whose land has been taken away from them. This same view was shared by the late Yasser Arafat, who would not comply with Israel or the United States at the expense of the Palestinians’ rights as a nation.
Furman also mentions the violent protests about the anti-Islamic political cartoons. He points out that there are political cartoons that insult Zionism and Zionists, yet there is no news about that. First and foremost, Zionism is not a religion, it is a political belief based on Judaism; while Islam is a religion, based on our holy book, the Quran, and the teachings of our Prophet (PBUH).
I looked up some of the anti-Zionism cartoons, and there is one difference in the anti-Islamic cartoons versus the anti-Zionism cartoons: The anti-Zionism cartoons are insulting political leaders, while the anti-Islamic cartoons are insulting our beloved Prophet (PBUH). When you make a cartoon about a religious icon, not only do you insult the religious icon, but you also insult the followers of that religion.
And as for calling it a double standard, let me tell you of a man named David Irving, from England. Irving wrote a book that essentially denied the existence of the Holocaust. He was tried and received 3 years in prison. Was he not practicing his freedom of speech? How can an anti-Semitic writing be a crime, while an anti-Islamic writing, or cartoon, be practicing free speech? Isn’t that a double standard?
And as for all the violent protest occurring in the Middle East over these political cartoons, note that the number of protests that have turned violent have been very small in comparison to the number of non-violent protests, which the media in the United States rarely mentions. Plus, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has called for an end to the violent protests, and has asked those offended by the cartoons not to purchase Danish products. I for one am glad to state that the Danish economy has already started to lose money.
Essentially, Furman was saying that the entire Middle East is full of terrorist countries, excluding certain countries. To generalize about an entire region is wrong. One incident does not represent the beliefs and goals of the entire nation, much less millions of believers.
Lastly, I would just like to emphasize the importance of getting the entire story before making an opinion. We need to increase our knowledge of both sides in order to make a rational opinion. If we do not do this, we are no better than any other person violently attacking someone else. Before we start pointing fingers, instigating hatred, and alienating others, let’s focus on how we can use our education to bring together people’s opinions through a non-hostile medium. Let’s look for universal truths that unite us, rather than divide us.
Shahid Shaikh is a senior chemical engineering major.