Ben Parish worries me. I will start with one thing from his March 1 article that I absolutely agreed with: its title. I found the column to be a perfect example of how “Biased Media Representation Draws an Incomplete Picture of [the] Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Having read the letter to the editor by Noor Aljawad (Feb. 23) that Parish addressed in his column, I couldn’t help but think that instead of giving the letter careful consideration, Parish skimmed it in an effort to find something that would fill column space before press time.
Nowhere in the letter was the claim presented that the Israeli Defense Forces are inherently racist. What Noor labeled as racist was an argument that “cited the inferiority of Palestinian medical care to justify the number of [Palestinian] deaths.” Aljawed found this argument in Matthew Gluschankoff’s Jan. 31 Op-Ed. While such an argument would be inherently racist, Gluschankoff’s article seemed to cite the quality of care as an explanation, not a justification.
Yes Parish, saying that it is okay to kill a people because they are not as technologically advanced as another group is racist. Would it be too much to use the massacres of the indigenous peoples of the Americas as an illustrative example? Fine, let’s talk aliens. If we were about to be wiped out by an intergalactic race, not many humans would gain solace from the fact that the aliens have developed ray guns and perfected interstellar travel while Earthlings have not. We would still run around crying and begging not to be exterminated, and feel indignant at their utter disregard for the value of human life. In the same way, singing Israel’s praises due to technological advancement should not distract from unjust practices.
What unjust practices? When Parish says that Aljawed is “disguising Palestinian demands as ‘rights,’” does he mean that medical aid is not something that civilian casualties deserve? Is it preposterous for victims of a missile offensive to want to rebuild their homes? Answer carefully — you don’t want to sound silly.
Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization because of its terroristic activities. These are justified internally with Islamic fundamentalism, as is their oppression of women and anybody that is not heterosexual. Israel is a “Western” nation surrounded by turmoil. As a bonus, it is a state with strong U.S. and UN support. But is a dose of social Darwinism in order?
Obviously, when a nation is governed by an oppressive regime, it is a fault of its people; of their culture. Somalia is lawless because the culture of its people constructs that system, and they must have no qualms about the practices of their non-government, even though we find the condition atrocious. The same goes for the people of Afghanistan under Taliban rule. With that worldview, I have no tool to interpret these Middle Eastern uprisings I keep hearing about. President Hosni Mubarak was in power for 30 years — was that because the Egyptian culture was aligned with the corruptions and abuses of his regime? I would guess not, but that is not the answer that seems to follow from Parish’s “all cultures are not equal” bit. Of course, cultures are not all equal, but how he manages to expand that truth to xenophobic, nonsensical rhetoric escapes me.
Depictions of the Israeli-Palestine conflicts do often have the wolf-sheep dynamic that Parish derided in his column. It is an oversimplification that does not properly account for shared culpability. Yet this is exactly the device used in the column, failing to differentiate Parish’s rhetoric from that of the Palestinian “pitiers” he reviles. His version of the story simply reverses the role of wolf and sheep. A power that, as Parish says, “could blow the Gaza Strip off the face of the earth and then some” hardly sounds like the disadvantaged party. Still, he goes on to say that the Jewish people face extinction at the hands of Arab nations surrounding Israel.
Apparently we are disregarding the population of Jewish people not residing in Israel — even so, whose intelligence and defense agencies have we been exalting? How gracious of Israel to not “unleash hell on heavily populated towns and inflict tens of thousands of injuries each day.” But then some lunatic might call it genocide.