Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

First Signs - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Commenting on statements made by former US president Jimmy Carter, in which he said that many white Americans believe that “African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country,” Bonnie Greer wrote in The Guardian, “It’s nasty. It’s scary. But face it, it’s not new – America was built on racism” (Sept. 17, 2009). No language can describe the Israeli crimes committed against unarmed civilian Palestinians in Gaza better than Bonnie Greer’s sentence.

The same can be said about the results of the Goldstone report which confirms yet again that the Israeli government is committing nasty and terrifying crimes. But this is not new. Israel has been committing nasty, terrifying and infuriating crimes, but they are not new. Israel has been carrying out genocide, massacres and daily killings for over sixty years in order to make Palestine ‘a land without a people’ and create the ‘Jewish state’ on its remains. Shall we recall the massacre of Deir Yassine or that of Qana? Shall we recall Sabra and Shatilla, Jenin, Kafr Qasem, or the siege imposed upon Gaza for years?

We all recall the ‘targeted killing’ lists announced and carried out publicly by Israeli leaders. They are even proud of these assassinations. Nevertheless, these criminals – according to any set of standards – are given red-carpet receptions in most Western capitals and hold press conferences with western leaders in order to talk about ‘democracy’ and ‘fighting terrorism’.

The fundamental question is: would the West condone such crimes had they been perpetrated against a European, Western or white people? Since the answer is certainly no, there is no word that can better describe the long and silent acceptance of killings and not raising any qualms about the crime of taking life given by God, than the word ‘racism’.

The problem is that a lot of noise is made about the use of the word not the brutal practices that the word was coined to describe.

When former president Jimmy Carter wrote his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Zionist circles launched a media campaign against him smearing him with all kinds of false accusations.

Today, despite the impeccable international reputation of Judge Goldstone, and despite the fact that he applied the highest professional standards in his investigation, Zionist circles considered the report that condemns Israeli crimes against humanity as mere ‘criticism’ and launched a diplomatic and media campaign against it. This in itself is a racist attitude because it does not show any respect for the lives of the people who were the subject of the report and refuses to answer the questions raised about their right to live.

The headlines that appeared in Western media after the publication of the report also shows the absolute bias of the ‘free’ media in favour of Israel, even when it destroys the lives of millions of Palestinians, depriving them of life, freedom and human rights. What is important for Israel and its friends is that Israeli army generals, who have committed bloody crimes against Palestinian civilians, are not arrested when they travel on their holidays.

A quick review of the headlines shows that Israel’s and its friends’ concern was for ‘Israel’s reputation’ and ‘the freedom of movement’ of crime perpetrators in Western capitals, rather than achieving justice for the victims who lost their lives as a result of direct and blatant aggression against them without the least respect for their humanity.

Although the Israeli B’Tselem movement documented the death certificates, photos and names of Palestinian children and civilians deliberately and premeditatedly killed by Israel troops, which is in line with the Goldstone report, the headlines published in Western media alone constitute a clear indicator of a flagrantly racist attitude towards the Palestinians, because they give no weight to their lives. And here are a few examples: In The Guardian, Ian Black wrote an article entitled “Israel threatened with international law: Israel’s commanders should be careful about booking holidays – the Goldstone report suggests they could be prosecuted abroad,” (The Guardian, Sept. 15, 2009).

In The Independent, Donald Macintyre wrote, “UN says Israel should face war-crimes trial over Gaza”. The same headline in The Daily Telegraph attributes the results to the UN report but quotes from it: “Israel committed war crimes by deliberately attacking civilians, firing white phosphorous shells and carrying out torture during its offensive in Gaza”. Harvey Morris wrote in The Financial Times: “UN panel accuses Israel of war crimes” (Sept. 16, 2009). The same headline is repeated by The Sunday Times in which James Bone wrote “UN accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza” (Sept. 16, 2009). The New York Times wrote “Inquiry finds Gaza war crimes from both sides” (Sept. 16, 2009). This, despite the fact that over one thousand four hundred Palestinians were killed in the Gaza assault as a result of military planning and direct orders to kill civilians, expel and deprive them of water, electricity, food and medicine. Everything written the next day was also put from an Israel perspective with no discussion of the value of Palestinian life. In The Guardian, legal affairs correspondent, Afua Hirsch, wrote: “UN report that will be difficult for Israeli government to ignore”. The Independent wrote: “Israelis hit back at UN report alleging war crimes in Gaza”. In The Los Angeles Times (Sept. 17), “Israel rebuffs inquiry into Gaza war crime allegations”. In The New York Times (Sept. 17) “Israel rejects call for Gaza inquiry”.

1.

Despite the fact that the report proves that hundreds were killed in a premeditated and brutal way, Western media writes about ‘claims’ and ‘criticisms’ and about Israeli responses and the precautions its commanders should take to avoid arrest abroad. Where is the concern of Western democracies for the right of all humans to life; or is the life of an Arab Palestinian not equal to the life of a Westerner?

Let us imagine for a moment that the case was reversed: an Arab country accused of killing this number of Israelis or white Westerners. We would have found western media, for weeks, publishing pictures of the victims, their life stories and the tragedies their families suffered in the aftermath. They would be commemorated every year. But since the victims are Arab Muslims, there is no mention of a victim or his photograph or the suffering of his family. The whole emphasis is on Israel’s ‘reputation’, Israel’s responses, and ways Israel can distance itself from this crisis.

If this position towards Palestinians is not racist, what does racism mean then? And if all these racist practices do not stir an emotion in the democratic world, why does President Carter’s accurate use of the word in relation to Palestine and the United States stir such anger there?

Reports on human rights in the occupied territories have for years said that Israel has committed crimes of genocide against the Palestinians; and Zionist lobbies and propaganda have been able to silence these voices one way or another. But the world has started to see today that this shameful silence in relation to the collective punishment imposed by Israel and its friends against more than one million Palestinians in Gaza has become nasty, terrifying and infuriating. Fortunately, there are, in this world, free voices like those of President Carter, Judge Goldstone, [Donald] Brostrِm and B’Tselem who are courageous and conscientious enough to tell the truth to the whole world.

The sad thing, however, is that the official Arab role in all of this is shabby and dismal. But the Palestinian Cause, which Israel and its friends are trying to take off the agenda of human struggle for freedom, is today a question of international justice, and that is why champions of freedom in the world, like Carter and Goldstone are carrying its torch; and they will no doubt be followed by other champions of freedom throughout the world. Zionism will not be able to silence those [champions] any longer, because the history of Zionist crimes has started to unravel, and none of the friends and supporters of Zionism will be able to defend these crimes or cover them up. As the holocaust became a stigma on German history for a long period of time, so too will the shame of the massacres in Gaza haunt Israel and its partners in their aggression and blockades.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

More Posts