One tries hard to believe that mainstream journalism about the unrelenting Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unprejudiced and evenhanded. One wants to believe that the reporters are unleavened with impartiality and do not give in to their inevitable human biases. A glaring and hurtful exclusion in a renowned US newspaper this week rouses one to a painful conclusion about the increasingly apparent lack of objectivity (a stepchild of anti-Semitism) that pervades 21st century media.
For such blindness, the children of both sides will remain invisible.
But first, a reflection: personally, it’s sometimes frustrating to note the manner in which some American Jewish leaders and commentators often bleach out the flaws of Israeli policy in the occupied territories—too long occupied now, regardless of why and how it started back in 1967.
The situation is hardly good for Israelis and certainly dreadful for the former Jordanian or Egyptian nationals who have suffered there. The everyday mothers and fathers and sons and daughters of the West Bank and Gaza are a people—they deserve decent treatment regardless of their corrupt or, in some cases, terroristic leaders.
They identify themselves as Palestinians, and a second generation of this people (who never carried Jordanian papers or mounted Egyptian auto plates) has emerged without basic human rights and with a flag that stands for something.
This has parallels to the historic ingathering of Holocaust survivors, begrudged their identities, let alone their very existence, which arrived in the region from Poland and Germany and Holland and Czechoslovakia and countless other states and found their identity under the newly unveiled Star of David banner of Israel.
Having said this, and hoping still for enlightenment in the Middle East to occur in my lifetime, I remain stunned by what I read in a recent edition of The New York Times. The piece detailed the current series of troubling and bloody clashes between Arab residents of East Jerusalem and Israeli authorities—with both sides still raw and seething in the aftermath of this summer’s 50-day war in Gaza.
The correspondent, Jodi Rudoren, dispatched this opening paragraph on September 17:
“The events that led to the latest spike in tensions between Israelis and Palestinians were the abductions and murders of three Israeli teenagers, followed by the gruesome abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat on July 2, by Jewish extremists.”
Read carefully: in the matter of the three Israeli teenagers (who are not humanized via their names), the description offered is “the abductions and murders of three Israeli teenagers.” In the matter of the appropriately identified Muhammad Abu Khdeir, the matching phrase is “the gruesome abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager.” [My italics added.]
So the kidnapping and shooting to death of three young Israelis, here unnamed, their location undisclosed, is not gruesome? What was it, then? And how will we ever see peace and respect in a world so inflicted with dark subjectivity that there no editors left to mark off such editorial ignominy?
If we don’t cry out against such blindness, then the children of both sides will remain invisible and the face of the future will remain blotted out forever.
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