Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dear Professor Zeleza,

This is in response to your recent blog entry that presents a much needed historical perspective on the current Arab-Israeli conflict. A Sunday July 30 CNN question of the day asked viewers to email in their comments on whether they felt it was “now” time for the US government to call for a ceasefire. I’ll be lying if I say I was shocked by the blatant bias in CNN’s question, clearly regurgitating the US govt’s position in refusing to call for a ceasefire so as to allow Israel to continue massacring innocent Lebanese and destroying their country, on the pretext of disarming Hezbollah. What I found outrageous was that CNN assumed that the US government’s position was the same as their viewers’ position, who include a global audience. That’s what I have found most disturbing, that the mainstream is calculatedly presenting the Euroamerican perspective, attempting to mislead a worldwide audience into believing that an Arab position in this conflict is not only illegitimate, it is probably non-existence—just a base instinct to wipe out Israel without any provocation, without any historical grievances.

Your analysis goes well beyond the rehearsed position spat out by the mainstream media and by so-called political leaders who claim that the whole conflict was started by Hezbollah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers. I have not seen one single news source or Euroamerican politician or pundit acknowledge that Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Arab territory is an injustice that is as much cause for the conflict, as it needs to be addressed. In fact Noam Chomsky, nobel laureates Harold Pinter and Jose Saramago, and other activists have pointed out that Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s abduction of the said Israel soldiers was in fact a retaliation for Israel’s abduction of two civilian Arab brothers the previous day. And according to Tanya Reinhart, an Israeli professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University, Israel has in fact been preparing for a “massive war on Lebanon” for several years.

The only consolation I find in this whole crisis is the ability by several Israeli scholars and citizens to condemn their own government for the atrocities it is committing against its Arab neighbors, pointing out that Israeli aggression over the years is a major cause of the decades-long conflict in the middle east. Several Jewish activists have been courageous enough to stand up and declare their condemnation for Israel, pointing out that rather pretend to criticize both sides equally, they side with the victimized, the oppressed and the colonized. Some have even been demonstrating in the capital Tel Aviv.

Much as some would like the world to believe that European imperialism ended decades ago and that current world problems have nothing to do with the legacy of European colonialism, it is worth pointing out, as you do, that the origins of this particular lie in European anti-Semitism and racism. The task of educating people ignorant of this history is frighteningly huge, given the prominence of CNN, the BBC, Reuters and other mainstream news sources whose EuroAmerican biases prevent many from learning the truth. I’m nevertheless optimistic about the possibility of a greater awareness of the root causes of many of these conflicts around the world. Those Jewish and Israeli activists able to overcome the disinformation campaign and the kindred triumphalism, choosing instead to promote solidarity with the global South and the “wretched of the earth”, give me much hope.

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