Tags: Visit | Israel | Exposes | Media | Bias

A Visit to Israel Exposes Media Bias

Monday, 28 March 2005 12:00 AM

Yet the press and the World Court condemn Israel without even making mention of what they should do in the alternative to protect citizens from the attacks by terrorist groups.

One of the points made clear to me by Raanan Gissin, Chief Spokesperson for the Prime Minister, is that the fence has stopped many attempted attacks against Israelis as a peaceful means of defending Israeli citizens from harm. He also made it clear that the fence and its boundaries are not permanent. The peace process will settle the final borders with the Palestinians, and the fence will be removed from any land established as part of a Palestinian state.

In the meantime, the Israeli Supreme Court has final say about the government's decisions on where the fence can legally be built. This has held up the building of the fence. Perhaps the world might take heed at the due process elements of the only true democracy in the region.

We also have not heard much in our press about the actions of the terrorists causing much economic harm to the Palestinians. This has resulted from the fact that Israeli Defense Force checkpoints are in place to keep Israelis from entering Palestinian areas of the region. This is because those areas are unsafe for Israelis to enter.

We were at the checkpoint near Jericho which barred Israelis from crossing into Palestinian territory. The gambling casino in Jericho, owned by an Israeli and economically benefiting Palestinian workers, was closed due to the terrorist violence.

When the checkpoint was open, 3,000 Israelis per day would enter Jericho and frequent the casino. Palestinian terrorists cost those jobs for fellow Palestinians. It is unfortunate that this dampening effect on the Palestinian economy is not more widely reported.

At this same checkpoint I had the opportunity to interview a member of Hamas. He made it very clear that he supported the terrorist actions and that he had a "right" to go to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem anytime he wanted. If that point of view prevails and is not controlled by President Abbas, the path to peace will be strewn with more victims and violence.

We also learned that, contrary to media reports we receive, Israeli medical professionals will always treat lives of Palestinian homicide bombers with the same high-quality medical care as they would Israeli citizens. Instances have occurred where a homicide bomber has survived an explosion because the bomb did not detonate properly and these people are taken to Israel's best facility, Hadassah Hospital, where they are treated with dignity as human beings and with the best medical care. The doctors do not compromise that care because this person attempted to or did actually murder Israeli citizens.

I had the opportunity to interview Anita Tucker, one of the earliest farmers in the Gaza, who relocated more than 30 years ago to Israel from Brooklyn, New York. She described the efforts made to take this arid land and cultivate it into a marvelous farming success. Now Prime Minister Sharon has reversed his former position of encouraging Israelis to settle in the Gaza and is determined to remove the approximately 9,000 residents of the Gaza as a means of promoting peace.

Ironically, when Menachem Begin returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1982, he implored Anwar Sadat to take the Gaza as well. Sadat refused, as he did not want the Palestinian problem to be part of Egypt. We also know that King Hussein ejected the Palestinians from Jordan, and Lebanon ejected the Palestinians from Lebanon.

Ask this question: What have the Arab and Islamic countries ever done for the benefit of the Palestinians? It is ironic that, as a matter of factual reality, Israel has done more for the Palestinians than all of the Arab and Islamic countries combined. During peaceful times, for example, 200,000 Palestinians per day could enter Israel to work. Terrorist violence caused Israel to close the borders and end this benefit to the Palestinians.

The Golan Heights is the story of a true miraculous development of land that was literally barren under the Syrians. The only purpose it served then was to shoot at Israeli farmers down below in the Galilee, and was not used in any productive manner. Now there are wineries on the Golan (my favorite is the merlot at Chateau Golan), wonderful residential communities, great historic sites, and a remarkable development of farming that was unknown previously.

When you stand at the border with Syria and look across, you see the lack of development on the other side and Third World conditions that keep the Syrians in economic depravation. In fact, we spoke with residents who had been to Syria and brought back dismal reports of the living conditions in Damascus and elsewhere. They are still living in the Pan-Arab dream for an empire of 500 years ago.

I was told by Israeli officials that Syria is requiring a return of the Golan before any final peace negotiations occur. Israel will not agree to this, but may be agreeable to returning the Golan as part of the peace with Syria. This would be unfortunate.

One of the major concerns in Israel was the continuing anti-Israel propaganda in the schoolbooks and media in the Palestinian territories and through much of the Arab world. The map of the region shown to schoolchildren does not even include the existence of the state of Israel. The schoolbooks are replete with anti-Israel sentiment (see my Ph.D. dissertation, noted below, for documentation).

The Imams give blistering and inflammatory anti-Israel sermons to the masses during the Islamic religious services. Now President Abbas, while I was in Israel, agreed to require a "toning down" of this inflammatory rhetoric by these religious leaders. Time will tell whether he has the leadership and control to effectively have this policy carried out.

One of the major shortcomings of the media reporting on the Middle East is the simplistic way in which they talk about the "occupied territories." They ought to remember that the Six Day War in 1967 was caused by:

1. Syrian tanks amassing on the Golan;

2. Jordanian troops amassing along the West Bank of the Jordan River;

3. Egyptian troops and tanks amassing on the Sinai and the blockade of the Port of Eilat and the Gulf of Aqaba by Egyptian President Nasser (an act of war under international law).

The Israelis waited for two weeks to respond, at the request of President Johnson, while he tried to defuse the situation with the three countries involved. Israel was being cut off from the importation of any goods due to the blockage, including much-needed oil. They ultimately attacked and occupied the three locations that were in fact staging areas for war by the aggressors.

Israel has already demonstrated its ability and desire to have peace with its neighbors by the peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt (which received the return of the Sinai). It is in the best interest of the nations in that region to accept the state of Israel as a permanent sovereign nation in the region. Egypt and Jordan have benefited from that acceptance. The others would do well to take the lead from their fellow Arab nations.

The opportunity to have a conversation with Natan Sharansky was illuminating and powerful. The White House has given rave reviews of this former Soviet imprisoned dissident's excellent book, "The Case For Democracy." As Minister for Jerusalem, Mr. Sharansky made it clear that the only real answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the implementation of democracy, the policy being followed by the Bush administration.

When people have a stake in their own society, there is a far greater likelihood that they will focus on the improvement of their own lives and those of their families, rather than looking for an external enemy like Israel. As Minister Sharansky pointed out, dictators (dominant through most of the Arab world) always need external enemies for their subjected population focus on rather than the shortcomings of their own societies.

With Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria apparently leaving Lebanon, the policy advocated by Minister Sharansky and carried out by President Bush is clearly working.

Finance Minister Netanyahu told me that the vastly increasing high-tech and bio-tech industries in Israel are offering dramatic growth for the economy. He has taken 100,000 people off the welfare rolls on the premise that they are able to work. In fact, this has taken a major economic burden off the government and these people are now being integrated into the workforce.

He has also stood up to the unions with the realization that too much union influence has caused a hampering of the Israeli economy. There are now venture capital companies in Israel underwriting new entrepreneurial activities that have added much vibrancy to the Israeli economy, many of those in partnership with American and European elements.

Finally, the unwillingness of the Western press to define the terrorist activities of Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other such groups as terrorist activities is a moral failure of these so-called journalistic publications and broadcast media.

When those media and the world community are collectively willing to condemn these barbaric and murderous acts for what they are, there will be a far greater chance for peace. The terrorists will realize that the sympathies of the world are no longer with them and terrorist acts will not serve the purpose they intend, but will be destructive to their cause.


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Yet the press and the World Court condemn Israel without even making mention of what they should do in the alternative to protect citizens from the attacks by terrorist groups. One of the points made clear to me by Raanan Gissin, Chief Spokesperson for the Prime...
Monday, 28 March 2005 12:00 AM
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