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Arabs driven by biases that mirror Israeli biases
By Ray Hanania — Last month, Hamas terrorists fired rockets into Israel and killed an Israeli girl. The attack provoked a massive response from Israel which claimed to target Hamas militants but ended up killing dozens of Palestinian civilians. Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs roundly condemned the Israeli attacks, but made no mention of the murder of the Israeli girl. Israelis were no different, condemning the murder of the little girl and then excusing away the murder of scores of innocent Palestinian civilians. As the back and forth escalated, the partisanship increased with Palestinians ignoring their attacks against Israel and Israelis ignoring their attacks against Palestinians. And people wonder why peace has been elusive so far in the Middle East.
Principle demands that if you condemn the murder of “your” civilians, you MUST condemn the murder of “their” civilians.
Neither side has done that. In fact, a review of the Israeli press reflected a mirror bias found in the Arab press, with both sides blaming the other. Both sides demanded justice for themselves while denying justice for the other.
Worse, on the Arab side, there is a growing clarion denouncing Israel’s atrocities in the Gaza Strip without acknowledging the crimes of Hamas. The victim, it seems, blamed in the Arab press besides Israel is the Palestinian National Authority government of Mahmoud Abbas, whose secular government routed Hamas terrorists out of office last year in a political house cleaning that briefly sparked a short-lived Palestinian civil war.
Clearly, Israel has the upper hand in the conflict, controlling most major resources to the Gaza Strip and using that to punish the entire Palestinian civilian population.
It is a form of “collective punishment” that makes Israel no better than the Hamas terrorists they frequently denounce. In fact, when Israel’s government applies “collective punishment” in any form, Israel’s government is in fact acting like a terrorist organization itself.
When a Palestinian killed eight civilian students at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and killed himself, Israel moved to destroy the home of the killer’s family, an example of Israel’s state terrorism.
Yet no one in the Hamas terrorist organization or among their supporters denounced the killing of the eight students, only condemning Israel for retaliating by killing more Palestinians.
In the heat of this wild fire of hatred on both sides, the United States Congress stepped in to throw kerosene on the fire by also taking sides and thumbing its nose at principle and morality and the international rule of law, as it so often does.
The Congress immediately adopted a politically motivated resolution condemning Hamas for killing civilians and then going out of its way to defend Israel’s murder of Palestinian civilians.
Congressional supporters of Israel insisted there is no moral equivalency between Hamas murders of civilians and Israeli murders of civilians. They are correct, but for the wrong reasons. Hamas terrorism is merely different from Israel’s state government terrorism.
The end result is morally equivalent however when Israel’s government policies result in the murder of civilians. Israel is a recognized government with a state and a military. Hamas is a terrorist organization and the Palestinians are a people under occupation.
Both sides are wrong. The failure of Congress to acknowledge this makes the Congress complicit in the murders of the innocent civilians.
President Bush and Middle East envoy Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also failed to condemn the killings of Palestinian civilians, saying only they are dedicated to shoring up the faltering Middle East peace process.
What’s needed is a third party that applies principle, fundamental morality and the international rule of law to force both sides to conduct themselves as civilized entities rather than as the terrorist organizations that they have become through their violence.
Tragically, this cycle of Palestinian and Israeli terrorism will not stop. Israel does not have a reasoned leadership to change its policies and embrace policies that are mindful of the rights of Palestinian civilians.
The Abbas government is weak and incapable of enforcing its policies.
The United States is incapable of balanced leadership to shepherd both parties to an attainable peace accord.
And Hamas is a terrorist organization determined to use violence not to defend itself but to provoke Israel and prevent peace based on compromise.
Unable to find a force that can apply reason, principle, morality and the international rule of law fairly to both sides, the future for Palestinians and Israelis remains bleak.
But it is a bleakness of their own doing.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and radio talk show host in Chicago. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com.)
This post has already been read 36 times!
Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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