Monday, November 19, 2012

USA Today and I

Yesterday, an editorial page editor at USA Today sent me an invitation to write a short (375 words) piece for USA Today.  They sent me the gist of the editorial that was going to appear in the paper with my response.  I have not been interested for years in US media, but I thought that I would do it.  I wrote a short piece and sent it to them although I did not like word limit.  Today, I received a message saying that they won't be using my piece and that they asked Richard Falk instead.  I asked them why they did not bother to tell me.  So here is what I sent (on top, is the editorial that they sent to me to respond to):

"USA Today’s view: No doubt Israel's military operation in Gaza will achieve its objective. It will degrade the ability of Hamas on other radical groups to launch rockets like those that prompted the attack. But the longer the operation continues and the more aggressive it becomes, the greater the chance of other outcomes in the rapidly changing Middle East, including jeopardizing Israel's peace treaty with Egypt. Yes, Israel has a right to defenc itself, but for everybody's sake, U.S. diplomacy should push to bring the conflict to a rapid end.

My view:

US media always seem to go along with Israeli claims and pretentions.    And Palestinian voices and viewpoints are rarely permitted in mainstream media.  You can’t judge the war on Gaza without placing it in a historical context: that the Zionist movement has been trying for over a century to impose violently a political entity and occupation upon an already existing population—the defiant Palestinian people.  This is not about Hamas or about Islamic Jihad: those organizations did not even exist prior to the 1980s. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Israel did not claim that it was fighting “the Bin Laden’s”—as its officials have been claiming this week in US media.  Back then, Israel claimed that it was fighting communist terrorism—because the dominant Palestinian organizations were then leftist and secularist.  Israel picks the enemy-of-the-day of the US and then casts the enemy label on the Palestinians.  But what is missing from the coverage is that the Palestinians don’t feel that Israel is retaliating in its recent attacks; they feel that Israel had begun the attacks with the violent imposition of Israel and its occupation upon a resident population with continuous roots in the lands that extend over centuries.  US media did not cover that in the last few weeks alone, Israel bombed Sudan, Gaza, and Syria, and this was prior to the Hamas rockets that are regarded as the spark for this crisis.  In my own lifetime (I am 52), Israel has bombed Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine.  Do readers really believe that all those attacks were defensive or pre-emptive and justified?  My grandfather’s house in Tyre, Lebanon (one of the oldest in an ancient city) was bombed three times by Israel, and it never housed “terrorists”. 

Israel believes that once it kills more leaders and more commanders, it will prevail. But it has killed thousands upon thousands of Arab civilians, commanders, and soldiers and yet has never prevailed.  The Arab world is changing fast and the Arab people won’t subscribe to US myths about the Arab-Israeli conflict. They will not express faith in the US-led “peace process” when the US government supports every military action by Israel—without any exception.  Arabs are asking daily: how many civilians have to die in Gaza before the label “terrorism” is applied once—only once—on Israeli actions?"