Tuesday, June 17, 2003

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has some stories critical to understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which I haven't seen reported in the mainstream American press. One is the settler movement's resistance to the "Road Map." When most Americans last heard of these issues, Israel had ina noble gesture begun removing settlements from the Occupied territories. Most stories buried the fact that they were uninhabited, and I didn't see any major network cover the fact that the settlers rebuilt them the next day. According to this story, the uninhabited settlements are now dismantled (again?), but the inhabited ones are tied up in court. Meanwhile, "hilltop youth" have gone on a rampage through a Palestinian village destroying and stealing, though to their credit the IDF have returned the stolen property to the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Palestinian security chief Muhammad Dahlan is in Europe looking for money to rebuild the Palestinian Authority, which is still recovering from the Israeli attacks of a year ago. Certainly it would help the Road Map if the Palestinians could actually crush Hamas rather than simply negotiate from a position of relative weakness. The Palestinians are in a trap: They need to clamp down on terrorism in order to get the money needed to clamp down on terrorism. What I'm getting from the mainstream press, however, is simply Abu Mazen calling for truces, with little explanation as to why he's not cracking down, as most Americans expect him to do.

These particular omissions leave a biased impression of the conflict, in which Israel simply tried to comply with the Road Map while Palestinian radicals upset it and the PA doesn't tackle them. I don't see this as deliberate, I think the media just likes to follows explosions and heads of state before settlers and security chiefs. I'm also not saying that the above stories are more important than terrorism, and I certainly feel Israel has the right to defend itself. But one cannot form sound judgements about the conflict in the Middle East without understanding all its aspects.

UPDATE: Haaretz tends to add updates to existing articles on a given topic, hence the content of these links may change without notice.


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