Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Here We Go Again

It's in the news again today: Israel-Palestine peace talks. So Channel 4 News naturally seized the opportunity with both hands to make an in-depth report into how evil Israel is last night. It's amazing that a major, well respected source like that can get away with such plainly biased reporting. But then again most aspects of modern journalism are completely baffling to me.

Anyway, that isn't what I wanted to talk about. What I really wanted to talk about was the saddest aspect of the Arab-Israeli conflict: namely the fact that ordinary Palestinians are as much victims of their own leaders as they are Israel's - and probably much more so. The Gaza situation at the moment is the classic example: all Hamas has to do is to recognise that Israel has a right to exist in peace, and then the people of Gaza can have normal lives again. But they won't, and keep clinging obstinately to their pledge that the Jews should be kicked out of the Middle East by the most violent means available. No matter that this goal will never be achieved and their sheer bloodymindedness is hurting the innocent people they're supposed to be protecting. (This is, of course, to leave aside Israel's own behaviour.)

This cycle - whereby Palestinian and Arab leaders routinely abuse the civilian population of Palestine, but never get the blame for it - has a long history. Back in 1948, of course, there could have been an independent Palestine, if only the Arab countries nearby hadn't tried to destroy Israel and hadn't then gobbled up what should have been the new Palestinian state for themselves. In 2000 Yasser Arafat threw away the chance for peace and walked out of negotiations when he refused an offer from Israel without even making a reply, an event which effectively launched the Second Intifada. The terrible conditions in which most Palestinians live are mostly the result of the neglect shown by the Egyptian and Jordanian governments when the refugee camps were first set up in Gaza and the West Bank after 1948. Then, of course, there is the common practice by Hamas of launching rocket attacks against Israel from the most densely populated areas of the strip, using their own civilians as human shields.

So much of the current suffering is down to poor leadership. But the enemy is only ever Israel. Of course, Israel has treated ordinary Palestinians grossly unfairly. But life for them would have been so much different if they had been blessed with a set of leaders who didn't use them as political pawns and who had their best interests at heart.


zero_zero_one said...

I don't know nearly enough about the history and politics of the Middle East, but I agree with you, it is interesting how a lot of news articles in Britain choose to focus on Israel as the principal aggressors. Anything Israel does is reported with the undertone that it was "bad" whereas some action by Palestinian groups is just reported (that's just how it seems to me when I watch the news).

Why do you think that is?

Bilbo said...

Noisims, you are exactly right. You no doubt know from reading my blog that I am not an apologist for Israel by any means, but I'm always amazed that it's only the Israelis that ever seem to get blamed for anything, even though the Arab world has been using and abusing the Palestinians for its own purposes ever since 1948. I often think the best thing we could do is build a 100-foot wall around the Middle East, fill it with sand, and start over.