Turned up to eleven: Fair and Balanced

Monday, February 25, 2002

A quick post on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on NPR. A lot of people have posted previously on the NPR "bias" issue, especially with respect to this issue. I have finally heard a story on NPR that I think portrays that bias. This morning there was a story discussing the Palestinian situation, that consisted entirely of Palestinians discussing how hard their lives have been since the Israeli army has been shutting down roads and towns, conveniently omitting the reason for these actions. The story said something like 'Israeli army sources cite continued violence and suicide bombing as the reason for their crackdowns' as if this was just an opinion, and not a good enough reason! Anyway, it made me think a little, and venturing away from my area of expertise a bit, it seems that the average Palestinian, searching for answers to why his or her life is very difficult(and there is no doubt that it is), needs to take a hard look in the mirror. This doesn't mean that they should just blame themselves, because surely external factors (totalitarian Arab states scapegoating Israel, using the Palestinians as a rallying cry, a corrupt leader in Yasser Arafat, etc) have played a role. Nevertheless, a bit of statistics (d'oh) can be illustrative. Lets assume that there have been a few dozen suicide bombers in the past year (an estimate, nothing more). This is a very small number within the total Palestinian population, and suggests that very few Palestinians have any intention on martyrdom, regardless of the rhetoric. But, due to the vagaries of population dynamics, there are probably thousands of Palestinians who are (er, were) quite close to the suicide bomber in question. Yet, as far as we can tell (and the story has been well covered), no one tried to dissuade them, no one is crushed that they decided to take their own life in such a gruesome manner. Whenever Palestinians are interviewed in the aftermath (even on NPR), all we hear is about the glory of martyrdom in the cause of the Palestinian state. I refuse to believe that Palestinian mothers do not love their sons, nor that many Palestinians really believe that killing oneself and a few Israelis is a noble thing. This requires demonizing millions of people, and this hypothesis I reject. I also do not think that they are stupid. So what is the answer to why this is so? I think that Palestinians are oppressed, but not by Israel. They are oppressed by the Palestinian Authority, and its puppetmasters in Riyadh, Damascus (sp?), Tehran, Baghdad, and other Arab capitals. The Palestinian issue shifts focus away from these rigid, totalitarian, and poor nations. The only way to solve this is for the Palestinians to rise up, not against Israel, but against the regimes that truly hold them down, and demand that their true interests be respected.