The Baltimore Sun

Harsh words trample Palestinians' hopes

By Ahmed Bouzid

June 17, 2002

WAYNE, Pa. -- What should Palestinians think when they read, as reported by Israel's largest circulation newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, that Israeli schoolchildren, many of them religious and some of them teen-agers and only a few years away from joining military service, send letters to soldiers in which they write "Please kill a lot of Arabs"?

Or when they write, "I pray for you that you return home safely, and kill at least 10 for me"? Or, "Let the Palestinians, may God blacken their name, burn in Hell. Punch holes in them with your M-16 and bomb them"?

The May 7 Yedioth article identified neither the soldiers nor the children.

What should Palestinians think when they read that the spiritual leader of the Shas party in Israel's coalition government, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, publicly uses hate speech? An example:

"The Lord shall return the Arabs' deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and banish them from this world. ... It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable," Rabbi Yosef said.

What should Palestinians think when New York Times reporter Chris Hedges writes in Harper's magazine that he has watched Israeli soldiers day after day taunt Palestinian children and then "shoot them for sport," and yet no one else in the media is interested enough to investigate, let alone express outrage and indignation over the criminal practice?

What should Palestinians think when House Majority Leader Dick Armey advocates on national television the transfer of Palestinian populations from the West Bank and Gaza? "I'm content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank," he said.

What should Palestinians think when they read that one of America's most respected lawyers and a self-proclaimed defender of civil rights and human rights, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, proposed that in response to a terrorist attack on Israel, residents of an Arab village "would be given 24 hours to leave, and then troops will come in and bulldoze all of the buildings"?

What should Palestinians think when they read that Nathan Lewin, a former president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and current vice president of the Orthodox Union and a candidate for a federal judgeship, wrote: "If executing some suicide-bomber families saves the lives of even an equal number of potential civilian victims, the exchange is, I believe, ethically permissible"?

What should Palestinians think when they hear tens of thousands of Jewish-Americans loudly boo and hiss Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a long-time supporter of Israel, for simply suggesting that innocent Palestinians hurt in the current conflict also deserve some sympathy?

What should Palestinians think when they read that America's top law enforcement official, Attorney General John Ashcroft, believes that while Christianity "is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you, Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him"?

What should Palestinians think when they hear that Israel's most "dovish" prime minister, Ehud Barak, believes that the Palestinians are the product of a culture "in which to tell a lie ... creates no dissonance. They don't suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category. There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn't"?

What should Palestinians think when they read that the platform of the political party in power in Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud, still retains language that asserts that there should be "no Palestinian state west of the Jordan river"?

And what should Palestinians think when they read that President Bush openly declares that "Ariel Sharon is a man of peace" when the Israeli leader is so unyielding? Mr. Sharon is the same man responsible for what Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called the "war crimes of Jenin" and the very man found by an Israeli court indirectly responsible for the massacre of more than 800 Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in 1982.

Should Palestinians think that Israel and its supporters truly mean to co-exist with them, or should they suspect that their aim is to conquer and destroy them?

Ahmed Bouzid is president of Palestine Media Watch, a grassroots organization that promotes fair and objective coverage by the U.S. media of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun