Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Palestine vs Israeli land occupation

You don't want to, but despite your best efforts, sometimes you come across the kind of news that completely knocks you off your feet, and leaves a hole in your world. Unfortunately that's what happened to me -- and this blog.

My apologies for having vanished. A few weeks back I came across a very disturbing image that I'm sharing with you here. It depicts Palestinian land loss since 1945. I found it on Digg (it's been dugg a total of 2363 times till date), and apparently it isn't really hosted on any authentic news site. Nevertheless, lots of people are clearly interested in it; many are claiming it's authentic, while others are pointing out that it's fake.

I have no idea whether it's real. I'm not really interested in the Middle East crisis, or any crisis, in the sense that due to my many years as a journalist, I've learnt that there are many sides of a story that go untold. Take the history of my country, for instance: every time a party comes to power it revises history textbooks religiously. And newspapers follow suit: one chunk of the media devotes itself to the interests of the government, while the other (often the larger chunk) sells its heart and soul to serve the wishes of the main opposition. It's like a live Wikipedia effect.

(Elongated clarification: it's not that some newspapers and TV channels have ethics and prefer being patient with a new government. Or that some newspapers and TV channels are dedicated towards the interests of the people -- a concept that seems to have largely dissolved in the West -- and are therefore always at daggers drawn with any party in power. It's the painful opposite: some newspapers and TV channels have already sold their hearts and souls to particular political parties, and will go any distance to serve their interests, because they have common interests, which usually involves money. From my experience and associations, I know that similar traditions exist in almost every country -- actually, in every country; hence, I'm not willing to jump to conclusions.)

I often come across Stop Genocide in Palestine and Israel Celebration Week camps on campus. Growing up in a predominantly Muslim country, I wasn't blind to the fact that almost everyone around me accused Israel of violating human rights. Irony: the Quran is addressed to the Israelites, the people of Israel, the children of Israel, the Bani Israel tribe, whichever you prefer...

To get back to the human rights part, Canada recently removed US and Israel from a torture watchlist, "responding to pressure from close allies". The Amnesty International page on Israel reports that

More than 8000 Palestinians, most of whom are nonviolent prisoners of conscience and few if any of whom have received trials that meet international standards, are being held as political prisoners. Over the past five years, close to 20,000 Palestinians have been made homeless and thousands of others have lost their livelihood as the Israeli army has destroyed over 4,000 homes, vast areas of agricultural land and hundreds of other properties.

AI also notes that

The construction of the fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories violates international law, is based on land confiscation and is causing grave human rights violations. In addition, military checkpoints, blockades and a barrage of other restrictions confine Palestinians to their homes or immediate surroundings. As a result, the Palestinian economy has virtually collapsed.

I'm lost, and in shock: the AI accounts (and thousands of news reports worldwide, which I'm innately less inclined to believe) seem to insist that the disturbing picture isn't (at least) entirely imagined. On the other hand, violence always requires a counterpart. What are your thoughts?

This is already turning out to be a long post, but I ought to point out that I probably would have dismissed the image as just another internet hoax, had I not spoiled an evening (which subsequently ruined a few days) unintentionally watching a CNN program. I'll leave that for another post.

About the Author

bored_product_guy / Author & Editor

Has laoreet percipitur ad. Vide interesset in mei, no his legimus verterem. Et nostrum imperdiet appellantur usu, mnesarchum referrentur id vim.


  1. The map is deceptive because it conflates private title and political sovereignty. There are over a million Israeli Arabs, and they own a substantial amount of land inside Israel - but maps 3 and 4 do not note any of this. Furthermore, map 4 indicates as "Jewish" all territory which Israel retains working jurisdiction over, regardless of who holds title to the land. By that standard, from 1968 to 1991, there was zero "Palestinian land".

    The partisanship of the Bangladeshi press is unknown in the U.S. for many years. The press professes nominal neutrality, but in practice nearly all of it favors the Democrats. (It's a fairly open secret that when a corrupt politician gets caught, the press will mention his party affiliation very prominently if he is a Republican, and very quietly or not at all if Democrat.)

    But no part of the press is "owned" by either party.

    Used to be different, but that was 100 years ago.


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