Arabs driven by biases that mirror Israeli biases
By Ray Hanania
Last month, Hamas terrorists fired rockets into Israel and killed an Israeli girl. The attack provoked a massive response from Israel which claimed to target Hamas militants but ended up killing dozens of Palestinian civilians. Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs roundly condemned the Israeli attacks, but made no mention of the murder of the Israeli girl. Israelis were no different, condemning the murder of the little girl and then excusing away the murder of scores of innocent Palestinian civilians. As the back and forth escalated, the partisanship increased with Palestinians ignoring their attacks against Israel and Israelis ignoring their attacks against Palestinians. And people wonder why peace has been elusive so far in the Middle East.
Principle demands that if you condemn the murder of “your” civilians, you MUST condemn the murder of “their” civilians.
Neither side has done that. In fact, a review of the Israeli press reflected a mirror bias found in the Arab press, with both sides blaming the other. Both sides demanded justice for themselves while denying justice for the other.
Worse, on the Arab side, there is a growing clarion denouncing Israel’s atrocities in the Gaza Strip without acknowledging the crimes of Hamas. The victim, it seems, blamed in the Arab press besides Israel is the Palestinian National Authority government of Mahmoud Abbas, whose secular government routed Hamas terrorists out of office last year in a political house cleaning that briefly sparked a short-lived Palestinian civil war.
Clearly, Israel has the upper hand in the conflict, controlling most major resources to the Gaza Strip and using that to punish the entire Palestinian civilian population.
It is a form of “collective punishment” that makes Israel no better than the Hamas terrorists they frequently denounce. In fact, when Israel’s government applies “collective punishment” in any form, Israel’s government is in fact acting like a terrorist organization itself.
When a Palestinian killed eight civilian students at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and killed himself, Israel moved to destroy the home of the killer’s family, an example of Israel’s state terrorism.
Yet no one in the Hamas terrorist organization or among their supporters denounced the killing of the eight students, only condemning Israel for retaliating by killing more Palestinians.
In the heat of this wild fire of hatred on both sides, the United States Congress stepped in to throw kerosene on the fire by also taking sides and thumbing its nose at principle and morality and the international rule of law, as it so often does.
The Congress immediately adopted a politically motivated resolution condemning Hamas for killing civilians and then going out of its way to defend Israel’s murder of Palestinian civilians.
Congressional supporters of Israel insisted there is no moral equivalency between Hamas murders of civilians and Israeli murders of civilians. They are correct, but for the wrong reasons. Hamas terrorism is merely different from Israel’s state government terrorism.
The end result is morally equivalent however when Israel’s government policies result in the murder of civilians. Israel is a recognized government with a state and a military. Hamas is a terrorist organization and the Palestinians are a people under occupation.
Both sides are wrong. The failure of Congress to acknowledge this makes the Congress complicit in the murders of the innocent civilians.
President Bush and Middle East envoy Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also failed to condemn the killings of Palestinian civilians, saying only they are dedicated to shoring up the faltering Middle East peace process.
What’s needed is a third party that applies principle, fundamental morality and the international rule of law to force both sides to conduct themselves as civilized entities rather than as the terrorist organizations that they have become through their violence.
Tragically, this cycle of Palestinian and Israeli terrorism will not stop. Israel does not have a reasoned leadership to change its policies and embrace policies that are mindful of the rights of Palestinian civilians.
The Abbas government is weak and incapable of enforcing its policies.
The United States is incapable of balanced leadership to shepherd both parties to an attainable peace accord.
And Hamas is a terrorist organization determined to use violence not to defend itself but to provoke Israel and prevent peace based on compromise.
Unable to find a force that can apply reason, principle, morality and the international rule of law fairly to both sides, the future for Palestinians and Israelis remains bleak.
But it is a bleakness of their own doing.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and radio talk show host in Chicago. He can be reached at http://www.RadioChicagoland.com).