I used to feel frustrated with the way mass media covers the middle east. I would read our daily newspapers and feel just so mad with superficial reporting, Here is a sample of letters I have written to The Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading newspaper. This is only a sample, I have written so many and not just to the Globe and Mail.
Dear Globe and Mail Editor,
In an article titled “The Palestinian intifada has been a disaster”, Palestinians are urged to stop the intifada for their own sake (Editorial, Sept 3, 2002). The article fails to mention that Israel is a country that spends 11 billion dollars a year on its security and uses its fine arsenal to oppress a largely hungry and unarmed population. Had black south African’s stop fighting apartheid, had the civil rights movement stopped fighting discrimination in US, we would all be worse off in this world. Perhaps the next advice column for Palestinians should be titled, “Get used to oppression with the use of drugs and alcohol”. Just look how well that advice has worked for our local Native Indian population.
September , 2003
Our media mogul Izzy Asper decides to bank roll the visit of Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, in order to raise funds for a state that already spends billions on oppressing a largely hungry and unarmed native population. When activists decide to challenge the ex prime minister, who by the way is a vocal proponent of the so called “transfer solution” for the Palestinians. Surprise, surprise, all the media outlets belonging to the media lord call these activists goons and compare them to terrorists without any mention of the denial of basic human rights to 3.5 million people living in the occupied territories. Yellow journalist at its best. Why bother with journalism school when dog obedience classes will suffice.
I am writing with regards to the article titled “Settlers fear prospect
of Palestinian state” , by Timothy Appleby on October 29, 2002. The article never mentions the fact that Israeli settlements inside the west bank and Gaza strip are
illegal settlements according to international laws. The article also
fails to mention that Israeli settlers are involved in a daily harassment
campaign against Palestinian civilians. Their actions include, shooting at
civilians including children, damaging property, uprooting trees, burning mosques
and preventing farmers from going to their fields. I believe that these facts deserve a mention in any discussion about Israeli settlements in the west
bank and the Gaza strip to help provide the reader with some context.
I am writing with regards to the article about the baby dressed in
suicide bomber outfit, published by Paul Adams on June 29. The Israel government
pounced on the photograph as proof that the Palestinians are brainwashing
their young. It has long been trying to convince the outside world that
the real reason Palestinian suicide bombers are murdering Israeli civilians is
not primarily because of Israel’s actions: occupation, settlement
building, curfews, assassinations, the killing of hundreds of civilians, and the destruction of property or farmland, but because of the wickedly, fanatical Palestinian mentality. The killing of six Palestinian children, several as young as six, in a week by Israeli forces might have had some bearing on the timing of the baby bomber photo’s release. The question that needs to be asked is why is the Israeli army going through the personal photo albums of a Palestinian family? Why is a newspaper like The Globe and Mail publishing this photograph without the permission of the child’s family?
I bet you got a chuckle while looking at the cartoon published on Saturday June 14th. On father’s day, an Arab father gets an explosives vest. What amazing sense of humor. When I look at the cartoon, I see years of colonization that have passed and many years of military occupation to come. I see a road map to nowhere and copious quantities of lies of mass destruction. I suppose I would find it funny too, if my family wasn’t suffering with thirst in Baghdad and my friends in the west bank weren’t being shot at for sport. So go ahead, laugh at us. Laugh at our misery. Perspective is everything.
The more I wrote, the more frustrated I felt. Then I realized that I was causing my own heartache, I stopped reading the daily newspapers and stopped writing letters. Criticizing is easy, actually attempting to do something about the things that you believe in is much harder, so I started writing articles and making efforts to publish them. Two days ago I got a phone call telling me that one of my articles will be published in the next issue of Adbusters. Adbusters is a magazine I truly enjoy reading, It is very unique, it focuses on presenting ideas using images and pictures rather that the old academic writing. Their website doesn’t do them justice, you have to look at the actual magazine. Now! that is way more fulfilling than those unpublished letters I wrote.
Now that I don’t read the newspaper on a daily basis, every once in while somebody brings an article to my attention that is a nice surprise. Like this article about a talented young Palestinian man from the west bank that was not able to get to university due to the closures. The Globe and Mail published a story about him in August,2003 and subsequently UBC (a local university) decided to give him a scholarship to study here. I met the young man in person last week. A brilliant young man, full of ideas, oomph and zest for life. Meeting him made me remember myself when I first arrived to study at UBC at age 19. I wish him all the best and my heart aches for all the talented young men and women living in the occupied territories that will never get a chance.
Good job Globe and Mail, you made a difference for at least one person. Sorry about the nasty letters.
On a different note, I have been reading the Iraqi blogs for quite some time now. I find them more informative than reading a newpapers, it gives me a down to earth sense of what is going on in Iraq. Each has his or her own perspective on things, but they all have one thing in common. They all like to talk about food. Lets take Healing Iraq, he shows us the left overs from a meal he had. Notice the uneaten single orange slice on the side. Jeez! there are things we don’t need to see. Then river bend, has a whole seperate blog for recipes. The biggest foodie is Salam Pax, look at this. Doesn’t that look like a heart attack served on a plate? Notice the single tomato on the side. I sure hope he ate at least the tomato. So here is some Iraqi logic for you, bombs every where, long lineups at the gas station, no electricity, we hate Saddam ………………… lets eat!
More seriously though, they are all a good read, give them a look.