Sunday, December 14, 2014

Amnesty International Misrepresents Palestine-Israel

Whenever you Google Palestine-related words these days you're bound to come across the following ad, placed at the time of Israel's last (July-August) orgy of destruction in Gaza:

Gaza: What's Happening?,
Let Amnesty Explain The Situation in Gaza & Find Out How to Help

It may also look like this:

Gaza: 2 Minute Summary
Why Do Israel & Palestine Fight? Let Amnesty Help You Understand

Curious, I clicked. What a bummer!

Here is what you get, courtesy of Amnesty's 'crisis campaigner', Michael Hayworth:

"Israel-Palestine - it's complicated, right? Like you wouldn't believe. In fact, we can't help to cover every detail and the history here so we'll try to make it quick. Although the conflict has origins going back to the early 1900s, when the region was part of the Ottoman Empire, we're going to look at what happened during the mid-20th century."

Wrong, Palestine-Israel is really quite simple. It's an unresolved settler-colonial issue, as in colonisers vs colonised. Hayworth wimps out on this most fundamental point. All he had to do was say that 'Imperial Britain took Palestine from the Turks during World War 1 and gave it to a European settler-colonial movement known as Zionism, without consulting its people, 90% of whom were indigenous Arabs, both Muslim and Christian.'

"In 1948, back when Palestine was a British territory, the United Nations (UN) declared it would be divided into two independent countries: Israel and Palestine."

It wasn't 1948. It was 1947. Nor did the UN declare anything. It merely recommended that Palestine be partitioned, without consulting its inhabitants, two-thirds of whom were Arab Muslims and Christians, the rest recently arrived European Jewish immigrants.

"To cut a very long and complicated story short, the Arab leaders of Palestine rejected the divide and attempted to maintain a unified, independent Palestine. This led to fighting, the upshot of which was that Israel ended up controlling more land than the UN had originally granted to it and over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were displaced."

Over 700,000 Palestinians were displaced? Note how Hayworth uses the passive voice to avoid what actually happened - the ethnic cleansing of the native population. He should have written something like this: 'The partition of their ancestral homeland was opposed by the Palestinian Arab majority as a violation of their right to self-determination. Zionist forces then launched a military offensive, expelling some 750,000 Palestinians from 78% of Palestine. Israel has to this day refused their right of return. The only parts of Palestine to remain in Arab hands were the West Bank (under Jordanian control) and the Gaza Strip (under Egyptian control).'

"In 1967, growing tensions between Israel and Palestine ended in 6 days of hostilities from 5 to 11 June [sic: 10 June]. During that time, Israel seized Gaza and pushed Jordanian forces out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to the UN, another 500,000 Palestinians were displaced."

This should read 'growing tensions between Israel and the Arab states'. There was, and still is, no Palestinian state. Nor does Hayworth mention that the 1967 war began with an Israeli attack on Egypt. Yet again, he employs the passive voice to mask the fact of further Israeli ethnic cleansing from the territories occupied by Israel.

"Although Israel withdrew its occupying troops from Gaza in 2005, it maintains a full blockade of the territory. The West Bank still remains under Israeli occupation."

Not a word about Israel's rampant colonisation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem! Not a word about its illegal West Bank wall!

"In the years since occupation began, Israel and the Palestinian territories have been stuck in an unending cycle of violence and retribution. Whilst there are individuals and groups on both sides who are guilty of perpetuating the conflict, and Israelis live under the threat of missiles and rockets from Hamas, Palestinian civilians still bear the brunt of the conflict."

Anyone reading this rubbish would get no sense whatever that what we have today in Palestine/Israel is typical of settler-colonial scenarios throughout history: a ferocious occupying power seeking to hold on to its ill-gotten gains in the face of acts of resistance, some armed, most nonviolent, by a besieged and brutalised indigenous population.

Hayworth then goes on to sketch the Israeli massacres of July/August this year, saying "[p]otential war crimes are being committed by both sides." This is followed by the gloss that, while Israel's actions have only "the potential to be a war crime," Hamas has "clearly violated international law."

He goes on, under the heading What will stop the violence? to say that "Israel must lift its crippling blockade of Gaza which violates international law and Israel's obligations as the occupying power. It is a key element of the context of the current hostilities."

Note, it is not the key element, merely a key element.

Oh, and there's a photo of grieving Palestinian civilians balanced by one of grieving Israeli troops.

Say no more.

It is sanitised, so-called balanced (mis)representations like this that help perpetuate the interminable suffering of the Palestinian people. What a bloody shame!

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