Moving (again) to a large city/metropolitan area, I’m now dealing with larger news outlets than the small circulation regional newspapers like The Crescent News I left behind in NW Ohio. But even so, after reading this op/ed piece by Ariel Cohen in Monday’s The Baltimore Sun, I felt compelled to respond, hoping that my response might actually be printed. Opening the paper today, I was hopeful but not too optimistic — and then surprised to see my name under a letter to the editor titled “U.S. must recognize suffering of Palestinians.” (Click the links to see the two different pieces.)
I was happy to see it there, and not really wanting to read it since I had written it, after all. But then I did read it, and I was again a bit disappointed at a few of the edits the paper had made, likely in consideration for “length.” Those getting the print edition might notice, like myself, there is room enough in the letters column for at least another sentence or two, which would have been easily enough for at least one of the other main points I made.
First, I was most disappointed to see that The Sun cut off my writing just before what I’d call the thesis of my letter — certainly the main, concise zinger: “Until citizens of Israel and the U.S. begin to recognize the institutional terror and oppression carried out on Palestinians by our two countries, the hostilities held by Arabs throughout the world are likely to continue.”
Secondly, The Sun failed to publish an important, and I think little known, fact about the Obama administration’s peace vs. military ambitions: “The White House’s request to send $2.775 billion to Israel in support of their oppressive military in the upcoming fiscal year hardly seems to be in line with an administration truly working for peace in the region.”
And really, the things the paper didn’t publish are the most contentious and things the public doesn’t hear much about — so why should I be so surprised that was what The Sun decided not to publish? (Maybe I should have reversed the order of content in my letter — maybe I’ll try that next time. c:) And did you notice the lengths of the two pieces? If number of words are any indication of the point of view a newspaper supports, there would be a clear signal displayed in these examples.
Overall, though, I am glad that something made it in to the paper, and maybe even some who read my letter in the paper might find this post and get to read my full letter. I hope this is another small part in getting the world to understand what is going on in Palestine and the creation of pressure for Israel and the U.S. to make changes to their policy and actions.
Here, get the opportunity to read my unedited and complete letter below:
On Monday, The Sun decided to print the slanted, pro-Israel message of Ariel Cohen just as new Israeli PM Netanyahu and new U.S. President Obama were meeting in Washington to discuss each country’s role in the Middle East. Sun readers would be slighted if this were the only point of commentary they were to receive in relation to this meeting, so let me supply some thoughts from a differing perspective.
Ms. Cohen mentioned three mistakes she felt the current administration is making, skewing the situation for her own agenda in the process. First, she felt the administration is ignoring hostility by Arabs and radical Muslims. While I agree such hostility exists, I think the administration’s efforts to seek peace squarely attack that issue, for actions by both Israel and the U.S. are significant reasons (if not the reason) for such hostility. A large part of the hostility held by the Arab world has to deal with Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank – including settlement expansion and the construction of the Wall, which in reality annexes much land to Israel – along with the continued blockade on the Gaza Strip, where Israel controls all that can enter or leave and virtually nothing does. As for the U.S., the continued war in Iraq and a seemingly unconditional support of Israel in the past make it a major target for hostility in the Arab world.
The second mistake mentioned was a perceived “arm-twisting”of Israel to gain favor with Iran. This, however, again seems to only be the administration’s effort to curb the hostility mentioned earlier. Why would Iran accept any of President Obama’s gestures as sincere of U.S. continued to unquestioningly back Israel, a country with longstanding hostilities with Iran?
The third mistake Ms. Cohen mentions in the administration’s path to peace is that it rewards terrorism. There is a cruel irony that Ms. Cohen chooses to mention “terror attacks, which killed nearly 1,200 Israelis since 2000” – a number that is still less than the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza during Israel’s bombardment the month leading up to President Obama taking office. Until citizens of Israel and the U.S. begin to recognize the institutional terror and oppression carried out on Palestinians by our two countries, the hostilities held by Arabs throughout the world are likely to continue.
Like Ms. Cohen, I, too, am critical of some of the administration’s tactics. The White House’s request to send $2.775 billion to Israel in support of their oppressive military in the upcoming fiscal year hardly seems to be in line with an administration truly working for peace in the region.
I will concede to Ms. Cohen that there are certainly no “instant solutions.” However, until Israel begins to allow for Palestinian self-rule and self determination by ending settlement expansion, withdrawing Israeli settlers and occupation forces currently in the West Bank, ending annexation of lands through the construction of the Wall, and removing border restrictions to Gaza, the United States needs to make clear, in word and deed, that the current oppression is not acceptable and will not be tolerated of a country wishing to remain a democratic ally in good standing with the administration – and the people – of the United States.