June 15, 2007

Voices Of Palestinians – A Small Sample

I have been watching BBC News 24 a lot recently, mostly because at certain times of the day it’s the least inane thing that can be accessed, and yes I am including various online tower defence games which have also been stealing my time.*

The current crap in Palestine has necessitated talking heads to fuel the 24 hour news binge and in the last couple of days I’ve seen two which struck me for the contrast. I cannot remember names, which is unfortunate as I would like know more about both talknig heads. What I do know was the first one I saw was a female academic who might not even have been Palestinian, but was certainly from the Middle East and was able to be in the BBC’s London studio. The other was a high ranking Hamas spokesman based out of Beirut and broadcasting from there.

The contrast which intrigued me was how they discussed the situation. Both were posed similar questions, although obvious the Hamas guy was the recipient of some more pressure over Hamas’s motivations and involvement. But it surprised me to hear one of the two talking about Palestinian politics and the need for stability without once mentioning the “I” word, whilst the other seemed addicted the it, mentioning it seemingly every third word.

The “I” word could only be Israel.

Now this is not the place for me to comment on the whys and hows of the Palestinian infighting. Chances are it is in part due to Palestine’s relationship with Israel, they are neighbours and heavily interlinked, although one could argue that the Palestinians had previously managed to avoid civil war whilst under Israeli pressure for some time so what is Israel’s influence? That’s rhetorical by the way. Half the internet seems to be an argument on Israel and Palestine (the other half is Paris Hilton).

But it was fascinating watching this academic (for it was she) taking every opportunity to implicate Israel more than the Palestinian factions themselves. It was more fascinating to see the Hamas guy not mention Israel once, not even in a broad hint (though they might have warranted a veiled mention too subtle for me to notice). Neither are true insiders, both being based outside the Gaza strip. But the one with the slightly better claim to proximity was the one who chose to overlook the Israelis.

The BBC stands accused by both sides in the dispute of being pro the other side. Look at the wikipedia discussions on the BBC to see how both accuse the other of being biased. I never find the BBC News questioning as probing as Channel 4’s, but I did wince slightly as the academic went on about Israel. It felt like she had a blatant agenda rather than a useful insight, whether or not she did. ‘Overegging the pudding’ doesn’t come close. I wanted the BBC reporter to press her on this, but he didn’t. Nor was the Hamas guy pressed too hard, although he got a slightly tougher line of questions, and yet didn’t break out into the same rhetoric. Honestly, I’d have expected it to be the other way around. It certainly makes me wonder what it is that has caused these Palestinian problems. Whilst no one seems to actually have a solution, it’s certainly not the case that the obvious option (blame Israel completely) is being taken by all.

And that’s a good thing surely? Let’s just hope they sort things out soon. The Palestinian people don’t deserve this crap.

*I’m not linking to them. You won’t get any work done either.

- 5 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. The problem between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza strip at the moment is between Fatah and Hamas. They’re jossling over power.

    The cause of the issue however, is Israel. Since February 2005, Israel has withheld Palestinian taxes and revenues. This isn’t charity. It’s taxes on Palestinians for Palestinians. It was an illegal act and one that was clearly intended to strangle the Palestinians.

    Dov Weisglass:

    ‘[Israel intends to] put the Palestinians on a diet… The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but they won’t die.’

    Gaza has been under such pressure for the past two years. You throw the 600+ deaths from last year, the destruction of Gaza’s power supply, the continued bombings and artillery bombardments, the restrictions, the curfews etc. etc. and you have a situation where Israel has essentially crippled the elected Palestinian government and fostered immense resentment whilst also undermined Hamas by feeding Fatah money and weapons. It laid the groundwork for the civil war. And Fatah jumped at the opportunity whilst Hamas has, once again, happily followed the sound of Israeli flutes.

    15 Jun 2007, 10:35

  2. Although perhaps I’m being a bit harsh on Hamas. If they’re being attacked by Fatah they have to respond and hold their position. It’s a stupid situation and I think if we’re going to blame anyone for the specifics then Fatah has a fair portion on its head. Say what you will about Hamas, but it has on several occasions held to ceasefire with Israel (whilst Fatah has never quite held back Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade), it was democratically elected, it has upon election suffered what most governments would fear (ie no taxes) and it’s still holding on despite Israel’s pressure.

    15 Jun 2007, 10:39

  3. Roger

    Why should Israel help a government that wants to destroy them?

    15 Jun 2007, 11:27

  4. It’s not a matter of help. These are Palestinian taxes, not Israeli taxes.

    15 Jun 2007, 11:57

  5. Gareth Herbert

    The withdrawal of Israeli financial support for the Palestinian territories has been more than made up for by the enormous increases in aid provided by Western Europe. The reason why Fatah and Hamas are fighting is because Fatah and Hamas hate each other, to ignore that painstakingly obvious truth is lunacy.

    21 Jun 2007, 13:47

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