Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Apartheid Without A Name

As a recently converted Minneapolitan, when I went to find a nearby store selling a smooth crisp Pilsner to relax, my adventure became not only a futile run for booze, but also a lesson of a cultural and political nature. After unsuccessfully trying my local quickie-marts, I journeyed a few blocks more to the "Dairy Store". As for dairy, their selection was skim and scant for its pretentious name. But what I really wanted was beer, and none was to be had. I came to the man at the register, a nimble chap, the kind of guy you would want to have your back, but who you'd trust just enough to let down your guard. I asked the man, what have you got? I don't see any beer around here. He replied, "Well, you see... the owner ... he is..." "Oh! Yes, he's a Muslim." "Yeah, so he doesn't touch the stuff, OK!" "Yea I just moved here, so..." "Oh yea? Me too man. Where are you from?" "Palestine." His response brought to mind the unending struggle which engulfs that nation of people.

John Pilger, a renowned Australian-born journalist, known for his uncanny coolness and tough questioning demeanor, first questioned the mainstream view of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship in his 1974 documentary, Palestine Is Still the Reason. In it, he depitcs the destructive side of Israeli expansion and most horrifying, the existing ghettos which the Israeli government mandates certain Palestinians to live in. In Freedom Next Time, Pilger presents the 2002 de3velopment of checkpoint systems and explains the imprisonment of whole walled ghettos which encircle Palestinians, which Pilger argues is much like those that existed in Poland, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and much of Europe during the Second World War. Pilger even proves through Israeli government documents that before the 1948 founding of Israel, there were mass killings of these indigenous inhabitants to make way for the new state.

But what at heart has lead to the biggest issue of our lifetimes, which now has plunged the world into a never-ending vortex of violence and hate? Pilger is right, "Palestine IS still the issue", and the West's wholesale backing of Israeli government policies is a horror unrealized. The media often portrays Israel as the victim under seige from the Arab world, threatened by "rogue threats", who often end up possessing only benign power, like Iraq and Iran. Few realize that Israel is the world's fourth best military power in the world, only behind Russia, China, and the United States. Much of Israeli unconstitutional foreign aid from the U.S. is used for weapons sales or collective military action. Meanwhile, the now laughably famous "Joe the Plumber" pays the bill to Halliburton or better yet, the Israeli army. And for what?

Palestinians have repeatedly been forced into extremely compromising positions. Restricted movement of travel and trade, few real civic or political rights, and even segregated roadways and beaches dog their days. Few realize the scope of such a tragedy. Women giving birth and losing a child because of a security inspection line at checkpoints is all too commmon of a story. Even Palestinian ambulances with dying patients are denied access, all in the name of fighting terrorism. Pilger describes gut wrenching moments, as Israel's society is affected just as strongly. He reports of the feelings of Israelis held mercy to their state's system. But, their charity continues as many joint Arab-Israeli medical aid groups' efforts show where the feelings of both peoples most lie.

But, in the virtual age, where NEWS is truth, all inexcusable oppression is excused, and to all's detriment.

Until I read Pilger's work, I was not truly convinced of this humanitarian problem. But now, as much as anyone, Palestinians behold on the world stage a sympathetic and quite logical claim for freedom.

The crisis equals that of Darfur, North Korea and Saudia Arabia and the continued human rights abuses encountered there. Unfortunately, as Pilger notes, the corporate media often chooses which causes are worthy enough in pursuing. Some, to hear, would be tantamount to crashing the screen and forever shattering the Establishment's cherised myths. It's time we pull down our screen doors which phase and edit out what we would rather not see. For if we truly do believe in freedom for all people, then no cause could ever be ignored.

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