Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Sunday, November 4.
Remembering Kalil al-Wazir
Last week Israel stopped officially denying that it had been behind the
killing of Khalil al-Wazir, otherwise known as Abu Jihad. More
precisely, the military censor allowed an Israeli newspaper to publish
an interview with the commander of the mission.
Meryl Yourish did an excellent job of critiquing a number of those news organizations reporting on this decision. Her bottom line?
It is utterly reprehensible that the focus is on the assassination of
a Palestinian leader, instead of on the reason why he was assassinated.
There was, for instance, the Coastal Road Massacre, in which 38 Israelis, including 13 children, were murdered and 71 wounded. Eleven Israelis were killed during the Savoy Hotel attack. Neither of these attacks found their way into the stories about Abu Jihad’s assassination.
Even when Abu Jihad was killed there was ambiguity about who he was. The
Washington Post featured an editorial, The Killing of Khalil Wazir on
April 19, 1988. (This editorial is available through the ProQuest
database at many American libraries.)
As the No. 2 man in Yasser Arafat's PLO and the head of its main
military arm, he qualified as a terrorist, someone using violence
indiscriminately , against civilians and for political effect. He
believed armed struggle in this form was essential for Palestinians
claiming nationhood. There can be no loose romanticizing about the man.
Yet the editorial continued:
Khalil Wazir was also something besides a terrorist. He had a second
role. He had established himself as a respected leader of his people and
as one who personified their dream of national redemption in a land of
their own. This is the difficult but undeniable fact about the PLO. It
uses terrorism and, at the same time, evidently seeing no contradiction,
presumes to speak for a people's dignity.... The sponsorship of and
engagement in unspeakable acts of terror can only undermine the cause in
which these acts are undertaken, while the cause itself and the
eloquence with which some practitioners of terror defend it prompt
people who should know better to fits of sentimental rationalization of
what is going on.
If the editorial had stopped there, it would have been fine, but later on it continued:
Obviously the easiest way for Israel to deal with the ambiguities of
Palestinian nationalism is to finesse the question of the Palestinians'
true political identity and simply go out and get the terrorists ...
Palestinians are outraged at the thought that not only does Israel
refuse to acknowledge their leaders, it kills them when it can.
Even today, nineteen years after the Oslo Accords the Palestinian
national identity is still intertwined with a belief that violence
against Israel is justified. Moderates who speak out for coexistence may
no longer have to fear for their lives, but have no real constituency.
If the Washington Post obfuscated the connection of violence to
Palestinian nationalism, Jeane Kirkpatrick who weighed in with an op-ed
in the Washington Post on April 25, 1988, Confusion at State Over The
Killing of Abu Jihad, did not:
The PLO's war against Israel is as public as it is unconventional.
There are no reasonable grounds for anyone in the Security Council or
the State Department to doubt the reality of this ongoing war. It is
proclaimed. It is lived by "Palestinian commandos."
Presumably Israel, like all other states, has the right to defend
itself against this unconventional war - even though a majority in the
U.N. has long since decided that force used against the Zionist state is
"self defense" and force used by the Zionist state is "terrorism."
Labels: Abu Jihad, Middle East Media Sampler, Palestinian terrorism, Soccer Dad