Columnist uninformed on Gaza realities

Published on July 31, 2014

In his July 25 column, “Love your children, don’t condemn them to perpetual war,” Brian Jones shared his experience of being called a “rat Jew” when writing about the Middle East a few years ago. I agree with him that such comments are unsettling, disgusting, and counterproductive.
I strongly disagree, however, with his argument that the Palestinian people are responsible for their own oppression.

I attended the Solidarity with Gaza event, yet I do not accuse him of racism. Rather, I accuse him of being uninformed and spreading false explanations of the conflict.

Jones claims that the cause of the war is that “Palestinian leaders will not recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

However, Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) recognized that right since the 1970s. Of course, Jones’s arguments are about Hamas, not the PLO.

Well, “In early 2005, Hamas issued a document stating its goal of seeking a Palestinian state alongside Israel and recognizing the 1967 borders.”

The top Hamas officials stated the same in 2006, in 2008 when meeting with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and in 2009.

The information quoted above is from “The Top Ten Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” by Jeremy Hammond. (www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/06/17/top-ten-myths-about-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict).

You should read it.

Myth #3 is “The Arabs missed an opportunity to have their own state in 1947.” This also happens to be the second to last point in Jones’s column.

As Hammond explains, the UN recommendation in 1947 “called for more than half of the land of Palestine” to go to Israel, despite the fact that Palestinians owned 85 per cent of the land at the time and made up about two-thirds of the population. “The truth is that no Arab could be reasonably expected to accept such an unjust proposal.”

Likewise with the breakdown of the Oslo Accord. How could Palestinians accept this accord when the number of Israeli settlers on Palestinian land doubled (www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/12/oslo-israel-reneged-colonial-palestine) during the course of the negotiations?

Finally, Jones’s characterization of Palestine as bent on destroying Israel at all costs and Israel as simply defending itself does not square with the facts.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have died this month, while not even 60 Israelis have died.

Between 2000 and 2013, 1,523 Palestinian children were killed while Israeli lost 129. And over the past 70 years, Israel has stolen and occupied more than 85 per cent of Palestinian land.

After how many civilian casualties and how much land stolen would you admit that Israel is not defending itself but acting in denial of Palestine’s right to exist?

Jones finishes his column with a quote to sum up the war.

Here is another: “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians. ... all of us need to do more in supporting the struggle of the people of Palestine for self-determination.” — Nelson Mandela.

We can start by treating the facts fully and honestly, and informing our readers truthfully.

Daniel Miller

St. John’s