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Sonia Nettnin: All Are Equal, Middle East Included

All Are Equal, Middle East Included


By Sonia Nettnin

The fundamental problem behind the crises in the Middle East is that not all the people who live there are viewed as equal. The US-Israel political, military and financial alliance protects the human rights and dignity of Israeli-Jews, but qualifies and selects the human rights and dignity of the Middle East’s indigenous and multifarious ethnic, religious and sectarian peoples.

The root-causes of violence in the Middle East are the devaluation of human life, oppression and occupation.

When US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice travels to the Middle East she should present, not dictate, a diplomatic package to all, not selective, Middle East parties involved directly and indirectly. In doing so she addresses the US-diplomatic crisis in the region. If the US selectively addresses the underlying causes of the violence and ignores the multifaceted, Anglo-involvement in Middle East history; and if the US does not acknowledge all Middle East peoples, there will not be peace in the Middle East.

There is a Middle East war on many fronts and no country or state is safe.

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Media Coverage Absent from US Media Coverage

There are media reports claiming Israel has been allegedly interfering with Palestinian airwaves and that the world is apparently not receiving the complete story of what happened in Nazareth earlier this week. In Gaza, Palestinian photographer Mohammad Az Zanoun, was shot by Israeli forces in Gaza. Of course Americans do not see the gruesome images of the war in Lebanon. I have seen a few dozen images. Scorched pieces of torsos, with remnants of organs, legs, limbs. Here is an IMEMC link to a graphic, AP photo of a dead child. The mass destruction of high-level apartment buildings is unbelievable.

And yet the US media does not cover the devastated, civilian infrastructure for Palestinians, especially in Gaza, and the ramifications Israeli occupation has on the Palestinians and potentially the Palestinian Authority. Moreover the humanitarian crisis affects the medical situation within Palestinian hospitals, especially in Gaza.

Although Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has called for humanitarian assistance and an immediate cease-fire, I am not sure what humanitarian corridor Israel will provide considering the damage Israeli F16 warplanes have done to roads and bridges leading to Syria. Naval ships in Beirut ports are evacuating internationals, how that will help Lebanese citizens and Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon is another matter.
Washington has chosen to delay travel to the Middle East to prevent the appearance of “shuttling.” Yet calls for an immediate cease-fire by political leaders, have gone unanswered.

Of course, Hezbollah’s attacks on Northern Israel with Katyusha rockets continued throughout the week also.

Both Israel and Hezbollah may face war crimes-charges by the UN. Here is a link to a recent BBC interview with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour.

Several US media sources have reported that Hezbollah used Iranian-made missiles in their attacks in Northern Israel, and that Syria enabled transport access to Lebanon. Stateside the Muslim American Society is pursuing potential legal action with respect to the United States Arms Export Control Act and Israel for “…using American weapons to attack Lebanon and Gaza’s civilians and civilian infrastructure.”

International media sources Aljazeera, Maan News Agency and the Palestine News Network, along with US media source the Wayne Madsen Report, which contains an interesting photo and detailed diagram, have reported that Israeli forces have allegedly used poison gas and depleted uranium in Southern Lebanon, and they have allegedly used chemical ammunition in Gaza.

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US Congress and the American Public Minority

On Thursday, Congress passed H. Res. 921 and S. Res. 534. The bill’s title, “Condemning the recent attacks against the State of Israel, holding terrorists and their state-sponsors accountable for such attacks, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, and for other purposes,” passed with a staggering 410 yeas in the House and a unanimous voice vote in the Senate. Here is a link to H. Res. 921.

An ADC press release responded to Congress’ vote by explaining, “These resolutions give unconditional American support to Israel’s military siege on civilian populations in Lebanon and Gaza.”

For the past, two weeks several demonstrations have taken place across major cities in the US, as reported by workers.org. Protesters called for the end of Israel’s attacks in Gaza and Lebanon. In Chicago, the demonstration was met with a counterdemonstration.

More demonstrations in the US and worldwide are scheduled today and in the weeks ahead.

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The World’s Future

War brings social, economic and psychological devastation, as well as disintegrates society. It kills people and turns the world against its own humanity. Since power, greed and control is the master whatever gains the superpowers think they will have are short-term, including their potential plans for the region, but the destruction of civilization is the long-term consequence.

Iraq is the cradle of civilization and on its way to becoming the grave. What is happening to Iraqi women is heartbreaking. When Iraqi women toured the US in March 2005, they gave their first-hand accounts. Even though all Iraqis face grave danger on a daily basis and thousands of Iraqis have sought refuge in neighboring countries, the plight of the Assyrians has been for the most part, ignored by Western media. Media coverage of Iraqi suffering and devastation is absent from Western media.

One of the many challenges the public faces in relation to the Middle East crisis is the one-sided media coverage. Moreover, a lack of historical context exists, as war journalist Robert Fisk explained in his 2005 book tour in the US.

After listening to US media reports of the Middle East crisis there is a sidestepping of the non-Israeli narratives, as if the Middle East’s indigenous people existed in a vacuum. When some Arab, Middle East experts are interviewed the line of questioning places interviewees in the defense position. At best, they are free to talk more during controversial discussions with pro-Israel, Middle East experts.

At the end of the day, everyone who inhabits the Middle East is equal. The fact that inequality exists and it has not been resolved will always breed conflict and violence. In the multiple equations that explain the Middle East, which show the effects of occupation, oppression, power, greed, the prospects for a diplomatic solution are grim.

Instead of destroying bridges we should be building them.

*************

-Journalist Sonia Nettnin writes about social, political, economic, and cultural issues. Her focus is the Middle East.

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