Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

By Israel Zwick

When the Palestinian Intifada broke out in September 2000, world sympathy was overwhelmingly in favor of the Palestinian uprising. It seemed that everyone was shedding tears for the "poor, oppressed Palestinians struggling for liberation from the lengthy, harsh Israeli military occupation." With all the misery, poverty, disease, disasters, and starvation in the world, the most tears were shed for the "plight of the Palestinian refugees," who were maintained in UNRWA refugee camps for 55 years. Collections of food, money, and clothing were made for the "Palestinian children, who were the neglected, innocent victims of the long, turbulent conflict." This implied that that the Israeli children, who were killed and maimed by Palestinian terror attacks, must have been guilty victims. Their crime was to ride a Jewish bus on the way to a Jewish school, in the free, democratic, sovereign, successful Jewish State of Israel. On the other hand, Palestinian boys were cheered and encouraged as they threw stones at the big, bad Israeli soldiers with their long rifles and heavy riot helmets. The Palestinian suicide bombers were glorified as martyrs, willing to sacrifice their lives for the desperate struggle to obtain a little homeland for their people. Their leader, Yasser Arafat, was honored by the international community, as a statesman and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He was welcomed by Presidents and Prime Ministers around the world who gave him hundreds of millions of dollars to help him achieve his goal of "an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital."
In contrast, the State of Israel was verbally attacked and vilified by journalists, academics, and diplomats. Renowned academics at prestigious universities labeled Israel, "a racist, apartheid state engaged in a program of genocide against the Palestinian people." University presidents were urged to divest college funds from Israeli institutions. Israeli produce was boycotted in Europe and left to rot in their crates. Israeli policies towards the Palestinians were compared to Nazi persecution of the Jews during the Third Reich. When challenged to support these statements, Palestinian sympathizers cited unsubstantiated Palestinian allegations about the Israeli security practices at checkpoints, border crossings, and interrogations. That's hardly a fitting comparison to transports, concentration camps, gas chambers, and crematoria.
When the NY Times published a photo of a bloody teenage boy crouching below an Israeli soldier, the world expressed outrage at the brutality of the Israeli soldiers and wept for the unfortunate Palestinian victim. This time, the tears only lasted for a few days until the paper printed a correction that the Palestinian boy was actually an American yeshiva student who was beaten by Palestinian youths, and the soldier ran to assist him. Of course, a highly respected paper like the NY Times can be forgiven for an occasional, little error. On September 30, 2000, news media around the world showed the image of 12-year old Muhammed Al-Durrah being shot and dying in his father's arms. These images quickly became the symbol of "Israeli brutality" and were used to justify the intifada. Of course, nobody bothered to ask what he was doing with his father in a combat zone, or whether he was really killed by an Israeli bullet. A clue to those answers came from an interview that Sakhr Habash, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, gave to a Palestinian newspaper in December, 2002. He said, "We have weapons that the Zionist enemy does not have. The boy- Fares Odeh who attacked an Israeli tank with stones and was killed-is our strongest weapon.

Israel Zwick

(c) 2005, I. Zwick, NYC

Israel Zwick is a commentator on the Middle East based in New York.

Reprinted by permission.