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Pro-Israel Media’s Hypocritical Approach To Palestinian Rhetoric – OpEd

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Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib this month proposed a resolution calling on the US Congress to recognize the Nakba (catastrophe), in which pre-Israeli state Jewish terrorists massacred Palestinian civilians and forced Christians and Muslims to flee their homes. This resolution was the first of its kind to be introduced in Congress, which often looks more like a pro-Israel rally than a place where truth, freedom and democracy reign.

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Contrary to vicious claims that the resolution is anti-Semitic, Tlaib’s proposal was titled “Recognizing the Nakba and Palestinian Refugees’ Rights,” which is as honorable a demand as any that has ever been introduced in the biased halls of the US Capitol.

Pro-Israeli political action committees spend hundreds of millions of dollars to bully members of Congress to vote the way they want or face their wrath at election time. One PAC that advocates for the government of Israel, Urban Empowerment Action, announced last week that it plans to spend $1 million in an attempt to unseat Tlaib in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary election.

The Tlaib haters also targeted a rally the pro-Palestinian activist hosted this month in support of recognizing Palestinian rights and freedom in East Jerusalem and to counter the biased, one-sided narratives in which Palestinian rights are disparaged and falsely condemned as being anti-Semitic.

The term anti-Semitic no longer has any meaning in the American lexicon, as it has been twisted, distorted and corrupted from its real meaning of prejudice against Jews and turned into a political bludgeon against anyone who criticizes the racist, apartheid policies of the government of Israel.

In her speech at the rally, Tlaib rightfully denounced Israel’s apartheid government and called on Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians to take the Palestinian cause to this year’s elections to counter the pro-Israel bias. However, the pro-Israeli media focused on remarks made by Osama Siblani, who is one of the most professional journalists in the Arab American community and publisher of America’s only weekly Arab American newspaper. Most of his newspaper’s rivals cannot withstand the onslaught of slander that undermines their ability to sell advertising to cover their publication costs.

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In addressing the rally for Palestine and Jerusalem, Siblani praised the Palestinians who have stood up to the violence from both Israel’s military and the racist Jewish settler movement. Two weeks ago, Israeli snipers shot dead Christian Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. After initially blaming the murder on stray Palestinian gunfire, Israeli officials acknowledged it could have been committed by their soldiers. However, this murder is being pushed out of the headlines by pro-Israel activists, who believe they control enough of the US media to prevent Americans from recognizing the importance of a foreign nation killing American citizens.

Siblani urged activists to “fight within their means” for a free Palestine. The context was stripped away from his remarks by the anti-Arab haters, who suggested he was encouraging people to turn to violence. In fact, what Siblani was righteously and justifiably doing was telling the activists who risk being gunned down like Abu Akleh to defend themselves and resist Israel’s violence. Notice that none of the stories attacking Tlaib and Siblani detailed how Israeli soldiers are killing Palestinians, including children, in unprovoked raids every week.

Any Palestinian who uses strong language to criticize Israel or protests against Israeli government brutality qualifies as a “terrorist” in these people’s eyes. And this label goes unchallenged in much of the biased Western news media, while the distortion of context is another consistent theme. The rhetoric from Arabs and Muslims is exaggerated and the more violent rhetoric from Israeli and Jewish leaders is ignored.

For example, in 2019, Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev called for Israel to revive its policy of murdering Palestinian leaders who resist its violent and racist policies. Very few, if any, American media outlets reported her words and those that did downplayed her open call for violence. Meanwhile, the Israeli media reported it as a straight news story with little judgment, as if murdering Palestinian leaders means justice. Regev’s call to murder Palestinians was far more brutal than anything Siblani said at this month’s rally.

The Nakba is a real event. It symbolizes the injustice of how Israel’s creation was founded on the forced expulsion of Palestinian civilians and the hate-driven rhetoric of pro-Israel activists. Today’s activists who call on Palestinians to resist Israeli violence are not hatemongers but champions for those who are victimized by injustice.

Palestinians have every right to defend themselves against Israel’s ongoing deadly violence. Keep in mind that Israel killed five times as many Palestinians between Jan. 1 and mid-April this year than it did in the same period last year. That is a fact that says everything.

Ray Hanania

*Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected]

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