Sunday, March 1, 2009

Arab Leaders Pledge Billions to Gaza: But Not Quite Yet

It's more of the same in the Middle East:
  • Palestinians are suffering
    • And it's the fault of the Jews
  • Arab leaders pledge billions in aid to Gaza
    • Which suffers at the hands of the Jews
  • Arab leaders haven't actually given any money to Gaza
You may not have read that last part. It's not getting much press in America right now. That may change soon: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in Egypt. If she brings back good news, I'm pretty sure that we'll hear about it, here in America.

Palestinian Plight, in the News

Headlines and lead paragraphs, from a quick Google News search. Three of them, actually:
  • [Gaza aid Arab]
  • [Arab Countries Delivered Pledged Rebuild Gaza "Associated Press"]
  • [Clinton Gaza]
I highlighted some particularly interesting phrases:
  • January 19, 2009
    • "Arab leaders set to agree Gaza aid and economic accord"
      • "KUWAIT (Reuters) - Arab leaders, meeting for the third time in five days Monday, were expected to agree a $2 billion (1.4 billion pounds) aid package to rebuild Gaza after a three-week Israeli onslaught...." (Reuters)
    • "Arab leaders mend fences, pledge Gaza aid
      • "Saudi and Egyptian leaders met their Syrian and Qatari counterparts in Kuwait on Monday to heal a rift exposed by Israel's deadly war on Gaza, the Qatari prime minister said...." (AFP)
    • "Saudi Arabia to donate $1B to rebuild Gaza"
      • "KUWAIT CITY (AP) — The Saudi king said Monday his country will donate $1 billion to help rebuild the Gaza Strip after the devastating Israeli offensive and told Israel that an Arab initiative offering peace will not remain on the table forever...." (AP, via USA Today)
  • February 24, 2009
    • "US to give '$900m in Gaza aid' "
      • "The US is set to offer more than $900m to help rebuild Gaza following Israel's military assault on the Palestinian territory, officials say...." (Al Jazeera)
  • February 28, 2009
    • "Official: Arab countries not delivered money pledged for Gaza reconstruction"
      • " A senior Arab League official says Arab countries have not delivered any of the more than US$1 billion they pledged to rebuild Gaza after Israel's devastating offensive...." (MSN (UK))
  • March 1, 2009
    • "Gaza aid troubled by logistics, closures, disunity"
      • "SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - Palestinians hoping to raise $2.8 billion to rebuild Gaza at a conference in Egypt on Monday will find the path to reconstruction blocked by political and logistical factors, relief agencies say...." (Reuters)
    • "Clinton on first diplomatic trip to Middle East"
      • "SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday opened her first trip to the Middle East as America's top diplomat, bearing an Obama administration pledge of up to $900 million to help rebuild the Gaza Strip...." (AP)

Palestinians, Gaza Strip: Yes, They Could Use Help

I don't dislike Palestinians, although the way their situation is used in propaganda makes it hard for me to work up feelings of warm, fuzzy, sympathy for them.

And, I think it's possible that Arab governments will, in time, give some assistance to Palestinians living on and near the shores of the Mediterranean. The holdup right now seems to be that Fatah and Hamas each want the money. (MSN)

Fair enough. Since I think that throwing money at a program, without knowing who gets it or how it will be used, isn't prudent: I can hardly complain about Arab governments making sure that these details are worked out before delivering the dough.

Besides, the Fatah-Hamas squabble over who gets the money isn't being blamed on the Jews. Not yet, anyway.

'It is the Fault of the Jews' - That Old, Familiar, Refrain

American journalists, for quite a few decades, have prided themselves on not being biased. And, taken steps to ensure that they do not appear biased.

This can lead to very odd situations. Readers of the The New York Times, for instance, in the years leading up to America's unilateral action against German ethnic activists, wouldn't have known how Jews were being treated in Europe. My guess is that the NYT's publisher didn't want to seem biased.

Looking over the news coverage of Arab leaders, Gaza, and Israel, a few words and phrases stood out:
  • "three-week Israeli onslaught" (Reuters)
  • "Israel's deadly war on Gaza" (AFP)
  • "devastating Israeli offensive" (The Associated Press)
  • "Israel's military assault" (Al Jazeera)
  • "Israel's devastating offensive" (MSN)
    • Which seems to be an unattributed AP article
Boiled down, Reuters, AFP, and MSN/AP made sure that their readers knew that Palestinians were suffering an Israeli assault (or offensive) on Gaza: a deadly, devastating, onslaught.

Nothing 'biased' there, by conventional standards in Western journalism. I really don't know if the editors are over-correcting to avoid an appearance of bias, or if something else is going.

Al Jazeera, on the other hand, simply described what happened in Gaza as "Israel's military assault" - which seems to be factual and relatively non-committal. That could be something introduced in translation, of course.

It took incidents like the 1972 Munich Olympics' 11 dead athletes to shake many American journalists out of their habit of reading terrorists' press releases without comment. But decades of attacks on Israel and Jews by rockets, suicide bombers, and the occasional machine gun (remember the Achille Lauro?), don't seem to made all that much of a difference.

It seems to me that Western news media is equally critical of all sides in the Middle East mess: but that their criticism of Israel is somewhat more equal.

Me? Unbiased?! No Way!

I'm biased, myself. I think that some Palestinians might have a legitimate grievance in what seems to be a dispute of who owns what property, and how much was paid. But, I don't like the way that Palestinian leaders and their associates are trying to settle the disagreement.

Property disputes happen quite often in America. Over here, that sort of thing gets thrashed out in courts. We don't strap explosives on our kids, and send them over to blow up on the neighbor's patio.

It's not that we don't care about property, we're just not that committed. It's a cultural thing.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.