Page A12

By Yousef Munayyer

Whether you notice it or not, you’re told what to like, who to like and who to side with. You may not notice it and you may even think the news you read is accurate. Perhaps you will never even question the information that crosses your desk, passes by as banners at the bottom of the TV screen or appears as headlines in the national newspaper of your choice.

The reality is your reality is distorted.

Take, for example, the front page of the New York Times on Sept. 1st. On that page you would find coverage of a suicide bombing in Beersheba, which killed many people and wounded more after two buses were targeted. The story would be hard to miss placed on the front page.

A week later Israeli helicopters fired rockets into Gaza killing 15 Palestinians. The next morning I picked up the New York Times again and began looking for the coverage of this story. Page after page I turned and a feeling of disgust grew inside me. This feeling wasn’t caused by not seeing coverage of the attack on the front page, rather, I felt disgusted because I naively still had hope to see it there. Something inside me knew exactly where I could find it. When I reached page A12, the last page of the international news section, I found it. A 500 word blurb about 15 dead Palestinians appeared on the lower right corner as if the article was just barely newsworthy. It appeared directly below an article about Israeli weapons technology.

The divide between Israelis and Palestinians is not only a border, not only a racist wall, but it also exists in the marketing of our news and at the center of our moral conscience. Fifteen people were killed, however, depending on which side they were from will determine whether or not the deaths of those human beings were newsworthy.

Palestinians are not perceived as less human on the pages of our papers and on our television screens. They are portrayed as unworthy. The constant barrage of media empires has implanted a racist bias into our morality, which we may not even notice.

Also, in last weeks New York Times, I read a headline that left me thinking. It read, “Despair and anger at Russians give rise to suicide attacks,” heading a story in the center of the front page. I could not help but imagine a slightly different headline. I envisioned the page displaying, “Despair and anger at Israelis give rise to suicide attacks,” but such a headline exists only in the imagination.

There seems to be a constant effort to dehumanize Palestinians, to make it seem as if any action taken by Palestinians is the cause of some morally corrupt society or some evil inhuman force. The headline, which explained the terror in Russia as a result of Russian oppression of Chechnyans, would never be used to explain the violence in the Palestinian conflict.

Reading about the “black widows”, a name given to a group of Chechnyan woman who resist Russian oppression after loosing their husbands or children in war, made me think of Palestinian mothers who have lost husbands and in many cases several children to Israel’s Kafkain apparatus.

On the news you may here about Palestinian suicide bombers, which some media outlets call, “homicide bombers,” in an attempt to completely erase the Palestinian from the story as to avoid mention of his history, his struggle and his desperation. Perhaps you may have even seen news clips of a recently dead suicide bomber reading his last testament in front of some Arabic script, he may even have his head wrapped with a Palestinian kuffiyeh, but rarely will you ever here what he is saying.

The speeches, which are in Arabic and rarely translated, usually detail a personal story. These are stories of desperation, stories of deaths, of a person who has lost a mother, or a child or a brother. These are the stories of the occupied, the humiliated and the dismayed. These are the stories of millions of Palestinians and these are precisely the stories that are kept from us to completely dehumanize the Palestinian in every way possible.

The deaths in Gaza were reported, which is better than many other incidents that never make it to the newsworthy pile in the editor’s room. Hundreds of Palestinians die without even being mentioned as numerals in our daily press. A wonderful website, www.ifamericansknew.org, details the media coverage in several newspapers and displays the racist coverage which skews our public opinion about the unabashedly horrific policies of the state of Israel. On the site you will see results of studies done comparing actual deaths to deaths reported, the difference is more than startling.

If Americans knew, the situation in Palestine would be much different, but the problem is they don’t. The hurdles to truth that the media places before us require near Olympian endurance to overcome, but if you are like me, you will start reading your news section from page A12 and work your way to the front.

Yousef Munayyer is a Collegian editor.