Sunday, February 17, 2008

Severe misrepresentation of Palestine Awareness Week


On Tuesday night, visiting Professor Neve Gordon from Ben-Gurion University of the Political Science Department gave a lecture titled "From Colonization to Separation: Exploring the Structure of Israel's Occupation" on behalf of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality. This event was the second event of Palestine Awareness Week, an attempt by SAFE to educate and engage the campus body regarding issues surrounding Palestine and the Zionist-Palestinian conflict.

Gordon's lecture proposed several different arguments regarding the nature of Israel's current occupation of the sovereign Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip. During his presentation, Professor Gordon explained Israel's fundamental responsibility to the Palestinians under direct Israeli control. Professor Gordon explained that because the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are under total Israeli domination, deemed illegal under international law by UN Resolution 242, Israel has a fundamental and inescapable obligation to the wellbeing of the Palestinians. In addition, Professor Gordon noted the difference and increase in Israeli state violence toward the Palestinians as part of a vicious cycle of bloodshed initiated by Israel's maltreatment of the occupied Palestinians since 1967 and the subsequent Palestinian response in 1987. Specifically, Professor Gordon juxtaposed the amount of Palestinians and Israelis killed between 1987 and 2000 to the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed between 2000 and 2006. Professor Gordon's numbers demonstrated that there was a substantial increase in the loss of Palestinian life; twice as many Palestinians were killed during the second Intifada than in the prior 34 years of occupation. Professor Gordon's statistics also showed that the number Israelis killed increased between these two respective periods.

Daniel Strauss, who covered the event, grossly misrepresented the content and message of Professor Gordon's lecture. First, Strauss both misquoted and misreported Gordon's discussion of the increase in violence by only citing Gordon's presentation of the increase in Israeli deaths in the period between 1987 and 2000 and that of 2000 and 2006. Professor Gordon's purpose in presenting these statistics was to demonstrate the dramatic increase in violence on both sides and that far more Palestinians had died than Israelis. Strauss's reporting made it appear that Gordon was trying to paint the Israelis as the ultimate victims of the increase in violence.

Second, Strauss implied that Palestinian laborers have benefited from Israeli occupation because they are in a better financial position than under traditional landowning. This is out of context, as Gordon explained that the occupier always has a responsibility to the occupied. The occupation has forced Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to be fully dependent on a colonizing power. Because of the occupation, the Palestinians are forced to endure ever-increasing Israeli attacks on every aspect of their lives, locking them into a subhuman and subjugated existence.

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