Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

'Nonviolence Is Our Only Hope'

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

'Nonviolence Is Our Only Hope'

Article excerpt

Palestinian theologian Naim Ateek was asked recently if there was any hope for a nonviolent solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Ateek, who is profiled in this issue, responded with a long list of reasons why years of nonviolent efforts by many in the region have been extremely difficult to organize and have met with limited success. And yet, Ateek concluded, nonviolence is "our only hope."

We have seen what violence has done in the Middle East. We have seen the pictures of the horrible aftermath of suicide bombings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. We have seen marketplaces filled with the dead and injured, seen the buses ripped apart by explosions set off by those whose weapons are carnage and terror. We have seen entire neighborhoods turned to rubble by an occupying army bent on consolidating control. We have seen the slow-boiling misery in Palestinian refugee camps, farms and homes bulldozed regardless of who was caught beneath the blade, and whole families killed by "targeted" attacks by Israeli jets. We have seen the results of violence.

But most North Americans really haven't understood what happens on the ground. The U.S. media paint a picture of the region that implies a rough equivalency between the Palestinians and Israel: Violence on one side is met with violence on the other; a bomb explodes here or there; little context is given.

For example, three human rights organizations studied the Middle East coverage of The Oregonian, the largest daily newspaper in the Pacific Northwest, between May and October 2004. During that period, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, Palestinian children were being killed at a rate 15 times that of Israeli children. (More than 3,500 Palestinians have been killed, and almost 29,000 injured, since September 2000, while more than 1,000 Israelis have been killed, and more than 7,200 inured, in the same period.) The Oregonian reported 100 percent of the Israeli children's deaths in the study period, but only 28 percent of the Palestinian children's deaths. Its headlines reported 88 percent of Israeli children's deaths, according to the study, but only 2 percent of Palestinian children's deaths.

Such slanted coverage creates an inaccurate and misleading picture of the situation. …

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