Former Al-Jazeera producer and current Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud spoke Monday over the fast developing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and media negligence of the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian population.
Baroud, a published Palestinian-American journalist and author of its latest book, “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle”, shared his beliefs regarding what he called the biased portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the media. Through his work, he has tried to bring to the forefront the plight of the Palestinian population.
“Most of the Palestinians in Gaza are refugees,” Baroud said. “Not only do they have grievances, but they have no rights or plight.”
Ziad Mughrabi, an environmental and health sciences PhD student, fled Palestine in 1947, after his father was arrested and exiled in Lebanon, said that there is no hatred between Arabs and Jews, but the situation needs to be addressed.
“We are not here to favor Palestinians against the Jews. We, Palestinians and the Arabs, call the Jews our cousins. We are against the fanatics on both sides of the conflict.” Mughrabi said.
In September 2005, Israel finalized its disengagement plan and Israeli settlers retreated from the Gaza strip after 38 years of occupation. In 2006, there is still unrest in the territory, with Israel, U.S and many other governments not recognizing the majority elected government of Gaza, Hamas, in a process former U.S. President Jimmy Carter called “the most transparent election in the world”.
Baroud mentioned the continuous cycle of violence and brought into attention current events. Baroud mentioned one particular instance which occurred Monday: While representatives of Palestinian resistance groups were in Cairo to discuss a truce, Israeli occupation forces killed at least seven people in Gaza, including four young siblings in the town of Beit Hanoun, while the family was having breakfast. Hamas will probably not be as cooperative in the truce talks, in an effort to support the enraged and mourning population of Gaza, Baroud said.
“If Israel is chastised for the incident, it is not for the act itself, it is for not restraining their acts of violence,” Baroud said. “Palestinians have no right to use any violence. Israel has a monopoly on violence.”
While focusing on the extreme humanitarian crisis in Gaza, discussion included the Palestinian plight as well. Baroud told audience members of his father’s fate in Palestine, where he, among others, died in a refugee camp last month after failing to receive proper medical treatment.
“I find myself talking about Gaza, but it’s very hard not to talk about refugees or Palestinians living in Israel as second class citizens,” Baroud said.
Ayman Alzraiee, a civil engineering PhD student, was born and raised in one of the eight camps in Gaza. While Alzraiee studies at CSU, his family is still living in a refugee camp of 20,000 Palestinians.
“Our problems started in 1948, and, now, in 2008, four million of us are refugees in camps, we are stateless,” Alzraiee said, “Even in our passports we’re not recognized.”
Baroud said he too was surprised to find that most Americans, due to Israel’s use of media as a tool, believe that Israel is the one being besieged. Baroud said the reality of the situation was that with every Israeli death, thirteen Palestinian were killed, and for every Israeli prisoner, 11,800 Palestinians were incarcerated.
“If you don’t know the facts, chances are you’re going to start from a faulty premise that will lead you to a faulty conclusion,” Baroud said.
Sophmore political science major Alison Kent admitted to not have known of the level of violence and inequality happening in Palestine and felt blanketed by the media.
“The UN isn’t making much of a difference, we should put somebody in power in the US that will make that change,” Kent said.
The audience repeatedly directed the discussion towards Senator Clinton’s declaration earlier this month on Good Morning America that if elected, she would “totally obliterate Iran” or any other country, in the case of an state-to-state attack over Israel.
Mughrabi, though supportive of “a woman President to break the monopoly of misogynistic men”, said he was weary of how the Middle East could still count on a democratic state like United States when such statements were brought forth from political leaders.
“Is there any person that would find a moral justification in obliterating an entire country of millions of women and children?” Baroud said, adding that he was surprised at the lack of unrest in the media over Clinton’s declaration.
With 63 percent of the population dependent on food for survival, Gaza is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since 1967, says CARE International UK, and the continuing violence against the Palestinians is likely to make things even worse.
“What is happening right now is slow ethnic cleansing, home by home, village by village, until Palestinians will lose their lands, homes and hope,” Baroud said.
Staff writer Lucia Papureanu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.