Sunday, February 23, 2003

The Plucky Punk goes ranting...

My father's recent trip to Israel and Palestine has really made me sensitive to bias in the media regarding the conflict. Take this story, for example.

Witnesses and hospital officials said soldiers fired at Palestinians who threw stones at them, killing two men, at least one a bystander. The army said soldiers fired at a youth who threw a petrol bomb and a man about to lob something at them.

Even if we take the word of the Israeli soldiers what we have here is a man who was killed for, at worst, seeming as though he was about to "lob" something at them. Think of the outrage that would happen in this country if white policemen in a black neighborhood shot a black man to death for seeming as though he was about to do something!

Oh wait, that's happened before, anyone remember Amadou Diallo*?

Now imagine that happening in your country every day. I'm sure that alot of the people in Diallo's neighborhood were murderous pimps and crack dealers that wouldn't think twice about shooting or otherwise endangering a white plainclothes policeman. Does that give the police in those neighborhoods free reign to shoot first and ask questions later? What if they went as far as the Israeli government, inflicting collective punishment on everyone in that neighborhood, keeping them locked inside their houses so they are unable to find gainful employment, turning off their water and electricity?

If those white police in that black neighborhood knew where a particularly horrible crack dealer lived, one who had gotten many wealthy white teenagers addicted, would they fire a missile at his apartment building, getting the bad guy but also 14 other random people including nine little kids? Would the chief of police call the action that resulted in the death of nine children one of his "greatest successes?"

If he did, do you think that would make teenage black boys in this hypothetical neighborhood like wealthy white people, or hate them?

In this country, we recognize the fact that if a teenaged boy becomes a ruthless crack dealer by the time he is in high school, a bunch of seriously messed up stuff must have happened to him. (Whether or not that excuses his actions is another manner, and not part of the point I am trying to make. The reason you've done something isn't the same as an excuse for doing something.)

Committing a suicide bombing is about a million times more evil than selling crack. Imagine all of the horrible things that must have happened to you in order for you to decide that becoming a suicide bomber was a good idea. Especially if your religion expressly forbids suicide. Proponents of Israel often make it seem like Palestinians wake up in the morning, drink their coffee and eat their toast, and say "Gee, it sure is cool to hate the Jews, I think I'll blow myself up in a shopping mall today!"

You can't fight the inner city drug problem by shooting people dead in the streets and blowing up houses with a bunch of little kids in them. You can, however, fight the drug problem by arresting current drug dealers, and, here's the important part, kids, keeping kids from becoming drug dealers in the first place. Is that done with collective house arrest (which is what it is, by the way, "curfew" is far too light a description) that you get shot at for violating, by keeping the populace in crushing poverty, or by bulldozing homes? No, its done with education, economic opportunity, and the building of self-esteem.

Since September 11th, 2001 I've heard the "War on Terror" compared to the "War on Drugs" in more that a few places, and I found it a horrible comparison to make. The "War on Drugs" is so badly run in the United States, that I was horrified to imagine what would happen if we fought terror in the same way. For Israel, I think it would be a step in the right direction.

*The police who shot this unarmed African immigrant, who was a Muslim, by the way, were aquitted.

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