torsdag 17 maj 2007


Originally uploaded by excauboi.

All over the world, there are people who suffer at the hands of their own governments or from invaders from outside. The plight of the Palestinians gets more attention than any other of these oppressions. In comparison, Tibet, Darfur and other African oppressions are way down the league table for exposure, and therefore the sympathy, they receive. And as for land grabs, what about the continued Russian occupation of East Prussia?

Why is this? The Palestinian conflict is a nice assignment for journalists. They can stay at a comfortable hotel in Tel Aviv, take a taxi out to the troubles and be back by the evening, where they can rely for their safety on the Israeli army, whom they will then revile. At the sight of a TV crew, the Palestinian teenagers with nothing better to do can be relied on to start trouble, and so the cameramen get the dramatic footage they want. It is the perfect conflict.

But the Palestinians seem to have a poor sense of public relations. The stone-throwing young man wrapped up in a keffia has become iconic of Palestine. Is this really the way the nation wants to present itself? And why kidnap a BBC journalist who is going to present the very story of oppression they want the British viewers to see?

This is not to excuse the Israelis, who in recent years have been remarkably stupid, for example, by building their monstrous wall. But what are they to do? There is always a substantial body of Palestinians who do not want the Israelis on what they see as their land. Short of vanishing into thin air, there is nothing the Israelis could do to satisfy this body of opinion.

And in the meantime, as ever in the Muslim world, the Palestinians are riven into factions, which makes it impossible for anyone to negotiate, as there is nobody who can be spoken to in the knowledge that they have sufficient authority to make any agreement stick.

So I will concentrate my sympathy on the people of Darfur and Tibet. But when I see anti-Israeli comments, I always suspect anti-Semitism is at the root of it and so, subject to my reservation about air-miles, I will not be boycotting Israeli goods.

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