By Cristina Garcia / Staff Writer
As National Public Radio’s 2014 April Fools’ Day joke pointed out, people aren’t dedicating a lot of time to reading articles. We skim over headlines, comment and keep scrolling through our feeds. That said, how many people dedicate time to learning about exhausting topics like Israel and Palestine?
On April 18, author Alison Weir, joined Panthers in the Graham Center to show that she went beyond the first page of Google and found something worth writing about.
Prior to writing her book, “Against Our Better Judgement: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel,” Weir was the editor of a small newspaper. She skimmed headlines just like everyone else and didn’t know a lot about Israel or Palestine.
According to Weir, she started paying attention in 2000, when there was the Palestinian uprising. That’s when she decided to learn what it was all about.
“I noticed we were getting very one-sided coverage,” she said. “We heard about Israelis in great detail. I thought and expected we would hear from Palestinians, but that came much less frequently.”
The author noted that while reports are not false, they are “very incomplete.”
“We often hear about Israeli children killed, however, we hardly hear about Palestinian children killed,” she said.
The lack of detail is evident in articles regarding recent activities in Gaza. For instance in an article by abc.net.au, they wrote “[Israelis] came under fire from Hamas and four Israeli navy commandos were wounded….” What was the extent of the wound? Would knowing that make us feel any different about the events?
Another article on abcnews.go.com describing the same event wrote, “When Hamas militants spotted them, they opened fire and four commandos suffered cuts and scrapes. All the militants were killed.”
According to the latter article, the Israeli military estimates Hamas to have 10,000 rockets. The former article noted up until now only 700 had been used since fighting began, with 170 intercepted by Israel’s defence system. Yet, up until now, no Israelis have been killed, while “166 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed… while more than 1,000 have been injured.”
During her presentation, Weir asked the audience if it knew how many Israelis those “thousands of rockets” had killed.
“They give us very little information about rockets and often leave out [they] are small projectiles that cause very little impact,” Weir said.
According to the If Americans Knew site (an extension of Weir’s project), 1,110 Israelis have been killed and 8,550 have been injured since 2000. On the other hand, 6,961 Palestinians have been killed, 56,520 have been injured since 2000; another 6,000 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel, while there are zero Israelis imprisoned by Palestinians. These statistics were last updated July 11.
Weir decided to create the organization If Americans Knew after visiting the area in 2001.
Before her visit, Weir wondered how people were going to treat her as a single female American traveling randomly and haphazardly through the area.
“I was invited to stay in people’s homes,” she said. “When I told them I was American, people welcomed me. I learned it was different from what media made us think.”
After her visit, she decided to tell everyone about what she saw.
“As I went around the area, I saw guards. I saw ancient olive groves, farmers who had farmed there with destroyed land; I wondered how those farmers fed their children,” said Weir. “That’s what I saw, a people and a land being destroyed with my tax money. I saw war.”
The organization Weir started took to studying the news about Palestine and Israel a little closer.
The organization found a few more notable phenomenons.
“Another thing that tends to happen is that when there is violence, ‘a period of calm has just been shattered by Palestinians.’”
The author noted that in 2005, the LA Times had a headline that read “Period of Relative Calm.”
“Before printing the headline, I had called them to correct it and explained that during that period of “relative calm” 170 Palestinians were killed and 379 were injured.”
There were a lot of statistics thrown around in the presentation, but Weir makes sure to back every claim with evidence; on the website for If Americans Knew, every statistic is paired with its sources. In her book, “Against Our Better Judgement,” half of it is comprised of the works cited, further readings and endnotes. The author spared no detail.
With such a dangerous topic, it is no surprise.
“Another person tried to do something about this: Dorothy Thompson, one of the most important female journalists. She was considered the second most powerful woman after [Eleanor] Roosevelt and was one of the first people to raise the alarm about the Nazis,” said Weir. “After the war, she went to see the new country and saw countless Palestinian refugees. Eventually she made a documentary and lost her job, radio show and was erased from history.”
Yet that history bit doesn’t stop the author from disseminating the information she found.
“I feel it’s our job to give [the public] facts on the issue so they could exercise their civic duty to tell officials what to do and what not to do,” Weir said.
As depicted by the book title, the U.S. is very involved in Israel-Palestine politics in the form of tax money, aid projects and alliances.
Weir said approximately 70 percent of the American public does not support taking sides on Israel-Palestine, regardless of the “massive Israeli propaganda” present. Speculations aside, perhaps it’s time some serious research was done about this topic so concrete action can be taken to resolve this conflict.
Where can I purchase a DVD of this talk at the Graham Center?
Weir is a very persuasive speaker. But she is not very factual. IAW the article, Weir states; “6,000 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel, while there are zero Israelis imprisoned by Palestinians.” Why on Earth would any Israeli be in a Palestinian prison? Does the palestinian Authority (PA) have any jurisdiction where Israelis live? Obviously there have been no reasons why a PA policemen would arrested an Israeli in PA controlled areas. As I recall, the last time PA policeman took Israelis in for protective custody, they were lynched by Palestinian “civilians.”
Weir states: “166 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed…” How does she know they are civillians? Because of the UN report supplied by the Hamas minister of health in Gaza? Please.