PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2014) — Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah: The names probably don’t mean much to you, though you’ve “heard” of them. They are the three Israeli teenagers whose tragic deaths prompted Israeli settlers to retaliate with the capture, torture, and murder of Muhammed Abu Khdair, 17.

And eye for an eye, right? Another of the blood-thirsty biblical maxims that have brought so much needless pain, suffering and death. To compound the problem, however, Israeli lawmakers, at the urging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have launched a retaliation on Gaza that is disproportionately brutal.

The Middle East “problem” dates back thousands of years, its beginnings lost in the petrified dust of history, particularly the dubious territorial claims of Jews based on the unsupported tenets of the superstition of religion. The perpetuating causes of the “problem” are daily evident in the cycle of violence begetting more violence.

Are we in the United States, dependent as we are on the mainstream mass media, getting an accurate picture of the situation? Our question is rhetorical. With that in mind, THE PLANET would like to share this article on the situation. It is written by an American woman who knows Jerusalem and Gaza first hand.

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“What the Media Is Getting Wrong About Israel and Palestine — And Why It Matters”

By Mnar Muhawesh

Editor-in-Chief, MintPress News

Special Guest Column for PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary, Used by Permission

Read the MintPress News exclusive report and whitepaper on the Gaza Conflict with resources and timeline here.

From 2000 to 2007, about 1,000 Israelis have been killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and nearly 6,000 Palestinians have been killed.  Since the recent assault on Gaza under Operation Protective Edge, over 80 Palestinians have been killed, including 22 children and 13 women, plus 469 wounded including 166 children and 85 women, and over 75 houses destroyed — those numbers continue to rise. Hamas’ rockets firing into Israel have killed zero Israeli civilians since the cross fire began last week.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Information’s latest report on civilian casualties, one Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every three days for the last 13 years.

As an American who has lived in Jerusalem, I struggle between the want to share what I feel is the vast media cover-up of the Israeli-led violence and the want to stand up and say, “enough.” Both messages echo truths, from those trapped within the violence to those silenced for reporting the violent assault.

All rocket fire should be condemned, whether it be by Hamas or Israel, that much I know is true.

The deaths of Israeli teens Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah represent a tragedy- one that no family should have to face. Violence touches communities deeply and does not spare race, creed or intellect. What I grapple with, is the reaction to their deaths — Israeli lawmakers calling for a genocide and vengeance against Arabs, the torture and murder of 17-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdair by Israeli settlers, Israeli settlers’ continued kidnapping and abuse of Palestinian children, and now the Israeli military operation and violent assault against Gaza that is collectively punishing 1.7 million people who are already living in poverty. Gaza has been described by human rights groups as an open air prison with no where to escape. It has to end.

This massacre will only continue to bring pain and suffering to a conflict that has taught both Israeli and Palestinian youth that a roadmap for peace has been shattered.

As I watch the media play headline games and act as a lapdog to a U.S. ally, it takes me back to the year 2001, when I returned to the U.S. after living in Jerusalem for about four years.

As we were about to head to the airport to go back the U.S., where I was born and raised, my father received a call from a relative, panicked and scared about evacuating the all-girl elementary school where this relative was working as a principal at the time because Israeli settlers had planted a bomb in the school. At the same time, this relative explained, their sons’ school, an all-boy elementary school, was also being evacuated because Israeli settlers had planted a bomb there as well.

That day, Israeli settlers had been planting bombs throughout Palestinian schools and no child was safe. Feeling extreme shock and fear that innocent children were being targeted by these extremist acts of hate and violence, it was beyond traumatizing for me and my family, as I was only 13 years old at the time.

I understood then, in my teens that I had a right to be angry at those that perpetrated the violence. But, I also felt great responsibility.

This was not the first time I would witness a relative panicked and scared, and it would not be the last, either. During my nearly four years living in Jerusalem as an American from Minneapolis, Minnesota, I witnessed war crimes no child should never have to witness. I lived under the occupation. We had our water and electricity cut off regularly, and we lived under martial law — curfews were placed on most cities and soldiers bearing guns, even pointing them at civilians, ruled the streets.

By the time I was 13, I had already witnessed Israeli war planes dropping bombs on major cities in the West Bank like Ramallah, destroying homes of Palestinian families and killing children. I had crossed through checkpoints in cabs and the driver would yell “Duck!” because Israeli soldiers were shooting at schoolchildren who were throwing rocks at them — those same children were barred from crossing the checkpoints placed by the Israeli Defense Forces to visit their family members after school and responded with resistence by throwing rocks. At my American school in Jerusalem, half my classmates missed school most days and were essentially denied an education because they had been turned back at checkpoints because they lived in the West Bank and were Palestinian, Muslim and/or Christian.

I would hear stories from neighbors and friends of other junior highschools’ being raided by IDF soldiers and rounding up all the teenage boys and indefinitely detaining them with no charges, because they could be potential ‘terrorists’ in the future, which is illegal under international law. When I last visited Jerusalem when I was 18 years old, I was stunned by the devastation of the apartheid wall that was built tearing families apart and destroying agriculture and land many were depending on. The wall sepearated families from each other, and prevented many children was attending school. I remember going to the city of Hebron in the West Bank to visit the Abrahamic mosque where Muslims, Jews and Christians visit regularly, and having settlers throw garbage at us while yelling racist slurs directed at us for no reason.

During this visit, we ironically had to be escorted by Israeli soldiers to get near the mosque, because they warned us that the Israeli settlers become violent if non-Jews visit and have, at many times, kidnapped young children and women, and even killed them.  Because I’m an American citizen, the soldiers said they’d make sure to protect my group and I.

By the time I was 13, I, a young girl from Minneapolis, Minnesota, had witnessed apartheid and military occupation, but I knew, I had to do something.

When we arrived back to the U.S. to neat green lawns and my classmates wondering when the next party was, or what was on television or how much booze they could down compared to their fellow classates, I felt lost and alone.

By this time, I was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. All I could think about and all that consumed me was the war that I had just left behind, and the families being torn apart from the war. Guilt overtook my body, since we were now living a comfortable American lifestyle in a quiet and manicured suburb, but I knew my friends, classmates, American and Arab teachers and family that I had just left back in Jerusalem were living under occupation and living in fear.

There was no one to talk to about the war I had just left behind, and I found no comfort in our American media. Then, as now, the media framed the story as if Palestinians and Israelis were fighting each other on an equal level playing field. It was framed as Muslim versus Jew, and the Palestinians were referred to as terrorists or militants in most media coverage. However, the majority of our neighbors in Jerusalem were Palestinian Christians suffering from the same military occupation as their fellow Muslim Palestinians. This was no Muslim versus Jew fight.

I blamed the media for my fellow Americans’ lack of understanding and lack of awareness of what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict really is. I blamed the media for the lack of empathy Americans had for the civilian life under occupation in 2001. I still blame the media for inaccurately reporting on major human rights issues we know are taking place around the world today.

The media is referred to in our Constitution because in a democracy, journalism’s role is to protect the interests of the people to essentially hold those in power accountable. When our media portrays murder as defense, and defense as murder, we know the media is not being truthful to its citizens and is not acting as a government watchdog, but rather as a government lapdog. As the Obama administration pledges to continue aid to Israel at a rate of $3 billion a year, despite calls by Israeli lawmakers for a genocide of Arabs in this conflict, many journalists of conscience can’t help but ask: Is the U.S. government complicit in these calls for genocide?

In the last month alone, our media has ignored the truth about the violence in Gaza and what led to this current round of violence. Why are we staying silent?

  • The Los Angeles Times ran “Palestinian rockets reach farther into Israel,” reporting that the homemade rockets have not killed a single person, but failing to mention the American-funded Israeli missiles that have left over 50 Palestinians — mostly women and children — dead in Gaza.

Although the majority of alternative and independent media organizations have started to refer to Israel as an apartheid state in the last 5 years, the mainstream media is trailing far behind and does not question the U.S. government’s complicity in apartheid.

My story of what I witnessed and what I lived through is only one of thousands of life under occupation. As I watch the events unfold in the Holy Land today and how the media continues to be complicit in Israeli war crimes in Gaza, many journalists, academics, human rights groups and peace advocacy groups wonder if this is to numb America to the real horrors our military aid is contributing to in the land that is so dear to the entire world.

I found courage and catharsis in pursuing journalism to speak up not just for Palestinians, but for all people around the world who are suffering and being oppressed, people who are being massacred in the name of power, money and greed whether it be in Sudan, the Congo, Burma, Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, China, Mexico and many more under-reported regions across the world.

Journalism has become my outlet for the helplessness that I grew up feeling when I suffered from PTSD for several years, the anxiety that I live with every single day because of what I’ve endured, for the trauma that I carry because of my life in a war zone and knowing that so many people I left behind are still suffering whether it be in Palestine and Israel or anywhere in the world.

Providing a voice to the voiceless and covering national and international stories through the lens of social justice and human rights is the whole reason I started MintPress News, and I hope more of us can come together in the cause of human rights and know that every life is precious. We are humans struggling in a life for freedom, in a world divided by nations.

Join me in helping independent journalists tell the whole story of the violence in Gaza. We are proud to partner with Jewish Voices For Peace in helping to end the violence between Palestine and Israel and the Israeli occupation. Feel free to share their “End The Violence” campaign with your network or audience.Click here to sign the petition to bring peace to the Holy Land.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was also posted in Don’t Miss MPN ExclusivesEditors PicksForeign AffairsInsights and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. THE PLANET is proud to be added to this lis

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 THE PLANET invites your views on this volatile topic.


“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” John Lennon, song, “Give Peace a Chance,” (1969).




  1. Scott
    July 15, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    I think for the most part it’s pretty clear that the US govt values the lives of Jews over Arabs. Arabs for the most part have been dehumanized in American culture due to terrorism (9/11) and the war on terror. How can anyone in America really have a legitimate individual opinion on a group the media and govt have worked so hard to demonize and justify our own occupation and murder? Good piece. We need to just end the senseless killing.

    • levitan
      July 15, 2014 at 11:48 am #

      Yet, Arabs, Palestinians in particular, and Persians have dehumanized Jews of Israel and beyond. They have yet to even consider having this conversation, as seen by the Iranian’s international exhibit on discrediting the Holocaust.

      • Scott
        July 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

        The point is we’re all connected and should learn to live together. The fighting and killing is wrong and all parties involved share responsibility.

        • levitan
          July 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

          Doesn’t apply in the event of war.

          In war, there are no rules unless you’re an Israeli soldier.

  2. Bill
    July 15, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    What a well balanced article…

    • levitan
      July 15, 2014 at 11:50 am #

      Didn’t bother reading it, but did the author mention that the Jewish settlers responsible for the murder of the Palestinian boy were tracked down, arrested, and charged with murder?

      • Gene
        July 15, 2014 at 11:53 am #

        Didn’t bother reading it? Speaks for itself. The article speaks more of the truth hidden by US corporate media.

        • levitan
          July 15, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

          I guess then the author did not clarify the prompt arrest and charges against the Israeli murderers.

          Why read junk?

          • Liz Arrington
            July 15, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

            Not reading a sign of a closed mind afraid of the truth.

          • levitan
            July 16, 2014 at 7:31 am #

            Reading what you want to hear is a sign of a closed mind that is afraid of the truth.

            You’re stuck in a cave, Liz.

  3. Johnny2Shoes
    July 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    Excellent read.

    Why I Left Jihad: The Root of Terrorism and the Return of Radical Islam

    by Ex -Muslim Terrorist

    Walid Shoebat

  4. Spider
    July 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I think the Arabs have done a very good job of demonizing themselves (i.e. 911, Bengazi, terrorist threats to U.S., etc.) without any help from the media.

    The killing of the Palestinian boy was wrong….two wrongs don’t make a right. But seeking revenge in another way was called for.

    • Scott
      July 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

      Majority of the people (mainly woman and children) we’ve killed in Iraq an Afghanistan are not terrorist. They are you and I. 9/11 didn’t make any sense either. More senseless killing that only brought retaliation death and destruction. I’m sure a lot will die in retaliation to Benghazi as well.

  5. amandaWell
    July 15, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    A bigger problem is United States funds Israel weapons system for all the wrong reasons.

    • Shakes His Head
      July 16, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      as if we did not support ISIS at any point?

  6. Nota
    July 15, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    Here’s one for Thursdays Show Generalissimo…The Berkshire Eagle “Yeaterday’s News…. you gotta luv it!

    • dusty
      July 15, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

      Maybe the Generalissimo could wander out to Coltsville and see the sign pollution. Those wire framed signs are all over and look like hell. The city once made a strict sign ordinance but I guess it is no ones job to enforce it. Coltsville is a gateway to the city and it looks like crap with all these signs. Whose ward?

      • Sal
        July 15, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

        Dusty! I agree! I have removed Solomon signs, Yogurt Signs, and Big Lots. These are all illegal. They put them up on the weekend and take them down before the city can enforce them. The solution is for us to take them and discard them. By the way, even the General Dynamics signs saying they’re “Hiring” are illegal, but you might want to them them.

  7. PopKornSutton
    July 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    Ize currently watching the City council on PVTV and am quite concerned that Councilor Clairmont will be able to keep his fellow Councilors awake during his current dissertation. will Council President Mazzeo intervene?

  8. Nota
    July 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Councilor Tully looks bewildered, with this nonsense?

  9. Nota
    July 15, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Krol is chiming in now with questions to Attorney Degnan. Will it ever end. Council President Mazzeo needs to intervene with this witch hunt, it’s a waste of time.

  10. PopKornSutton
    July 15, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    You got your wish Nota…Mazzeo just shut his petition down, she handled it well, I might add. These three are not in power anymore and the fact that these three Krol Low and Clairmont do not chair any committees is confirmation of importance to voters.

  11. PopKornSutton
    July 15, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    I haven’t seen an ass kicking like tonight’s Council Meeting since Seattle beating Denver in the Super Bowl.

  12. Sal
    July 15, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    I can’t believe they spent an hour arguing about a new DPS position. Tully said it all in 1 sentence, that she can’t support another high paying position that is not budgeted. All the others ignored her comment!

  13. Luke
    July 15, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    The conflict in the middle east is the fruit of a poisoned tree. Israel was founded in the collective guilt of WWII and served a noble person in establishng a Jewish homeland. But to accomplish this noble goal but displacing vast numbers of Palestinians was a wrong that has established a deep reservoir of wrong and injury that will prevent peace.

    Only a two state solution that recognizes and corrects the wrong of the displacement of the Palestinians can bring peace to the region and security to the countries of the world.

    A brave United Nations, so long toothless, is the best hope for providing a homeland for Palestinians and security for Israel.

    • levitan
      July 15, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

      I thought that Israel was founded by Jews living in British territory. They tossed them out and declared a Jewish State.

      Good riddance and others followed suit in Asia Minor. The population grew rapidly as Arab nations such as Iraq drove their indigineous Jewish populations into concentration camps and told the new Israeli government they had 30 days to collect them or they would be murdered.

      So, where’s the guilt?

      • Liz Arrington
        July 15, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

        Your history of off. Israel was founded artificially in 1947 by the prevailing world governments who overlooked Jewish terrorism for geo-political reasons.

        • levitan
          July 16, 2014 at 7:34 am #

          What happened the the Babylonian Jews of Iraq, Liz?

          It’s not to late to read up.

        • levitan
          July 16, 2014 at 8:45 am #

          Otherwise, I agree. Israel was artificially founded in the same manner that the USA was founded.

          Blood, tears, hard work, and the support of friendly and not-friendly nations abroad.

          In another generation or two your argument will seem silly even to the anti-semitic world.

          • G Gordon
            July 16, 2014 at 9:49 am #

            The USA was not artificially founded. Your comment has no basis in fact

          • levitan
            July 16, 2014 at 11:21 am #

            It wasn’t????

            You mean The British settled the Coast with colonists and then established a puppet state their and called it the United States Of America?

            There was no revolt? No exploitation of Franco-Anglo hostilities? No Great Experiment?

            Thank heavens kids are no longer studying American History – so many lies, so much misinformation that I had been saturated with.

  14. amandaWell
    July 15, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    Not enough room for a duel state. it’d be akin to the Hatfield and McCoys living next door to each other. There is only one person who could help bring peace and a resolution to this primeval problem. that’d be, The Generalissimo!

    • levitan
      July 16, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      Are you saying that Oslo was a mistake and Ariel Sharon’s decision to pull soldiers and civilians out of Gaza was also wrong?

  15. T-bone
    July 15, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    I agree. Lets get The Generalissimo on the plane to do Middle East diplomacy. One state and he rules! Viva La Generalissimo. No wonder Bianchi’s shakin in his rubbers.