In a report published December 9 in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, a poll cited that 74% of Israeli youth believe Arabs are less intelligent and that they are violent. Two thirds of Israelis believe that Arabs are “not clean,” and half of them would not accept to live in a building where an Arab lives, nor would they allow an Arab to enter their homes, and they do not allow their child to be with an Arab child. The Arabs are often humiliated and ridiculed at Israeli airports, the report adds.None of this is surprising to the Arabs, of course, who hear Israeli officials describe them as “cancer or snakes.” One Israeli official said the best way to look at a Palestinian is through the lens of an M15 or M16.But the important point here is that this Israeli racism against the Arabs is finding its way into the international media and the hearts and minds of those who do not know, as well as those who should know better.For example, after all the collective punishment that Israel is imposing on a million and a half Palestinians in Gaza, after killing 35 young Palestinian men since the Annapolis Conference, we find Quartet ambassador Tony Blair, standing in front of the Foreign Relations Committee at the Israeli Knesset saying, “I understand Israeli doubts about conducting negotiations. After withdrawing from Gaza, instead of peace you had a “nightmare” and that is why you could not behave in the same way in the West Bank.”Who knew? Imagine that the daily Israeli crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza are a nightmare to the Israelis rather than to the Palestinians! Since 9/11, Arabs and Muslims have become suspects of doing terrorist acts, but no one speaks of them as victims of Israeli terrorism. It’s as if it is no longer important what happens in reality, the only important thing is what is said by the media. The Western media, in one way or another, always describes those who carry out terrorist acts as Muslim extremists, but when Israeli missiles kill innocent civilians in Palestine, no one dares to describe Israeli acts as terrorist, or the Palestinians as victims of terrorism.Compare what happened to Sami al-Haj, the cameraman from al-Jazeera who was arrested by American forces in Afghanistan and deposited in Guantanamo, and to any Western person detained in any Muslim country for any reason. French First Lady Cecilia Sarkozy herself went to Libya to obtain the release of Bulgarian nurses who had injected hundreds of Libyan children with HIV. President Sarkozy himself went to Chad to obtain the release of French and Spanish citizens who were trading with Chadian children!When the British teacher Gillian Gibbons was arrested in Sudan, the Western media were all engaged in writing about her ordeal until she was released by a presidential decree. And then the writings started to speak of her nine day ordeal.But no one made such noise about years of unbearable ordeals for Sami al-Haj in Guantanamo, neither in the Arab world nor in the West. He is an Arab cameraman who has not been tried. His health is deteriorating, he is being force-fed, his wife and children are waiting for him just as the family of Gillian Gibbons was waiting for her. No Arab leader took a plane anywhere to ensure his release. Nor did Arab journalists’ union take his case to the European Parliament or the International Court of Justice. Nor did al-Jazeera stop airing anything by President Bush as a protest against detaining its cameraman without trial.Western governments and Western people stand up for the liberty and dignity of any Western man or woman anywhere. When are we going to imitate them and consider the dignity and liberty of any Arab person as our own and mobilize all resources in order to make the world aware of the humiliation to which the Arabs are unfairly subjected? The freedom of Sami al- Haj is the freedom of an innocent human being who should be immediately released. It is not enough to put his name on the news bar for years. Action should be taken to ensure his immediate release just as action was taken to release Gillian Gibbons!
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