Saturday, July 01, 2006

Open letter to Mideast Youth bloggers

Dear friends from the Mideast Youth blog. I would like to tell how I appreciate your decision to take the hard an possibly dangerous job to enlighten people in the Middle East and beyond.
However, I would like to bring your attention to several issues when you are addressing your interest towards Israel and the Israeli - Palestinian conflict.

First, be careful when you rely on media sources like BBC, Reuters, AP and Guardian Unlimited. These editions are notoriously known not to be objective when covering Middle East. Meryl Yourish has became an expert in catching them red-handed, on bias against Israel. I suggest, that you broaden your sources, when you write about conflicts in the Middle East.

Second, please refrain from drawing parallels between Israeli security forces and Hamas, Fatah and similar organizations.
There are several important differences, which make such comparisons inadequate.
The most crucial difference, possibly to your surprise, is in attitude toward the value of human life. As Esra'a previously mentioned, Hamas and their associates have very little, if any, respect for human lives, even for their own people. On the other hand, IDF places the value of human lives in very high priority. Many operations are affected by these considerations, some times at very high cost.

Commenting on Esra'a's latest comparison:
"And that's coming from the very same people who keep claiming that Hamas are the ones not willing to negotiate any deals. Why can't they make certain exceptions if any form of "peace" is a possibility?"

Can you really, honestly, compare the refusal to accept your right exist, let alone negotiations about long term settlement, with a refusal to negotiate with terrorists who are holding hostages.
Hardly a fair comparison, don't you think?

As for your claim that negotiations are necessary, does it really needed to explain how irresponsible it would be for Israel, to agree to the kidnappers demands?


Anonymous said...

Woland - this is exactly the attention I was hoping to attract.

I've noticed how pro-Palestine my sources are, but if you take a look at other pro-Israel blogs, you'll find that their sources are just as skewed, and their information just as suspicious. We live in an age where it all comes down to choice, not facts.

If you'd like our opinions to change (and believe me, we're not old enough to be stubborn, I'll gladly admit my mistakes if I'm completely convinced that I've committed them), I urge you to join the discussion by contributing an article that refutes our arguments.

Why we tend to be more pro-Palestine now is because the people contributing and listening are mostly Arabs. Leah from Israel has written a wonderful article which I'll be featuring tonight, and while her article isn't repetitive political commentary, you can see some controversial implications that are important for Arabs to understand.

You won't find your average Arab saying that they don't understand the "other" side entirely. They will always assume that they know more than you do, and will always play the victims. That is the tragedy. What we understand is what the government says according to the sources we choose to rely on. What we don't choose to understand is that the government doesn't always represent the people's interests, such as the case with Palestine. Leah is one example out of many Israelis who are willing to listen to us.

How do I know that there are many of her kind?

Because the first ones to be attracted to Mideast Youth are Israelis. I invited Arab bloggers to take part in it first, but only one or two showed interest. The Israeli writers I chose to invite featured this blog on their website as soon as I told them about it. It is the opposite of what I expected. That alone proved half of my assumptions about many Israelis wrong. Not only were they willing to listen, but they were willing to let the Arabs understand that they're not the monsters we paint them to be in our media.

For the sake of our own knowledge, I'd like you to refute our arguments and show us how we can diversify our sources without showing hints of pro-Israel extremism. As an Arab, I'm afraid I can't help but have my biases push me towards Palestine. But unlike many, I won't turn my back and accuse the "other" side of doing things they're not necessarily guilty of. E-mail me if you'd like to be officially part of this network where I hope to feed others something more than just biased propaganda from the Arab world. I believe I've resorted to that without even knowing it.

I've posted pro-Israel articles before and have shown the damages Islamic militants do to young Israelis who'd like nothing more than to live normal lives, just like any other Palestinian teen.

The problem is that when you do that, other Arabs accuse you of Westernization and being brainwashed. But when you don't do that, you're promoting bad PR. It's tricky. I'd like to show others that this isn't only about sides. It's about awareness and understanding. It's hard to be level-headed, but it will be even harder to watch this continue throughout generations.

I'm giving you the opportunity to make yourself understood. Please take it.

- Esra'a

Woland said...

Esra'a - thank you for responding! I found you with the help of another blogger who's attention you attracted.

When dealing with the media, I often try to read a number of sources, looking for different angles, to see the details that some decided to "miss".

I think that I understand the difficulty in you position.

As for joining the group, I not blogging regularly, but I would be glad to contribute an article once time from time.

I would like to suggest that you contact blogger who is writing at He is an Israeli who implied that he is fluent in Arabic and knows pretty much about the Arabic culture. He could bridge the two worlds in much more effective way, if you succeed to convince him to join.