OPINIONS

Stanford, we are complicit in Gaza violence

Stanford University, the American media and the United States government are all complicit in the atrocities that have developed in the Gaza Strip over the past few days.

Yesterday, Nov. 14, Israeli forces fired strikes upon Gaza that have killed at least 15 Palestinians, including seven-year-old Ranan Arafat and 11-month-old Omar Mashrawi. Attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces have wounded at least 100 Palestinians so far.

Ranan Afarat, 7, was killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza on November 14.
Picture c/o Twitter.

Israel is preparing to expand the raid that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari with air and naval assault yesterday. American media were conspicuously silent on these developments, having waited hours after outlets like Reuters, Russia Today and Al Jazeera English first ran reports on the stikes — and having buried this story deep on their homepages.

The New York Times has misreported the events leading up to the Israeli attack and did not give a single mention to the civilian casualties in its original report, which was released hours after most major outlets had already confirmed such deaths.

The American media has already judged which lives lost are valuable and which ones are not. The Times, which again mentioned nothing about Palestinian civilian deaths in its original reporting, now leads its website with the following paragraph:

Three Israeli civilians were killed on Thursday when a rocket hit an apartment block, the first casualties on Israel’s side, as a ferocious assault against Hamas and other militant groups entered its second day.”

The United States government continues to offer unwavering support to Israel, which the rest of the international community has consistently reprimanded for its violation of international human rights in its occupation of Palestine and acts of collective punishment against Palestinians.

The United States spends $8.5 million in aid every day to support Israel’s military, and Stanford’s endowments — both on the university level and within our ASSU endowment — have not yet divested from companies that profit from Israel’s human rights violations. It is imperative that we do so as this conflict escalates.

All quiet on the Western front

Here is the timeline of events that The New York Times, America’s most esteemed news outlet, failed to report on the backstory leading up to yesterday’s strikes against Gaza.

As stated above, The Times did not mention a single one of the civilian deaths or injuries Palestinians have suffered in the past 24 hours.

Doctor holds a child victim of the Nov. 14 Israeli attacks on Gaza. (c/o occupiedpalestine.com)

Beyond that, The Times paints Israel’s military aggression as one of response to Palestinian provocation, without noting the series of six preemptive extrajudicial executions Israel has committed in the past week — including the killings of three Palestinian children between Nov. 8 and Nov. 12.

The rockets fired from Gaza in the days preceding Wednesday’s Israeli offensive were in retaliation to Israeli provocation.

Palestinian fire is never contextualized, never in ‘return’ for the cruel, years-long siege that has systematically destroyed Gaza’s economy and subjected an entire generation of Palestinian children to malnutrition-related deficiencies,” reports Palestinian news outlet Electronic Intifada. “Never in ‘return’ for decades of devastating military occupation. Fire from Gaza is never in ‘return’ for the continued dispossession of historic Palestine which made most of the population in Gaza refugees in the first place.”

Relatives of Matar Abu Al-Atta (19), killed the day before by an Israeli military attack, mourn during his funeral in the al-Shoja’iya neighborhood east of Gaza City, Nov. 11, 2012.
(Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

This frame is perpetuated by an American media that has been all but silent on the escalations between Israel and Gaza.

Beyond reporting that Israeli forces killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday, American media was largely silent on the casualties of the attacks. This silence is shocking when compared with international outlets like Russia Today, which has been live blogging updates since 10 a.m. PST on Wednesday.

ReutersThe TelegraphThe Guardian and Al Jazeera all also ran the story as their front-and-center features.

While all of these foreign outlets have been pursuing these developments as their leading stories, American media initially buried the story deep on their homepages. It required zooming out to view the story on the Times’ homepage, CNN and Fox News mentioned the developments as mid-page bullet points, and one had to scroll down three screens on the Wall Street Journal to see a headline about Gaza.

NYT homepage requires zooming out to view information about Israeli attacks on Gaza.

The silence of American media on this very important development for our “biggest ally in the Middle East” is indicative of the moral failure of this country in the context of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Burying the story ensures that Americans will remain ignorant about the conflict, and ignorant about their role in it. They will not know that more of their aid goes to Israel than all of Africa and Latin America combined each year.

Ignorance ensures that people will not care enough to demand their government stop sponsoring international human rights violations.

Apathy here means supporting an oppressive status quo.

(Read the NYT article for yourself here.)


#iDeclare

The IDF has gone as far as to live-tweet the operation, with links to YouTube videos and pictures of the strike on Jabari and the hashtag #pillarofdefense.

Tweet from Israeli Defense Forces on Nov. 14 attacks on Gaza.

We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead,” the handle IDFSpokesperson tweeted Wednesday.

IDF spokesperson live-tweeting Nov. 14 attacks on Gaza.

The flippant dehumanization of such a media campaign — conducted for English-speaking audiences — is something we have not seen a nation-state do before and paints a frightening image of what our futures may look like.


Full pledge of support

I wrote last week and again this week about not supporting Barack Obama’s re-election because his foreign policies leave the United States on the wrong side of history. I maintain that United States’ policy is still on the wrong side of history.

We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties,” the Pentagon wrote today in a press release.

Such a statement is highly concerning in the context of Israel’s history attacking Gaza.

The intensity of today’s attacks are reminiscent of Operation Cast Lead, in which Israeli forces responded to missile strikes by Hamas and other Palestinian factions by killing 1,400 Palestinians in a 22-day raid on the Gaza Strip. Three hundred of these casualties were children, and hundreds were unarmed civilians.

Israel lost 10 soldiers and three civilians during this same period of time.

The U.S. government was similarly silent in response to these 1,400 deaths.


Stanford investments

Stanford has a $17 billion endowment, which it maintains by investment in public equity, private equity, real estate, natural resources and other areas. Stanford also allegedly maintains a commitment to ethical investment, wherein “when the Trustees determine that the corporate policies or practices of a company Stanford may invest in could cause substantial social injury they, as responsible and ethical investors, shall give independent weight to this factor in determining Investment Responsibility Policies and Proxy Voting Guidelines for corporate securities.”

Our University endowment and our ASSU endowment each likely invest in companies that profit off of human rights violations in Palestine-Israel.

The most relevant company to the current conflict in Gaza is Lockheed Martin, which “supplies the Israeli military with AGM-114 Hellfire Missiles and F-16s, both routinely used to bomb Palestinian homes and kill innocent civilians in acts of collective punishment,” according to Students for Palestinian Equal Rights. “It stands as the single biggest overseas supplier for the Israeli armaments industry, having received at least $4.4 billion since 1995 for supplying missile systems and fighter planes to Israel.

Given that Lockheed Martin is number 58 on the 2012 Fortune 500 list and participates in Stanford’s Career Fair, it is safe to assume that at least some part of our $17 billion goes toward this company that is directly implicated in this week’s violence in Gaza.

It is the University’s ethical responsibility to disinvest itself (divest) from this international conflict.


Speak up!

Today we sent a clear message to Hamas and other terrorist organizations, and if it becomes necessary we are prepared to expand the operation,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

What message is clear is that silence on the American media’s part — and strong support from the American government — seems to give Israeli forces the go-ahead for a similarly catastrophic attack.

Unless the world speaks up.

We play a role in this conflict as students, and I encourage you, Stanford, to get educated and not to be apathetic.

We need to speak up.

The Palestinians are a people occupied and oppressed by one of the most powerful militaries in the world, with billions of dollars in aid each year from the largest military force in the world. In Gaza, Israel has control over all borders — land, sea and air — and therefore can limit access to the outside world, including access to food and medicine.

Stanford, we must do our part by demanding that the University divest from these conflicts, spreading this information and protesting at the Israeli consulate in San Francisco on Friday. We. Must. Do. Something.

To close this piece, I present a series of  information about the grossly unbalanced power structures in operation in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Consider the following:

Palestinian & Israeli Injuries and Casualties since 2001. Statistics last updated on April 25, 2012. C/o ifamericansknew.org

 

Palestinian & Israeli U.S. aid, political prisoners and demolished homes since 2001. Statistics last updated on April 25, 2012. c/o ifamericansknew.org

 

 

c/o Visualizing Palestine.
Last updated April 25, 2012.

 

 

 

About Kristian Davis Bailey

Kristian Davis Bailey is a junior studying Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. A full time journalist/writer and occasional student, he's served as an Opinion section editor, News writer and desk editor for The Daily, is a community liaison for Stanford STATIC, the campus' progressive blog and journal, and maintains his own website, 'With a K.' He's interested in how the press perpetuates systems of oppression and seeks to use journalism as a tool for dismantling such systems.
  • http://www.facebook.com/emanagatha Eman Abdo

    can I ask how u know that Israel tries its hardest to limit civilian deaths as u put it? do u live in Palestine? are u part of this war? I live in Gaza- Palestine and let me assure u that you are gravely mistaken to believe Israel’s claims. Palestine is for Palestinians. it is simple truth. no matter how much time or death we have to pay and suffer, Palestine is our land and we will free it. if someone came to your house and killed your family and threw you out, I bet you would go out smiling, right? we Palestine is our land and no Zionists is allowed to claim it as their own. the day you allow murdering thieves to take your home and kill your family tell me about it. tell me how it feels, to bury your children who die every day just because they are Palestinians. just because of some fanatics claiming a land, that isn’t theirs in the first place and never will be, as their own

  • http://www.facebook.com/emanagatha Eman Abdo

    I can tell you the same. you obviously have never been to Palestine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emanagatha Eman Abdo

    what right does Israel have to exist? give just one reason? Palestine is for Palestinians. what right do Zionists from around the world have to come and massacre its people and claim the land as their own? and we should do what? cheer for them as they murder us?

  • Disgustedalum73

    Since you believe that Stanford, etc. should completely divest of investments in Israeli companies, you should also promote retroactive divestment. You can do so my destroying any product that you own that was designed or developed in Israel. So destroy your Iphone, PC and Mac. Also vow to never have an MRI or a CAT scan. And that would just be a small start. I am a Stanford alum ’69 and have always contributed generously so others would have the benefit of the education with which i was blessed. But your ignorance and distortion of facts has inspired me to convince as many of my fellow alums as possible to reconsider our continuing generosity to Stanford.

  • Esqg

    SPER’s divestment petition is not about “Israeli companies”. It is to get Stanford to divest from only those particular companies that are profiting directly from violence or discrimination against Palestinians: providing buses to be used only for Israelis, bulldozers to demolish Arab homes, or the weapons themselves.

    Since the broader BDS movement is about Israel in general, the confusion is understandable, but please check your facts and don’t put words into Kristian’s or others’ mouths. There is far too much misinformation flying around as it is, as well as astoundingly petty insults.

  • Mike Brown

    “It is so sad how people keep talking about Israel(‘)s right to defend
    itself against ‘terrorists’ when (it) (itself) (is) illegally occupying
    land…”

    Stop right there. If you are not willing to recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a country, it is totally pointless to argue with you about anything else because we will never agree. I think that saying that Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land is an insane statement and for reasons I really can’t fathom, you probably think the opposite. Either way, after all of the wars that the Palestinians have initiated and lost, Israel’s sole demand of acknowledgement is completely reasonable. When you say that Israel is illegally occupying land, you sound like a roulette player who decided to place a million dollar bet on black, loses, and then says the casino stole the money. If you would just drop this illegally occupying bull, then we can have a conversation.

  • StanfordStudent

    Good riddance to you and whomever you convince to not “contribute”. I don’t how it was like in ’69, but nowadays at Stanford we support different view points even if we may disagree with them.

  • Outraged

    I didn’t say Islamophobia wasn’t a problem. I just said it wasn’t necessarily “more common” in the US, and that I would like sources to back up your assertion that Islamophobia is more “common” than anti-Semitism. You can’t make guesses and present them as facts.

    Wait, Jews are frustrated that I personally think all Jews ought to support the military that protects and defends the Jewish homeland, but that I understand everyone does have a choice about what to support and not support?

  • StanfordStudent

    Criticism of Israel is NOT anti-Semitism, clear and simple. There are many Israeli jews who criticize their own country, but when someone else does it you yell anti-Semitism. You should learn to separate criticism of country from criticism of religion even if the country identifies with a certain religion, clear and simple once again.

  • StanfordStudent

    Ok…impartial outraged commenter.

  • Outraged

    First I will point out that a people is not its government. This comment reeks of anti-Semitism. How dare you make such a statement about all Israelis. What kind of a beast are you?

    Second, it is absolutely disgusting of Kristian to have posted that photo — and of you to have made this comment — for the sole purpose of making people hate “Israeli aggression.” THERE ARE CIVILIAN DEATHS ON BOTH SIDES (although, of course, Hamas operatives hide themselves near apartments and schools, aiming for Israeli civilians, whereas Israel does its best to avoid civilian deaths, dropping pamphlets written in Arabic into Gaza warning that it will attack Hamas operatives and that civilians should not go near Hamas people).

    No child should be killed. Using a bloody, shocking image of a dead child for political gain? Disgusting. But if you really want to play that game,

    Here’s a picture of an Israeli baby girl injured by Hamas rocket fire — the same rocket fire that killed three Jews in her city, Kiryat Malachi.

  • Outraged

    I’m sorry, let me clarify: criticism of Israel as a whole, rather than specific Israeli policies or political parties or military decisions, is anti-Semitic. The Israeli military is not the same as Israel, which Anne Silver seems to suggest. And almost all Israelis are conscripted into the army for a two year period; it is patently anti-Semitic to criticize the entire military rather than just the leaders of that military and of the country who are making the decisions. If you support our troops without supporting War in Iraq, but criticize all members of the IDF — that’s anti-Semitism.

    I apologize for not making this point clearer; I was upset with Anne Silver’s clear “Jews-run-the-media” anti-Semitic canard and her anti-Semitic unwarranted criticism of all Israel. I certainly do believe you can criticize certain aspects of Israel and its policies without being anti-Semitic and I’m sorry that my anger at Ms. Silver’s racism led me to go too far in my statement.

    Nevertheless, the fact remains that quite often criticism of Israel IS anti-Semitism. See this article for a great explanation of when criticism crosses the line: http://students.washington.edu/israeluw/info-anti.html.

  • Outraged

    I know Israel tries its hardest to limit civilian deaths because it drops pamphlets into Gaza warning civilians it is planning to attack Hamas operatives. I know Israel tries its hardest to limit civilian deaths because it diverts missiles from their targets in mid-flight if it finds out they are heading toward civilians. I know Israel tries its hardest to limit civilian deaths because they engage in roof knocking (“the IAF targets a building with a loud but non-lethal bomb that warns civilians that they are in the vicinity of a weapons cache or other target. This method is used to allow all residents to leave the area before the IDF targets the site with live ammunition.”) I know Israel tries its hardest to limit civilian deaths because they engage in pinpoint targeting of terrorists.

    According to British Col. Richard Kemp:
    “The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed. That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one. In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia. In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.”

    I know Israel tries its hardest to limit civilian deaths because it is part of the IDF’s stated mission.

    Hamas’ stated mission? Wipe out all the Jews.

    No, we Jews didn’t go out smiling when they came to our houses and killed our families and threw us out. We went to Israel. The land that WAS ours in the first place.

  • Outraged

    Well, there are 22 Arab states and one Jewish state. Every people has the right to self-determination. So why don’t the Jews?

  • Outraged

    When will the 700,000 Jews that were driven out of Arab countries in the aftermath of the 1948 War of Independence be allowed to return to their homes???

  • Outraged

    I’m not saying I don’t take sides in this conflict; clearly I do. But when shouldn’t site the UN specifically as an impartial outside observer, because it definitely isn’t.

  • zafarov

    The expulsion of Jews from Arab countries was retaliation for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians which started promptly after the UN resolution was passed to divide the land. Also all sorts of skull drudgery was used to compel the Jews to leave by Zionist
    terror gangs. Nevertheless, to answer your question, yes of course they should.
    No ifs and buts. Those who been driven out or fled in fear cannot be denied the right to return to their own homes whenever they decide to. To deny them that right is an injustice and those Jews suffered an injustice. That is a matter between them and the governments of the Arab countries they lived in. It ought to be resolved justly. Palestinian farmers
    and villagers and householders who lived on their land before Israel was
    established, played no role in the expulsion of the Jews from the Arab
    countries. So ask yourself, why should they have their lives and future
    shattered. You may claim they never existed or they the same as all Arabs,
    there was never really a Palestinian state or whatever. The fact remains that
    the Palestinians see themselves as a nation under occupation and in exile that
    just wants to go home to live in freedom and with dignity

  • MB

    I’ve never heard of a land for ‘Christians’ or a land for ‘Muslims’ so why should there be a land for ‘Jews’? Jews could have come and lived in peace with Palestinians in Palestine to begin with, they could be Palestinian Jews… the same way we have both Christian and Muslim Lebanese and Arab Jews in many other Arab states. + Under what law is it legitimate to go to a country, demolish its infrastructure, terrorize its citizens and kick them out to make another country for yourself?

  • I appreciate your policy on opinion pieces. I didn’t mean to suggest that the Daily was actively promoting one side exclusively, but there does seem to be somewhat of an imbalance.

    To my latter point though, I don’t know if it reflects well on the Daily when writers self-promote the way Kristian has been doing. I understand publicizing a piece like this to SPER or similar activist groups, of course, but for a writer to sell his own article to dorm chat lists is frankly quite off-putting. Does the Daily support, or even condone this?

    Again, I repeat that I appreciate his work, but not the advertisement.

  • Trying to Compromise

    Eman, that is an outrageous comment. My father was born in Kibbutz Erez, a Kibbutz that is a five minutes drive from the Gaza strip and my relatives are in fear of rockets that have been launched from Gaza recently. Both sides believe the land is rightfully theirs and this will probably never be reconciled: please understand this. This is not a black and white issue where only one side thinks its our land and the other side does not think its our land. In fact, both of my parents are from Israel and have experience the missiles falling near their houses, killing their friends and loved ones. Even if you believe that Palestine is your land, it is sick if you believe that you are the only ones suffering. My family certainly does not bear any ill-will to innocent civilians except for the fact that they house terrorists and fail to do anything about it. Hamas is actively trying to destroy Israel. Israel has always made it clear that if Hamas even dares to attack Tel Aviv that Israel would attack gaza back. Israeli’s don’t hate Palestinians. It is just the fact that both sides are ignorant. My grandmother had to stay in a bombproof room of her house every day all day because it was declared not safe for her to go anywhere else because missiles could suddenly land and kill people within 20 seconds. Both of my parents served in the Israeli military because it is necessarily for Israeli Civilians to do so and they know for a fact that Israel does not try to target innocent people. There are few people or entities cruel enough to target innocent people for any reason. Therefore, please don’t believe that just because you live in Gaza we should believe everything you say. I have stayed in Kibbutz Erez which is five minutes away for long periods of time and I have never seen any inkling of evidence that Israel attacked Gaza without the reason being self-defence. To Israeli’s Hamas is a terrorist organization that is trying to kill Israel. To Palestinian’s, I guess it seems that Israel is a ferocious group trying to kill Palestinian’s. But this isn’t true. The reason people can’t get anywhere is because this barrier of hatred exists and logic can not penetrate it. I have had friends and family killed by Hamas so I believe that I am also qualified to talk about this topic. If you don’t think so that is too bad. But please listen to me and realize that Israel is not all bad. Please understand this. I know that Palestine is not all bad. But I think that the fact that Hamas targets innocent people makes Hamas horrible. Obviously I don’t know the full story about Hamas, but from what I know, Hamas seems like a horrible terrorist organization. You probably feel the same way about Israel for the same reason, you have only taken into heart one perspective that was amplified by the fear of loved ones dying around you. And I, just to clarify, am part of this war.

  • CuttheCrap

    This is one of the most ignorant articles I’ve ever read in the daily…partisan activism really does not make for good journalism

  • Zee

    It is a sad day when a “journalist” uses electronicIntifada and occupiedPalestine as the primary sources in a news article. It is an even sadder day when a “journalist” does not critically evaluate the claims presented by such biased sources. This is not “journalism” becoming of a Stanford student, regardless of which side of the conflict you’re on.

  • AK

    Four glaring issues with this argument, MB:
    (1) Jews are an ethnic as well as a religious group (just ask Hitler), so Jews having Israel as a state is not so different than the Finns having Finland or the French having France
    (2) Many countries have Christian and Muslim majorities, and many of their residents (and governments) consider them to be Christian or Muslim countries; if you’ve never heard of a land for Muslims, does that mean you haven’t heard of the *Islamic* Republic of Iran (to name just one example)? In many US states, Christian values are brought up explicitly in social policy debates. And while Israel is a Jewish state, it provides its non-Jewish residents with equal rights (while atheists and occasionally Christians throughout the Muslim world are sometimes killed for blasphemy or apostasy). On the whole, I’d say there are many more Christian and Muslim lands than Jewish lands and that most of them are less religiously tolerant
    (3) Some Jews (including my grandparents and their grandparents, going back until our records end) lived in what is now Israel (then British-occupied Palestine and an Ottoman territory prior to that) before 1948. Their children certainly cannot be said to have stolen anything from anyone, and—furthermore—they remember how…
    (4) …in the pre ’48 period, countless attacks were orchestrated by Arabs on their Jewish neighbors, on religious and ethnic grounds. Some Jews and Arabs got along (and even worked together to resist the British), but the suggestion that Palestinians as a group would certainly have welcomed Jews peacefully into their land and given them full rights (as Israel does with Israeli Arabs) is hopelessly naive, and flies in the face of history.

    None of this justifies civilian deaths, or disrespect—particularly by this more conservative Israeli administration—of the Palestinian people and their aspirations.

    Individuals, whether they’re religiously Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, or Pastafarian, and whether they’re ethnic Jews, Arabs, Finns, or Frenchmen, tend to want peace. But groups, when they elevate themselves and demonize their enemies, are capable of terrible cruelty. As victims throughout history of violence and invective, both Israelis and Palestinians are each reasonable in wanting their own land. If we as outsiders can’t research our history and attempt to see both sides, how can we ask that of those with so much more at stake?

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