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On the Role of Stories
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Created: October 4, 2002
Latest Update: October 4, 2002
Recognition of Harm in the Middle East
Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, September 2002.
"Fair use" encouraged.
Transparency is one of the important issues coming up in the aftermath of Enron, and in the aftermath of the FBI and CIA failures to appropriately analyze the warnings of September 11. Transparency relates to information control. To those who have the power to do so making decisions in secret and failing to include others with similar power in their decisions. The CIA neglects to tell the FBI what it has learned, and vice versa. The CEO and the Financial Director make decisions that will gain them millions, but neglect to inform other departments, other executives.
In California we have the Sunshine Laws, precisely to insist on transparency and to make it illegal to enage in secretive decision-making that affects the corporation (at least, it's public accounting), the agency, and the public. Follow this exchanage of information with New Profile's Dorothy Naor that attempts to bring the current Middle East activities to light, to create transparency, where all the information relevant to so many of us is heard in the public sphere, so that none of us will later need to fall back on the excuse for complicity: "I didn't know."
Transparency is guaranteed by CONNECTIONS of one to the other, in all our differences. We have become afraid to CONNECT. But we must connect, if we are to prevent inept, unethical leaders from acting and making poor to fatal decisions IN OUR NAME.
On Friday October 4, 2002, Dorothy Naor, of New Profile, posted the following to us who subscribe to New Profile. I bring it to your attention particularly this week, as we suffer through talk of a pre-emptive strike on Iraq, knowing that such an act would increase the likelihood of increased turmoil and killing in the Middle East. We are not yet within striking distance of Iraq, insofar as we know. Does that justify our exposing others who are within striking distance? I had no time today, trying to prepare for Sunday's anti-war demonstration, and trying to decide how best to focus my energies as we face an almost probable pre-emptive war, to go in search of these statistics, as I would normally do. But Dorothy tells you where you can find, them, and I'll be glad to help you search, for checking authorities is essential.
But for now, I just want to remind you that Dorothy Naor is telling you what New Profile thinks, what they are seeing. We dare not refuse to hear them. My family is Jewish. That does not mean that I may exrcise the privilege of denial, or of refusing to hear in good faith, genuine validity claims brought to our public sphere. If we fail to listen, and some day discover, as did the Germans, that in fact the validity claims told a relevant and terrible story, then we, like the Germans, may find that we have been complicit. There are no single perspectives on truth in this Twenty-First Century. It is time we recognize the pain we cause each other through our need for dominance, profit, unlimited markets, and unlimited portions of the world's resources.
Get The Facts to the Public
By Dorothy Naor of New Profile
I have long been perturbed by the nearly total silence in the Israeli and International media about daily occurrences in the Occupied Territories—e.g., the number of Palestinians killed, injured (Israeli deaths and injuries are always reported), the amount of land expropriated, the numbers of homes demolished. As a result of this silence, attacks against Israelis appear to be committed in a vacuum. For instance, few people know that the most recent attacks which killed 8 Israelis in 3 days, were preceded by a week in which 72 Palestinians were killed by the IOF.
Yesterday I decided to do something about the situation, albeit in a very small way, a sort of preliminary step to test the waters.
I had planned to go to the Marwan Barghouti trial in Tel Aviv. At 7:00 AM the news reported that only a small number of people outfitted with special permits would be allowed into the courtroom; knowing full well that I would not be among these privileged few, I decided to demonstrate at the courthouse entrance holding up a placard with figures showing the numbers of lives lost in the years since the signing of the Oslo agreements.
Under the heading “Violence Breeds Violence” were listed annually the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed from 1993 through 2002.* The numbers are revealing. Particularly noticeable is the enormous difference between the figures in 1999 when people on both sides still hoped for a settlement and the numbers of those killed since.
Numbers Killed in Hostilities Year: Palestinians: Israelis: 1993 187 32 1994 144 141 1995 48 47 1996 81 72 1997 20 43 1998 27 18 1999 8 9 2000
Oct. - Dec.
292 49 2001, Sept. 29
* 495 deaths of the 615 have occurred since Ariel Sharon became PM.
I had hoped that these figures would give passersby some food for thought, would show the link between the two sides and the enormous increase in lives lost (Palestinian and Israeli) since Sharon became PM.
What actually occurred was a different matter. When I arrived, others on the Israeli ‘left’ who had come to the trial earlier were in the building upstairs outside the courtroom. Consequently, I found myself alone among a group of 50-60 of extreme right wingers who instantly took offence at the poster. For the hour and 50 minutes that I remained there, I experienced shoving, attempts to hide me and the poster from the view of passers by, attempts to tear the poster out of my hands and to destroy it, as well as a steady stream of verbal abuse. A leader of the attackers ordered that I be delegitimized. The tactics used to do this included obscuring me from view by waving large Israeli flags in front of my face, covering my poster with theirs (consisting of photographs of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks), and placing their bodies in front of mine, no matter where I stood. While these attempts were largely successful, they attracted the attention of the media, which rushed to film both the acts of the opposition and the poster, and even resulted in 4 interviews (BBC, a French reporter, a few questions from the Jerusalem Post reporter, and one unidentified). This media attention further angered the right-wingers. Ugly abuse was hurled in the air: “I hope your daughter will be killed by a suicide bomber.” “I hope you will be killed by a terrorist.” “May you be raped.” “Go to Canada.” “You’re a rotten apple. Get out!”—is a sampling of the more common sort. The worst was reserved for the Arabs. I have no intention of repeating it in writing.
Although it made no sense to argue with these people, I did not remain entirely silent. I can’t say that I won any friends among them when after they complained about how many Israelis had been killed I told them to thank Sharon and his government.
The police’s distaste with me was obvious. For the most part the police ignored me. On two occasions when the crowd became overly menacing, I shouted for help. In both instances one policeman came, but only to tell me to move on and to stay away from the others. Would have loved to, but unfortunately the others refused to leave me alone. Finally, a friend from upstairs who had heard that I was downstairs alone came to my aid. After he told the police that they were fascists they, quite surprisingly, formed a cordon for a few minutes to keep the others from us.
As for the media, despite its attention to the poster and myself, I have found no evidence of this in the newspapers or elsewhere.
Was it nevertheless worth the doing? Yes! For one thing, I learned something about myself: I could take abuse and not return it. I could even keep my calm. More important, I learned an important fact: the stark truth—even when consisting only of bare numbers--panics right wing extremists. They obviously are scared stiff that the public learn the truth and consequently question the lies and deceit being fed it.
We therefore have to make every effort not only to inform ourselves, but also to get the data out to the public both in Israel and abroad—on placards, on fliers that can be distributed in the market place, on street corners, and in other public places. We must put on our thinking caps and be creative and find ways to reveal what really goes on here to the uninformed person on the street.
*Statistics for Palestinian casualties: B’tselem; for Israeli casualties: ICT [The International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliah]
On Saturday, October 5, 2002, Dorothy Naor responded to Issue 14, Week 7 of Dear Habermas:Date: Sat, 05 Oct 2002 14:50:50
Subject: Re: [New Profile] Tell the Public!
To: Jeanne Curran
Dear Jeanne, thanks so much. This is precisely the kind of effect I'd hoped to have, a way to move things from the knowledgale who oppose Occupation of Palestinian Territories to the general public. I have learned from trips abroad how little the public really knows, how much it believes everything it reads in the press, no matter if with regard to Iraq or to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thanks again. Your site is very impressive. May my small report, with your help, bear fruit. With warmest devotion, Dorothy
PS. Today my husband and I joined a caravan of refusniks from the officers group ("Courage to Refuse") that refuses to serve in the territories. In about 30 cars covered with slogans, we traveled fromTel Aviv on the coastal road north to Military Prison 6, stopping at two locations on the way (the large mall at Kibbutz Shfayim and another mall at Kfar Vitkin) for a half hour each to hand out fliers. These men--all many years younger than my husband and myself--are truly courageous and give me slight hope in the moral future of our country.
On Saturday, October 5, 2002, Jeanne responded to Dorothy:I admire your courage, and hope that I can find the same courage in facing those who would deny the many perspectives of these terrible confrontations. May teachers everywhere take up the challenge. I am rushing today to get up the site materials my students need, so that I and my husband and friends can join the rally in Westwood tomorrow to oppose "the war."
love and peace, jeanne