Contact: Marvin Wingfield email@example.com
Expanded Talking Points and Strategies for Media Activism in the Current Crisis
ADC's talking points on the current crisis have been expanded given recent developments. US media coverage of the current conflict in Palestine has, for the most part, been outrageously biased against the Palestinians and in favor of Israel. ADC urges all its members and supporters to monitor their local media carefully and respond to as much poor or biased coverage as possible. The following are talking points to help formulate letters and opinion pieces on the conflict.
INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION FOR THE PALESTINIANS IS URGENTLY NEEDED.
With Israel's latest escalation of the conflict in bombing Palestinian cities such as Ramallah and Gaza, international protection for the Palestinian civilians living under Israeli occupation is urgently needed. The bombings were revenge attacks for the killing of at least two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah by a crowd of Palestinians. Palestinian police attempted but were unable to restrain the crowd. Palestinians say that the men were part of an undercover "death squad," were dressed in civilian clothes and were carrying weapons equipped with silencers for assassinations. The soldiers were in "Area A," in which according to the Oslo agreements, no Israeli troops should be, and Ramallah is completely surrounded by Israeli military checkpoints. By resorting to vengeance-driven bombing of an unarmed civilian population, Israel has seriously increased the scale and brutality of the conflict. ADC has called upon the international community, especially the United States, and the United Nations, to act now to protect Palestinian from further attacks by the Israeli army. The international community has an obligation to intervene when a civilian population, including children, living under a recognized military occupation are being gunned down in the streets. Israel must not be allowed to kill a single further Palestinian child, and must be prevented from assaulting or bombing Palestinian cities.
THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNED ISRAEL'S USE OF "EXCESSIVE FORCE" AGAINST PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS.
On October 7, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1322, which "condemns acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force against Palestinians, resulting in injury and loss of human life" and "calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949." The United States abstained but did not veto the resolution. This characterization of Israel as being primarily responsible for the violence and having used extreme and excessive measures against demonstrators is consistent with all the facts, but is at odds with most US press coverage which has sympathised with Israel's brutal tactics. 1322 is also significant in that it begins by recalling a number of very important other Security Council resolutions, including 476 (see details below) and reaffirms "that a just and lasting solution to the Arab and Israeli conflict must be based on its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973." As explained further in talking points below, 242 stipulates that Israel must withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967. 1322 and the new role for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan should signal a return to the centrality of 242 and the urgent need for its implementation. Please note that the Security Council has reaffirmed that Israel is the "occupying power" in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza and is bound
by the terms of the 4th Geneva Convention, which bans not only attacks on civilians under occupation, but also settlement activity, land expropriation, home demolitions and many other key features of Israel's behavior in occupied Palestine.
THE CHARGE THAT Palestinians need to "stop the violence."
The violence has been largely one-sided, mainly Israeli shootings of unarmed or lightly-armed Palestinian demonstrators, over 100 of whom have been killed in the past two weeks. Almost all of the dead in the current conflict have been Palestinians, including numerous Palestinian citizens of Israel. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel's use of "excessive force" against the Palestinian population, including the indiscriminate use of automatic weapons, exploding bullets, helicopter gunships, tanks, rockets and now the bombing of cities. It is the use of such measures, almost unheard of in the suppression of demonstrations, that has led to the high number of casualties and the fact that almost all of them are Palestinian. Moreover, Israel's 33 year occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza is the all-encompassing violent reality that forms the backdrop to the current conflict. Israel has refused to live up to its obligations under UNSCR 242 and withdraw to its 1967 borders, even though its right to live in peace and in secure borders has been recognized by the Palestinians. Israel has even reintroduced its armed forces into numerous Palestinian population centers in the occupied territories, which is another principle cause of the current conflict.
THE CHARGE THAT PALESTINIANS ARE SIMPLY OVER-REACTING TO A VISIT BY AN ISRAELI LEADER TO MOSQUES IN JERUSALEM.
The deadly violence from the Israeli army has been an attempt to brutally suppress major demonstrations and protests by Palestinians. These were initially sparked by deliberately provocative intrusion into Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem by Likud leader Ariel Sharon, the man responsible for many massacres of unarmed Palestinians including in Sabra and Shatila in 1982. Sharon's action was overtly designed to demonstrate Israel's "sovereignty" over Jerusalem, especially the Haram Ash-Sharif, and was intended to provoke an angry response. However, at a deeper level, the current protests reflect years of mounting Palestinian frustration, rage and despair over the failure of the "peace process" to address their basic human and national rights. People have an absolute right to resist occupation, especially by demonstrating on behalf of their human and national rights.
- THE CHARGE THAT Palestinians rejected "generous" Israeli terms at Camp David and have chosen war over peace.
For decades the Palestinians were told that, no matter the injustice foisted upon them, they must accept Israel in its 1967 borders, more than three-quarters of Palestine, and in effect renounce any political claim to most of their country. The plan is articulated in UN Security Council Resolution 242, which sets up a two part "land for peace" solution. Part one holds that Israel must withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967 (land). Part two calls for all states in the region to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries (peace). Every "peace process" document from the origins of the Madrid Summit to the final Camp David communiqué, reiterates that the aim of the negotiations is the implementation of 242. The Palestinian obligations under 242 have been fulfilled years ago. The PLO and Palestinian Authority have recognized the State of Israel in its 1967 borders, and its right to live in peace. The Israeli obligation, withdrawal from the occupied territories, is utterly unfulfilled. Proposals put forward by Israel and the United States at Camp David fell far short of implementing 242, would have left Israel in possession of large parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the old city, and ignored the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Far from being "generous," Barak's proposals avoid most of Israel's most important obligations under international law and were a non-starter. By refusing to live up to its obligations under 242, withdraw from all the occupied territories or allow the refugees to finally go home, it is Israel which has prolonged the conflict and blocked the only viable solution.
The "peace process" has not brought peace to the Palestinians, or statehood, or liberation, or even a better standard of living. It has brought only a succession of broken Israeli promises and a response by the international community, especially the United States, that stands steadfast behind one plank of "land-for-peace" and shows little interest in the other. The Palestinian people can hardly be expected to simply accept a status quo based on the ongoing denial of their most basic human and national rights with no end in sight. Americans would not accept any such situation for themselves and ought not ask this of any other people.
Israel is bound by international law to withdraw from all the territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.
Israel simply refuses to end its occupation, especially of Jerusalem, as Sharon's invasion of the Muslim holy sites was intended to show. That Jerusalem is included in the territories referred to in 242 is specifically articulated in Security Council Resolution 496 which "reaffirms the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem." 242 is a solemn commitment by the international community to the Palestinian people, who have already fulfilled their part of the bargain. The international community must stand by its word and ensure that Israel returns to its 1967 borders, including withdrawing from Jerusalem.
Israel is responsible for the well-being of Palestinian civilians under its occupation.
One can easily imagine the outcry if almost any other government used similar tactics against unarmed civilians. Under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel as the occupying power is obliged to defend well-being of the civilian population living under its control. UNSCR 1322 reaffirms that Israel, as an occupying power, is bound by the terms of the Convention. Not only has the massacre of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military been a complete violation of its obligations, Israel has also failed to protect Palestinian civilians from the heavily-armed Jewish settlers it introduced to the occupied territories. Israeli settlers have been heavily involved in attacking unarmed Palestinians and are working hand-in-glove with the military. And the Israeli government has failed to protect its own citizens in Palestinian communities in Israel from attacks by enraged Jewish mobs.
Many of the killed Palestinians were children.
During the past two weeks, at least 21 Palestinian children have be killed by Israeli forces and settlers and over 450 injured, many seriously. The wanton and deliberate targeting of children is one of the most heinous and notorious aspects of the current Israeli massacre of Palestinians.
The absurdity of claims that "the Palestinians are deliberately provoking Israeli troops to kill their children for purposes of propaganda."
Historically, youth have always been at the forefront of popular uprisings against oppression such as the apartheid-like conditions facing Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Demonstrating and stone-throwing by Palestinian children does not justify Israel's wholesale massacre of them, any more than the South African government was justified in shooting children at Sharpville and Soweto or southern governers in turning dogs and fire hoses on children involved in the American civil rights movement. The heavy involvement of youth in the anti-apartheid, civil rights and Palestinian liberation struggles reflects the natural and irrepressible response of oppressed peoples the world over.
12 year old Mohammed Al-Durah was murdered by Israeli soldiers, not "caught in the crossfire." Please do not allow any instance of this whitewashing of his killing to go uncorrected.
The following excerpts from a statement given under oath by Mr. Talal Abu Rahma, the photographer for France 2 television who filmed the murder, made at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on October 3, 2000, is a detailed eye witness account of the killing. It provides, as if any were needed, definitive evidence that young Mohammed was murdered in cold blood, not "caught in the crossfire," as American news organizations continue to misreport:
"Then, it was quite clear for me that shooting was towards the child Mohammed and his father from the opposite direction to them. Intensive and intermittent shooting was directed at the two and the two outposts of the Palestinian National Security Forces. The Palestinian outposts were not a source of shooting, as shooting from inside these outposts had stopped after the first five minutes, and the child and his father were not injured then. Injuring and killing took place during the following 45 minutes. I can assert that shooting at the child Mohammed and his father Jamal came from the above - mentioned Israeli military outpost, as it was the only place from which shooting at the child and his father was possible. So, by logic and nature, my long experience in covering hot incidents and violent clashes, and my ability to distinguish sounds of shooting, I can confirm that the child was intentionally and in cold blood shot dead and his father injured by the Israeli army."
Strategies for successful letter-writing include finding the single greatest weakness in the article or report to which you are responding and focusing solely on that one point. Keep your letter short, no more than 150-200 words. Look for imbalance in op/ed's carried. If there is a series of unanswered pro-Israel pieces, you can insist that a pro-Palestinian perspective is needed for balance and fairness in the interests of the readers of the paper. That should provide the opportunity for submitting an alternative view in the form of a full-length opinion piece.
As for gaining coverage for a local event such as a protest or rally, try as much as possible to emphasize the LOCAL response to a major international news story. Include as much information as possible in the release about the local aspects of the event and the nature of the community and how it feels about developments in Palestine. Also try to link it to other protests around the nation and the world to show that it is part of a major campaign. Try to anticipate as closely as possible what the local press will be covering or thinking about on the day of the event and connect your releases to that. Try to stay one step ahead of the media - you probably have a better sense of what is about to happen than they do. Also, try to present local spokespersons, experts, community members and others to the media as commentators and news sources. Try putting out a release to your local media listing a few such local news sources from or sympathetic to the community, together with quotes and contact information. They are likely to keep this on file and use it in coming days.