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‘New York Times’ trivializes violent nightly raids on captive population as ‘cutting the grass’

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I’m at my parents and they get the Times every day. I got up today and read a news analysis by Ethan Bronner about the latest step in the peace process and it has upset me all day. Bronner presents as equivalent the Israelis’ failure to really halt the colonization process–Netanyahu is still committed to finishing 3000 housing units in the West Bank and to continue the colonization of East Jerusalem–and the failure of the Palestinians to halt violence. And what is Bronner’s evidence for the Palestinian failure? Well, it is the fact that West Bank violence has not been curbed by the Palestinians themselves, that has required "nightly Israeli raids" into the West Bank. 15 to 20 "actions" just the other night, an unnamed Israeli commander brags. "We call it cutting the grass."

And watching the grass too; over the last few years the Israelis have built "an extensive intelligence network" in the West Bank..Of course that’s not the only Palestinian violence that has to be curbed. There is the whole of Gaza. A "terrorist" infrastructure.

there is still Gaza. It is ruled by the Islamists of Hamas who remain dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Since Palestinian Authority officials dare not even set foot there, it is hard to credit their claim to have dismantled terrorist networks.

A deal is brewing where Israel may release 100s of political prisoners, including many suicide bombers.

In the Israeli military’s words, that would be a lot of new grass to cut

Bronner is married to an Israeli. And just think of all the Israeli propaganda in those statements. The idea that the occupation with all its humiliating oppressive violence–from intelligence networks to nightly raids– is the legitimate activity of a state toward a stateless people. The disgusting military jargon, "cutting the grass," which Bronner then echoes thuggishly. The reduction of all of Gaza to a "terrorist network." An imprisoned people, held up as deeply threatening because they are dedicated religiously to Israel’s destruction.

If you or I were under occupation for more than 40 years, watching our children grow up without opportunities or rights, some of us would surely resort to violent resistance or maybe even religion. The International Association of Democratic Lawyers’ report on the Gaza slaughter of last winter said that the Palestinians are an occupied people, and THERE IS NO PARITY BETWEEN OCCUPIER AND OCCUPIED; and the occupied have the right to resist.

Doesn’t the Times owe an occupied people greater fairness? Just apply Bronner’s standards of behavior to two other situations. Black South Africa or Iraq. Imagine if the Shiites of Iraq had reported to American authorities that they kept down Sunni terrorism in 2006 with nightly raids, to "cut the grass." Do you think we ever would have been able to make a political deal in Iraq? Do you think our papers would have reported those reprisals in the bemused spirit that Bronner brings to these raids and spies? Imagine if the apartheid government of South Africa had tried to prolong its reign by "cutting the grass" of the black resistance. What would be the international reaction?

Imagine the raids that routinely went on during the Jim Crow period to keep down black resistance to rightlessness. Some of those "actions," as the Israeli commander put it, were lynchings.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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