It’s the go-to plot-line for some of the most popular stories of all time: fiercely feuding families, each raging with bitterness towards their enemies; each fueled by a relentless pursuit for power; each harboring an unwavering stubbornness.

But this isn’t some fairy tale. Not some CGI-filled summer blockbuster. Not a set of novels-turned-HBO-series.

This is really happening. Everyday. Right now.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been ablaze for decades, and arguably – depending on which history books you’re reading, what channel you’re watching, or what sites you follow – for much longer than that. Each side sharing startling similarities: compelling arguments against the other; claims to land considered holy; fervor for being recognized as ‘legitimate.’ Impassioned with rich and hallowed religions, Israelis and Palestinians similarly use their faiths to validate claims over the region. As the years have passed, both camps have made their mistakes; both have reneged on promises; both have backed out on peace talks.  There are two points, however, that don’t exactly straddle both sides as equally: the deaths of those caught in the carnage, and the media’s reporting of it.

As of this writing, there have been 28 Israeli casualties confirmed – two civilians and 26 soldiers killed in combat. However, Israeli strikes on Gaza have resulted in over 560 deaths, mostly civilian, along with the immeasurable destruction of Palestinian communities (well, what was left of them). We are learning more and more everyday about Palestinian children being caught in the crossfire; how the Israeli people now have an app to warn them of any potential missile strikes from Hamas (because that seems fair); and of journalists who are criticized (and/or fired) for reporting on what’s really happening in the region.

Are people just now awakening to the horrors that have been going on for what seems like ages? It’s a real-life ‘game of thrones’ that is eerily mirroring the acclaimed TV series (spoiler alert): everyone is getting killed off. Both sides undoubtedly have blood on their hands; but anyone who honestly reports on it, or dares to criticize Israel’s role in this on-going debacle, is quickly dubbed by American mainstream media (along with any U.S. officials who go on record) as “anti-Semite.” Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the word “terrorist” or “terrorist sympathizer” gets thrown around either. You know, when they need a good sound bite.

Still, there are those who buck the system:

And social media has undeniably made exposing truth about this (and countless other under- and mis-reported issues) much more accessible to a wider audience; an audience that is starting to question the motives and political agendas of their own governments. Nonetheless, the Obama Administration has done what every American government has done since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948 and the subsequent Arab-Israel War: confirmed its unwavering alliance (and continued arms funding) of the brash little country in the midst of one of the most turbulent regions in the world. Social media be damned.

A more startling example of how twisted the story can get via traditional media is this one, where an American Jew – yes, you read that correctly – is voicing concern over Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories during the annual Jerusalem parade (in Israel). He doesn’t exactly get the star treatment:

Now, his explanation of what happened after his [peaceful/non-violent] demonstration:

What’s not clear (and for a very good reason) is where exactly this young man’s “court appointed attorney” came from. Without direct involvement – which would’ve undoubtedly made inconvenient headlines – is it not within the realm of possibility that the appointed attorney along with the reigning judge who over saw the case were “directed” to make this go away (i.e. dismiss the case and free the ‘suspect’) by order (i.e. pressure) of the U.S.? Not because they actually care about this kid; hell no. But because the minute he went viral with his message – a powerful and articulately stated one at that – he became a liability; a smoking gun. He’s an American and more importantly (and dangerously), a Jew. And we simply can’t have someone like him say anything that may call to question the U.S.’s position within this gaza of thrones.

It’s bad enough that the video of the incident and the subsequent explanation by the young man was shared so quickly and by so many; the U.S. certainly could’ve executed damage control in an effort to avoid any obvious and potentially media-susceptible intervention. Even with Obama’s recent claims to be “seriously concerned,” he still affirms Israel’s “right to defend itself” amid the rising death toll of Palestinian civilians.
The aftermath of an airstrike on a beach in Gaza City last Wednesday. Four young Palestinian boys, all cousins, were killed. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

The aftermath of an airstrike on a beach in Gaza City last Wednesday. Four young Palestinian boys, all cousins, were killed. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Another story was recently posted about the cease-fire/non-cease-fire back-and-forth that took place under President Sisi’s and Egypt’s “counseling.” Egypt? Really? So, instead of tapping into a stable country that might actually have some political pull with one or both sides of this conflict, we’re going with Egypt? Sigh.
Although a five-hour ceasefire did in fact occur to allow for humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip, most U.S. media reported that an extended ceasefire was accepted by Israel, the Arab League and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas but was rejected by the military wing of Hamas, the group that controls Gaza. What is not being reported as accurately (and as loudly) is the reasoning for the rejection.
Egypt’s reluctance to give up its mediator position, even though Hamas – with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood – can’t stand Sisi (a staunch anti-M.B.er), doesn’t help either.

The rest of the world is finally starting to really speak out against Israel and its dealings with Palestinians, yet Israel is getting more and more belligerent with an arrogance matched only by its ‘big brother’ – the U.S. Frustrating = a severe understatement. Even Sec. of State John Kerry was recently caught with his foot in his mouth and then reverted back to singing the tried-and-true tune that goes something like this: “America and Israel, sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”

The minute we (America) actually start to take a stance that’s more aligned with the rest of the world, more aligned with human decency and more aligned with common sense, is the same minute progress may actually be made on this long, drawn-out subject. Slowly but surely others within the global community have been embracing this “radical” mantra, although it’s the U.S. that can actually do something about it. The “right of Israel to defend itself” is long overused. America should refuse to continue funding and arming a country that continuously (and unabashedly) denies that right to others. The right of Palestinians to live should be given the same weight and attention. This simply is not a fair fight.

This isn’t an Israel-bashing tirade mind you; the Israeli people are not the issue whatsoever. This is simply a call for justification and clarification of our continued support of a country that doesn’t do anything for us but bring misery. Our direct involvement and unwavering defense of Israel is the primary reason why this region is so unstable: other countries see Israel’s continual mistreatment of Palestinians and blame the U.S. for its refusal to remove itself from the situation. The Israeli people deserve better than to have their government continuously wage war in their name (sound familiar?), making violence and bloodshed a daily occurrence. 

Ethical reporting on what’s really going on, the outright questioning of U.S. involvement in the region and an international call – and persistent insistence on a realistic two-state solution are what need to happen for there to be any hope for this deteriorating saga. Unlike the show, this is a new kind of game; one where the thrones aren’t just made of ancient swords and the battles won with dragons, magic and unsullied soldiers. In fact, this isn’t a game at all.

 

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Hello everyone! I know it’s been while since I’ve cast one eye on two worlds and shared my findings with you, but believe me, I’ve been a very busy bee this past year:

I’ve been working on my Masters in Journalism and Digital Media and will – with any luck – finish this May (which I think is quite apropos).

At any rate, I figured the start of the new year would be a perfect time to delve back into my beloved world o’ blogging, and because so much has happened since we last cyber-spoke, a quick run-down on the hip-happenin’s that made 2013 so…well, 2013-ish, might be in order:

There was:

  • A “do-nothing” Congress (we’re still waiting for them to “work” on something of substance instead of arguing every single hour of all 11 days they’re actually in session).

The Worst Congress In Our Lifetime

  • A new progressive Pope (he’s shaking some things up – let’s see if he makes it into Dan Brown’s next novel)Pope_Francis_at_Vargihna

(photo credit: The Daily Aztec)

  • Edward Snowden (the NSA debacle, monitoring of Americans and a crap-ton of other countries and so far, no repercussions for the masterminds that orchestrated all this -AND THEN, VERY PUBLICLY, LIED ABOUT IT).

  • Healthcare.gov (and the love/hate/hate relationship between members the aisle (leaving the American people to shake their heads in disgust / frustration– how are other countries pulling this whole “Universal health care” thingy off??) P.S. And from the looks of it, the site’s homepage still has some kinks to work out, like overlapping and confusing text, and where’s that lovely young woman everyone was at some point screaming about?

Healthcare.gov

  • Syrian bombings – then the Syrian “We’re givin’ it all up” chemical weapon relinquishment campaign about a whole minute later.

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(photo credit: STR/AP)

  • Egypt’s military “coup,” which has apparently now been deemed “crimes against humanity”- and its declaration of the Muslim Brotherhood’s as “terrorists” (They’re the bad guys, folks, listen to us, we’ve got machine guns) **although full disclaimer: I happen to think that a lot of ’em are actually on Santa’s “not-so-nice” list).

Egypt Protests Intensify As Army Deadline Approaches

(photo credit: Ed Giles/Getty Images)

  • New York City’s first democratic mayor in decades (and yes, he’s married to a black woman and has bi-racial kids, what’s the biggie?)

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(photo credit: Kathy Willens, AP)

  • The Boston Bombings, the city-wide chase afterwards and the hoopla over a RollingStone Magazine Cover:

Five Revelations From Rolling Stone’s Boston Bomber Cover Story

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(photo credit: Rolling Stone, illustration by Sean McCabe)

  • Kim Jon Un’s questionably brutal execution of his uncle (was there or wasn’t there 120 dogs involved? why are we talking about dogs?!)

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(photo credit: YONHAP/AFP/Getty Images)

  • The legalization of marijuana in Colorado (new vacay spot!)

Colorado Lawmakers to Feds: Let marijuana businesses bank

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(photo credit: Theo Stroomer/Getty Images)

  • The purchase of The Washington Post by Amazon’s Jeff Besos (okay media industry, now let’s see what happens).

  • Wendy Davis, a pair of pink sneakers, and an honest discussion about abortion in America.

ap449714672600-d4567101a2d5fdbdd20fa0a98c2a7c97c1221711-s4-c85

(photo credit: Eric Gay/AP)

  • A sequester, a government shutdown, Nelson Mandela’s death and a schizophrenic sign-language interpreter.

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(photo credits for images on this row: Win McNamee/Getty Images; AP)

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(photo credits for images on this row: GlobalNews; PressTV)

  • The re-opening of dialogue between the US and Iran (and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeting no less! holla!)

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  • A super typhoon hits the Philippines, India has a rape epidemic, and Miley Cyrus’s twerking makes international headlines (subsequently, for longer than either of those other two stories).

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(photo credits: Reuters; Hindustan Times)

Miley-Cyrus-Tongue(photo credit: Liberty Voice)

  • And most recently, an ancient Egyptian brewer’s tomb is discovered (looks like what made for a good time then and now aren’t so far off).

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(photo credit: Supreme Council of Antiquities/AP)

Whew! That was a lot. And those were just a few of the tid-bits that fueled a year where some of the media touched on a few significant issues, though most really seemed to concentrate more on what racist ramblings members of the Duck Dynasty are mumbling and what gaudy new outfit Kim & Kanye’s new baby is donning. You know, the important stuff.

Still, there’s that whole world out there, with all its craziness and all its wonder. And I plan on sharing my opinions on the things I find that make the West and the Middle East more similar than maybe a lot of people might want to imagine. We are, after all, one big ole’ group of people that have to share the same ride through time; so instead of asking “Are we there yet?” maybe we should start asking, “Where’s the nearest Mickey D’s and/or Hummus Shack?” and enjoy the ride.

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