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Media : Hebrew and Arabic Press View Israeli Killings With Different Eyes

May 29, 1990

JERUSALEM The latest surge of violence in Israel was touched off May 20 when a lone Israeli gunman shot to death seven Arab workers. When Palestinians took to the streets in protest, the violence that ensued left 16 more Arabs killed by troops and Jewish settlers.

All newspapers deplored the killings but differed widely on the cause and effect. Israeli commentators pondered the impact of the turmoil on Israel's image and tried to explore the ethical and moral issues involved. Opinion in the Arab press ranged from outrage to despair, with newspapers pouring a measure of blame on the Israeli government for failing to move ahead on peace talks and creating an atmosphere of anti-Arab sentiment. A sampling of the opinion from both sides:

"The shooting down of seven innocent workers and Arab-Israeli strife are unquestionably legitimate news. But when they dwarf all else in a world undergoing the most revolutionary changes of the second half of the century, when they become the central subject of U.S. presidential pronouncements and Washington news conferences, world press headlines and animation in dozens of chancelleries around the globe, one is forced to wonder if there is something pathological in the world's preoccupation with news about Jews.

"Momentous events resulting from the decline of the Soviet empire; the desperate efforts of Eastern European countries to overcome deadly effects of 40 years of communism and the pernicious heritage of bigotry; the Western betrayal of the Baltic countries, reminiscent of the abandonment of Hungary in 1956; the indifference to China's brutal repression of its democratic movement; and the mass exodus, not only of Jews, from the Soviet Union, the largest population transfer in Europe since World War II, all take a back seat to murder and mayhem of local import in the Holy Land."

Jerusalem Post (English)

"All those who believed the intifada was dying down have been compelled to admit that they are mistaken. The masses, who according to the above theory are tiring, have now proved the opposite. . . .

"The Israeli army can re-establish order, but Israel will pay a price for this--a further undermining of Israeli rule in the territories.

"The Palestinian population will no longer sit in silence, and they are prepared to clash with the army from time to time. This is the principal lesson which the military command must learn. Not only them, but the government--every government, including the right-wing government Shamir is presently trying to establish--must understand that Israel is not capable of maintaining its hold on the West Bank and Gaza, except with the use of force, which will result in the loss of the rest of her support from the U.S., not to mention the European states and, last but not least, Egypt.

"The Israeli government, even if right-wing, has to understand that the days of Israeli rule in the territories are numbered."

Haaretz (Hebrew)

"The success of the insurgents yesterday was in the severe rioting that took place in Arab settlements in Israel. It was once again proved that as long as the intifada continues without solution, so it is sure to penetrate across the Green Line (separating Israel from the territories). The identification of Israeli Arabs with the intifada is full, although at this stage only a minority are prepared to resort to violence.

"Despite the fact that the PLO leadership (except for the Popular Front) have been wary over the last two years not to call on Israeli Arabs to resort to acts of violence, and in this way join the intifada, it seems that even among the Israeli Arab community the radical voices have increased in volume, and many have been drawn after them spontaneously."

Zeev Schiff in Haaretz

"No doubt that this dreadful event is a practical translation of what the extremist Israeli leadership is producing in the Israeli public--starting with the necessity to crush the intifada and ending with the need to implement the transfer policy (of expelling Arabs from areas under Israeli control).

"These voices have been able to choke the voices in the Israeli public that demand coexistence and ask for finding a peaceful solution. The extremist voices and those who wish for escalation are much higher than those who preach for peace.

"What is happening in Israel and the occupied territories brings about the best example of the dark . . . future that is awaiting the two peoples."

An Nahar (Arabic), Jerusalem

"The government of Israel, along with all the political parties in Israel, including the extreme right, were in a hurry to deplore the crime and at the same time to try to escape responsibility for this massacre by hiding behind the claim that the murderer who killed these innocent people was crazy. But (he) . . . did this crazy thing only because of the policies of Shamir's government.

"It does not matter how effective this condemnation was in the media because it cannot wash the crime and the massacre from this land. We want Shamir to know this, and we want him to also know that the policies of his extremist right-wing government will only harvest another tragedy and massacre if he continues with his policies. This is a warning of another total war."

Al Fajr (Arabic), Jerusalem

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