Sunday, May 14, 2006

"Settlement of Metulla" and Other Medial Map Misconstruances 

First Misconstruance:

A Palestinian man looks through his binoculars to the Israeli settlement of Metulla, seen in the background during a rally to mark the 58th anniversary of 'al-Nakba,' or 'the catastrophe,' at the Fatima Gate in the village of Kfar Kila on the Lebanon-Israel border, on Sunday May 14, 2006. Supporters of the militant Palestinian group 'Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine' and Hamas marched at the Lebanese-Israeli border insisting on the right of the Palestinians to return to areas that they were displaced from by Israel in 1948. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
Two things strike me about this caption.

One is the conclusion, which openly states that the demonstration is for a return to areas from which these Palestinians claim they -- or their ancestors -- were displaced in 1948. Lest one think I never give credit to a wire service, let me start by commending the relatively neutral language of the word "displaced" which is probably not the word being used by the Hamas and DFLP protesters themselves.

The conclusion is also noteworthy for how clearly it reports that what these groups are protesting has nothing to do with the much maligned 1967 Occupation, but with the simple fact of Israel's existence. Their protest is about the land assigned to the state of Israel at its inception back in 1948, before the word Occupation was so clearly trademarked and enshrined with its capital O. They are not protesting for a return of territories disputed since 1967 -- although sure, those territories often make a very handy talking point when tring to enlist international support in gnawing off another chunk of Israel in hopes of eventually swallowing the whole thing in convenient bite-size morsels. The protesters in the photo are instead uncharacteristically open with their outrage over the results of Israel's 1948 creation, its very existence as a sovereign Jewish state. Remember this the next time a talking head tries to convince you Israel is a rogue nation for not simply meeting Palestian territorial demands and reaping the immediate peace that will follow from that complete satiation -- it's not true.

The second point in this caption is the description of Metulla as a settlement. Metulla is by no means a "settlement" on disputed territory -- unless one is of the school that considers Tel Aviv a settlement because it is a Jewish-majority city east of New York. Perhaps the idea is to indicate it is a relatively recently established city that exists primarily to fend off competing claims to its piece of land -- except that Metulla was founded in 1896. Or maybe it is just to indicate it is small, and the previous implied meanings of the word are purely accidental. But if that is the case, why is every small Arab municipality called a village? Where are the Arab settlements, which surely exist to stake their own claims to disputed territory?

Second Misconstruance:

Palestinian school girls shout slogans as some hold wooden cut-outs of the old map of Palestine, which includes present day Israel, during a rally to mark the 58th anniversary of 'al-Nakba,' or 'the catastrophe,' as many Palestinians refer to the creation of the state of Israel, in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus, Sunday, May 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
Can someone please point me to the history textbooks in which this "old" Arab state of "Palestine" supposedly exists? Right, that punction mark was a rhetorical question mark, so don't answer that one. There never was such a state. Prior to Israel's creation the land shown in the wooden cut-outs belonged to Britain, not some mythical never-was Arab state called Palestine. To claim that any such map illustrating Arab dreams of a future Greater Palestine is a "map of old Palestine" is a blatant falsehood and the blind propagation of false propaganda.

Shame on AP for not monitoring what is published in its name. The Palestinians can handle their own Press Office; they really don't need another.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: