Thursday, June 30, 2005

Women in Black - not Outwitted in Dallas (3 letters)

On Monday, June 13, the Dallas Morning News published a shortened (but not ruined, for which I am grateful) version of the following letter that I wrote after standing with the Dallas Women In Black in their weekly action on June 9:

The façade of the Dallas Morning News building, in words of G.B. Dealey, [founder of the DMN] proclaims “the News is built upon the rock of truth and righteousness acknowledging the right of the people to get from the newspaper both sides of every important question.”

Every Thursday at noon, the Dallas Women in Black stand together facing those words. “Women in Black” is an international movement inspired by Israeli women dedicated to ending Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. Their presence in Jerusalem, Dallas, and internationally is a reminder that the “important question” of the occupation of Palestine has two sides. Their mission is to insure that "the people get [more than one] side" of the question.

Few newspapers in this country present the conflict in Israel/Palestine with “truth and righteousness.” U.S. newspapers denounce countries that violate U.N. resolutions---from Iraq to Syria to North Korea. But for three decades of the occupation of Palestine, our newspapers have been strangely silent about Israel’s violations both of many U.N. resolutions and of the Geneva Conventions regarding occupied territories.

We can be grateful that the Women in Black in Dallas and their friends, both men and women, had the courage again on Thursday of this week, the 38th anniversary week of the occupation, to exercise their right of peaceful assembly and to remind us of our right to a free (and truthful) press.
Professor Harold Knight
Southern Methodist University

A few days later, the DMN published the following response:

Right on one thing
Re: SMU Professor Harold A. Knight's Wednesday letter, "Women in Black."

Dr. Knight asked that the truth about Israel's U.N. resolution violations be disclosed. He must not know that only U.N. Security Council resolutions, not general assembly resolutions, are binding.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 does not suggest establishing any state. Not mentioning "Palestinians," it refers to "refugees," including 800,000 Jews forced to flee Arab countries.

It also does not require that all the land Israel captured in 1967 be returned to Egypt, Syria and Jordan, which illegally possessed the land in the first place. Israel violated no binding resolution.

The professor is correct about one thing. Few newspapers present the conflict with appropriate background or honesty. They call terrorists the more benign, less despicable "militant" and call only Jews "settlers."
(A female reader)

Because of the DMN’s rule of not publishing a more than one letter by any one individual in a month, they did not print my response to the lady from Sherman. So I publish it here:

The truth about UN Security Council resolutions is not difficult to find as (the female writer) seems to imply.

The writer fails to note the first article of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 which calls for “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent (1967) conflict.” The other demands of the resolution hinge upon that demand.

She must not know that Security Council Resolution 446 (1979), “Determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity.” It calls on Israel “to desist from taking any action which would result in changing…the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967.” This resolution is still in effect, yet more than sixty Israeli “settlements” have been built on confiscated Palestinian land between March 2001 and July 11, 2003 (compared with no Palestinian settlements built on Israeli property—see )

Security Council Resolution 476 (1980) “Reaffirms the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem.” It proclaims that “measures which have altered the geographic, demographic and historical character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void.” Once again, this resolution is still in effect, even as Israel has demolished 4,170 Palestinian homes—many of them in and around Jerusalem—since September 29, 2000 (compared with no Israeli homes demolished by Palestinians).

Calling people “settlers” who build homes and towns that, according to the UN Security Council “have no legal validity” because they “change the demographic composition” of the area in which they are constructed seems to me giving those folks the benefit of the doubt.