Sources of Dissent
By Mohamad Bydon '01
To the Editor:
I want to commend David Kerem '05 for his well-written piece "Hedging Our Bets." At the same time, I want to point out that much of the information he uses to discredit Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges comes from HonestReporting.com and CAMERA, two admittedly pro-Israel media watchdogs. The groups have challenged the accuracy of Chris Hedges' article in Harper's Magazine. It is worth noting, however, that both media groups have a history of distorting facts. Additionally, they submitted a full response detailing Hedges' "errors" to Harper's Magazine, which had originally agreed to publish it. However, after the Harper's fact-checkers found numerous falsifications and lies, the magazine rejected the response and refused to print it.
The issue of water is the simplest example. HonestReporting and CAMERA have made claims that imply Israel distributes water evenly to Palestinian and Israeli areas. But NGOs, the United Nations, human rights organizations and the International Red Cross have documented severe inequities in the distribution of water. B'Tselem, an Israeli organization, stated in a 1998 report: "The severe water shortage [in the West Bank and Gaza], which results directly from Israeli policy since 1967, violates the basic right of residents of the Occupied Territories to minimal living conditions. This policy is based on an unfair division of resources shared by Israel and the Palestinians." The report went on to explain that "the [Oslo] agreement also preserves the previous inequality: blatant discrimination between Palestinians and Israeli settlers, and an unfair division of the shared resources."
Approximately 80 percent of the water Israel allots to the occupied territories goes to Israeli settlements. This despite the fact that there are only 200,000 Jewish settlers compared to 3 million Palestinians. According to a 2001 B'Tselem report, at least 218 West Bank villages have no water network whatsoever and, therefore, no access to running water.
The unequal water distribution is not a necessity in Israel's war against the suicide bombers. But it is representative of the power dynamic between Israel and its Palestinian subjects. It is also one example of the discriminatory system that exists in the occupied territories.