En Route: A tale of 2 papers

The flight attendant is pushing a small shopping cart of newspapers down the aisle of the airplane. Most of the papers are in Arabic, which unfortunately I cannot read. One is in English – the Jordan Times. I look at page 1, and see an article on the front page: “Gaza convoy remains in Aqaba as Egypt talks at impasse.” Whoh! We’re on page 1 in Jordan? It turns out that the article is actually about another delegation, a humanitarian convoy of including ambulances, trucks, vans and jeeps from England, Turkey and other places  (actually, we do make page 1 - an update of the story in the Dec 27 edition includes substantial coverage of the Egyptian government’s blocking of the GFM).

I read the rest of the paper. One article is about how Christians in Gaza (mostly Greek Orthodox) don’t have much to celebrate. One holiday “human interest story” details the situation of a Christian family in Gaza who were denied permits to make a pilgrimage to Bethlehem by the Israeli’s because the mother in the family is under 35 years old, and therefore ineligible to get Israeli permission to travel from one part of Palestine (Gaza) to another (the West Bank). One gift shop owner is only selling posters of Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel – there isn’t much market for Christmas presents, and the article says that Gazans find “scant holiday cheer ”on the 1 year anniversary of the so-called “war” – Israel’s massacre at the end of last year, and the beginning of ’09.

Before I left, I solicited questions from people of very different perspectives – things they wanted me to investigate. One asked, how can people in Gaza support Hamas? The Jordan Times does not appear to have a pro-Hamas slant at all. But an article notes – in passing – the obvious: In the “war” last year, 1400 Gazans were killed, compared to 13 Israelis, and this, the article notes, “swelled the ranks of Hamas.”

You want to end that cycle? Let's start with opposing Israel's crimes and "our own" government's role in backing them.

On page 4, another article details a strike on “suspected terrorists” in Yemen on Dec 17th of this year. The article says that President Obama “approved” the raid, According to civilian authorities, the attack (details were very vague in the article) resulted in the death of some 49 civilians, including many women and children, Did you read about that? How big was that on the news in the US? Then, several days later, the article says two protesting young people were killed (the article doesn’t explain by whom).

I finish reading the Jordan Times and pick up the Xmas edition of USA Today: There is a page one story about how in some states in the U.S., police are giving out coupons for chicken sandwiches for motorists stopped for seatbelt checks who have their seatbelts on. The letters page celebrates “our” troops " who are "protecting our country” … in in Iraq & Afghanistan.

People in other countries, who do not have as much of reality hidden from them, distorted, and turned upside down, must wonder wtf is wrong with Americans .

They need to see, and know that 1300 people from around the world, including hundreds of Americans, are determined to join the Gaza Freedom March on Dec 31. Powerful forces around the world are determined to keep that from happening, and people around the world are being challenged to make it possible for this to happen. Stay tuned.

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