Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Today's example of MSM blindness

An AP dispatch from Ramallah shows the amazing ability for people to see facts for themselves and draw exactly the wrong conclusions:
Ramalah an island of Palestinian peace

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Mohammed Kilani, a computer technician, hits the gym every other day to swim laps and lift weights. Umm Hussein, whose husband sells BMWs, takes her kids to the mall to shop, eat in the food court and play video games.

Despite the crippling poverty and frequent violence in the Palestinian territories, the city of Ramallah, the unofficial capital of the West Bank, holds out as an island of middle class existence.

The Islamic militant Hamas is largely absent from this city of 57,000, meaning that Ramallah could provide the best glimpse of what a Palestinian state could look like without Israeli occupation, with its trade and travel bans — if moderate President Mahmoud Abbas' secular agenda prevails.

While armed militias rule the streets of Nablus, and Gazans largely survive on U.N. food handouts, residents of Ramallah take yoga and Salsa dance classes or sip cappuccinos and beer in mixed groups — behavior that could get them killed 10 miles away.


In the weight room at Tri Fitness, the city's swankiest health club, Kilani, 25, took a break from lifting weights to compare Ramallah to his hometown, Jenin, which is next to one of the West Bank's most militant refugee camps.

In Jenin, coffee shops are only for men, unlike in Ramallah, he said over the crooning of Arab pop singers from the TV sets on the walls. Fewer women in Ramallah wear veils than elsewhere in the West Bank, he added.

Ramallah's rise has coincided with the decline of other West Bank cities like Nablus, the West Bank's second largest, where armed militias roam the streets.

Hakim Sabbah, 30, said Nablus had three movie theaters when he was a child. Sabbah, who works for a local aid group, Project Hope, said he once acted in a theater group that performed in the streets of Nablus' old city. "That's something we don't do any more," he said.

The cinemas closed during the first Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s, and continuous street violence has prompted many businesses to relocate to Ramallah or neighboring Jordan, leading to greater unemployment.


Such worries feel distant from Ramallah's handful of Western-style coffee shops and bars, where English slang peppers Arabic conversations, men and women chat openly, beer is served despite an Islamic prohibition on alcohol and foreign passports abound. In neighboring villages, such behavior risks a violent reaction from conservative Muslims. In Hamas-controlled Gaza, it would be out of the question.

"I love Ramallah because you have these kinds of places that break gender stereotypes," said Saleh Hijazi, 24, sharing a table at the Pronto Resto Cafe with four other Palestinian twenty-somethings, all U.S.-educated.

"But I also feel that the place is very elitist," he added. "You can say that about Ramallah in general."

Hijazi sipped his beer and lit another Gauloise Blonde cigarette while the girl next to him discussed film theory with a guy in dreadlocks.

"You feel like you're living in a bubble inside of the West Bank," Hijazi continued, adding that he recently read a news report about 13 deaths in Gaza.

"I care about what's happening there," he said, "but physically and psychologically, it feels very far away."

The lead of the story indicates that all the PA territories could be just like Ramallah if it wasn't for those pesky militants. Then, as you read on, you see that Ramallah is the exception - that the entire West Bank is not much different than Hamas' Gaza in outlook.

Yet the author highlights how progressive Ramallah is, and how it can be a model for peace, rather than the real story - how the majority of Palestinian Arabs view Ramallah's residents as elitist sell-outs to the hated West.

All the facts are in the story, but the emphasis is clearly on the optimistic side.

The reason, once again, is that the MSM has a narrative about the Palestinian Arab/Israeli conflict:

Israel is an aggressive occupier of Palestinian lands.
Palestinian Arabs are mostly peaceful, secular people who are under merciless attack by Israel.
Hamas and the other "militants" are aberrations.
Islamic fundamentalism in the territories are aberrations.
Jewish fundamentalism, however, is the norm among fanatic intolerant settlers.

This narrative is so embedded in the collective MSM mindset that even when the truth is staring at them in the face, they choose to ignore and downplay it in favor of the higher truths that these reporters know in their hearts.