To the editor: Saree Makdisi laments inaccuracy of media coverage of protests by Palestinian Arabs in Israel. (“The bare facts about the Gaza demonstrators are correct, but the rest of the story is missing,” April 6)
From his perspective, Israeli soldiers are not allowed to protect themselves from violent attack because the border that they are defending is illegal. He berates Israel for not allowing refugees to return to their homes in Israel. He conveniently forgets that Jews have been in Palestine as long as Arabs.
When Israel was established, many Arabs evacuated so their armies could drive the Jews into the sea. After the armistice, there was no Arab effort at peaceful coexistence. They certainly would not allow Jews in any areas they controlled, while those Arabs remaining in Israel were given citizenship.
Israel has taken in Jewish refugees worldwide, including those from the Arab countries that expelled them. Arab nations have taken in very few Palestinians. For 70 years they have been called refugees to be used as political pawns in the battle to deny Israel’s existence.
It is a complex story, but clearly, violent confrontation will unfortunately have violent consequences.
Thomas Einstein, Santa Monica
To the editor: As English professor Makdisi points out, the passive voice can indeed disguise agency; that is its chief rhetorical use. However, the examples cited pejoratively in the article are not passive voice constructions.
“Palestinians die,” “confrontations leave” and “day of clashes left” are all active voice subject-verb combinations; the fourth example, “15 dead in Gaza demonstrations,” simply omits the verb.
Makdisi suggests accurately that “they were shot” would be more direct, but “they were shot” is a passive-voice construction with agency omitted (although an alert reader will mentally supply “by Israeli troops,” since the context is clear.) On the plus side, “Israeli troops kill 15 Palestinians” would, as the author states, “tell a different story.”
Makdisi’s overall point — that more direct language as regards to agency would enhance public understanding of this issue — remains valid.
Alan Pierpoint, Arcadia
To the editor: Makdisi is correct that the Gaza Strip protesters are occupied. They are occupied by Hamas.
If Hamas did not oppress them them, steal monetary aid meant for them and use them as pawns, they would not be starving, living in such poor conditions and wanting to move away.
Esther Friedberg, Studio City
To the editor: Language does make a difference, as Makdisi argues, and language makes an even bigger difference when used as propaganda, which is what his article was, plain and simple.
As soon as I saw the word “massacre” in his first sentence, I knew it was going to be a bumpy ride. His entire article was loaded and emotional but not at all convincing.
My 12th grade English teacher would have sent this back to Makdisi for him to give it another try.
Muriel Schuerman, Downey