It really is offensive for commentators to use the word “violence” to mean “violence against one side in a conflict.” As in Martin Indyk’s op-ed in the New York Times yesterday (8/27/10), which argues that there is “For Once, Hope in the Middle East,” because, “First, violence is down considerably in the region.” Here’s his complete explication of this point:
Throughout the 1990s, Israel was plagued by terrorist attacks, which undermined its leadersÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢ ability to justify tangible concessions. Israelis came to believe that the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat was playing a double game, professing peace in the negotiations while allowing terrorists to operate in territory he was supposed to control.
Today, the Palestinian Authority is policing its West Bank territory to prevent violent attacks on Israelis and to prove its reliability as a negotiating partner. Hamas–mainly out of fear of an Israeli intervention that might remove it from power–is doing the same in Gaza.
These efforts, combined with more effective Israeli security measures, have meant that the number of Israeli civilians killed in terrorist attacks has dropped from an intifada high of 452 in 2002 to six last year and only two so far this year.
Missing, of course, is any mention of violence against Palestinians. According to the Israeli human rights group, there have been 100 Palestinians killed by Israelis in the time period following Israel’s December 2008 assault on Gaza; the assault itself killed 1,397 Palestinians, a large majority of whom were either minors or non-combatants.
It’s difficult to be hopeful about peace in the Middle East when major U.S. news outlets treat Palestinian deaths as absolutely irrelevant.