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April 2, 2001
Rewriting A New York Times Editorial

by Ali Abunimah


Dear New York Times,

I thought you did a tremendously good job with your editorial today entitled "Violence on South African Farms." It's so good, in fact, that with very minor modifications you could use it again. So I have taken the liberty of rewriting it. I hope you won't mind that I changed the title to "Violence in the Occupied Territories." My other changes are in [square brackets] and I had to make a few minor deletions of information which was Africa-specific. Otherwise it is more or less the same.

For easy reference, I included your original after my rewrite. Go ahead and print it. No need to credit me.


Ali Abunimah

Violence [in the Occupied Territories] (formerly "Violence on South African Farms")

(A New York Times Editorial as Very Slightly Modified by Ali Abunimah)

Seven years after the [signing of the Oslo Accords], the depredations of [Israeli] rule stubbornly persist [in the Occupied Territories], where [three] million [Palestinians] endure deplorable living and working conditions, meager wages and precarious terms of employment. Frustrated expectations and insecurity have fueled disturbing levels of violence in recent [months]. More than [two dozen Israeli settlers] were murdered [in the last six months in attacks on settlements]. Many hundreds of Palestinians, in turn, have been beaten and murdered by [Jewish settlers] and [the Israeli army]. The violence reflects not just lingering inequality and prejudice but a failing system of criminal justice that is one of the most troubling [facts] of [Israel's] racist [present].

[Israelis now control] most of the best land in [Israel and the occupied territories]. During the colonial and [Zionist] eras, millions of [Palestinians] were [and still are] forcibly removed from their land. The government now led by [Prime Minister Ariel Sharon] has established mechanisms for [entrenching] the inequitable distribution of land. They include redistribution [to Jews] through state [seizures of Palestinian owned land].

Many right-wing [Jewish settlers] believe that the escalation of violent attacks against them is the result of a conspiracy masterminded by [Palestinian] officials.

Meanwhile, [Palestinian] workers and their families have faced mounting intimidation and violence from [Jewish settlers] and their agents. The problem is compounded by a severely strained criminal justice system plagued by brutality, corruption and racism. [Israel's] Apartheid judges and police still permeate the system. Deference toward [Israeli Jews] and indifference to crimes against [Palestinians] remain commonplace.

Responding to pressure from well-organized [Jewish settlers], the government instituted a "[settler] protection plan" that relies on a network of armed, [Jewish vigilantes], many of them police and army reservists, who have been implicated in vigilante crimes against [Palestinians], including murder.

There is a clear need for re-evaluation of [Israel's policies]. Part-time civilians armed by the state must be brought under proper control, and held accountable for abuses. Ultimately, significant additional resources and training for both the police and the judiciary will have to be found, [but first there must be an end to the occupation.]