THE SUDBURY STAR
November 10, 2010
By RITA POLIAKOV
As a journalist living in the West Bank, Jon Elmer doesn’t see peace on the Middle East’s horizon.
Elmer, a Torontonian who has spent the last eight years working as a freelance journalist in Bethlehem, spoke yesterday at Laurentian University about his experiences living and reporting in the region.
The talk, organized by the university’s Palestinian Solidarity Working Group, was part of a lecture series focused on the day-to-day difficulties of Palestinians in the Middle East and Canada’s role in the area.
During his speech, Elmer explained his lack of hope for peace was due to his interactions with the youth in Palestine, who have become angry and disenchanted with their situation, which includes a tank atrolled curfew.
“You have a whole generation of kids with a lived experience. It’s going to be these kids that will be making peace with Israel,” he said. “Gaza almost defies words’. The conflict is such that they say come and stand and look around,” he said.
Elmer believes this situation is often misjudged by the media.
“You have a significant ele-ment of the population that is broken, but you also have this very vibrant civil society.”
Elmer also criticized the two-state solution, which mandates that Palestinians and Israelis receive their own state.
“How do you create a state that’s encircled by another state?” he said. “After so much bloodshed, the desire to inte-grate is low.
“Palestinians want their own state … I think the solution is one-state (with) democratic rights for all.”
The journalist, who writes for Al Jazeera’s English network, Le Monde diplomatique, and Inter Press Service news agency, spoke about Canada’s involvement in the Middle East, which he feels is inappropriate.
“What Canada is doing in the Middle East is training the Palestinian security force,” he said, adding that Canada helped justify the communities that were created in the Palestinian areas, which Elmer calls ghettos.
“Canada justified the ghetto’s creation, then trained the security force that’s backing an unelected government.”
During his talk, Elmer said that, in his eight years in the Middle East, he’s spent only four days in Israel.
When asked if this provides enough balance in his articles, the journalist explained that he’s trying to represent a side that he feels has been ignored by the media.
“I think that Israel’s perspective is quite throughly covered. I don’t think you need to live in Israel to cover the occupation of Palestine,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe in 50/50 objectivity.
“If balance means (giving) 50% to one side and 50 to the other, I don’t believe that’s balance. Objectivity is accuracy, and I think that’s what matters.”
For Ishan Gumilar, a masters students at Laurentian, the speech focused on an issue he believes has yet to be properly addressed.
“Many people do not care about this issue. I think (students) need to educate themselves to see how Canada plays a role,” he said.
Eileen Roth, a second-year student and member of the Palestinian Solidarity Working Group, agrees.
“It’s really important to come from the inside perspective,” Roth said of Elmer’s speech, adding that the Israeli perspective has already been represented by the media.
“I think that’s all we see.There’s an obvious media filter.”
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